She ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992, but was beaten in the Republican primary. Two years later, she won the 9th Congressional District a position she held for 18 years.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Lincoln County Republican who is starting his fifth term after joining Congress at age 33, called Myrick a mentor. He said her experience in local government, particularly as mayor, helped shape how she approached her job in Congress. Her highest priority was to serve people in the community.
I dont know of a Republican member of Congress who has been mayor of a city bigger than Charlotte, McHenry said. That experience is invaluable.
At the time of her election, Myrick was part of the famed Republican revolution that made Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House and restored Republican power in the House after 40 years of Democratic rule.
Myrick was a leader of her freshman class in 1995 and acted as a liaison with leadership.
They really upended the place when they came in, said Eric Heberlig, a political scientist at UNC Charlotte. Much like the Tea Party faction today, they came in to clean the place up and put the breaks on spending.
She joined the powerful Rules Committee that decided which bills and amendments go to the floor. She was the first female chair of the Republican Study Committee, which is a caucus of House members that supports a conservative agenda.
Myrick was one of the most socially and fiscally conservative members of the House. But after surviving breast cancer, her focus shifted a bit to health care and womens issues. She led efforts to provide Medicaid coverage for mammograms for low-income women. She also co-sponsored a bill that required research on possible connections between cancer and environmental pollutants.
Myrick may be best remembered for her outspokenness on illegal immigration and terrorism.
She had her share of both supporters and critics. Her supporters were plentiful, turning out to hear her speak at various events and repeatedly casting their ballots to keep her in office. Her critics accused her of fomenting hate against immigrant and Muslim communities.
She penned the forward to a book Muslim Mafia whose researchers called Islam a disease.
Citing the book, she joined other Republicans in 2009 calling for an investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a pro-Islam nonprofit, accusing it of planting spies within national-security committees to shape legislative policy.
Shes just seems caught up in this phobia about who Muslims are, said Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte. I honestly believe that she really thinks there is a conspiracy behind almost any Muslim in public life. Thats what her legacy will be. Someone who promoted Islam-o-phobia and thinks there is a conspiracy behind every Muslim in public life. That were infiltrating.
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, she publicly criticized the U.S. intelligence community for failing to stop Charlotte resident Samir Khan, who was promoting al-Qaidas principles online. Khan moved to Yemen and edited an online magazine for al-Qaida. He was later killed in a U.S. drone strike in which the primary target was U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who recruited terrorists.