North Carolina Republican Bob Orr will help headline a campaign rally this week — for a Democrat.
One Republican says that will fire up Republicans more than Democrats.
Orr, a former justice of the state Supreme Court, is scheduled to appear at the fall campaign kick-off Wednesday night for 9th District congressional candidate Dan McCready. He's listed as a "special guest" along with former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt and Mayor Vi Lyles.
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McCready faces Republican Mark Harris in the district that stretches from southeast Charlotte to Bladen County.
"I just think we need the kind of constructive leadership and perspective that Dan will provide," Orr said Monday. "He just seems to be an excellent candidate."
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state GOP, questioned Orr's Republican credentials.
"Bob Orr’s largely detested within our party," Woodhouse said. "He used Republican votes to get elected (to the Supreme Court). . . . He's as revolting of a political figure as you can have. . . . Bob Orr abandoned the Republican Party long ago."
Woodhouse said "a number" of GOP activists promised to redouble their efforts on hearing the news.
Harris spokesman Andy Yates dismissed Orr's support of a Democrat.
"If Dan McCready has to go to Asheville to find a 'Republican' who will co-host an event for him, I think that speaks for itself about how strongly unified 9th District Republicans are behind Mark Harris," he said.
For years Orr has been a maverick Republican.
In 2016 he chaired the state campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. A delegate to the national GOP convention, he left early after making critical comments about Donald Trump. He told a TV reporter that the then-nominee was dangerous and "singularly unqualified to lead this country."
As a contributing columnist to the Observer, Orr also has taken stands at odds with those of his party. For example, he criticized a voter ID proposal Republicans plan to put on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. Another time he said the GOP is "beholden to the NRA." In yet another column, he deplored what he saw as changes to the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower.
"Old-time Republicans can only agonize over those changes to core Republican principles by some claiming to be Republicans," he wrote. "(T)he Republican Party has stood for decency, faith and compassion in dealing with our fellow citizens and the world. It is stunning to see faith leaders within the GOP . . . turn a blind eye to the sordid excuse for a president foisted on this country in the last election."