RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop, a vocal member of the Freedom Caucus that’s become a foil to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, announced on Thursday that he would run for state attorney general next year rather than seek to remain in Congress.
The Republican lawyer revealed his decision in a radio interview in his hometown of Charlotte.
Bishop joined Congress in 2019 by narrowly winning a special election, after raising his profile in state politics as a chief sponsor of the controversial 2016 “bathroom bill.” A former county commissioner and state legislator, Bishop said he misses practicing law more regularly, and sees the post as a way to counter an encroaching federal government and to buttress law enforcement during a time of increasing violence.
“Over the course of many months we’ve decided this is the right thing for me to do, to come back to North Carolina,” Bishop told WBT radio, referencing his wife. “I think there’s an opportunity to use the influence of that office to restore law and order to our cities.”
Any run for attorney general is challenging during a presidential election year in the closely-divided state. Bishop said a Republican hasn’t been elected to the post in more than 125 years.
There’s a potential opening now that current Attorney General Josh Stein is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor next year. Stein won the general elections in 2016 and 2020 by less than a percentage point over Republican rivals.
In Washington, Bishop has positioned himself to the right of McCarthy, pushing back at the House leadership team for the debt ceiling and budget deal the speaker reached with President Joe Biden. Bishop was among those who showed their frustration with McCarthy by putting up procedural blockades to conducting House business and advancing GOP bills.
Bishop has been endorsed by Donald Trump in the past, and the national Club for Growth PAC swiftly endorsed his decision on Thursday. PAC President David McIntosh said the group looks “forward to providing the necessary support to ensure Bishop becomes North Carolina’s next Attorney General.” Bishop said Thursday he expects “to demonstrate very significant support” in his first campaign finance report later this month.