When things get HOT, Tholl Road Thom takes his marbles and goes home

tillis mouthThis was supposed to be a great weekend for Thom Tillis.  He’s presiding over the state House at a historic time for the NCGOP.  The state GOP convention was in his neck of the woods.  He got a prime speaking slot to debut himself as  a US Senate candidate.  But those @#*!*$% Tea Partiers had to show up and drop a big ol’ stink bomb on TT’s party.

As many of you — who faithfully read this blog — already know, ol’ Thom has been knocking heads lately with a group called Widen I-77 over the controversial plan to establish a pay-to-drive lane on that highway in Mecklenburg County.  Tillis has tried to deflect some of the criticism by saying critics need to direct their concerns to local authorities.  

Nevertheless, critics of pay-to-drive HOT lanes showed up in force at this weekend’s NCGOP convention to build support for their efforts.  They went before the NCGOP executive committee, where we had a number of pairs of eyes and ears in place.

The anti-HOT lanes crowd initially sought to get a resolution approved by the committee expressing opposition to the installation of toll roads in North Carolina. It was determined that  a quorum-plus-one was present, so business went forward.

Tillis and outgoing Party Chairman Robin Hayes were the most outspoken  critics of the anti-Hot lanes resolution.  According to one of my sources in the room:

Speaker Tillis spoke against it, saying HOT Lanes are not planned to go across our state and that we should work through our local towns and governing boards to stop them, and we should not tie the hands of Governor McCrory and his road plan.   Not many people appeared impressed with that argument.  Robin Hayes also spoke against it, saying we should not comment regarding items currently under consideration by the legislature.  Again, not many people appeared to be impressed.

Another source in the room told me that anti-HOT lane speakers started to dominate the debate.  As the number of the anti-forces began to grow, my source said Tillis pulled a surprise move:

When there were eight people lined up to speak in support of the resolution and no one in opposition, Tillis got up with the woman next to him.  On his way out of the room, he was saying something to people in a number of aisles. Some of them got up with him and walked out with him.

Then they called for quorum and we did not have it — thanks to Thom and his lady friend leaving. So, business was halted and there was no vote at all on the resolution.

Anti-HOT lane forces DID end up with a pleasant surprise:  an anti-HOT lane plank was inserted into the state party’s platform.  One well-placed party source told me:

“The amendment to the platform is much stronger than the initial resolution. The platform is a much higher order document which should guide how the party acts. So the toll opponents actually achieved a huge victory. While the resolution would have given it a little more punch, the platform is much more important.”

13 thoughts on “When things get HOT, Tholl Road Thom takes his marbles and goes home

  1. You have good sources this time. The longer Thom spoke, the harder opinions in the room became. He has spent enough time in the Assembly I’m sure, to also know when the jig is up and a vote is about to wash the “wrong” direction.

    By scuttling quorum, he has sown fresh support for Brannon. Many of the delegates had just finished explaining their disgust for having to wait all the way to Sunday afternoon to debate things that could have been settled earlier if the convention has not run overtime on Friday and Saturday. People wanted to vote on other things besides HOT lanes and Thom pulled the rug out from under the delegates.

  2. The events you are describing actually took place on Sunday afternoon at the Executive Committee meeting. With everything running behind schedule, resolutions got pushed there…as well as final debate on the platform changes.

  3. Tillis has been Speaker for three years. Since he seems to be so eager to leave that job for the U.S. Senate, he should step down now as Speaker and dedicate himself to running for the next office.

    Walt-in-Durham

  4. Is the NC House empowered to change their “Speaker” between sesions ? Can Thom still hold this spot while running for the US Senate?

  5. There was also a group trying to get the platform open for other amendments, but Hayes and his minions butchered parliamentary procedure in an extremely heavy handed manner to prevent that. Hayes made a number of remarks throughout the executive committee meeting to the effect that people should not be bringing issues forward. He and his minions tried to get the platform as presented by the Platform Committee, without even the amendment from the convention floor voted on. He clearly did not want any further amendment which might embarrass his boy Tillis. I have never seen an NCGOP meeting run in such a dictatorial manner as this one, and it was all to try to protect Tillis. It was also extremely bizarre to see ex-chairman Hayes sitting right beside the podium and controlling the meeting, while the newly elected chairman Pope sat in the audience. What gives with that? Pope was chairman of the party during that meeting, not Hayes.

    1. Yeah, not real clear why Hayes was hanging around, either. Was thinking that he’s Chair until his term expires (which is when? – see below), and Pope was Chairman-Elect until Pope’s term is officially over but the State POO says this……..

      “In every odd numbered year, the State Convention shall elect a State Chairman and a Vice Chairman who shall serve for a term of 2 years or until their successors are elected.”

      By this interpretation, Hayes term should have started the minute the election results were announced.

      1. You are completely correct. Hayes behavior was bizarre, and without precedent with other ex-chairmen. So was Pope’s behavior in letting him do it. I hope this will not persist into Pope’s term, as there is still hope that Pope can get the party back on the right track, and Hayes is a bad influence. Hayes’ authoritarian behavior at the ExCom meeting is but one example.

      2. Ugh, posted this when I was still recovering from an exhausting convention. Substitute Hay’s name where I put Pope’s and vice-versa and this post becomes more coherent.

  6. Lots of us we’re ready to get home and left the Executive com. meeting early to get on the road. At least ten folks I know left before this all went down, it was a long weekend. Maybe Tillis had a few folks walk out with him, but it probably didn’t take much to lose a quorum.

  7. Here are the two amendments that passed that are anti-HOT lane:

    NC Republican Party Platform 2013

    Article II: The Economy
    8. “We oppose any plans for or legislation in favor of HOT Lanes.”

    Article III: Individual Liberty
    7. “We oppose government-sanctioned tracking of drivers to enforce occupancy rates on our highways.”

  8. Well, considering most of us didn’t go to law school, I don’t think the NCGOP thinks our opinions are valid.

  9. The last two conventions under Robin Hayes have been a cluster to say the least. I really thought they were going to drag out the session on Saturday so there would not be time to vote for Vice-Chair and have the Executive Committee appoint one. The convention needs to be delegate friendly as those in attendance are the party faithful. Course it may have just backfired…because that primed speaking slot for Tillis became a very rushed one with a two minute speech.

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