#ncgop: Todd Poole, the establishment’s last stand?

ncgopThere’s a new player in the state politics blogosphere.   It’s run by former McCrory administration employees.  It’s financed by folks close to the governor.  It puts out the GOPe(stablishment) spin.   Keep an eye on it to stay abreast of what’s going on inside the heads of the NCGOP establishment crowd. 

Well, the GOPe got its ass handed to it at the party’s recent state convention.  A candidate for chairman, endorsed by a who’s who of the NCGOP, got wiped out by an underfunded, unknown named Hasan Harnett.  The hh3convention hall was packed with newcomers frustrated with the direction of the party.  It’s no secret that Harnett won because he has not been part of the clique in Raleigh.  (A county chairman with close ties to the Tea Party overwhelmingly got elected vice-chairman of the party.) 

There were a lot of shell-shocked folks the afternoon of Harnett’s election.  A lot of connections — and a lot of under-the-table income — was put at risk with that vote.  Something had to be done to slow down the riff-raff from outside the beltline.  

It’s been customary for new chairmen to staff the party headquarters as they see fit.  Yet, there are elements of the GOPe that are already whining about the prospect of Harnett cleaning house: 

In an interview Tuesday, incoming N.C. Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett said that he had no immediate plans to change staff at GOP headquarters. But insiders tell J+B that they are worried that Harnett will push out experienced staff with good track records, including Executive Director Todd Poole.[…] 

Good track records?  We had concerns about Poole when we heard he was getting hired to the ED job.   Some folks close to this site spoke highly of Poole early on, so we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.  But then, we had stories like THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS pop up. And then there’s THIS matter.  ToddPoole_Snapseed_Photoshop-1024x682

It’s our understanding that party HQ’s fundraising was not so hot during the last election cycle. (Yet, according to the voice mail at state party HQ, there was an army of people working inside that building.  All getting paid, we’re sure.)  We also understand there is some acrimony on Jones Street about the handling of various pass-through accounts at party HQ. 

The party lost seats in the legislature and blew some great opportunities on the state’s highest courts.

In business, and in politics, new bosses reserve the right to bring in their own team.  Obviously, there are some folks worried about their job security — because they bet on the wrong horse — or continued access to party cash.  Why not let Harnett evaluate the situation and make his own call as far as staff goes?  How fair is it to ask the man to work with someone else’s hires? MORE: 

Poole was the choice of former chairman Claude Pope, who hired him in August 2013. It would not be unusual for a new chairman to ask the party’s Central Committee to appoint a new executive director to handle day-to-day functions. That is especially true in this case, since Pope and other members of the GOP establishment endorsed one of Harnett’s opponents for chairman.

But even some of those excited about Harnett think that holding on to Poole is a good idea. Joyce Cotten, a member of the party’s Central Committee, was complimentary of Harnett but said she would be concerned if Poole left.

“I want to see him stay on,” Cotten said of Poole. Cotten, who did not take sides in the chairman’s race, is impressed with Harnett so far. But she thinks he lacks experience in some areas and can benefit from veteran staff.

tea“Todd has a great feel for how things need to be done across North Carolina,” said Cotten, who said she believes Poole and his team have widespread support in the Central Committee, which has 33 voting members including Cotten and Pope.

Other members of the Central Committee, which would need to approve any change in executive director, echoed Cotten’s praise of Poole.

Translation:  We don’t care what the Tea Party rabble perpetrated at that silly convention.  We’re keeping our crowd in place. 

Are we really going there with the party’s first black chairman, who generated an incredible amount of excitement among grassroots folks the Raleigh crowd will need in 2016?

“Todd provided calm leadership and direction in a busy and tumultuous election season,” said Zan Bunn, member from Cary. “I hope that he is able to stay.”

Ted Alexander, former mayor of Shelby and the party’s new 10th District chairman, called an effort to replace staff ill-timed.

ta“With a major presidential and senate race just around the corner, replacing one whose expertise and hard work helped deliver the state for the Republicans, just for the sake of replacement, would be terribly misguided,” Alexander said.

*Well, the Ted Alexander endorsement certainly makes the decision a whole lot easier for me.  You’re staying, Todd!*


There is no question that elections have gone the GOP’s way since August 2013. Not only did the party maintain super-majorities in the General Assembly, but Thom Tillis knocked off incumbent Democrat Senator Kay Hagan and the party saw gains at multiple levels of government, including the election of Mark Martin to the N.C. Supreme Court and the switch of the N.C. Court of Appeals, which is now majority Republican.

It is debatable how much credit for that goes to GOP staff.

Um, YA THINK ???????

But one former high-level N.C. GOP staffer, who worked at GOP headquarters with several different executive directors, said that Poole’s team is “at the top of the list in performance and results.”

“Todd is able to bring people together, give them a seat at the table, and solve problems without lasting acrimony,” the staffer said. “He has been able to put out bad fires and start the right ones.”

While Poole may be seen as a vestige of the outgoing establishment chairman and the establishment party types, Alexander says he has no doubt that Poole will work as hard and loyally for Harnett as he did for Pope. Bunn says that Poole proved that during the race for chairman.

What about the push poll?  We still haven’t been given a good answer about that.

“He was fair and evenhanded – and that hasn’t always been the case [with executive directors],” Bunn said. Now that the race is over, Bunn says keeping Poole and the current team on the payroll will help bring the party together.

loser“Continuity in staffing will help bring others around,” Bunn said.

We’re still getting all kinds of anonymous comments and emails here besmirching Harnett — mocking his intellect and competence.  It’s clear that we’ve still got some serious sore losers floating around out there.  Harnett deserves the same opportunity every other prior chairman has had — the chance to pick and / or approve his own support team. 

9 thoughts on “#ncgop: Todd Poole, the establishment’s last stand?

  1. Oh what difference does it make if Harnett keeps the same people in place? Everything! It will be a disaster. What difference does it make if he picks a few bad choices on staffers that have no connection to the former regime? Not much really.

    Clean house Hassan clean house!!!!! Know who’s working for and with l you. Believe absolutely nothing yjtthe former Regime tells you. You have the keys bring in the cleaning crew and power wash the building and then get to work.

    Congratulations! again clean house!!

  2. Dunno what to think. But I’d agree that the new Chair needs to know that the staff isn’t working to undermine him. My cousin the County Chair, told me that Todd always had time to talk to him. That’s the positive. When it came to actually getting support from 1506 Hillsborough street, well, a lot of county parties learn to fend for themselves. One other thing he told me that made me laugh…..he said a lot of these Central Committee members, particularly the District Chairs, are a bunch of vicious, self-serving primadonnas who never served as precinct leaders or especially as County Chairs, and don’t have a clue what it takes to get the job done on the ground. In fairness, he did say that several district chairs also concurrently serve as County Chairs as well, and a few of them he knew to be honorable.

    1. This is why it is time for the state executive committee to reclaim its power from the central committee.. The central committee works for the executive committee and it is high time the executive committee takes control of this party.. The chairman work for the executive committee because the executive committee is the convention body when the convention is not in session.

      1. As to hiring the Executive Director, the POO says specifically that this is the power of the Central Committee. In the past, the Central Committee has looked to the recommendation of the chairman on who to hire or retain in office, and I think it would be bad form to do differently this time.

        Poole has been better than some in that office, and I do not know enough to say whether he should go or stay. Harnett needs to gather the information as to what direction he feels he should go on that issue, and then proceed to deal with it with the Central Committee.

        At the very least, there should be a review of Poole’s contract at the start of the new chairmanship. Whatever happens should happen soon. We have an election to win next year, and we do not need our leadership twiddling its thumbs.

  3. i tend to agree with the trend of the comments/observations offered here.

    First: there are a lot of greasey people in the establishment. Just my observations as a newbie delegate. No further comments

    Second: I thought Mr. Poole a rather professional arbiter who knew what was going on – but did a good job thru the process.

    Third: i was very disappointed that some issues that were presented to the floor by paper were summarily ignored by Poole after recess in order – i presumed – to process the voting for new officers; Unless! i was out of the room at the time and there was some parliamentary discussion of effecting and agreeing to that.

    Fourth: one of those proposals that never came to the mount – was a definite thumb in the eye of the establishment who will always feed within the ‘hallowed boundaries ‘ of taxpayer owned seats.
    So that bothers me. Why did they not come to the floor? – was i out? – or were they just dissed?

  4. I cannot speak for the establishment of the NCGOP, but I can tell you that many people within the tea party and in the liberty movement strongly support Todd Poole and his reappointment. It is extremely important to remember that The election of Hassan Harnett was not the result of tea party, liberty, and grassroots supporters over running the entire convention. There was much help from the establishment or people many of us assumed were establishment. They joined with reformers because they were fed up too. People who typically support the establishment felt like they had been betrayed one too many times and joined with reformers to make real change happen.

    Todd Poole has demonstrated to me personally on many occasions to be a straight shooter, honest, and fair. The accusation that Poole would undermine Harnett or attempt in someway to make his tenure a failure is absurd, unfounded, and not based on any factual information about the man himself. All of these accusations about Todd Poole are directly opposite of what I have experienced in dealing with him.

    I cannot say that I am anywhere near the inner circle of Harnett’s team but I have worked with members of Hassan’s team and talked with them about Todd Poole. I detect no ill will or open desire to remove him from his position.

    Additionally many of the people who are being labeled as “establishment” and speaking out on behalf of Todd Poole were instrumental in the election of Harnett. Without their help, Craig Collins would be the NCGOP Chairman today.

    The result of the voting from Pender County, for example, is clear evidence of what I speak of in this response. Pender County was unanimously in support of Hasan Harnett For those unfamiliar with the delegation make up from Pender County, Mrs. Carolyn Justice is one of their key leaders and responsible for delivering a unanimous vote in that county on behalf of the reformers and Hassan Harnet.

    I believe Todd Poole is a natural and perfect pick for executive director to work with The new team. He is favored by some of the establishment and by many within the reformers that helped make this happen. It was a broad coalition that elected Harnett and the team at the top of the NC GOP should reflect that fact.

    In Liberty,
    Todd Bennett
    Farmville, NC

  5. Poole must go. Endorsing an opponent is and should be recognized as the act of party hack.

    The argument of keeping the experience is reasonable, but in the case of this new chairman, Poole would be the conduit of inside information to the GOPe bad actors who have made mistake after mistake and are likely to try to undermine him at every turn.

    Its time to throw-out as many as the RINO and pay-to-play Republicans we can.

  6. We have finally won……. now we can primary Burr and give the full support of the NC GOP to Dr. Greg Brannon. We need to clean house. My vote is for Daniel Rufty to lead the way. Poole is to close to the establishment

  7. If the GOPe is still advising Harnett then nothing may change. I am still waiting to see anyone in the NCGOP from the top down to the local chapters express any statements about our recent voter ID betrayal. Am I missing some statement or are they already shaking in their boots to take a stand against the NCGA? Until I see concrete evidence of a change and a radical one, I remain an independent and continue to say #DefundTheGOP.

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