RALEIGH – As the N.C.GOP plans for a meeting April 30 that may see the removal of current Chairman Hasan Harnett, several names are emerging as replacements. Topping the list are former N.C.GOP chairs and high ranking elected officials. Former Chairs Jim Hastings of Boone, congressman Robin Hayes and immediate past chair Claude Pope have been approached by grassroots activists and asked to consider stepping in to serve through the fall elections. Sources indicate that a new chair would likely serve only until December when the Executive Committee will meet to approve the 2017 budget.
“I loved the time I served as party chairman. What I loved most was working with people,” said Former Chairman Robin Hayes. “This would be an opportunity to step back up and thank the party for what it has done for me.”
Hayes served at the helm of the N.C.GOP from 2011 to 2013. He was then part of the support system for the most recent past chairman, Claude Pope, who says that each chairman has historically helped their successor navigate the challenges of the post. “We share a common bond, tasked to lead a diverse group of individuals. That’s no small job,” said Pope. That bond made Pope’s decision to rally former chairs to sign a letter calling for current Chairman Harnett’s removal “exceedingly difficult.”
“It’s a tough thing to have to do. We want our current and future chairs to succeed,” Pope said. He also said that his granddaughters, Bald Head Island retail stores and other business ventures prevent him from seeking the interim chair role. “My plan for now is to stay put,” he said.
In a blog post former Governor Jim Martin’s name was floated. Sources confirm that outreach efforts were made to Gov. Martin, but Gov. Martin indicated he would not talk about any future plans while the current chair is in place. Executive Committee members say that may change over the weekend as Harnett faces charges of violating the party’s Plan of Organization and gross inefficiency. A majority vote of the Executive Committee can determine a violation but a two-thirds vote would be required to remove the chairman.
“We have 140 years of experience being in the minority. You have to be united in the minority… We have no experience being in the majority, and that’s some of the problem,” said Former Chairman Claude Pope. “Parties have a long history of factionalism on both sides, it’s part of politics. It’s our job to elect Republicans and rally all our members.”
Hayes said he is ready for whatever the party leadership decides, whether he is tapped or someone else. He hopes to refocus the dialogue and the work toward putting Republicans in office this November.
“We always have differing opinions, but preferably ones that are headed in the same general direction… We need to focus our attention on one of the most critical election years coming up,” said Hayes. “We have to get our act together and I am confident we can.”