I had the chance, for the first time ever, to communicate directly with the chairman of the NCGOP. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how calm and cool he was — given all of the garbage being thrown his way right now. (Hasan Harnett did tell me that he had to be — on the advice of his personal legal counsel — limited in what he told me.)
As we suspected, the monkey business got started on day one with this chairman. “I’ve got all of the responsibility that comes with being party chairman, but none of the authority,” Harnett told me.
Harnett said his authority as chairman has been regularly undermined by the executive director and other party leaders who have made it clear to HQ staff that they really don’t have to listen to the chairman.
One good example Harnett cites is the party’s media operation. He said policy dictates that statements from him go out through the press secretary, who then coordinates with the media. Harnett said he submitted a number of releases for dissemination to the media that either (1) disappeared into the ether, or (2) appeared in the media attributed to executive director Dallas Woodhouse.
“I am expected to run this party, but I don’t even have access to the headquarters or its resources,” said Harnett. “I am the elected chairman. The people who make this party work elected me to lead the party.”
Harnett said he has been locked out of the party offices, web site, and email on numerous occasions during his nine-month tenure.
We reported in the last few days that Woodhouse, Joyce Cotten and some other party leaders had gone to the legislative building seeking signatures from legislators to call a special meeting about ousting Harnett from the chairman’s seat.
“From what I am hearing, their efforts were not well-received,” said Harnett.”I don’t know how many signatures they got, if any, because I am being kept in the dark.”
We — and many of our readers — have wondered where elected Republicans are aligning in this dispute. Harnett would not comment when asked if Dan Forest or Pat McCrory or any of their team had contacted him. The chairman said he has been encouraged by a “tremendous response” from elected Republicans across the state.
Harnett said he was pleased with the response to an event he and senator Jerry Tillman coordinated this week with NASCAR legend Richard Petty in Randolph County. Despite next to no support from the state party apparatus, the event managed to draw nearly 100 attendees. Harnett said a party staff member tried to cancel the event five days before it was to happen. (He did add that person eventually showed up to help with the Petty event.)
“I am not sure on the final numbers from this fundraiser, because I am being kept in the dark,” said Harnett. “I do know that when I left, the take was looking very promising. I also know that, shortly after the event was first announced, the executive director received a very nice check from an outside donor.”
“I hope we can put all of this behind us and come together to beat the Democrats and elect a lot of Republicans,” said Harnett. “I am going to pray for the executive director and the other party leaders — despite the extreme, untrue allegations that have been made against me.”
Why has he stuck with this?
“It’s what leaders do,” said Harnett. “You don’t quit when things get tough. You rise to the occasion. Sure, it’s been a tough environment to endure, but it hasn’t lessened my commitment to this party or the people of North Carolina.”