Last week, a Republican staffer to state House Speaker Tim Moore resigned after WRAL reported that he had been involved in White supremacist organizations. Several years ago, Carlton Huffman was part of the Council for Conservative Citizens and took part in a radio show called The Political Cesspool. Both groups promote White victimhood. WRAL broke the story on Thursday and Huffman was gone by the end of the day. 

For his part, Huffman took responsibility. He called his views “ugly,” that he was “ashamed” of them, and that he has since changed. He also seemed to accept that his actions have consequences. He did what a good political soldier does and resigned before the problem tainted his bosses. He made no excuses. 

I believe Huffman because I know him a little bit. He reached out to me a couple of years ago when he was disturbed by what was happening in the Republican Party. In our first conversation, he made clear that he was very much a conservative guided by his Christian faith who could not see himself in the Democratic Party, but that the anti-democratic movement within the GOP worried him. At the time, he was working for the Wisconsin Republican Party and we had previously had some respectful disagreements on Twitter. I suspect he reached out to me because he hoped he could trust me and was wary of confiding in his fellow Republicans with the 2020 election just months away. 

Huffman never betrayed any confidences. He just expressed his dismay with some of his fellow Republicans and his concern about the momentum building in his party to undermine the election. He more vented than anything and sometimes offered commentary about politics and  elections. 

In the aftermath of January 6, one of Huffman’s texts to Mark Meadows showed up in news reports. According to CNN, he texted Trump’s former Chief of Staff, “You’ve earned a special place in infamy for the events of today. And if you’re the Christian you claim to be in your heart you know that.” Huffman worked for Meadows on his Congressional campaigns. 

One of his last interactions with me came after the 2022 election. He texted, “While from a partisan perspective I’m disappointed, from a pro-democracy standpoint maybe this was needed.” He wanted Republicans to take the U.S. Senate, but he believed the defeat of election deniers was good for the future of the country. 

We never discussed race directly, but his concern over the rise of extremism in the GOP led me to believe that he disavowed the racists in their ranks. And I think he does. I had no idea about his past and he never brought it up. As a political operative who believed in both conservative principles and our political system, he was struggling with personal and professional decisions. As a political professional myself, I was a sounding board with at least some understanding of his predicament. 

I hope Huffman finds his place in the world of politics or activism. We are a country of second chances. Huffman had a conversion of sorts. He was able to look at himself, identify flaws, and change. When he was called out, he took responsibility instead of making excuses or denials. That shows character, not weakness. 

I also think that the GOP needs to recognize that there a lot more unrepentant Carlton Huffmans in their midst. The fact that he called a Democrat to vent and seek advice says a lot about the state of the modern Republican Party. He knew, or at least believed, that he would be rebuked and possibly fired for expressing doubts about the Big Lie and the people who perpetuated it. The anti-democratic sentiment within his party bothered him and yet he had few places to turn because dissent is not tolerated. 

It also says something about the Republican Party that Huffman lost his job for views that he held years ago and has now rejected. He told WRAL that none of his previous employers ever questioned him about his statements or opinions. However, he worried more that he would lose his job for publicly rejecting the Big Lie and those who would undermine our democracy. Had he publicly supported January 6 and defended those who attacked the Capitol, his job would have been secure.   


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