Under the Dome

Wake County GOP chairman cites redistricting battle in fundraising letter

Wake County Republican Party chairman John Bryant asked supporters Monday for donations to combat the “threat” posed by Democrats upset about legislation changing how the county’s commissioners are elected.

Bryant sent a letter Monday to party members inviting them to buy tickets for the Reagan Day fundraising dinner on May 1, where Sen. Richard Burr will speak. Bryant included several paragraphs about Senate Bill 181, which redraws Wake County Commission districts and limits voters to picking two of nine commissioners.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. Chad Barefoot, the bill became law earlier this month when it passed the House in a party-line vote. Democrats say the measure is gerrymandering intended to reverse last November’s election, when the GOP lost all its seats on the county commission.

Bryant notes that Democrats are angry about the bill and will likely make it an issue in the next election.

At a legislative hearing on the bill, Bryant says, “one of our newly elected Board of Commissioners actually confronted me and laid out a specific threat, saying ‘you better start raising money now, because we’re coming after you!’

“That same commissioner spent the entire meeting reacting with histrionic gyrations anytime someone made a statement supporting the bill. I’m embarrassed at our County’s current leadership, but I still take their threats seriously, and so should you!”

Bryant calls on Republicans to buy tickets for the fundraising dinner to help the party fight back in 2016.

“I plan to be ready to handle that threat, but I need your help,” Bryant wrote.

Bryant appears to be referring to Wake County Commissioner John Burns, who’s been a vocal opponent of the redistricting legislation. Burns issued a response to Bryant’s comments Monday afternoon.

“Embarrassment is that this bill was passed without any input from Wake County voters and not a single Wake GOP representative asked for a referendum,” Burns said. “If Sen. Barefoot is going to ignore unemployment in Franklin County to rig elections in Wake, he’ll be held accountable for that.”