The Raleigh Republican Club hosted the candidates for NCGOP chairman and vice-chairman last night. Here’s the video. It’s a little over an hour long. if you don’t have the patience to watch, I’ll do you the service of providing some of the, um, “highlights”:
- Tougher on fellow Republicans than Democrats. Incumbent Robin Hayes started off by praising himself as a complete and utter success in leading the party. One of the keys to success he cited? The RNC being in-state year-round. Then, he swerved dramatically toward attacking his predecessor, Hasan Harnett, and his current opponent Jim Womack:
[…] “As I look back on the mess, the disaster this party found itself in under my prior chairman, I am not willing to let that happen again. […] There is a lot of difference in my opponent and I — a very clear difference. Jim has a history of being divisive. Jim has a history of supporting our previous chairman who, when I walked in the door, we were three days away from closing. […] Morale was in the ditch, a lack of leadership.[…]”
Never mind that an objective fact-based study found that the party, under Harnett, outraised the party under Hayes ‘s first term as chairman. Let’s also ignore the fact that Hayes allies on the party’s ruling committees sought to undermine Harnett at every step via their agent, executive director Dallas Woodhouse. Dallas and his team were also regularly leaking negative stories to The N&O and other drivebys on a regular basis. Let’s also ignore the fact that Woodhouse and his allies regularly locked Harnett out of the headquarters building, his email, and his computer. Taking all that in, it’s absolutely astounding that Harnett STILL outperformed Hayes.
On several occasions, Hayes walked out of the camera’s view with an annoyed look on his face, and even cut off and interrupted Womack. At one point, a woman in the audience, off camera, said to Hayes:
“Can you please let him have his 30 seconds?”
Womack questioned Hayes’s assertion that he has been a paragon of efficiency and leadership at state party HQ — noting that the party web site hasn’t even been kept up. He noted that David Lewis was recognized as RNC committeeman long after Mark Brody had replaced him.
“What you’re doing with ball bats and bags over your head and talking about running over the county manager with a tank, that’s not helping the Republican Party.”
Womack came back:
“Ball bats? I haven’t held a ball bat in years.”
“Going with ball bats down the streets. National news. Thank you, Jim.”
- Lying? This line from Hayes during the debate provoked more than one spit-take here at Haymaker HQ:
[…] “I don’t do any work for outside groups. I don’t take a salary. […]”
Folks along the coast are well-familiar with Hayes’s work on behalf of an environmental group bent on wiping out the state’s commercial fishing industry. When pressed by the Dare County GOP chairman, Hayes apparently admitted to lobbying the governor to make some regulatory appointments that were not favorable to the state’s commercial fishing interests.
- Blame for 2016. Jim Womack came out swinging — laying blame for the party’s three big 2016 defeats (AG, Governor, and Supreme Court) at the feet of Hayes and his grandson. Said Hayes:
“I’m sorry we lost the governor’s race, but the governor had an awful lot to do with that.”
Womack countered by saying that the party chairman should be more of a trusted political adviser to candidates:
“Far too often, it was decided that we should just leave things to the governor to do what he wants.”
Womack said that he, as party chairman, could act as a liaison between Raleigh and the grassroots activists out there from Murphy to Manteo. He also argued for stepped-up voter education measures like fliers promoting judicial candidates and their records.
- Party governance. Womack also hit the Hayes-led party apparatus for failing in a number of areas: transparency, communications with the grassroots, organizing precincts, and voter education. Said Womack:
“I want Robin to convene the executive committee quarterly as per the plan of organization. We met one time last year — and that was to throw out the chairman.”
Womack said he would like to have year-round committees working on things like the party’s governing documents and platform. He said he’d like to see a lot of the bigger decisions made at these meetings throughout the year so more can get done at convention time.