Morning Digest: North Carolina Republican who 'joked' about abuse of puppy launches run for Congress

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

NC-03: This week, North Carolina state Reps. Phil Shepard and Michael Speciale and Marine veteran Phil Law each announced that they would run in the upcoming special election to succeed the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones, which has not yet been scheduled. Additionally, state GOP vice chairwoman Michelle Nix, who recently formed a fundraising committee with the FEC, said Tuesday she was “humbled to explore the opportunity” to run in the 3rd Congressional District, a coastal North Carolina seat that backed Trump 61-37. State law requires a primary runoff if no one takes at least 30 percent of the vote.

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The News Observer recently took a look at Speciale’s four terms in the legislature, and even for the Trump era, he’s something. In 2013, Speciale mocked a bill to regulate puppy mills that would have required dog breeders to take their dogs out for exercise and use humane methods for euthanasia. The state representative asked, “Exercise on a daily basis–if I kick him across the floor, is that daily exercise?” and added, “Euthanasia performed humanely’–so I should choose the ax or the baseball bat?” The bill did not become law.

Speciale also has plenty of hatred for humans, too. In 2015, he shared a social media post that called Barack Obama an “Islamic son of a bitch.” In 2017, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Speciale sponsored an unsuccessful bill declaring that decision was “null and void in the state of North Carolina.”

Also that year, Speciale pushed for a bill that would have given voters the chance to repeal the part of the state constitution that prohibits secession. Despite his effort, Speciale’s proposed constitutional amendment was not on the ballot last November, and as of Tuesday, North Carolina remains part of the United States.

Neither Speciale nor Shepard has run for Congress before, but Law unsuccessfully challenged Jones in the primary in both 2016 and 2018. Law lost the 2016 primary to Jones 65-20, but he did better two years later. Indeed, Jones won that contest with just 43 percent of the vote, while Law edged Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey 29-28 for second place; Law spent a total of $88,000 on his campaign compared to Dacey’s $579,000, so this was a surprisingly strong result.
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