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Local conservatives revolt against Trump House favorite

Donald Trump stunned North Carolina Republicans last month when he announced his support for Bo Hines, a 26-year-old candidate who doesn’t live anywhere near the congressional district he’s running in.

Now, with Hines set to join the former president on stage at a rally in Johnston County Saturday, a local effort is afoot to sink his candidacy before it takes off.

Through newspaper advertisements, email blasts and door-knocking, some local Republicans are trying to spread the word that Hines, Trump’s favored candidate in the 13th Congressional District, is a carpetbagger. In their view, the former president was misguided in endorsing Hines over homegrown conservatives invested in local party politics.

The revolt against Trump by conservatives who adore him, while rare, isn’t the first of its kind this year. Trump has issued scores of midterm endorsements, in some cases for candidates who are all but unknown to local GOP officials and activists.

“It feels like it’s incumbent on us to make sure everybody understands that Bo Hines may be a fine fellow — I don’t know him — but the truth of it is he’s not a resident of the district,” said Linwood Parker, chair of the Johnston County Republican Men’s Organization and former mayor of Four Oaks. “He’s coming in, just trying to cherry pick a district he can win.”

The conservative men’s group, which formed last fall and meets in an outbuilding behind a Four Oaks gas station on the second Saturday of the month, is not endorsing any particular candidate in the race. Parker cited three other Republicans on the primary ballot who are from the district, who he believes would better represent voters’ interests.

Trump is set to appear in the eastern North Carolina county this weekend to rally on behalf of Hines and two other endorsed candidates ahead of the state’s May 17 primary. For Senate, Trump’s support is behind Rep. Ted Budd, who struggled in recent months to take the lead over former Gov. Pat McCrory, but has turned a corner as outside spending has skyrocketed in his favor. Also booked for the rally is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the freshman congressman from the western part of the state who has angered top House Republicans after talking about orgies and cocaine.

Earlier in the election cycle, Hines campaigned for other congressional seats elsewhere in the state. He filed to run in the newly redrawn 13th district on March 2; less than two weeks later, Trump issued his endorsement, describing the 26-year-old as an “unwavering America First patriot.”

A Charlotte native who most recently resided two hours away in Winston-Salem, Hines is in the process of moving to Fuquay-Varina, located in southern Wake County, according to his campaign spokesperson. He intends to update his voter registration in time to vote in the upcoming primary.

WEBICNEWS reported in December that Hines attended a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, Cawthorn and Senate candidate Mark Walker, in part organized by David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth. The men tried to broker an arrangement that would clear the Senate field for Budd while also providing landing places for other candidates in several North Carolina races that remained in flux.

A series of court-ordered changes to North Carolina’s congressional map this winter derailed Hines’ original plan of running in a district closer to home. He ended up running in the incumbent-free 13th district, which includes all of Johnston and parts of three other counties.

Asked why Hines decided to run in a district where he has no obvious connections, spokesperson Rob Burgess provided a statement calling Hines “the only true America First, social conservative endorsed by President Donald Trump in this race.” He noted that Hines lived in Wake County, part of which is within the district, while attending North Carolina State University, where Hines played football for the 2014 season before transferring to Yale.

Parker, the past chair of the Johnston County Republican Party and a former state party executive committeeman, listed several local newspapers in which his group began placing ads hitting Hines this week. They hope to continue running those and radio ads even after the rally, in advance of Donald Trump Jr. headlining a Reagan Day dinner in Johnston County April 14. Parker declined to say where the group was getting the money for the ads, but said they would follow campaign finance disclosure requirements.

The print advertisement, which begins with “Welcome President Trump,” outlines the county’s consistent conservative voting record and touts its role in helping to secure Trump’s victories in the state.

“The Republican Party has been fortunate to be able to provide sound leadership and conservative government to the people of Johnston County over the past 34 years,” the ad states. “The reason has been our unity and the support of local candidates who campaign on issues important to the citizens of Johnson County.


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