Rep. Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, shocked a lot of politics watchers last week when he announced his retirement, seemingly out of the blue and just one day before the deadline for candidates for the House of Representatives to file. The Freedom Caucus maniac is expected to find some role in Donald Trump's White House, which is fitting, but he's leaving behind a lot of disgruntled North Carolina Republicans.
It seems his last-minute announcement wasn't the result of soul-searching and agonizing about leaving office. Sources in North Carolina tell Politico that it seems to be more about boxing out candidates to replace him, making way for a friend of his wife's, who launched her campaign just hours after his announcement. Lynda Bennett, a real estate agent and Republican activist, is close friends with Debbie Meadows, and had her website and Facebook page at the ready, published within hours of Meadows' retirement announcement.
What's more, according to Politico's digging, Bennett's campaign website was registered back in October by Scott Meadows, who seems to be Mark Meadows' brother. Her campaign’s Facebook page appeared the day before the announcement, and just hours before it, she posted pictures of herself with the congressman and his wife at a local Republican event. Making it even more stinky, she received an immediate endorsement from Meadows' old buddies, the Asheville Tea PAC, which said that it convened a special early-morning call on the day of his announcement—very early, 6:15—to make its endorsement decision.
One former candidate for the seat, Jeff Miller, a city councilman in Hendersonville, is not happy. "It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this happened. It just doesn't," he told Politico. "It just looks very suspicious. […] It was very discourteous to other Republicans who were respecting Congressman Meadows and not primarying him for him to pull out this close to it and leave everybody in a lurch," he said. Another local Republican official, Aubrey Woodard, told Politico that "my phone has been ringing off the hook from people who are upset and discouraged," and that the move has raised "great suspicion" among Republicans in the district.
It's also very undemocratic, small d, which the tea party movement was supposedly all about. Of course Meadows put his thumb on the scale for his preferred candidate. Because whatever auspices he went to Congress under—that supposed grassroots anti-establishment tea party ethos—he's a fraud like every other Republican.