North Carolina GOP precinct chair quits, announces support for Democrat

A Republican precinct chairwoman in Onslow County, North Carolina has resigned so that she can vote for the Democrat candidate in the upcoming special election, local NBC affiliate WITN reported. Anne Hardinger has decided to vote for Democrat Allen Thomas over Republican Greg Murphy on Sept. 10.

“You don’t necessarily have to vote because someone’s got an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ by their name. You need to vote for the person who’s going to best serve your community,” Hardinger, who considers herself a moderate Republican, said.

Crossing party lines

The county GOP has a rule that precinct chairs and other board positions must pledge loyalty to Republican candidates in order to serve. Republican board chair Lee Barrows said that Hardinger is one of several Republicans supporting Thomas, and that most of them are former Democrats.

Barrows added that voting across parties is unusual, but that the party is moving forward with business as usual. For her part, Hardinger said she has voted for Democrats in the past.

“I hold more of the conservative Republican values but there are a few things that I would agree with the other side on or compromise on,” Hardinger said.

How Republican is Hardinger?

Hardinger is a teacher at Hunters Creek Elementary School and president of the Onslow County affiliate of the North Carolina Association of Educators, according to The Daily News of Jacksonville, Florida. The group recently demonstrated in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage for all school personnel and expansion of Medicaid, among other initiatives.

“This job is a work of the heart, even so, educators from bus drivers to custodians and principals deserve to be fairly compensated for the work they do, the hours they put in, and the expertise they bring to the job,” Hardinger said at the demonstration. “We will no longer stand by and watch as they continue to take. It is time to fight. So we march.”

She also lobbied for more teachers to be allowed to attend the rally, but said she understood that after having two months off for damage from Hurricane Florence, it may not have been responsible to close all schools as some other districts did.

Last year, during education week, Hardinger also tweeted a picture of David Hogg, a left-leaning survivor of the 2017 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Trump’s endorsement

For his part, Republican Greg Murphy was present at President Donald Trump’s July 17 rally in nearby Greenville, and Trump endorsed the GOP candidate in the largely Republican district, which Trump carried by 23 points in 2016.

“This is Trump country,” Murphy told the crowd. “And I promise if elected your congressman, I will be a congressman that has our president’s back.”

Murphy is backed by the Freedom Caucus, a conservative voting block within the House. He is expected to win the race in September — even without Hardinger’s support.

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