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Political Earthquake in Raleigh

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Grassroots Republican Pushback against NCGOP “Establishment”

On June 6, at the annual North Carolina Republican Convention, the delegates defeated the “establishment’ endorsed candidate, Craig Collins, and elected Hasan Harnett, the first black NCGOP Chairman in its history. Harnett, a conservative Tea Party activist won by a vote of 700 to 562. A third candidate, A.J. Doud, a District Chairman with a reputation for anti-establishment conservatism withdrew before the first ballot. Collins, who was the runaway favorite two days before the convention, describes himself as a conservative activist and had been Gaston County Chairman and a District Chairman. According to observers at the convention, Harnett made a spirited conservative impression. In addition, a surprising 25 percent of the delegates were estimated to be members of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian leaning group, more likely to favor Harnett, who had made 4,000 phone calls to potential delegates in campaigning. Many believe, however, that Collins’ status as the establishment endorsed candidate was what defeated him and elected Harnett. .

Governor McCrory is regarded as at least moderately conservative and on some occasions has been courageously conservative, but he had recently vetoed a bill giving civil magistrates the right of refusal on religious grounds to marry same sex couples. The State Senate has already over-tuned his veto. Despite McCrory’s overall conservative record, his veto bewildered and angered many conservatives.

Collins’ endorsements by U.S. Senators Burr and Tillis probably gave many delegates cause for concern. One of the leading fault lines between Republican conservative activists and the progressive establishment has been immigration policy. In recent immigration ratings from NumbersUSA, Burr’s rating had slipped to 50 percent and newly elected Tillis scored only 40 percent, well below the ratings of most NC Republicans in Congress. Furthermore, as NC House Speaker, Tillis had pushed a bill to give drivers permits to illegal immigrant workers. A new special interest bill, HB 328, deceptively called a public safety bill, has resurfaced and is currently being considered in the NC House Finance Committee.

In a Finance Committee vote on June 1, eleven Republicans voted to defeat an amendment that would have killed the bill, outraging many conservative activists. In fact, three conservative organizations concerned about the impact of illegal immigration on jobs, taxes, and crime showed up at the convention and distributed a resolution calling for NCGOP discipline of these eleven Republican House members, because their vote was in violation of the 2014 NCGOP Platform:

The 2014 NCGOP Platform stated in Article V, Section 7: We support the issuance of a driver’s license or state identification card only to those who are lawfully present.”

HB 328 also undermines Federal Immigration Law by ignoring it and making North Carolina an illegal alien sanctuary for cheap labor. All this essentially undermines respect for law, which is the absolutely necessary foundation for just government and public safety.

The Finance Committee will meet again on HB 328 on June 9 under heavy pressure from special interest donors and Republican Progressive leaders to approve it for House and Senate passage.

Yet over 80 percent of North Carolina voters oppose such amnesties and special favors to illegal immigrants and their employers, realizing such measures are a green light, welcome sign, and strong magnet likely to attract large numbers of additional illegal immigrants to North Carolina, which would have strongly negative consequences for North Carolina workers and taxpayers. A huge new influx of illegal immigrants would most likely increase illegal alien crime as well.

The resolution calls for the censure of Republican Representatives Harry Warren, Brian Brown, Jeff Collins, Jonathan Jordan, and Larry Yarborough for sponsoring HB 328, and Republican Representatives Paul Stam, Charles Jeter, Jay Adams, Bob Steinberg, Susan Martin, and Nelson Dollar for supporting the illegal drivers licenses//permits provision of the bill.

In 2014, two Buncombe County Republican representatives, Nathan Ramsey and Tim Moffitt, who had been sponsors of the 2014 bill to issue drivers permits to illegal immigrant workers and weaken the State’s E-Verify law for determining the legal status of work applicants, were defeated for re-election. They probably had no idea that their sponsorship of such a bill was known to enough conservative voters to reduce their enthusiasm and turnout to a politically fatal level. Academic studies of the 2006 election (Dr. George Hawley, Univ. of Texas) indicate Republicans going liberal on immigration gain no ethnic votes and can easily lose 10 percent of their conservative base. That is often politically fatal.

In my opinion, formed by a dozen years of watching the immigration issue, Passing HB 328 would turn North Carolina Democrat BLUE in only a few years. The people will be watching.

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