The top four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Richard Burr is vacating went on the record last week about how they view the Capitol insurgence on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those perspectives from Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), newcomer Marjorie Eastman of Cary, former Gov. Pat McCrory of Charlotte and former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro, captured in an article by Danielle Battaglia in The News & Observer in Raleigh, were prompted to some degree by the intramural debate about what happened that day and the investigation of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

FILE - In this May 12, 2021 file photo, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks to the media at the Capitol in Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday, July 25 she intends to name Kinzinger to a congressional committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, pledging that the panel will “find the truth” even as the GOP threatens to boycott the effort. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)
, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks to the media at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., delivers opening remarks at the first hearing of the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP, File)

That committee includes just two Republicans, Sen. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois) and seven Democrats appointed by Nancy Pelosi, led by chair Bennie Thompson (R-Mississippi). You may recall that after Pelosi rejected Republicans appointed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), largely because they were potential witnesses, that the GOP pulled all support for the investigation.

Cheney and Kinzinger remained of their own volition, and two weeks ago the Republican National Committee censured both of them for their roles in what a document that termed the insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.”

A few days later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) rebuked that censure and said that Jan. 6 “was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next.”

Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance)
Marjorie Eastman.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory
Former Rep. Mark Walker

Those two opinions are what inspired the four candidates to state their opinions in various media and formats, and, as you can expect, they were divided, with Budd and Walker both questioning the committee’s works and its membership, McCrory supporting McConnell’s perspective and Eastman, a career military officer, deftly landing in the middle.

All four have at various times said they do not condone the violence of Jan. 6 that has been connected to seven deaths and led, so far, to 769 individuals being charged with crimes, including violent insurrection. About 165 have pleaded guilty, and more than 70 have been sentenced.

Here’s a sampling of what the candidates said, based on the N&O’s article:

  • Budd, who has been endorsed in the race by former President Donald Trump, when asked about McConnell’s comments in an interview with conservative radio host Lars Larson: “Well, I’ll tell you what, Liz (Cheney) and Adam Kinzinger have really been so divisive, you know, with this false moralism. They are trying to, you know, save something that didn’t need to be saved. It’s a false narrative.”
  • Eastman in an email to the N&O: “I am fully supportive of our First Amendment, but if you crossed the line, assaulted police officers, attempted to prevent the business of Congress and caused damage to our Capitol building, then you broke the law.”
  • McCrory in a video message released Thursday by his campaign: “I want to compliment Mitch McConnell. He was right to call out our own party leaders for not being clear and concise about what we mean by ‘legitimate political discourse.’”
  • Walker in a statement to the N&O: “Walker said he doesn’t agree with McConnell’s assessment, adding: ‘I don’t mind telling you that.’ Walker said he also found it interesting that McCrory released a video Thursday aligning himself with McConnell.

Some of the candidates took pot-shots at each other’s perspective, but their positions drew a focus on this issue as a key element of how the primary is likely to play out.