Democrat Andrew Barnhill is running a tight race against incumbent Republican Senator Michael Lee for Senate District 9 in Eastern North Carolina. Although the race for N.C. Senate is among the least competitive in the country (thanks largely to Republican gerrymandering), Andrew has been running a tight campaign, both because Senate District 9 has more Democrats than most and because Andrew is a beloved member of the local community who’s lived there since his childhood. It’s little wonder N.C. Republicans are anxious.
That anxiety doesn’t excuse defamation.
Earlier this month, North Carolina Republicans launched a website slandering Andrew as “Party Boy Barnhill” based off the disputed allegations of a man who met Barnhill for less than a few hours during a charity trip Andrew took to Africa while at Furman University. The website was based off a news article that reads more like an op-ed than an investigative piece and that has already been challenged for its inclusion of numerous inaccuracies.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the N.C. GOP from going further than its website launch, sending out flyers to voting members of Andrew’s community calling him “immature,” “unethical,” and “scandalous,” and labeling him―bizarrely, for anyone who actually knows Andrew―an “extreme manipulator.”
The original source for the allegations spoke to Andrew for a few hours over a span of five days. I’ve spoken with Andrew―often seeking spiritual, political, and life advice―for countless hours over a span of five years. The “Andrew Barnhill” that the N.C. Republican Party is attempting to manufacture out of thin air bears no resemblance to the inspiring man I got to know during my time at Duke University.
I’m incredibly disappointed in the state of our national political discourse, but I’m even more disappointed to see such vitriolic discourse infect the politics of my home state in an attempt to mislead voters about the character of one of the kindest, most empathetic, and most intelligent humans I’ve ever known.
Although Andrew is no “extreme manipulator,” by launching these defamatory ads, the N.C. GOP has ironically acted as an “extreme manipulator.” It’s trying to mislead North Carolinians about Andrew Barnhill’s character in order to distract from its shameful record on everything from workers’ rights to gay rights to African-American rights.
The “Party Boy Barnhill” slander is “immature,” “unethical” and “scandalous.” Andrew Barnhill, however, is not.
Shame on the N.C. GOP.