On the same night he voted to object to the certification of the presidential election, Republican Rep. Dan Bishop took the floor in the U.S. House and read to the nation a message from one of his constituents — Charlotte’s Democratic mayor, Vi Lyles.
“She is a progressive Democrat, political opponent for years, tremendously graceful person,” Bishop said just after midnight as a long Wednesday bled into Thursday.
- “She said, ‘Representative Bishop, I hope that you’re safe and well. It must have been a day of anguish for the world to see our Capitol buildings under siege. I know you have a long night ahead, and want you to know I’m thinking of you, your family and staff. God bless, Vi.’”
- Then he paused and told the chamber, “Back home the generosity of spirit still exists.”
Lyles confirmed the text on Thursday. Turns out, she sent similar notes to Republican Senator Thom Tillis and fellow Democrat and 12th district congresswoman Alma Adams.
Reality check: The exchange didn’t alter the course of history or anything. Bishop still joined six other members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation in objecting to election results that have been upheld in more than 50 court cases, including at the Supreme Court.
- He repeated the “generosity of spirit” phrase in defending his vote: “I don’t know that it hurts or would hurt any of us to have the generosity of spirit to continue to reflect on … what might seriously have gone wrong here.”
- Then, late Thursday evening, some 12 hours after the election was certified, Bishop tweeted to the “millions” who believe there were issues with the election, saying to them, “I’m your voice.”
Of note: The state’s two Republican senators, Tillis of Cornelius and Richard Burr of Winston-Salem, each issued strong statements denouncing the efforts to delegitimize Joe Biden’s victory. They voted to certify the results.
What’s next: We’ll wait to see whether there’s a fallout for lawmakers who furthered Trump’s claims of fraud, which ultimately contributed to a mob storming the Capitol Wednesday. On the other hand, we’ll also wait to see whether there’s a reward for those Republicans who certified the election.
- Axios’ Dan Primack and Alexi McCammond reported that many of America’s top business leaders plan to pull contributions to the objecting lawmakers.
Meanwhile on the homefront, Lyles has faced criticism from her own party for being too kind with statewide Republicans and inviting the Republican National Convention to town.
- But the bridge-building may help her case as the city prepares to ask the GOP-led legislature to put a sales tax referendum for transit on the ballot this fall.
My thought bubble: Yeah it’s the age of self-interest and skepticism, but given all the anger we saw this week, it’s probably OK to trust, or at least hope, that what was intended to be a behind-the-scenes exchange between political opposites was indeed a moment of “generosity of spirit.”
[Go deeper: Here’s Bishop’s full statement.]