Archived Opinion

New leaders of Haywood GOP must prove their mettle

op frTurning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ….

— The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats

The dissension among Haywood County Republicans took a decisive turn last week at the party’s convention, signaling a new era for the GOP in Haywood. The question many are now asking is just how the new group will lead. One thing  for certain is they won’t be leading from the center, not this group.

Or, to steal an assessment our reporter heard one GOP stalwart mutter at the convention, “The dog has caught the car. Now what?”  

It’s hard to come up with appropriate labels to define the two groups who have been jockeying for control of the Haywood party, but let’s just say the Republicans who previously led the Haywood GOP have been defeated for control of the party apparatus. The political ideology of the victors is hard to pinpoint, but it is certainly more anti-government, more conservative and less likely to favor any compromises with moderates.

Personalities aside, it’s not surprising that there is a perfectly legitimate divide forming between the old-school GOP and those who embrace a much more conservative agenda. It’s a challenge Republicans have been dealing with since Ronald Reagan — perhaps even as far back as Barry Goldwater — and some of the same issues are playing out at the state level. 

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Gov. Pat McCrory worked for Duke Energy and is considered a middle-of-the-road, pragmatic, business-oriented Republican who worked well with Democratic colleagues when he was mayor of Charlotte. 

The leader of the Senate and the most powerful legislator in the state is Sen. Phil Berger, R-Eden, from rural Rockingham County. He has opposed some of McCrory’s attempts to move toward the political center. Berger is, for all intents and purposes, the leader of what many have called North Carolina’s conservative revolution. He is as far right a leader as you’ll find in any statehouse in the country.

Haywood County’s new GOP leadership must prove its mettle come the next general election when it’s time to assemble a slate of candidates. Go too far right and the party will be divided, Indepenents will flee, and the election will be handed to the Democrats. Or perhaps an uprising will play out in the primary election as GOP candidates from different camps square off.

Politics, in the end, is about winning. As we move toward the next big races in 2016, we’ll see how Haywood’s GOP stacks up. As a political junkie, I can’t wait.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..) 

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