Last night, the North Carolina Senate finally kicked the hornet’s nest. Under cover of darkness, they attached draconian legislation to restrict women’s access to health care to–get this–the anti-Shariah Law bill. No shit. As one friend tweeted, “The NC General Assembly advances bill to simultaneously ban fundamentalist religious law and enact fundamentalist religious law.” (Follow @tbeckett)

The whole thing stinks–the bill, the process and the timing. Instead of quietly sneaking something nasty through the legislature right before a holiday, they sounded the alarm in the progressive community. Last week, I wrote that I had felt a shift. Well, last night I felt a lurch. Social media lit up and the national news media took notice. In short order, they organized a rally for this morning.

In terms of the 2014 election, there are tons of implications. First, low turnout off-year elections are about motivating the base. Fear and anger are two of the strongest motivators and progressives are PISSED! They’ve been mad, but this time the senate crossed a line, abusing the legislative process and appearing to hide from constituents instead of debating in the light of day. While the election is a long way off, I’d bet that Democrats are coming out.

Pat McCrory must be fuming. If the bill happened to get through the House, the Governor is in a position of either breaking his campaign promise by allowing the bill to become law or vetoing it and pissing off his wing-nut base. On second thought, he’s probably not fuming because I doubt he even understands it.

For Tillis, it’s even worse. If the bill passes his chamber, he’ll have to run for Senate with this legislation hung around his neck. He will hemorrhage support from women who will already make up a majority of the electorate. My guess is that he would lose to Hagan by more than 5 points in a race that should be decided by one or two. If it doesn’t get out of the house, he’ll rile up the Tea Party and wing-nuts to go vote for that homophobic preacher out of Charlotte (by the way, I’m pulling for that guy).

What we’ve seen here is classic overreach. In their arrogance, the GOP senate has generated embarrassing headlines, motivated their opposition’s base and created a national fundraising opportunity for their opponents. In addition, they’ve severely tarnished the GOP brand–unless that brand is narrow-minded and vindictive–and probably lost younger voters for decades to come.

It’s almost too good to be true.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >

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