You knew things were going to get interesting in New Bern this weekend when all non-members of the 3rd congressional district GOP executive committee were kicked out of the meeting hall. Of course, we had several pairs of eyes and ears in the room.
Sources tell me Craven GOP chairman Paul Hill briefed the group on the letter of censure against Speaker Tillis that originated from his county. He challenged the state GOP assertion of impropriety regarding the meeting where the letter was approved. Hill said a letter was drafted and approved [the version you saw on this site and some others] but a final version still needs to be approved by the county executive committee.
Most of the conversation in the closed session revolved around Thom Tillis. My sources tell me that many of the previously publicized allegations against the speaker were aired. Sources tell me that the legislators who were present [McElraft, Sanderson, and Cleveland] spoke in defense of Tillis.
Tillis did not attend the convention. [My sources tell me a “prior commitment” was cited. That’s quite unusual to skip a major GOP gathering the week you announce your bid for US Senate.]
Sources tell me that — judging by the applause — at least two thirds of those in attendance were Tillis foes / censure supporters. They also tell me that state chairman Jack Brosch was received very warmly by the convention delegates.
One source summed up the event for me like this:
“The Tillis group is in full suppression mode. They are not interested in discussing people’s concerns about the speaker. They want to clamp down on, and shut up, anyone who has anything less than glowing to say about Thom Tillis. This is all a real shame.”
A source familiar with the inner workings of the Craven County GOP tells me the letter of censure will likely survive. But how strongly worded it is will depend on (1) WHO shows up at the next meeting, and (2) HOW MANY people buckle under pressure from Raleigh.