In this Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2913, photo, speaker Rexanne Bishop holds her sign at the "Moral Monday" event in Greensboro, N.C.
Jerry Wolford/News & Record/AP

North Carolina GOP struggles with election-year challenges

Updated
The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/25/16, 9:41 PM ET

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It’s likely to be an interesting election year in much of the country, but North Carolina is facing especially tumultuous conditions. Gov. Pat McCrory (R), facing a tough re-election fight, is struggling to deal with the fallout from an anti-LGBT bill he signed into law last week. State Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), McCrory’s likely opponents, has said he won’t defend the discriminatory statute.
 
Sen. Richard Burr (R), meanwhile, is seeking a second term, despite a low approval rating and a credible Democratic challenger.
 
Perhaps the North Carolina Republican Party will help these conservative candidates navigate challenging waters? Maybe, but first state Republicans have to stop battling each other. The Wall Street Journal reported this week on the “feud” undermining the state GOP at a difficult time.
An outsider who was elected chairman of North Carolina’s Republican Party against the wishes of its leaders is in a feud with party brass… Chairman Hasan Harnett was barred from party headquarters in Raleigh last week and cut off from GOP email and other accounts after pushing to reduce the cost of a ticket to the party’s May 6-7 convention to zero from $90.
 
Mr. Harnett, the state party’s first black chairman, said the convention fee amounts to a “poll tax,” and that he was trying to fulfill his campaign promise to make party involvement more attractive. “This is a fight for the movement that’s going on all over this nation,” he said. “People are sick and tired of being bullied by the small few who control everything.”
Last summer, party activists ignored McCrory’s and Burr’s wishes, rejecting the party’s establishment’s choice for chairman, electing Harnett instead. It was the start of an awkward relationship that’s grown considerably worse.
 
How ugly is this? In addition to North Carolina Republicans barring their own party chairman from party headquarters last week, the North Carolina GOP’s central committee censured its chairman and began “circulating a petition that is a procedural step toward Mr. Harnett’s removal.”
 
In case this weren’t quite enough, when the state party shut off its chairman’s official email account earlier this month, Harnett sent an email from his private account to the state party’s executive director Dallas Woodhouse. “I mean seriously, is this some form of ritual or hazing you would put the first black chairman of the NCGOP State Party through?” it read. “Or is it because I am not white enough for you?”
 
Making matters just a little worse, the Wall Street Journal report added that the state party chairman has raised $37,000, which party leaders say “covers roughly one month of the party’s operating budget and nowhere near the costs of holding a convention or mounting a unified campaign in presidential, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in November.”
 
The North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention is next month. The condition the party will find itself in remains entirely unclear.
 
 

North Carolina

North Carolina GOP struggles with election-year challenges

Updated