The N.C. Republican officials announced that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will keynote the party’s convention next week in Cherokee.
The convention – June 6 to 8 – is expected to draw more than 1,000 party activists and serve as the official nomination for Thom Tillis as the party’s U.S. Senate candidate.
But it’s location – at the Harrah’s Cherokee casino – has generated criticism, given that Republicans are split on gambling.
It’s also competing with a big-dollar fundraising U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is holding in Greensboro, hosted by most of the state’s Republican congressional delegation and Sen. Richard Burr.
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Tillis is expected to speak Saturday afternoon, rather than the big dinner that evening. His campaign said he won’t attend the Boehner event and his scheduled for the rest of the weekend is uncertain.
According to the Sylva Herald, Jackson County Republican Party Chairman Ralph Slaughter said Republicans had trouble finding a big name for the convention. He said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had a conflict and Huckabee wanted a $15,000 fee
“We don’t have that kind of money,” Slaughter said according to the paper.
State GOP Executive Director Todd Poole disputes that account. He said Huckabee didn’t ask for the money.
One other name on the agenda: Mark Harris, who lost in the Republican U.S. Senate primary to Tillis. Harris wil speak at a prayer breakfast Sunday morning.
His campaign against Tillis was endorsed by Huckabee.