Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hayes To Helm State GOP

by Rob Christensen - January 16th, 2011 - News & Observer

North Carolina Republicans chose former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes Saturday to help lead their effort to end the Democrats' 20-year lease on the governor's mansion next year.

Hayes, 65, easily turned back challenges from tea party elements by promising to stay true to GOP principles and to emphasize grassroots politics.

"We are marching off to win for the people of North Carolina," Hayes told the state Republican Executive committee meeting at the Brownstone Hotel, after his victory.

Robin Hayes is one of the nicer people to have held office in North Carolina. Winning a left leaning district on the outskirts of Charlotte, Hayes managed to hold on to the seat for 8 years, even after the Democrats realigned his district specifically for the purpose of defeating him. They finally succeeded in the year of Obama with an overwhelming large turnout of blacks in the eastern end of his congressional district who voted the Democrat ticket exclusively.

With his generally moderate views, Hayes starts his short term as Chairman (to complete Tom Fetzer's term which ends the middle of the year) with serious unease coming from fiscal conservatives and some in the TEA Party movement in the state. Hayes is well regarded in social conservative quarters and has strong ties in the state's business community, neither of which are all that fond of the TEA Party efforts. Hayes' commitment to the core values of the TEA Party movement are being called into question. It doesn't help that Hayes says he doesn't know what the TEA Party movement stands for or anything about them.

However at least one of Hayes opponents, Tim D'Annunzio, has not made any friends by threats to start a conservative party to compete with the Republican Party. D'Annunzio lost the support of some of the TEA Party movement activists when they joined Robin Hayes in his endorsement of Harold Johnson for Hayes old seat in opposition to D'Annunzio. Some of D'Annunszo's antipathy seems to be related to that slight. As it turned out, Johnson lost to the Democrat incumbent and it is unlikely that D'Annunzio would have fared any better in that left leaning district. Threats to leave the party and start a "conservative" alternative are not consistent with the general goals of the TEA Party movement and it is going to be interesting to see if D'Annunzio actually makes good on this.

The TEA Party movement is probably going to have to wait a while for the consequences of this election to become clear for their goals. Some are going to try and re-fight this battle again at the State GOP convention. Hayes may have won the position. However like most in the GOP, it is not clear if he understands what the TEA Party movement means or has a realistic plan to work with these new activists.


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