Unpopular Opinion: Rhino endorsement

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The Rhino Times, Greensboro’s conservative weekly, wrapped up a trifecta on Oct. 5 when it joined Triad City Beat and the News & Record in calling out Republican mayoral candidate John Brown’s factually challenged campaign platform. It’s rare for the three publications to come to a consensus.

And without much hesitation, Editor John Hammer delivered his paper’s mayoral endorsement to incumbent Nancy Vaughan, a Democrat with a liberal record on LGBTQ and immigration issues who has toed a careful line between police reform and backing the blue.

“This is an easy call,” Hammer wrote. “Vaughan is far and away the only candidate in the race who voters should consider electing mayor.”

Those 22 words did not go down well with some conservative readers, most notably Guilford County Republican Party Executive Director Troy Lawson.

“John Hammer personally attacked a fellow Republican’s character,” Lawson riposted in an email blast. “John Hammer is a man who was invited to our GOP meetings as a ‘fellow’ Republican and then used (and misused) information learned there to trash those ‘fellows.’ We Republicans can no longer trust John Hammer, let alone trust him as a conservative voice for Greensboro.”

While TCB doesn’t typically make political endorsements, it’s fair to say that from our vantage point, the Rhino’s stance seems reasonable, even refreshingly independent. And just as much as the Vaughan endorsement was probably unpopular with many Rhino readers, TCB readers may not want to hear anything complimentary towards our competition. Too bad.

While attempting to discredit Hammer, Lawson naturally trained most of his fire on Vaughan. The claims aren’t worthy of being repeated without rigorous fact-checking, but Vaughan responded with an email the following day.

“If you’re keeping track, your email was largely inaccurate,” Vaughan wrote. “Since I have been told that you are a man of integrity, I request that you retract your email or run my rebuttal in its entirely and unedited. Perhaps you should adopt Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of ‘trust but verify.’”

Lawson next surfaced with a blog post on the Guilford GOP website announcing that he was attending a wedding in Maine.

Obliquely referencing Vaughan’s protestation, he wrote, “I understand there has been some fan mail in my absence, and I look forward to answering it following the wedding.”

Nothing that can’t wait until after the election, I guess.