Meet The New Boss. (Same as The Old Boss?)

claude popeGov. Pat got a lot of mileage out of The Who’s classic “Won’t Get Fooled Again” during his successful 2012 campaign against Walter Dalton.  The actions of the NCGOP establishment at the recently completed state convention has me thinking of that song, as well — more specifically of the lyrics cited in the title of this post.

A LOT of folks tried to tell me how Claude Pope would be a great friend of Tea Party and other grassroots activists.  Two things had me wary of that spin:  (1) the fact that he’s first cousins with state budget director and BIG Gov. Pat fan Art Pope, and (2) his admission to me that he was Gov. Pat’s hand-picked choice for NCGOP chairman.

Well, this past weekend, Pope overwhelmed Tea Party activist Jack Brosch to win the state party chairmanship.  So, we’ve got him for at least two years.

Our friends over at Publius2013  tell us that Pope appears to be foresaking the anti-establishment route and aligned himself with the crowd at NCGOP that has stomped on and primaried Tea Partiers over the last few years:

Claude Pope was elected (as expected) at the NC GOP Convention over the weekend in Charlotte.  Though the Vice-Chair race was expected to be more competitive, Joyce Krawiec won in the first round of voting with over 50%.  While Pope is more of an establishment-type, his leadership style has held hope for many that we’ll still have a net positive change from the spoiled antics of “always support your leadership” Robin Hayes.

That hope lasted about 15 hours.  At the Executive Committee meeting on Sunday, Claude Pope introduced his “slate” of officers for the NC GOP.  Phil Strach, who chaired the meeting, ended nominations so no others could be offered from the floor.  Ultimately, Pope’s slate was “elected” – if that’s an appropriate term. They included Michael McKnight as Legal Counsel, who works in the same law firm as  Strach.  At one point in a discussion with another member, McKnight haughtily ended their debate with the third-grade tactic of “have you gone to law school?” and strode away from the microphone.  Later another member used a point of information to ask the chair (tongue-in-cheek) if any of the members present were eligible to be there if they did not also attend law school.

Pope’s “slate” also included newcomer Brian Livecchi as Assistant Legal Counsel, a promoted Tommy Adams as Secretary, and sometimes loveable, sometimes irritable, always ubiquitous, and ever-festooned Ann Sullivan as Assistant Secretary.

Pope’s worst picks of the day, however, were Jeff Morse, and Steve Swanson as Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer (respectively).  Readers of this blog will recall Morse as a “power behind the throne” type who quietly controlled much of what happened in Wake County from behind the scenes in both Claude Pope’s term as Wake County Chair and in Susan Bryant’s regime.  It has been suspected that Morse is the source of much of the contention in Wake County having notorious feuds with then School Board member Ron Margiotta and others and allegedly fomenting the culture of cutting people out of the process or conversation if he thought they disagreed with him.  He and Swanson are rarely seen apart at any of the major GOP functions and if you discreetly listen, you can almost always hear them criticizing others on a regular basis – particularly those who don’t buy into their neo-con/status quo/establishment plan of action.  Morse particularly is a self-important narcissist and a danger to the success of our party.  Mark my words, this will be borne out in time.


The Executive Committee meeting itself was no shining testament of Pope’s ability to bring people together.  Absent for much of the meeting, Pope let Robin Hayes continue to interject himself through much of it.  Between Hayes and Strach, honest debate was not only stifled, but completely shut out.  Hayes repeatedly rose to speak anytime someone said something he didn’t like and rehashed his Tampa Tantrums telling members to abdicate their responsibility as an oversight committee and just rubber stamp anything leadership proposed.  Strach repeatedly abused his possession of the gavel to shut off debate and at times deny members the right to be heard completely.


Several folks who attended the convention told me they thought it was strange that Hayes basically ran the executive committee meeting — since party rules state that a chairman’s term begins immediately upon his / her election.  (The ExComm meeting occurred AFTER Pope was elected.)

As an added bonus, HERE is some audio of one of the more contentious segments of the NCGOP executive committee meeting this past weekend in Charlotte.  (Thom Tillis and Robin Hayes can be heard frequently throughout this recording.)

I talked with a member of the Executive Committee who is really bothered by what he witnessed this weekend at the dawn of The Pope era:

“These guys at state party headquarters don’t get it.  I have a lot of Tea Party friends who are fed up and ready to go the third party route.  They are tired of getting run over, lied to and abused by these guys in Raleigh.  I thought Claude’s election could help calm things down.  If state party leadership doesn’t reconsider, and abandon, some of their tactics, they are going to push a lot of people, who have worked really hard for Republican successes in this state, right out the door and into a third party.  I’m not talking about a handful of folks.  I am talking about an exodus of enough people to do some serious damage to the North Carolina Republican Party’s electoral fortunes.”


11 thoughts on “Meet The New Boss. (Same as The Old Boss?)

  1. ” I am talking about an exodus of enough people to do some serious damage to the North Carolina Republican Party’s electoral fortunes.”

    He’s right. When I got home from the ExComm meeting on Sunday, I got a rude shock….I’m still reeling from it….but a very respected elder statesman Republican in my county who had followed the convention called me to tell me he’s re-registering Unaffiliated and will hang out with my county’s Tea Party hereafter.

    Then there’s rumblings from some quarter that an admitted formula error affected the Vice Chair race. Whether its true and whether it would have changed the plus-50% margin Joyce K got in the first round, I don’t know. But whether rumor, truth, or something in-between, this could be catastrophic if it’s widely repeated without being refuted. I’ve never seen so many young people at a State Convention before. Undoubtedly many were there to support Glen Bradley so I doubt very seriously we’ll see them again next year.

  2. That executive committee meeting was indeed very troubling. The arrogant high-handedness was completely uncalled for. I think the grassroots came into the weekend wanting to and willing to work as a united party, but it is those at the top who are making that difficult, and that could be disastrous.

  3. The forumula error reminds me of the grumblings out of the 2008 convention about the distribution of national delegates. Nobody disputed then, than the minor candidates only had a handful of delegates, but the allocation was not in compliance with state election law and the party leadership shugged it off.

    This year it’s obvious Joyce won with the powerful backing of the NC Womens clubs. None of Glen’s supporters that I’ve met with have spoken badly of her personally, but they are suspicious that with all of the county chairs crowded into a corner for that round of balloting, a whisper campaign took place. “Convention is running very late… Get Joyce over 50% so we don’t stay here til 9:00” kind of thing.

    It keeps coming back to the respect for the body of the party, which was lacking at that convention. People drove from all over the state for that election and it was not handled well.

    In 2012, I was pleased to see the rules chairman publicly admit the delegate allocation from 2008 was wrong, and everyone came into agreement how it should be done, and supported the party slate at the 2012 convention. When the party leadership can mea culpa and reach out the the grassroots, it does work.

  4. Claude Pope blew such an opportunity to start out with a fresh unifying message.

    He could have run the meeting himself, like all state chairmen prior to Bill Cobey did, instead of putting up a substitute. Cobey started having substitutes run the meetings for him because he could not handle meetings himself, and if he wanted to get heavy handed, it was better for him politically that a minion was doing it instead of himself. I suspect Claude ran his own ExCom meetings at the Wake GOP, and is capable of running ExCom meetings at NCGOP. The heavy handedness, we need to get away from, period.

    Why in the heck did he let that heavy handed substitute and Robin Hayes run the meeting – Pope’s first as chairman? That got things off to a very bad start.

    On the officers election, I saw no sign of an active campaign for other candidates. Pope’s smartest move would have been to announce (from the chair with him running the meeting) that the floor was open for nominations for the first office and go right down the list. His people could have been nominated from the floor in a normal election process, and would likely have won all or at least most of the spots for his candidates since their were no other apparent organized campaigns. The image this would have projected would have been of unity, openness, and a bottom up party, but still getting what he wanted. Instead, he projected control from the center and distain for internal democracy within the party.

    Pope may have just gotten very bad advice from Hayes, and if that is the problem, I hope he realizes it and quits listening to Hayes. He has two solid former state chairmen living in Wake County who were some of the all time greats among state chairmen who would be far better advisers – Jack Hawke and Dave Flaherty. Hawke and Flaherty always ran their own ExCom meetings and neither one ever railroaded a slate for party offiers through the ExCom.

  5. Brant, what “our friends over at Publius2013 tell us” is a load of nonsense.

    Publius2013 wrote (and you quoted), that at the Executive Committee meeting chairman Phil Strach “ended nominations so no others could be offered from the floor,” implying that someone else wanted to be nominated, but that Strach would not permit it. Well I wasn’t at the State GOP Executive Committee meeting (because I’m no longer a Member), but I’ve known Phil Strach for many years, and there’s no way that either Phil or Claude Pope would pull a stunt like that. It’s impossible to imagine. They’re not that kind of people.

    But, just to confirm what I was already sure of, I checked with someone who was there:

    I asked: Somebody is alleging that mtg chairman Phil Strach “ended nominations so no others could be offered from the floor,” implying that someone else wanted to be nominated, but that Strach would not permit it. That is very hard for me to believe. What happened?

    D.P. (who was there) answered: David, I did not sense this at all. Everything seemed to be open and above-board as far as nominations go…

    So now you know: “Publius2013” is spreading lies, to smear the good names of our fellow Republicans.

    It’s not the first time, either. Not long ago “Publius2013” (then, as now, hiding behind a pseudonym) falsely accused Susan Bryant and Donna Williams (our past and current Wake GOP chairmen) of “blatantly violating” the State and County Plans of Organization… which he had apparently not even bothered to read.

    1. Your friend DP must have been drunk or hung over or otherwise not paying attention. I was there and saw it with my own eyes. Pope playing Tammany Hall politics and put up a slate of insiders, a tactic that did not allow other nominations to be offered. That is a despicable cram down tactic that is not used in parties with internal democracy.

      As to Strach, he was named ”meeting chairman” by Hayes, not Pope, which was bizarre in itself. The nature of Pope’s motion did not necessitate Strach being heavy handed on that. Pope’s motion accomplished that. Where Strach was extremely heavy handed was in making bizarre and dictatorial rulings when the platform was considered.

      Executive Committee meetings should be conducted by the State Chairman, not a substitute. Bill Cobey may not have been competent to conduct them himself, but I suspect that Pope is. From what I understand, he managed to conduct Wake County GOP Executive Committee meetings personally without having to use a pinch hitter.

      As usual, Dave, your establishment colors are showing.

      Our state treasurer, secretary, and general counsel and their assistants are there to serve the whole party, not just the chairman personally, and the state chairman should not try to stack the Central Committee by cramming down his flunkies Those officers should owe their loyalty to the whole party in an open election, not to the chairman personally by virtual appointment..

    2. One point I would add is that your buddy Stratch was at his most heavy handed in trying to keep additional issues from being brought up in the platform and resolutions. He was extremely heavy handed in cutting off additional amendments to the platform, and I know at least two that were in the pipeline that Tillis would not have liked, one amending the language on Voter ID to call for only state issued ID’s not the 250 assorted ID’s the Tillis bill allows for, and the other supporting ending the renewable energy mandate, again something Tillis would not have liked. Strach’s hachet job had everything to do with protecting Tillis. That was Hayes main objective as well.

      1. “Raphael” (whoever you are), why on earth do you think there’s something wrong with a Party Chairman designating someone else to run an Executive Committee meeting? It is a very common practice. It is far better to pick someone who’s good at it than to botch the job yourself.

        I remember an Executive Committee meeting that Chairman Jim Hastings tried to run himself, which began very friendly, with no one obviously mad at anyone else. But it collapsed into chaos and shouting, with Members stomping angrily out, because Hastings ran the meeting poorly. He didn’t know what he was doing, so he ruled arbitrarily, almost randomly, ignoring or rejecting valid motions, and generally making people mad unnecessarily.

        Nor is there anything wrong with a Chairman recruiting a slate of good people to serve with him. It’s not “Tammany Hall politics” to elect a slate when nobody else is interested in running for those thankless jobs.

        Nor is there anything wrong (or a “hatchet job”) with following the Party’s rules regarding resolutions. They are, IMO, way too onerous — and I should know, because I’m the only person I know who’s actually done the >500 piece mailing necessary to qualify resolutions for consideration without suspension of the rules! — but the solution isn’t for the meeting chairman to ignore them.

        1. Strach played “rough ball” with the delegates … but there was a vote whether to conduct nominations by slate, which was approved by the body. The critics on ExecComm need to develop their parliamentary chops. They missed opportunities to call division, were grabbing mics without being properly recognized, etc. They’ll either get better at it, or the king rooster keeps his perch. That’s just how it is, in politics.

        2. Dave, your bringing up Hastings is interesting on two fronts, one that I question your memory of any ExCom meeting with Hastings, and second Hastings plays into why we need party officers dedicated to the party as a whole rather than the chairman personally.

          Hastings only presided at one ExCom meeting, which was directly after the convention at which he was elected, and there was no dissention there. He dragged his feet for months on calling either an ExCom or Central Committee meeting, and by the time a meeting was called, he had been indicted on tax charges and taken a leave of absence. Vice Chairman and acting state chairwoman Jane Rouse actually ran that meeting, and there was no dissention between Rouse and the members. If Hastings was present, the ongoing controversy over whether he should have resigned instead of taking a leave of absence may have caused some controversy between him and others, but he was not presiding. That duty had passed to Jane Rouse as acting state party chairman. NCGOP employees also revealed that prior to his first Central Committee meeting, Hastings told a party staff meeting that the Central Committee was ”a dangerous group elected from around the state”.

          The other thing that Hastings name reminded me of was the race for General Counsel following the convention at which Sam Curran was elected. A couple of people from the 11th district approached my delegation and asked to speak to anyone who was on the ExCom. Hasting was from the 11th and still had broad support there, even in his disgrace. They asked us to vote for someone from Charlotte for General Counsel, because in one of his rulings out of a series involving Hastings relationship to the GOP during his tax troubles, the incumbent had made one ruling Hastings felt strongly was against his interests. We asked if that ruling was contrary to the law, PoO, or other procedure, and they hemmed and hawed and said not really but it was against what Hastings wanted and was in what they thought was a gray area. They said that the incumbent General Counsel was gone anyway because Hastings had cut a deal with Curran to whip up the 11th district for Curran if Curran would help them dump that General Counsel. The guy from Charlotte was someone Curran recruited. I went to the ExCom meeting and expected fireworks, but while most other party offices were contested, the incumbent General Counsel did not put his name forward and the guy from Charlotte was elected unopposed. Curran personally nominated the guy from Charlotte.

          I really wonder if any party General Counsel since then has put the party’s interests ahead of the chairman’s personal interests.. The same can be said for party secretaries and treasurers since the Cobey chairmanship as well…

          1. I apologize. I believe you’re right: it was Sam Currin, not Hastings, who ran that botched meeting that I recalled.

            Sorry about that!

            We’ve certainly had our problems with Executive Committee meetings. One year, both of the meetings were cut short because the GOP State Chairperson hadn’t reserved the room for long enough.

Comments are closed.