Under the Dome

NC Republican Party votes down effort to oust leaders

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party, criticizes Roy Cooper before Cooper, a Democrat, announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party, criticizes Roy Cooper before Cooper, a Democrat, announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

The N.C. Republican Party rejected attempts last weekend to remove executive director Dallas Woodhouse and Republican National Committeeman David Lewis, who is also the state House Rules Committee chairman.

The GOP’s State Executive Committee – which consists of hundreds of party leaders from across the state – met Saturday in High Point to take up calls to impeach Lewis from his RNC role and hold a no-confidence vote on Woodhouse. Lewis is one of the state’s two RNC representatives.

Both measures were defeated by a 2-to-1 margin, said Rep. Charles Jeter of Mecklenburg County. “It was a show of overwhelming support for David and Dallas,” he said Monday. “I wish it would have never happened, but I’m glad it seems to be behind us.”

The votes marked the latest dispute between party leaders and a group of Tea Party-oriented activists. Hal James, an Executive Committee member from New Bern, helped lead the petition effort against Lewis.

James said his group was “outnumbered” by legislators who voted for Lewis, but said the effort still sent a message to the leadership.

“What the party really needs to be concerned about is losing the hardworking, boots-on-the-ground activists,” James said. “The legislators are going to be more careful to do the will of the party.”

The petition to impeach Lewis stemmed from the legislature’s action last year to allow new fundraising committees run by legislative leaders.

The fundraising groups, known as “affiliate party committees,” have drawn fire from some Republican Party members who worry the move will weaken the state party. The new committees allow legislative leaders to raise money outside of the state party organizations.

Lewis was among legislators who pushed for the new committees, but Jeter says it’s unfair to single him out for criticism because the majority of House Republicans voted for the bill.

“You can’t penalize a Rules Chairman for shepherding legislation that the majority of our caucus wanted,” Jeter said.

Woodhouse has faced criticism that he has used the state party’s social media accounts and resources to back Sen. Richard Burr’s re-election bid – something the party can’t do until Burr wins the Republican primary.

Jeter says many Republicans like what Woodhouse has accomplished since he took the job in September.

“I think that Dallas is a good executive director, and I’m glad he’s in the role,” Jeter said.

The closed-session portion of Saturday’s Executive Committee meeting took place without the party’s vice chairwoman, Michele Nix. She posted on Facebook that she wasn’t allowed to attend that discussion because she had refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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