Rightists back Snyder

April 26, 2002 

Jim Snyder, the Lexington lawyer who has been courting the right in the GOP Senate primary, has picked up the support of a recently formed conservative group.

The N.C. Republican Assembly has endorsed Snyder over Elizabeth Dole and the other candidates.

The endorsement is likely to help solidify Snyder's position as the chief conservative alternative to Dole in the primary to replace retiring Sen. Jesse Helms. The senator has endorsed Dole.

The Assembly was formed last May as a way to increase the influence of "traditional Reagan conservatives" within the GOP. The group started with the creation of the California Republican Assembly and has now grown to 40 such groups around the country. The National Federation of Republican Assemblies bills itself as "The Republican Wing of the Republican Party."

The North Carolina group, which is led by Mark Jones of Davie County, held its first convention earlier this month in Statesville, attended by about 100 people. Several Republican Senate candidates attended the group's forum: Snyder, Ada Fisher, Venket Challa, Jim Parker and Doug Sellers. Dole sent a representative but did not attend.

Snyder, who is seeking to convince GOP voters that he is the true heir to Helms' conservative philosophy, received the support of 76 percent of the Assembly members.

"A new leader and a great communicator in the tradition of Ronald Reagan has emerged in North Carolina," said the group's spokeswoman, Leslie Higgins of Lincolnton. "Now we are committed to helping him get his conservative message out to Republican primary voters."

Miner's role

State Rep. David Miner, a Cary Republican, is listed as a deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee's Presidential Gala 2002 honoring President George W. Bush.

The black-tie event is scheduled for May 14 at the Washington Convention Center.

"It's the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Republican Party," Miner said.

The four sponsorship designations -- co-chairman, vice chairman, deputy chairman and dinner committee member -- are based on fund-raising levels. As a deputy chairman, Miner said he committed to raise $100,000 for the RNC by the time of the dinner.

"I just go to prominent people and corporations in North Carolina and ask them to raise money," Miner said. "I'm the only state legislator in the country listed."

Managing campaign

Darryl G. Smith, a top aide to retiring U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton of Lillington, has gone to work as campaign manager for N.C. Supreme Court Justice G.K. Butterfield. Smith is a lawyer who has practices in Wilson and Durham.

Butterfield, a former Superior Court judge, was appointed to the high court last year by Gov. Mike Easley. He will be opposed either by state Appeals Court Judge Ralph Walker of Greensboro or Edward Thomas Brady of Fayetteville.

Butterfield will have a fund-raising reception Saturday in Wilson to mark his 55th birthday. The fund-raiser will be at the home of Willie and Venzella Williams.

By staff writer Rob Christensen, who can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

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