The Lee County Republican Men’s Club held a forum Tuesday featuring the three campaigns for NCGOP chairman.
AJ Daoud and Hasan Harnett showed up to address the group. Establishment favorite Craig Collins had someone named “Valarie” stand in for him. (After watching the linked video, it appears Valarie’s most common statement during the forum was ‘I don’t think I can answer that.’)
I watched the forum video and came away with this:
- ‘Me-Too.’ Harnett and Daoud spent an awful lot of time toeing the anti-establishment line and agreeing with each other. One key place they disagreed — salary for the chairman. Harnett said the chairman position should not be paid. Daoud said he thinks the job needs to be salaried, but at a rate 40 to 50 percent of what it is now. He pointed out that, since 2002, party leaders had accepted that a chairman’s salary needs to be in line with a cabinet post (roughly $120,000). Valarie told everyone her guy Collins wants to be shown the money.
- Defending the platform. Daoud and Harnett each spoke of the importance of defending the party’s brand as a defender of low taxes and limited government. Both men have issued statements criticizing the spending increases and absolute overreach of the recently approved House budget. (Valarie’s guy Craig has been conspicuously silent on the issue.) THIS is refreshing. It would be nice to have a party leader speaking for the folks outside of the beltline, as opposed to the mullahs and capos in-town.
- Solar Energy Mandates. Both Daoud and Harnett denounced solar mandates as antithetical to capitalism. They each defended allowing the free market — and not the assertive guidance of the government — to determine the fate of solar energy in our energy policies. Daoud took this opportunity to take a shot at the absent Collins:
”The biggest lobbyist for this solar stuff, the biggest supporter of these mandates in the state, is also running one of the campaigns for state party chairman.”
Craig Collins has hired Raleigh consultant Dee Stewart to manage his campaign for state party chairman.
- The grassroots. Valarie told the crowd her guy Craig “is the grasroots” and he ”knows the grassroots.” (She then proceeded to rattle off all of the party posts Collins has held.) She also rattled off all of the establishment politicians who have endorsed Collins:
”They know he is the guy they want to work with in their campaigns.”
Daoud said the party needs to rework its marketing and be more responsive to ”those in the streets, the footsoldiers.” Harnett said his agenda as chairman will focus on ”reinvigorating” and ”unifying” the party. He also spoke of bringing more folks off of the sidelines and into the party. Harnett noted his record-setting success in fundraising and vote-winning as a manager of a GOP congressional campaign in 2014 in a 4-1 Democrat district.
The state convention and the big vote are next weekend. If you are going and have a vote, take time to watch the video linked at the top of this post.