Always one to start a revolt, Representative Thomas Massie is now facing one down — from his own colleagues — less than two months away from his election.
Mr. Massie, a libertarian from Kentucky known for his contrarian streak, last month drew the wrath of Democrats, Republicans and President Trump when he objected to the passage of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package without a recorded vote, forcing scores of lawmakers to defy public health guidance and drive or fly back to the Capitol amid the rapidly spreading pandemic.
The move so infuriated members of his own party that the third-ranking House Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, donated to his primary challenger, Todd McMurtry, in a stunning repudiation of a sitting lawmaker by a member of the leadership. Representative Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio, also donated, telling Mr. Massie in an acerbic message on Twitter that he did so “because I believe that you don’t belong in Congress.”
The donations reflected the depth of Republicans’ long-simmering contempt for Mr. Massie, who has for years created procedural headaches and intense frustration for party leaders as the “Mr. No” of the conference, opposing even symbolic legislation as a matter of principle. But in their eagerness to inflict political pain on Mr. Massie, Republicans appear to have handed him a potentially potent political weapon of his own.
Mr. McMurtry, a lawyer who gained prominence when he defended a Covington Catholic student who sued CNN over its coverage of his encounter with a Native American protester in front of the Lincoln Memorial, has written and shared a series of Twitter posts and articles that contain racist tropes, anti-immigrant sentiment and transphobic material.
In one tweet from December 2019, Mr. McMurtry wrote of the “need to push back against demonization of white people,” adding that “we should not be willing scapegoats for someone else’s agenda.” In another, he complained that “some cartel-looking dude is playing a video of some wild Mexican birthday party at full volume” in an airport, and cited it as a reason that “we should question unlimited immigration. We just cannot integrate so many people.”
In a separate tweet, he approvingly shared a 2016 blog post subtitled “A Very Brief Primer on Being Alt Right,” which condemned as “cowards” people who describe themselves as conservatives and embrace a progressive agenda, saying they were afraid of being branded “racist, sexist, homophobic.”
“Let’s see them start telling the truth about transsexualism being a mental illness, or about the implication of IQ disparities between different racial groups,” the post read in part.
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Massie questioned why Ms. Cheney would donate to Mr. McMurtry, citing the posts.
“He has views on race and culture and ethnicity that I don’t think have a place in the G.O.P.,” Mr. Massie said. “But maybe Liz has a different plan for the party, and maybe she thinks backing an alt-right candidate would curry favor with part of the conference.”
In a fight between Liz Cheney and Thomas Massie, I'm rooting for a meteor strike, but Massie has won this round. Cheney has since disavowed McMurtry and demanded her donation back.
Of course, the real lesson is that the Democratic candidate, Dr. Alexandra Owensby, is the person we need in KY-4.