Will KANE be ABLE to take down Michael Whatley?

What had appeared to be a cakewalk reelection for incumbent NC Republican Party chairman  Michael Whatley is now looking like a prime-time Grade-A slugfest.

Raleigh’s John Kane – scion of the Raleigh-based Kane Realty commercial real estate empire – is tossing his hat in the ring for chairman of The North Carolina Republican Party.  

Kane, an NC State alumnus and former Wolfpack football player, is an accomplished entrepreneur who also has substantial experience in the world of private equity.  His father, also named John, has a long, distinguished record as a prolific fundraiser for North Carolina Republicans.

In an interview with The Haymaker this week, the younger Kane says his father’s long-time political involvement helped teach him about politics and inspire him to get involved.

Kane pointed out a number of concerns he has with the Whatley era at the NCGOP helm.

Fundraising.  Kane points out that, for the 2021-2022 cycle,  the Republican National Committee gave more money to the NCGOP than North Carolinians did. 

Devotion to the RNC and DC.   Donald Trump and his team had ‘America First’ as a slogan.  Kane suggests that the NCGOP under Whatley has been guided by the slogan ‘Ronna First.’ 

Kane points out that polling showed less than 6% of likely Republican voters thought Ronna Romney should be reelected as RNC chairman.  Major donors to the RNC were even calling for her replacement.  Despite all that, Kane noted, Whatley and our two RNC committeemen went to the RNC convention and voted to reelect Ms. Romney. 

Whatley will be seeking reelection as state party chairman while serving as the RNC’s general counsel.

Kane identified a number of areas he’d like to target as chairman.

Battling Election Fraud.  Kane says there is a serious problem in Raleigh with talking tough about election fraud,  but doing little or nothing about it:

“We need to train, equip, and assist Republican nominees to county election boards. The NCGOP Chairman is responsible for nominating people to the North Carolina State Board of Elections to serve on County Boards of Elections.

Each County Board of Elections consists of five members – three from the party of the sitting Governor and two from the other party.  Whether we are in the majority or the minority, members of each County Board of Elections are in the best position to ensure existing statutes are being followed, to alert the NCGOP of any nefarious actions, and to ensure that Republicans are fully represented in the staffing of each precinct. ”

Make the NCGOP financially independent. Kane noted that – in the Whatley era – the NCGOP has become financially dependent on the RNC:  

” No person or organization can serve two masters.  If the NCGOP is going to be a party that serves its members, it cannot be financially beholden to any single organization or individual, be it the RNC or someone else.  In no way does that mean the NCGOP should not work closely with the RNC where our interests are aligned – of course we should and we will.  However, we cannot allow NCGOP leadership to be in a position where it must choose between the will of its members and the agenda of a financial sponsor whom we are overly reliant upon.

Going forward we will grow revenues by setting a bold agenda and working systematically – providing transparency to our donors –  to achieve our goals.  Large and small dollar donors alike are more apt to give at greater frequency and in larger amounts if they see that we are doing what we said we would do. 

We will develop and implement a donor reporting system. By transparently showing donors how their money is being effectively put to work,  many will be willing to provide additional financial support.

There are 2,221,179 registered Republicans in North Carolina. In the 2021-22 fundraising cycle 5,357 individuals in North Carolina, or 0.24% of Republicans, contributed to the NCGOP.  We will broaden our donor base by building out the infrastructure for small dollar donations so that as we earn the trust of Republicans across the state they can seamless support our efforts in any increment. ” 

Hold Republican Officeholders Accountable.

”Nowhere other than politics is it accepted, let alone expected, that the people we elect will fail to do what they said they would do.  A blind acceptance that diversity of thought within the Republican party is an asset is just as foolish as the Democrats’ unwavering unity.  Diversity of thought within our party is indeed an asset, but not at the expense of the core tenets of our platform.

No business would allow an employee who intentionally subverted one of its core objectives to remain in its employ.  Similarly, the NCGOP does not serve its members by standing idly by or – worse – running cover for, politicians who abandon the party platform to which they committed when running for office.  Going forward,  the NCGOP will use all the tools at its disposal to ensure Republican officials keep their word to the party and the voters. ” 

Close Republican Primaries.

Kane is a fan of the concept of having “skin in the game”:

”The idea that voters who are not members of the Republican party deserve a say in who represents the Republican Party is no different than giving so called ‘stakeholders’ in a company the right to vote on company matters alongside its shareholders.  If a stakeholder of a Corporation wants the right to vote on Company business, that stakeholder must become a shareholder.  Similarly, if an unaffiliated voter wants to vote in a Republican primary, that voter is welcome to join the Republican Party.

The idea that closed primaries disenfranchise unaffiliated or independent voters is hogwash.  Any such voter is registered with or without a Party by their own free will.  If someone feels disenfranchised, or that it is unfair that tax dollars are being expended to operate an election in which they cannot participate – that individual can remedy the situation by joining either party of their choosing.”

Fully Staff Every Precinct Statewide.  Kane said it appears the NCGOP has been failing at the basic legwork needed at the most local levels:

The General Statutes call for an equal number of registered Republicans and Democrats to serve as paid poll workers in every precinct.  The statute provides that if the County Chairman of the Republican, and Democratic Party, respectively nominate individuals to their County Board of Elections to serve as Election Judges and Election Assistants those individuals must be placed.  

Historically, the NCGOP has completely failed to make even any effort to achieve poll worker parity.  This failure is not lack of funding or strategy – it is a function of failed leadership and a lack of will to do the most basic blocking and tackling of defending our elections.  

Kane provides some stats from the 2022 elections for everyone to ‘chew on’ and consider for a while:

  • Sixty-four percent of precincts disproportionately staffed by Democrats;
  • A little more than 30 percent of precincts staffed by ONE Republican;
  • A little more than seventeen percent of precincts had NO Republican judge;
  • Nearly eight percent of precincts had NO Republican workers;

Withdraw from ERIC.   We wrote earlier about ERIC, as well as a recent effort on Jones Street to cancel the authorization for North Carolina to participate. Here is Kane’s take:

”ERIC is presented as a non-partisan organization whose mission is to assist states with voter roll accuracy.  The truth is that ERIC was initially funded by radical, left-wing groups including George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust for the purpose of manipulating voter roll data for the exclusive benefit of Democrats. Today, ERIC is closely tied to Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Election Innovation and Research – one of the two entities he funneled nearly half a billion dollars through to help steal the 2020 Presidential Election from Donald J. Trump.”

Proactive Lawfare.  Kane says the NCGOP needs to stand ready to knock heads with liberals and their lawyers efforts in court to “adjust” elections more to their liking.  He says the NCGOP needs to be ready to fight against the left’s courtroom tactics. 

NCGOP officers will be elected at the party’s state convention in Greensboro on June 8.  All senior officers will serve a two-year term. Incumbent Susan Mills will be seeking reelection to the state vice-chairman post.  She will be challenged for reelection by Cabarrus County GOP chairman Abdul Ali.