#NCGOP: Convention pre-game show

ncgopState Republicans are headed off to the furthest western regions of our state this weekend to hold their convention and plot a course for the next year.

Observers are worried about a number of things impacting participation in the event: the remote location, the distractions offered by the Cherokee casino resort, a congressional fundraiser in Greensboro, and the kickoff of the US Open festivities in Pinehurst, among others.

Two big items look to create some drama for the pachyderms this weekend: (1) reported changes to the platform, and (2) Senate nominee Thom Tillis.  We reported earlier about efforts within the platform drafting committee to water down language on amnesty for illegal aliens and delete altogether language opposing toll roads.  We also understand there will be an effort to strike the vague, wishy-washy language allegedly opposing ObamaCare.  Delegates to the convention will  have the final say on the party platform.  Let’s hope they don’t fall for this castration of the document and the party’s core beliefs.

In politics — just like business — you HAVE to offer a clear-cut choice between yourself and your competition in order to stay competitive.  Taking steps like we’ve seen so far only muddies the boundary between the two parties — taking them into not-a-dime’s worth of difference territory.  Here’s an excellent read on the UKIP in Britain and how their current situation could be relevant to the futures of the North Carolina and national Republican Parties.  Their party leaders are already tiptoeing away from the limited government agenda that has brought them so much success against the two major parties and the political establishment in the UK.  

The Senate Race:  There’s been an incredible amount of smugness and boasting from the establishment groupies surrounding the Tillis campaign.  They need to remember their guy ended up with 44 percent of the party’s vote.  He is going to need 50 percent PLUS 1 of ALL North Carolinians to get to Washington.  Continuing to mock Tillis’ primary opponents and their supporters is NOT the way to make that happen.  There is a Libertarian candidate in the race.  And it is my understanding that some conservatives have succeeded in qualifying former state Rep. John Rhodes as a write-in for the Senate race.     There has been a lot of talk about these people not having anywhere else to go BUT Tillis.  Actually, they have at least TWO alternatives to Tillis.  A third could very well involve STAYING HOME in November.  (*So, keep up the mockery, guys.*) 

As a side note:  One of Tillis’ consultants came out and admitted — after the election — that Thom was orbiting at 16 percent in the polls until Mr. Rove swooped in with his Super PAC dinero. 

The people who followed Tillis mainly did it out of respect for the Republican brand — whatever that currently is — and a desire to see Kay Hagan unemployed.  The followers of the other primary campaigns were more passionate about ideas than individuals or parties.  They see the limiting of government as more important than whether the senator from our state, for the next six years, has a D or an R next to their name or wears a skirt or a suit to work.  Want to keep these folks in the fold?  Adopt the ideas they champion and fight for them. 

Party leaders are working overtime to push the unity theme.  They have lobbied to get all of the Senate primary candidates to appear in a photo op with Tillis at the convention.  It is my understanding  that the only no-show will be second place finisher Greg Brannon  — who will be kept close to home with work commitments.  Sources close to Brannon tell me the former candidate has been lobbied hard by sources close to Tillis and NCGOP HQ to show up and make a speech.  The Brannon sources say they were told Greg does not have to mention Tillis or endorse him. They merely want a speech preaching party unity.  

Paying Mr. Huckabee? :   Ted Cruz has a prior commitment.  Reports surfaced that presidential wannabee Mike Huckabee tried to shake local Republicans down for a $15,000 “speaking fee” in order for him to show his face at the convention.  NCGOP leaders are disputing that report, and Huckabee is slated to speak to delegates.


More on Party Unity:  There are a few side-stories to keep an eye on.  One is the missing money in Guilford County.  A firm co-owned by state party executive director Todd Poole got paid big while the Guilford GOP got nothing.  The Guilford GOP is investigating.  

A state party employee was working for the reelection campaign of a GOP legislator from Pitt County during a primary.  Poole and his firm got caught up in a dispute in Davidson County regarding an appointment to a state House seat. Tempers are still simmering over that one. 

Some activists are still upset at Senate nominee Tillis for his tiff with, and the censure of, state Rep. Robert Brawley.  Some folks Down East are still upset with Tillis over his alleged role in meddling in some party primaries there.

It should be fun.