Paul “Skip” Stam is the affable leader of the Republican majority in the NC House. He was a compromise candidate for caucus leader elected in the wake of the Republican civil war initiated by Richard Morgan and his allies. Stam was someone all parties within the party could stomach. Stam did a good job of calming things down inside the caucus.
I am now hearing some grumbling from Jones Street GOP insiders about their leader’s “easy going” style. One GOP legislator told me:
Skip will set a strategy for the caucus, and then go over to the Democrats and tell them what we’re going to do. He’s a lawyer, and that’s the kind of clubby, chummy things lawyers do for each other around the county courthouse. You KNOW Joe Hackney, Jim Black, Tony Rand, and Marc Basnight weren’t doing that for US.
I also spoke with a former GOP legislator who served in the House while Stam has been caucus leader:
Skip Stam is about not making waves. He’d ask you to compromise your position on an issue for ‘the good of the party.’ Skip would insinuate that he’d owe you for it. Some time later, you’d try to collect on that deal, and Skip would put his hand on your shoulder and say ‘Ooooh, sorry. Not this time. It’s just not doable. Check back with me later.’ He’s worried about pissing off the Democrats. We’re in Raleigh to push a conservative agenda. If we piss off Joe Hackney while we’re doing that, so be it.”
I got a chance to see Stam in action recently at a Moore County GOP meet-and-greet in Southern Pines. Instead of firing up the crowd about the “successes” of the GOP majority on Jones Street, Stam launched into a North Carolina history lecture. (NCGA insiders tell me this is a common practice for the GOP leader.) At the end of his lecture, Stam told the crowd he had a four page memo detailing the accomplishments of the NCGA this past session that we could pick up on our way out.
* Inspiring. Absolutely inspiring.*
North Carolina Republicans will get SOME mileage from the fact that Bev and Barry are in the OTHER party. But the NCGOP HAS to do its part to fire up its troops and differentiate itself from the opposition. Convince the voters that they are just not trading one set of money-changers for another.