Raleigh, N.C. — Rep. Chris Malone, R-Wake, is the latest legislative Republican to call for the repeal of House Bill 2, using a mailer paid for by the North Carolina Republican Party to announce he now opposes a bill he voted for in March.
"Over time, HB2 has become a distraction from important issues and is hurting North Carolina's image," Malone said Wednesday via email in response to questions about the flier. "That's what I hear from my constituents, and it's what I've observed. Last month, I concluded that we have plenty of laws already on the books to prevent inappropriate behavior in bathrooms. We should enforce those laws to stop the few bad apples in the bunch and stay focused on recruiting more business and industry to North Carolina."
NC voter resources Malone, who is finishing his second term in the state House, is running against Democrat Terence Everitt for re-election.
The fact that the campaign mailer carried a notice it was paid for by the Republican Party prompted a triumphant, but misleading, statement from the North Carolina Democrats.
"In a desperate attempt to save him, the NC GOP is now admitting that HB2 is unnecessary, hurting our economy and should be repealed," said Dave Miranda, a North Carolina Democratic Party spokesman.
Parties regularly send out mail on behalf of candidates, often because they can get better printing and mail rates. It's typical to see campaign reports that reflect cash donations from candidates to the party that are then cycled back to the candidates as in-kind donations.
"As stated on the mailer itself, this is Chris Malone's position, sent to his voters in his district," said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the Republican Party. "We have a diverse set of members with diverse views."
House Bill 2 passed its final vote in the state House 82-26, with 71 Republicans, including Malone, and 11 Democrats backing the measure.
Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, was the first legislative Republican to call for repeal, and she has been followed by others. More than half of respondents in a recent WRAL News poll said they disapprove of the law, and that disapproval has been particularly acute in large urban counties like Wake County.
"It seems the only person who could finally convince Chris Malone that HB2 was causing real damage was his pollster," Ryan Ash, Everitt's campaign manager, said in a statement.
Despite voting for the bill, Malone has expressed misgivings about the measure. In a response provided to WRAL News' online voter guide, he said the measure "hurt the state." That same response, provided weeks ago, continued, "The election will pass, the small group who were affected will recover and things will return to normal. One final point: The courts are deliberating on HB2 and will be the final arbiter."