President Donald Trump announced Friday night on Twitter that Rep. Mark Meadows will become White House chief of staff. “I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one,” he said of the North Carolina Republican. “I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.”
Meadows, who was first elected to North Carolina’s 11th District in 2012, announced in December he would not run for another term. He told CQ Roll Call in 2019 that he had actually been considering retiring last cycle. When he decided to run for a fourth term in 2018, he had a strong inclination it would be his last race.
Meadows was the third member of the North Carolina delegation to announce he won’t run in 2020. GOP Reps. Mark Walker and George Holding are both retiring because redistricting as a result of a gerrymandering lawsuit left their districts more favorable to Democrats.
Meadows’ retirement led to a crowded primary featuring 12 Republican candidates. That race is likely going to a runoff. Real estate agent and GOP activist Lynda Bennett was leading the field at 23 percent when The Associated Press made the call with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Bennett, the only woman in the field, had Meadows’ endorsement. But she fell short of the 30 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. Bennett and the No. 2 finisher, 25-year-old real estate investor Madison Cawthorn, are scheduled to face each other in a runoff scheduled for May 12.
Meadows has worked with Democrats on various federal government and veterans bills, from reauthorizing a national commission dealing with historical records to addressing veterans’ suicide.
Meadows also lost a close friend and political adversary in 2019 when Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings died. Despite their different constituencies and life experiences, Meadows publicly stated his great respect and admiration for the Maryland Democrat.
At the Capitol eulogy for Cummings, Meadows gave an emotional speech about their relationship. “Perhaps this place, and this country, would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships. I know I have been blessed by one,” he said through tears.