President Donald Trump won’t concede the election to Joe Biden. And North Carolina Republicans in Congress aren’t willing to acknowledge that Biden is the president-elect, either.
“No, I don’t consider him to be President-elect until every legal vote is counted and every illegal ballot is tossed. Ensuring the integrity of the election is not a partisan issue. We should be patient and wait to see what happens with any recounts and all pending and any soon-to-be filed lawsuits,” Rep. David Rouzer said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
The News & Observer contacted every Republican member of the delegation Wednesday, more than two weeks after Election Day and more than 10 days since national news networks declared Biden the winner based on unofficial vote counts in the states. It is the same method that led news organizations to call all of the North Carolina congressional races, including Rouzer’s, and Trump’s win in the state.
“There is a reason why electors don’t meet until December 14th and the swearing-in is not until January 20th,” said Rouzer, who was elected to a fourth term in a district that stretches from Wilmington to Johnston County. “We have one President at a time. There is plenty of time between the date the electors meet to vote and Inauguration Day for any transition to begin, including receiving intelligence briefings.”
North Carolina does not certify its election results until Nov. 24. The Electoral College votes Dec. 14 and Inauguration Day is Jan. 20. Based on unofficial vote counts, Biden won 306 electoral votes, well over the 270 needed to win the presidency and the same total as Trump secured in 2016.
Biden and the media have been using the title president-elect.
Trump is contesting the election in lawsuits across the nation and has yet to concede the election or call Biden the winner. The Trump administration has not yet freed up money for Biden’s transition team nor allowed the former vice president access to the same high-level intelligence briefings that the president gets.
“No, as of now, Rep. (Ted) Budd does not consider Joe Biden to be ‘President-elect.’ He believes that the legal process should fully play out before anyone’s title changes,” wrote Budd’s spokesman, Curtis Kalin, in response to the questions. Budd, of Davie County, is set to start a third term.
“As for intelligence briefings, he believes that Joe Biden should receive the same briefings as any presidential candidate would, but nothing beyond that.”
Outgoing Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro, who did not run for reelection in 2020 after his district was redrawn, said in a phone interview that “it’s leaning that way” toward a Biden victory, but did not rule out Trump challenges. He said it was important to “make sure the country stays at high security, but I don’t think you have to have one over the other.”
Rep. Richard Hudson, of Concord, who won a fifth term earlier this month, said transition funds and intelligence reports should not be made available to Biden’s team until the process is complete.
“The election is final once every legal vote is counted, states have certified their results and all legal challenges have been resolved,” Hudson said in a statement Thursday.
Many North Carolina Republicans did not respond to the question, including Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, and Reps. George Holding, Dan Bishop, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx and Greg Murphy.
But some addressed the issue last week.
“I think everybody is allowed the opportunity to verify the vote count. At an appropriate time, and I believe we’re close to that, the transition process will start and intelligence briefings will be a part of that,” Sen. Richard Burr told reporters at the Capitol on Nov. 12.
Asked if the results had to be certified before the transition occurred, Burr said: “I don’t think they have to be certified, but there has to be some degree of certainty and that doesn’t exist today. It may exist next week.”
Republican Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn, who was elected in Western North Carolina’s 11th District, attended new member orientation in Washington last week though his results have not been certified.
“I trust our legal systems. I know there’s a few court cases that are still outstanding so I’m waiting to hear back from those before I’m willing to say the decision has been made final,” Cawthorn told reporters last week. “I know only the press has called the election but I believe Dec. 14 is when we’ll know who the president’s going to be.”
On Nov. 6, days after the election and before the election was called for Biden, Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk said “the American people deserve certainty that their votes count, and that their voices will not be rendered mute.”
“The future of our great republic is hanging in the balance, and it should go without saying that adhering to the rule of law must be our guide. Transparency must be our aim. Integrity must be our touchstone, and the courts must be our final arbiter of disputes. The American people will receive the truth and nothing less,” she said in a statement.
Democrats in the delegation have used the term president-elect or congratulated Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, on their victory. Rep.-elect Deborah Ross of Raleigh said “The American people have spoken” in a tweet, and Rep.-elect Kathy Manning of Greensboro also offered congratulations.
“In electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, America chose decency and hope, and there is no better team to lead the United States in this moment,” Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill said on Nov. 7. “This election serves as a historic repudiation of President Trump’s division, hate and chaos.”
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