Patrick McHenry’s ‘yea’ vote on the Violence Against Women Act is the strongest indicator yet that he’s planning a Senate bid. Every other Republican in the state’s House delegation voted against its renewal. McHenry was the lone exception.
This is smart politics if he plans a Senate run. The debate over the VAWA renewal is more complicated than the title of the legislation implies, but anyone who votes against it will be subject to charges that they think women should not be subjected to violence. This is especially the case when running against a woman senator. In a McHenry/Hagan race, the gender gap will already work against Republicans, why exacerbate it further with a politically dangerous vote?
McHenry tends to have a strong conservative voting record, so any vote deviating from the typical Republican stance should raise eyebrows. I’m not sure whether or not this means McHenry is going to run, but I think he wants to leave the door open.
This doesn’t preclude McHenry’s fellow representatives Ellmers and Foxx from planning a run. The optics of a female politician voting against VAWA is much different from a male politician doing the same thing. Ellmers or Foxx could at least give an explanation on the campaign trail without being dismissed as a boor. McHenry cannot, nor can any other male politician.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Rep. McHenry. He has the benefit of being an establishment Republican who has managed to maintain the strong support of conservative voters in his district and elsewhere, as the latest PPP poll confirms. McHenry’s VAWA vote is the strongest indicator yet that he plans to build on that foundation to launch a campaign for statewide office.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.