N.C. Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett said Monday that he doesn’t want the party’s leadership committee to meet this month amid efforts to remove him from his position.
Following a dispute about state convention fees, the party’s Central Committee took a vote of “no confidence” in Harnett last month, cut him off from party email and banned him from the GOP’s Raleigh headquarters. But as the smaller of the party’s two governing bodies, the Central Committee doesn’t have the power to remove the chairman.
That power rests with the Executive Committee, which has hundreds of members from across the state and elected Harnett last June. Harnett had called an emergency Executive Committee meeting for April 9 to “put things behind us.”
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After other party leaders complained that the meeting would conflict with local party conventions, Harnett said Monday that he’s canceling the event.
“I understand the concerns about having a conflict with district conventions, but my main premise for pushing forward was to put the divisive infighting behind us so we can move forward in beating Democrats in the fall,” he said in an email.
Harnett said his opponents in party leadership are circulating a petition to schedule an April 30 meeting – and he says he doesn’t want the Executive Committee to meet until the state convention in May.
“The sole premise of the Central Committee’s petition for the April 30 meeting is to remove your state chairman during an election year,” he wrote.
In a memo released last week, the NCGOP’s attorney, Tom Stark, criticized Harnett for trying to schedule an April 9 meeting and for other actions that have resulted in the feud.
“At a time when the NCGOP should be focused on preparing for the November election, the focus of the NCGOP staff and executive director have been monopolized by relentless attacks and multiple crises caused by their own chairman and his confederates,” Stark wrote.
Harnett says the state convention delegate election in May is part of the reason why members of the party’s Central Committee are trying to oust him. If no presidential candidate enters the July national convention with enough delegates to be nominated on the first ballot, many delegates would then be free to support any candidate on subsequent ballots.
Harnett said he’s concerned that establishment forces might try to elect delegates for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who won’t support them after the first ballot.
NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse, who has faced strong criticism from Harnett, says that’s not true.
“The vote of no confidence and censure of Chairman Harnett has nothing to do with influence over delegates to the Republican National Convention and everything to do with his violations of the Plan of Organization and his failure to effectively lead the Party,” Woodhouse said. “The grassroots will vote for the delegates to serve as their representatives to the convention in Cleveland. Neither the chairman, the Central Committee or any elected official has control over the selection of delegates.”