On a thread started by DemsParty Chair Anderson Clayton, someone tweeted, "When Thom Tillis fails their test for a 'real Republican,' you know their party has gone off a cliff."
Because reporters were barred, the only eye-witness source I have is extreme-MAGA blogger Brant Clifton (unreliable and prone to exaggeration, as he is). Clifton sez that the meeting was raucous and contentious because Party Chair Michael Whatley's lieutenants ran it with an iron fist. Motions of "no confidence" and "vacate the chair" were shouted out from the floor, "but were quickly dispensed with via parliamentary means by Whatley’s convention managers."
Whatley won reelection as party chair, incidently, against a determined faction of extreme-MAGA bullies who considered Whatley as big a weak loser as Thom Tillis. Anger at the convention boiled over mainly among the supporters of the insurgent MAGA candidate John Kane, who also ran and whose bitch against Whatley was that he wasn't a big enough election-denier. Kane boiled everything down to "election integrity," which was his shorthand for "every election that goes against us must be fradulent; therefore, we must crack down on people who are balloting ... to prevent fraud." It's simple logic, invented to cover crimes against democracy.
In his speech to the convention prior to the voting, Kane said (according to Brant Clifton),
“Everyone in this room knows the cardinal rule of election integrity is there's a PAPER TRAIL. Machines have issues, sometimes unintentional, sometimes intentional [there it is! the suggestion of fraud]. As we get ready to vote for our Party leadership today it will all be done electronically. No paper trail.
This simple election was 100% under the control of Chairman Michael Whatley and he broke the cardinal rule of election integrity. Here today, just like the elections in our State, Michael Whatley doesn’t think we have a voter integrity problem. I do."
Here's what I can't figure out: Why a convention of true-believers would censure the senator and still elect establishmentarian Michael Whatley with 60%-plus of the vote. It must come down to Whatley's term coinciding with Republican dominance at the ballot box: Two successful Senate races, a sweep of the judiciary, total dominance of both houses of the General Assembly, and a trophy party-switcher to put on display.
Whatever else you say about Whatley, he's totally lacking the trumpist edge of aggressive nastiness. Plus Donald J. Trump re-endorsed him for the chair at the start of the convention, and Mike Pence praised him as the best state party chair in the nation.
State Party Chair Anderson Clayton tweeted a thread:
It’s ridiculous to still have the fight over basic human rights. And yet the NCGOP continues to fight against the LGBTQIA+ community and their existence. Guess what? Queer folks ain’t going anywhere! But we can make sure y’all do come next November. Folks who support attacking and persecuting our own citizens for being gay, trans, bisexual, gender-nonconforming, or don’t fit into the boxes defined by the right wing extremists in our state, do NOT belong in positions of power. We’re here to make sure everyone in North Carolina can call this state home.
We deserve a North Carolina that is diverse, welcoming, & accepting of all who live here, grow up here, or grow old here. But under the extreme NCGOP agenda, our folks continue to be attacked. I refuse to stand for it, & Democrats will always fight for rights for ALL NC’ians.
Former Republican Governor Pat McCrory condemned the convention:
“It’s time also for all NC state and federal elected republicans to stand with Thom and publicly voice their opposition to the action taken at our convention.”
One Republican state senator, Bobby Hanig from the coast, took up McCrory's challenge and emphasized Uncle Thom's practical advantages:
“I believe that a mob mentality doesn’t do us any good. Senator Tillis does a lot for North Carolina, he does a lot for the coastal communities, so why would I want to make him mad?”
The Hill also quoted State Sen. Jim Burgin of Harnett County, who said the vote to censure Tillis "sets a dangerous precedent and does not allow enough flexibility for individual interpretation of party values."
Burgin questioned whether his own vote last month for North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban would similarly put him at risk of being censured because it’s out of line with the Republican platform, which states that life begins at conception.
“I don’t think we need to be attacking our own,” he said. “You don’t shoot your own elephants.”