A prominent anti-illegal immigration advocate is soliciting support from state lawmakers to remove House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger from power.
"I am getting more traction than I thought I would," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration's political action committee. "Many of the Republican lawmakers are dissappointed to see them imitate their predecessors."
Gheen's problem with the top Republican legislative leaders came after a special House immigration committee delayed any action until the next legislative session.
"Speaker Thom Tillis and President (Pro Tem) Phil Berger are protecting illegal immigrants and those that employ them," Gheen said in a recent interview. "Immigration legislation is one of the issues that led to Democrats' overthrow."
Gheen leads a national advocacy group. But as a North Carolina resident, he also tries to flex his muscle at the state legislature. He said he is developing plans for a state-level PAC to help elect immigration-reformed minded lawmakers.
Gheen threatened at the committee meeting to work to defeat the top Republicans in the next election -- words neither lawmaker justified with a response. He called the committee "a cover for not taking any leadership on the issue."
Now he is taking his frustration to sympathizers within the Republican legislative caucuses. He said five of the first seven lawmakers he asked to support different leadership were "highly receptive." But he declined to say how many lawmakers he has enlisted so far.
"We are going going to be telling people all across the state and their lawmakers ... that they've got to get Phil Berger, his top men and Thom Tillis out of the way," he said.