Rep. Sue Myrick's announcement last week that she would not run for another term prompted us to look back at her nearly three-decades-long political career. After serving a term on the Charlotte City Council from 1983 to 1985, Myrick was elected mayor in 1987, the year Creative Loafing launched in this city. The following is a recap of some of the more significant moments in our romance with Sue.
1983: Myrick, the CEO of an advertising agency and owner of an Amway distributorship, filled Charlotte with big billboards and won an at-large seat on the City Council.
1985: Councilwoman Myrick began her long public history of proposing laws based on her exaggerated fears. Stating that much of rock music is evil, even Satanic, and that teenagers are "lemmings," she unsuccessfully proposed a committee to "review" and either approve or ban upcoming rock shows.
1987: Myrick became Charlotte's first female mayor by upsetting incumbent Harvey Gantt. Her advertising experience served her well, as a series of ads filmed in south Charlotte traffic jams turned the election in her favor. As new mayor, she advocated for the homeless and was aggressive in helping set up shelters. By the end of her two terms, traffic had dramatically improved in south Charlotte. She also informed the city that she received messages about running for office from both a coffee maker, and from answers to her prayers at a homemade altar in a beach dune.
1989: While running for re-election, Myrick ran negative ads against her Democratic opponent, Craig Madans, who had admitted previous cocaine use. The ads reeked of sanctimony and claims of moral superiority, so Creative Loafing made public what Charlotte media already knew but wouldn't touch: Court records showed that Myrick had broken up her husband's first marriage. On a subsequent call-in radio show, Myrick responded to a question about her infidelity by saying, "I don't have to listen to this shit," which raised another firestorm, and the election wound up on national TV. Myrick won re-election.
1990: CL asked readers to name Myrick's new, shorter hairdo. "La Pelt" came close, but the final winner was "Mein Coif."
1992: Myrick ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Terry Sanford. She lost the GOP primary to Lauch Faircloth, a longtime N.C. pol and wealthy hog farmer who had been registered as a Democrat for more than 40 years.
1994: As part of the Newt Gingrich-led GOP "Contract With America" campaign, Myrick was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from N.C. District 9. The contract included a commitment to a three-term limit, but Myrick went on to serve nine.
1997: The GOP saw Myrick as a rising star in the party until she joined a group of junior Congress members who tried to force Gingrich's resignation. The plot failed, and Myrick soon lost a bid for a GOP leadership position to a Gingrich ally.
1999: Myrick was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she had surgery and follow-up treatment, and was later declared cancer-free. Afterward, she sponsored a law to give low-income women Medicaid coverage for mammograms and pap smears. She also pushed hard for a bill to require the National Institutes of Health to look into connections between environmental pollutants and cancer.
2001: The 9/11 attacks marked a return to Myrick's earlier theme of living in fear, which led to increasingly extreme, outlandish notions, accusations and actions regarding Muslims and people she has consistently referred to as "illegal aliens" and "illegal immigrants."
2003: Myrick noted that the Muslim threat to America was spreading, offering as evidence that they were running so many convenience stores.
2005: After presiding over a public meeting in Gastonia that reeked of lynch-mob mentality, Myrick convinced the House to approve a measure to deport undocumented immigrants convicted of drunken driving.
2008: Former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl described Myrick as "arguably a slow learner" after she voted against the $700 billion bank bailout.
2009: At her raucous town hall meetings on heath care, Myrick said nothing when people brought up lies about the proposed legislation — that it included death panels and federal government access to voters' bank accounts. That same year, Myrick and three other GOP lawmakers asked the House to investigate the mainstream Council on American-Islamic Relations lobbying group for supposedly planting "spies" as interns on Capitol Hill. The proposal was basically laughed out of D.C.
2010: As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Myrick began spreading the wacked-out idea that Hezbollah was operating on the U.S.-Mexico border. Again, guffaws rained down on the nation's capital.
2011: Her paranoia by then out of control, Myrick canceled appearances at Sept. 11 anniversary events, saying her name appeared in a "threatening" story on an Iranian TV station's website. The story was merely a summary of a U.S. think tank's report, released weeks earlier, that mentioned American anti-Muslim leaders. Her decision and reasons were met with widespread disapproval.
2012: Myrick announced that she will not run for re-election.
What they're saying:
Jennifer Roberts, County Commissioner (and candidate for Myrick's 9th District congressional seat): "While I admire Sue Myrick for many things, including her advocacy for breast cancer awareness and research, there are positions that Myrick has taken that have not been helpful. Her broad, sweeping view of immigrants as dangerous, for example, has ignored the fact that we have many productive, legal, English-speaking immigrants here who are helping move our economy forward."
Bill James, County Commissioner: "Sue Myrick was a tireless and effective leader of the conservative cause in North Carolina. Ultimately, what I will always remember about Sue isn't political but personal. When my son wanted to go to the US Naval Academy, she, Sen. Dole and their military advisory team evaluated my son and other candidates fairly and ultimately nominated him, helping him to get started in life."
Jess George, Executive Director of the Latin American Coalition: "Myrick's regressive, high-profile campaigns against immigrants and Muslims have perpetuated fear and distrust in our community. Her retirement offers our region the opportunity to elect someone more in line with our values of unity, respect and human dignity."
Harry Taylor, Myrick's 2008 Democratic opponent: "Myrick always reminded us that she represented the people of District 9. But she voted against blue-collar jobs, sensible access to medical care, and public education, while voting for Bush's Iraq war debacle, for the scourge of private prisons, for dangerous chemical use, for pollution and those who cause it, and was sound asleep when Wachovia melted down.
Don Reid, former City Councilman and longtime conservative: "She quickly became a part of the Ruling Class, reneged on her promise to limit her service to three terms, and carefully crafted her career to make sure of her re-election. She was part of Bush's Republican majority, which did nothing about illegal immigration, drastically increased spending and our national debt, and initiated a long list of big government programs."
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