Under the Dome

Contest shaping up for NC Republican Party chair

The N.C. Republican Party will elect a successor to outgoing chairman Claude Pope on June 6, but not everyone is happy with the candidate backed by Gov. Pat McCrory and other statewide GOP leaders.

When Pope announced last month that he won’t seek another term, Craig Collins – a Gastonia attorney and the party’s 10th Congressional District chairman – immediately announced his candidacy. Collins began his campaign with strong backing: He listed endorsements from McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

That makes Collins a clear frontrunner, but some Republicans aren’t ready to anoint him as their new leader.

Hasan Harnett, who served as campaign manager for Congressional candidate Vince Coakley last year, is also running. Coakley lost to Democrat Alma Adams. Harnett, who is black, says he can expand the GOP’s appeal to minorities.

“If you can raise money in the (predominantly Democratic) 12th District, you can raise money anywhere,” Harnett said in a video on his campaign website. “We took our message to places that Republicans have never gone before, and we worked our butts off. ... Statewide, we have only received 3 percent of the black vote, and this needs to be addressed immediately.”

Some are encouraging AJ Daoud to run with active campaigns on Twitter and Facebook. Daoud – the party’s 6th Congressional District chairman and a former candidate for Secretary of State – has not said whether he’ll run.

The “Draft AJ” Twitter page makes an apparent reference to Collins’ backing from party leadership: “No backroom deals here, just a grassroots movement.”

The Twitter and Facebook pages don’t identify who’s behind them. A message sent to the Twitter account seeking comment wasn’t returned.