One of the most prominent voices of the North Carolina Republican Party plans to move on.
Dallas Woodhouse, who has worked as executive director of the NC GOP since October 2015, will leave the position after his contract expires in June, he told McClatchy on Monday.
The party’s central committee, a group of about 30 people, held an hours-long meeting Sunday night at which it discussed Woodhouse’s future. Early Monday, McClatchy was not able to determine what was decided.
The meeting came after the party’s chairman, Robin Hayes, was indicted for allegedly trying to funnel bribe money to N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and making false statements to the FBI. Hayes relinquished some of his duties at the NC GOP, appointing Aubrey Woodard as acting chair.
Woodhouse wasn’t mentioned in the indictment and says he’s not a target of the investigation. But he testified before the grand jury in December, as McClatchy previously reported.
“I am under contract through the convention,” Woodhouse said in a text. “After that, with the election of a new chair, and after four years, a run longer than most, I am moving on. This was always what I had in mind.”
Woodard said in a statement that Woodhouse would serve in his position until June 15.
“We are going to miss Dallas in this role. He is a fighter and always put it on the line for the NCGOP,” Woodard said. “He leaves as one of the longest-serving Executive Directors and he played an important role in growing our party by spreading our message and helping us win many elections.”
Contacted by phone Monday, Hayes said Woodhouse has “done a fantastic job for the party.”
Like Woodhouse, Hayes plans to stay in his current position — “I’m not sure the official title of it” — until the convention.
“I have stepped aside and Aubrey and the central committee are in charge. They’ve stepped up to do what they need to do,” Hayes said. He added: “I am still the chairman until the election where my successor is accepted. I’m here to provide assistance, but to not interfere in any way with what the folks are doing.”
Hayes and Woodhouse guided the party through the 2016 and 2018 elections. But recent scandals left the two on their heels.
First, it was the 9th Congressional District race. The NC elections board ordered a new election after its investigators found that an operative for Republican Mark Harris illegally harvested absentee ballots.
Then it was the indictment of Hayes. The indictment was unsealed a day after Hayes announced he wouldn’t seek another term as chairman.
In a press release about Hayes’ decision, Woodhouse referred to Hayes as a “second father,” adding, “There was rarely a day when we did not speak.”
Used to the spotlight
Woodhouse — known for his gelled hair, distinct voice and bombastic style — has become one of the most identifiable figures in North Carolina politics. He’s often the lead spokesman for the party at press conferences, on television and radio shows and sometimes on social media.
Woodhouse is comfortable in the spotlight in part because he spent years working as a television reporter for NBC-17. He told the News & Observer he formed political beliefs after learning of Democratic corruption in the late 1990s.
His TV contract ended in 2001 and he broke into politics in 2006 with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded by Charles and David Koch.
Many were introduced to Woodhouse in 2014 after he appeared on C-SPAN with his brother, Brad, a Democratic strategist. Their mother, Joy, called the show and begged them to be civil during the holiday season. A clip of the C-SPAN episode has been viewed more than 3 million times.
“I don’t know many families that are fighting at Thanksgiving,” she said. “I’m hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas. I would really like a peaceful Christmas.”
Lead GOP voice
In 2016, he appeared on MSNBC to discuss the issue of Sunday voting. During the interview, he brandished a pair of handcuffs and suggested the Democratic presidential candidate could be arrested by Inauguration Day.
Later that year, Woodhouse butted heads with CNN anchor Don Lemon. After Woodhouse accused a CNN reporter of inaccurate reporting, Lemon accused Woodhouse of being “confrontational.”
“If you’d like to ... discuss things without you going out on a tear, then we can do that,” Lemon said as Woodhouse talked over him. “Are you going to answer questions, or are you just going to sit here and filibuster?”
As much as Woodhouse welcomed debate, he made few public statements after Hayes’ indictment.
Even on Twitter, where he regularly spars with liberals, he absorbed criticism without punching back. On April 7, when a supporter suggested Woodhouse should be retained amid the indictment scandal, Woodhouse offered a cryptic response.
“We will work through all that,” Woodhouse tweeted. “Might be good to get some new blood.”