One of those four supposedly (previously) pro-choice Republicans, Rep. John Ray Bradford III of Mecklenburg County, answered a question from Channel 9 about abortion rights in October 2022. Here's his full response:
What is your position on abortion? I support NC’s current law which provides a woman’s choice up to 20-weeks. This has been NC’s law since 1973 and, notably, is longer than many other states and countries which have time limits on lawful abortions. After 20-weeks, I support special exceptions for cases such as when the mother’s health is in danger, rape or incest. Unlike my opponent, I do not support unrestricted abortions through full-term, also known as ‘until viability’. Most Americans agree that reasonable time limits for a woman’s choice are acceptable and do not support unrestricted full-term abortions.
Currently, when he was asked about Cooper's pressure campaign on him, Bradford erupted that Governor Cooper had just not been friendly enough with him: “I am serving my 4th term in the legislature and the Governor wouldn’t know me if he bumped into me,” he said, and then whined bitterly about not being invited to bill signings that he thought he should have been invited to. So Bradford is prepared to disregard his campaign promise of 2022 and to kneecap women's rights because of hurt feelings. Are he and Tricia Cotham pledging the same sorority?
My advice to Governor Cooper: Call John Bradford. Or even better, show up at his office door.
But at least Bradford's expression of hurt feelings allowed him to completely avoid the question of just how far he's willing to go to drop his previous beliefs like soiled laundry. Look, the man has already announced he won't be running for his House seat again anyway. He's planning to run statewide for state treasurer, so the calculus of bucking the Republican bosses right now comes into play. Would it help or hurt him more to be the single Republican who stopped an extreme abortion ban in North Carolina? It could help him with independent voters in a statewide race but invite rabid conservative animus in the meantime. My bet: he won't take the risk of riling up the far right wing.
He would have every reason to worry about that veto override vote if he were running for reelection to his Dist. 98 House seat. He won it in 2014 when Thom Tillis went to his reward in the US Senate. He lost it in the blue wave year of 2018 to Democrat Christy Clark by a margin of 415 votes. In a rematch with Clark in 2020, Bradford took back his seat (the margin was just over 2,000 votes). District 98 is a swing district which could very easily swing against him in 2024 because of his flipflop on abortion rights.
But he's not running in that small district again. He plans to run statewide. Duh. What a time to stand up for what you recently said you stood for.
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