RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Leaders of the North Carolina Republican Party are scheduled to vote Monday night on whether to censure Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump this weekend during his second impeachment trial.
Burr was among seven Republicans who voted along with Democrats to convict Trump. That 57-43 vote did not meet the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.
“It’s not going to affect his political future. But, I think it’s a statement of the Republican Party if the censure passes that they don’t want any kind of pushback on former President Trump,” said Meredith College political analyst David McLennan. “Going forward, that’s the kind of party they want to be, is the party of Trump.”
Burr previously has said he’s not running for re-election in 2022.
Following the vote, Burr issued a statement, “As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”
Burr’s Republican colleague Sen. Thom Tillis voted not guilty.
State Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley called Burr’s decision “shocking and disappointing.”
He declined CBS 17’s request for an interview ahead of Monday’s censure vote.
Former Rep. Mark Walker (R) has announced he’s running for Burr’s seat.
He did not say whether he supports censuring Burr but did say he disagreed with Burr’s vote.
“Senator Burr had just days earlier voted that this was unconstitutional, and then to come back with the inconsistency of then impeaching. That’s the frustration point. Not judging on Trump’s behavior and some of the antics over the years,” said Walker.
Spokespeople for Burr did not respond to an interview request.
McLennan pointed out that Burr is not the only Republican to face blowback from state party leaders across the country, as they’ve criticized those who agreed with Democrats in moving forward with the second impeachment.
“Losing the presidency and losing the U.S. Senate seem to have very little impact on (Trump’s) approval, which going forward means he is a power broker in the Republican Party,” said McLennan.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News over the weekend he believes Burr’s decision best positions Lara Trump to be the Republican nominee for his seat next year.
In response to that, Walker said, “He’s always confident but probably about 50 percent chance that he’s actually right.”
Democrats are also expecting several members of their party to declare they’re running as well. So far, state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Eric Smith have said they’re running.
“There is a growing fracture within not only the national Republican Party but certainly well within the North Carolina Republican Party,” said North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “It’s a shame and disgrace that you have the GOP turning on what Mitch McConnell said was going to be a vote of conscience. And here they are attacking their own.”
Analyzing state election data, Catawba College political expert Dr. Michael Bitzer noted recent changes in voter registration.
Since the election, about 20,000 formerly registered Republicans have switched to become Democrats or unaffiliated.
About 13,000 formerly registered Democrats have switched to become Republicans or unaffiliated.