NC-03: Even More questions about that GRNC “recommendation”


I know, for tax purposes, you can’t say “endorsement” — even though THAT is exactly what it looks like is going on here.  In a previous post, we raised questions about how Grass Roots North Carolina came to a  decision on a particular candidate in the Third Congressional District.  We invite you to reread that post as well as the response / clarification from GRNC boss Paul Valone in the comment section below said post.



For the purpose of this post, we will not be reprinting Mr. Vallone’s entire post, but will be quoting excerpts from it.  (Again, you are welcome to refer back to the previous post to read his comments in their entirety.)


This was a tough primary to call because, frankly, there are so many good Republican candidates, most of whom we would support in a General Election. However, we recommended Rep. Michael Speciale because he is one of the three most pro-gun legislators in the NC House.[…] 


We agree there.   But the problem with that statement?  Of the three legislators in the race,  Speciale had the worst rating in GRNC’s very own system.   MORE:


[…] Voting records are a good, but not perfect measure of a candidate. No candidate evaluation system is flawless and, unfortunately, all votes are not created equal. Often, mediocre Republican candidates fall into the category I call “votes right when squeezed.” Moreover, party leaders are very adept at avoiding recorded votes. Consequently, we make a point of using procedural votes (e.g. motions to table, or to divide the question) in addition to what we call “substantive” votes – votes on bills or amendments themselves.


But your own explanation of your evaluation system told readers that voting records — if they exist — are the most important thing to look at in evaluating a candidate.  In terms of voting record ratings,  Reps. Shepard and Murphy had better ratings for their voting records — according to GRNC’s own system — than Speciale did.    MORE:


[…]Rep. Speciale didn’t know that when, in his first term, he voted against a series of motions to table anti-gun amendments to one of our bills made by then-Rules Chair Rep. Tim Moore. When I spoke to him afterward, he maintained that out of fairness, every legislator should get a floor vote on his amendments, however bad they may be.[…] 


So, were the other two legislators in the race ASKED if they had any regrets about old votes, and therefore granted “PASSES” on said regretted votes?   MORE:


[…] Since that time, Speciale has invariably voted *for* the interests of gun rights supporters many times on House Bills 562, 937 and 746. More importantly, he has acted a primary sponsor for numerous pro-gun bills, many of which I helped draft.[…] 


So, wait a minute.  Are we to believe NOW that Reps. Shepard and Murphy were snubbed by GRNC because they did not act as a primary sponsor on bills Mr. Valone drafted?   MORE:


[…] By contrast, in 2017 Rep Murphy to advance a weakening amendment to House Bill 746, the permitless concealed carry bill which passed in the NC House but failed to get a hearing in the NC Senate. […]


In the announcement of their “recommendation” of Rep. Speciale,  GRNC said:  “[…] The candidate we DO NOT recommend is NC House Representative Greg Murphy, who has repeatedly voted against the interests of gun owners.[…]”.

Repeatedly — to most people –means more than once.  And Valone offers ONE example.  We checked on his example.  HB 746 did indeed allow for permitless concealed carry of firearms.  And an amendment  changed the penalty for taking a firearm into the legislature or a courthouse from “an infraction” to “a class one misdemeanor.” (What’s the penalty for an infraction?) That amendment is hardly a “weakening” one.



A motion was offered by a Democrat to TABLE the amendment.  And Rep. Murphy voted NO, along with Reps. Larry Pittman and John Blust.   (This is the only vote on this bill where Greg Murphy voted on the opposite side of a majority of Republicans and Mike Speciale.)   ONE VOTE.  So WHERE are we getting “repeatedly”?



Also, this alleged unforgivable offense by Murphy occurred in 2017.  Mr. Valone’s group recommended Murphy for reelection in 2018.  If Murphy was so bad on guns in 2017, why recommend him for reelection in 2018?  Mr. Valone just told us that they don’t recommend anyone in a race where no one stands out.  A liberal Democrat vs. a Republican “bad on guns” would surely fit that category.




[…] And while other candidates such as Rep. Phil Shepherd may have excellent voting records, they have not stuck their neck out for gun rights supporters – particularly by sponsoring pro-gun bills – the way Speciale has. […] 


Because “Remember in November” is an objective candidate evaluation system, I cannot change his early voting record, but GRNC-PVF *can* recognize Michael Speciale as the standout candidate in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.[…]


There’s that word “objective.”  The funny thing is — Mr. Valone’s explanation makes this whole process look quite subjective and quite pre-determined.


15 thoughts on “NC-03: Even More questions about that GRNC “recommendation”

  1. Was laughing reading these last two posts on these OUT-OF-STATE jokers Valone and Speciale. Speciale refuses to answer surveys for pro-gun groups and lays down for leadership and takes orders. He’s not interested in getting roll call votes on true Constitutional Carry because he says he won’t get it so why bother. He’s given up long ago. And that’s what he’ll do in Congress just like RINO PATRICK MCHENRY who GRNC is PROMOTING in the comment section of the last post. VALONE is FINE electing politicians that’d vote for firearm accessory bans and who can’t forget the thousands of dollars they spent shilling for Tillis’s so called “PRO-GUN” record last round.

    In REP SPECIALE’S OWN WORDS: “I have relegated the GRNC to the trash heap since their demands outweigh their common sense. Valone’s self-importance is more important to him than the legitimacy of GRNC’s efforts.”

    1. Out of state? I have lived in Eastern North Carolina for most of my life since I got here at age 18 in 1973. I disagreed with Valone on his scoring a few years ago. He continues to penalize me for voting not to table Amendments, hence the less than perfect score on votes, and I continue to vote the way I choose. I respect Paul and GRNC, and while I appreciate the GRNC recommendation, I don’t concern myself with how I will be scored. But “Bill” already knows this.
      End of story.

    2. As a seventh generation North Carolinian myself, I find that “out of state jokers” comment offensive. Speciale has stood firm for our conservative values, and taken the lead in protecting them. So has Valone. A good example is our law protecting our historic monuments. That was Speciale’s bill and he guided it to passage. When so many know nothings are trying to tear down Confederate monuments and that is leading to attacks on other military monuments, monuments to founding fathers, monuments to great explorers, etc., it was Mike who took the bull by the horns to protect our heritage. He is also a leader and fighter on gun rights and a lot of other issues.

      Many of the Congressional candidates are not native to the district. Some do not even live there now. But Speciale has lived in the district longer than many of them, including Medicaid Murphy..

      1. SPECIALE doesn’t even have an FEC COMMITTEE! WHY IS HE RUNNING? Is he serious or is he a joker? Why doesn’t he have an FEC committee? Why does it report ZERO?

        Wheres Valone’s mailers? is he holding out until RINO Tillis and Patrick McHenry need his “help”? MAYBE Valone is busy preparing his 100% Renee Ellmers scorecard mailer like he did in the past! SICK!

        Speciale IMO has been the LEADERSHIP’s representative to the grassroots. He’s given up on REAL gun legislation year after year not getting it done. He’s been happy to put his name on leadership’s watered down – weak sauce gun bills and all while GRNC giving him cover just like they did Thom Tillis and Renee Ellmers. Voting for and sponsoring FEE INCREASES is NOT conservative! Time he term limited himself for the good of NC gun owners.

        1. Do your homework before propagating false information. I have a committee. Regarding reports, my reports are electronic, and I had problems with the server. Fri through yesterday the FEC was off for the Holiday, so I could not get assistance until today. I got that help and my reports have been filed. The rest of your drivel is not worth the time to respond. Have a great day.

  2. It seems in North Carolina, the Haymaker is the only place that shines the light on this type of thing, no matter who it is or what party they belong to. After reading these two stories about this endorsement, if I was Phil Shepard or one of his supporters, I would be furious. In fact, if I was a member of Grass Roots North Carolina, I would be furious. This was an obvious inside job. Speciale scratched their back, they scratched his. Thanks to the Haymaker for doing the research and presenting the facts.

    1. Wow. I came here to write this post by Consistant Conservative. Thanks for beating me to it! Well said!

      This endorsement (which is exactly what it is without regard to what they call it) is clearly an inside job. The endorsement was based on friendship – not the values of the organization. Based on the link to Speciale’s website that Bill posted, I guess they kissed and made up.

      Why does everything have to be a scam? No wonder so many people celebrate their lack of interest in politics.

  3. It is not just the votes, it is the leadership roles such as bill sponsorship that separates the men from the boys. Speciale takes the lead on conservative issues like gun rights, and that is what GRNC is rewarding with its endorsement. He is the one out sponsoring pro-gun bills and the endorsement recognizes that role, as was made clear on the GRNC’s own website.

    The claim that Speciale takes orders from the speaker made in a previous comment to this article is also nonsense. Speciale was one of the leaders of a group of conservatives who a few years ago held the state budget hostage until the Speaker agreed to remove a number of spending items, one of which was the state taxpayer subsidy of renewable energy. That’s right. Speciale was one of those who faced down the Speaker to end state subsidy of renewable energy. That is the type of courage we need in government. When the Speaker later worked to restore renewable energy subsidies but from the ratepayer instead of the taxpayer, Speciale voted against it while Murphy and Shepard voted for it. Speciale has been a leader for the conservative cause on many issues.

  4. I’m comfortable with the explanation given by GRNC’s President on this matter. As a general rule, we can expect any GRNC 3 or 4 STAR RIN evaluation to be a solid 2nd Amendment supporter. If the Haymaker thinks Michael Speciale is not the best candidate for NC03 they are free to promote their own choice. I reside in NC05 so I cannot vote in either Special Election. It will be up to the voters in Districts 03 and 09 to decide. GRNC members of both Districts, and of which there are many, will do as they always have done when comparing and contrasting candidates for elected office and use many points of reference in making their personal choice when they cast their balolot.

    And yes, I’m one of the visible faces of GRNC. As GRNC’s Director of Local Government Affairs, I spend many hours, volunteer hours I might add, working to retain and expand the rights all of us enjoy. We welcome you to join us.

    Regardless of who wins or loses, my work will continue.

    1. Andy —

      Neither I nor this site are expressing an opinion on Speciale himself. In fact, we’ve been big supporters of his throughout his time in Raleigh. This article merely shines light on the fact that YOU GUYS are NOT following your own criteria for making “recommendations.” You talk about how important voting records are in making your recommendation. Yet, according to your own system, Phil Shepard earns a 93 rating for his voting record. Greg Murphy gets an 88. And Speciale gets an 84. Using your own logic, Shepard should get your group’s nod. Yet, you ignored your own standard and gave your blessing to the third place man. THAT needs to be explained to your members AND the voters of the Third District.

      Valone dismissed it all as part of some “pass” you guys gave Speciale for some early-on “bad votes.” Did the other two legislators you rated get the same benefit? If not, HOW FAIR is that?

  5. Come on, Brant. You’re better than this. First of all, we do not need to avoid the word “endorsement” for “tax purposes.” The GRNC Political Victory Fund is a federally registered PAC. We could legally “endorse” anyone we wish. We choose not to do so for exactly the purposes I stated earlier. Moreover, you still seem bent (hopefully not intentionally) on confusing the Remember in November candidate evaluations, which are objective, with the GRNC-PVF recommendations, which are analytical.

    Nor did Speciale have the “worst rating.” All of the candidates in question have 4-star evaluations. I am not going to re-litigate the reasons for our GRNC-PVF recommendation for Speciale. You asked for them, and you got them.

    You prefer Shepard? Good for you. He’s a fine guy. We’re not impugning your choice, and you shouldn’t stoop to impugning ours. One thing that stuns me is the level of vitriol among Republican candidates and their supporters in the 3rd District race. I now have supporters of at least three contenders mad at me.

    Interestingly, the only candidate people have *not* slammed us for choosing not to recommend is Murphy. That says much. Oh, and yes: We did recommend Murphy for re-election to his NC House seat because he was the best candidate *in that particular race.* Remember what I said about “recommendations” not being blanket “endorsements”? Perhaps you would have been happier if, in that race, we had endorsed an anti-gun Democrat? (And no, I don’t recall the dynamics of that particular race among the 350+ candidates we evaluated, and have no intention wasting time by looking it up.)

    So you dredged up an old Facebook post from Speciale? Please. It was on exactly the issue I mentioned when I responded to your initial inquiry. Speciale and I resolved the misunderstanding over procedural votes, and he has voted right ever since. Would you rather we didn’t win legislators over to our way of thinking? Should we punish those we win over?

    Were harsh words spoken back then? Big deal. In 25 years of directing GRNC, I have been denounced by most politicians in Raleigh, and a few in Washington. Why? Because regardless of political stripe or party affiliation, when they stray, we hold their feet to the fire.

    There is a reason we use “Armatissimi e liberissimi” as our organizational credo. It was first spoken by Niccolo Machiavelli with reference to the universally armed (and therefore unconquerable) Swiss, and means “Most armed, most free.” As the father of modern power politics, Machiavelli also said: “It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved.” Politicians sometime bristle at that. Happily, most gun rights supporters don’t.

    The thing is, I expect to be denounced by politicians. It is another thing altogether to have our motives impugned by those who are supposed to be on the same side, over a simple difference of opinion.

    Now I’m afraid I must take my leave of this particular circular firing squad.

    F. Paul Valone

  6. Are you really refusing to get it, Brant? Shepard didn’t get a “93 rating.” There is no such animal. That was a voting record, only one of the factors in a GRNC evaluation, which also includes bill sponsorship, on which Speciale excels. Moreover, that is the Remember in November project, which is only tangentially related to GRNC-PVF candidate recommendations. I keep saying it, and you keep ignoring it. For example, I’m sure I can dredge up some RINOs who are afraid to vote wrong, so they have 100% voting records and therefore 4-star (****) evaluations. Would you like us to recommend them over people who have stuck their necks out for gun owners?

    Tell you what, Brant, why don’t we have this debate on my radio show next week, where the playing field will be level instead of me trying to shoehorn points into a comments section? We would record it at a mutually agreed upon time this week, and then it would air before the 3rd Congressional primary. What do you say?

  7. I am a veteran and retired business owner who helped form Grass Roots North Carolina in 1994. For 25 years, we have been in the trenches fighting for civilian firearms rights. Our recommendations are formulated from the Remember in November candidate evaluations as well as actual contact with the legislator in his/her environment–the halls and chambers of the NC Legislature. It is, as Paul mentioned, nuanced, taking into account bill sponsorship and even public statements. We do not gladhand or backslap politicians; even our allies are often upset with us. Michael Speciale has earned our recommendation, but we will likely support the pro-Second Amendment candidate who wins the primary. In any case, our work continues, and Paul Valone continues to lead GRNC by virtue of spending more of his thought, effort, and time than anyone else in the state.

  8. What’s the matter, Brant? You didn’t post my last comment, including my challenge for a debate on my radio show. I figured you weren’t posting my comment because it is Easter, but I see you just posted one. Are you afraid of a public debate? If you won’t post it, perhaps we will send the challenge to 127,000 of our best friends.

    1. Paul —

      I’m going to break one of my standard rules ONE LAST TIME. (I normally don’t go back and forth with people in the comment section. Far too often, it gets way too childish. Case in point.)

      This babbling about censorship? It’s my site. My kingdom. My rules. You don’t have an absolute right to say whatever you want to say on my site. I am a benevolent dictator.

      However, I am quite fair and generous toward people who are specifically discussed in my articles. It’s only fair to allow them to offer counter-points to what I’ve said about them and their actions.

      My general counsel, Mr. Bats, has explained the ground rules for commenting in a previous post. YOu’re welcome to go back into our archives and read that for a refresher.

      While you’ve been sitting in front of your pc obsessing over my site, I have been enjoying Easter.

      Also, it is SOP that all comments on this site are moderated / approved before being posted. So, your comments will not instantaneously appear on screen. Some human will have to find time to read them and get them approved.

      I did not realize you have a radio show. The Haymaker is what I do. If you want to talk to me, come here. If I accepted every invitation I received to appear on a podcast, radio program, or newscast, THAT is all I’d be doing.

      I’m not doing your radio show — especially a pre-recorded one that can be edited prior to broadcast.

      You still have not explained why you ignored your own rules in making these recommendations. You stress that voting records are the most important consideration in evaluating candidates. Your site reported that Phil Shepard voted in line with the sentiments of your members 93% of the time, while Greg Murphy did it 88% of the time, and Mike Speciale did it 84% of the time. Yet, you recommended the guy who was the least in line with your members.

      You claim the recommendation has more to do with your working relationship with the individual legislators. If that was the case, WHY did you bother evaluating ALL of the candidates in the 3rd district race?

      You also attacked Greg Murphy for “repeatedly” voting against the interests of gun owners. Yet, you only provided ONE example — which hardly fits the definition of “repeatedly.” And the example you provided can’t seriously be described as a vote against gun owners.

      Your 127,000 best friends? I guess that is your email list you’re threatening me with. I am surprised it’s that large. I often find myself having to explain to people just who your group is. Picking a fight with me and my site is sure to do wonders for you from a publicity standpoint. However, I am not interested in playing the game.

      Contrary to your suggestions, this never was an attack on Rep. Speciale. Our site has been quite supportive of Mr. Speciale through the years. We expressed our concern about your ham-handed intervention into the Third District race armed with misleading information.

      Move along, Paul. Try to behave. Try to do a little better next time.

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