When Gov. Pat McCrory launched his reelection bid earlier this month, the N.C. Republican Party was quick to climb aboard the campaign.
“NCGOP is already working around the clock to help re-elect Governor McCrory to a second term so he can continue the hard work needed to rebuild North Carolina,” the party’s chairman, Hasan Harnett, said in a news release on Dec. 2.
At the time, McCrory’s only opponents were Democrats.
Five days later, former state Rep. Robert Brawley of Mooresville threw a wrench in the party’s plans to help McCrory: Brawley filed to run against the governor in the Republican primary.
The party’s rules don’t allow its leaders to make endorsements or favor a particular candidate in a Republican primary. Committee members and officers “shall refrain from utilizing the powers and dignity of his or her office or position in any Republican primary for public office at any level.”
Executive director Dallas Woodhouse declined to comment on how Brawley’s entry changes the party’s activities.
But a 2013 party memo obtained by The News & Observer outlines how GOP primary campaigns should be handled. It says that party resources can’t be used for candidates facing a Republican opponent, “including but not limited to, funds, email lists, mailing lists, etc.”
Leaders of the party, including its elected officials, are still allowed to make endorsements and donations to candidates as long as they don’t act in their capacity as a party leader, the memo says.
The state party can also criticize Democratic Party candidates during the primary, so expect to hear plenty from the party about McCrory’s leading opponent, Roy Cooper.
Party leaders are already facing criticism from one candidate who says his opponent, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, has been endorsed by the state party.
Larry Holmquist, who’s one of two Republicans running against Burr in the primary, said the party backed Burr in a recent fundraising letter and promoted his Twitter account.
“Mr. Burr’s campaign already has all the money and every advantage they could want in the primary,” Holmquist said in a news release. “For the NCGOP to tilt the playing field even more in Burr’s direction is shameful, disgusting, and an insult to every Republican in North Carolina. And if the NCGOP is too stupid to understand that, they’ve got a real problem!”
Woodhouse declined to comment on Holmquist’s complaint.