Claude Pope, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party since 2013, has decided not to run again for that office. His term will end in June of this year.
As party chairman, Pope oversaw a GOP sweep in 2014. The North Carolina House and Senate remained in Republican hands and he played a large role in helping retire former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan.
Pope has been an inspiration to me. When I first met him, he was a young man raising a family. He left party service to “be there” for his family, as well as his growing business.
I got to know Pope best as Wake County GOP Chairman. Despite some factional internal politics, he made certain that every board member got a chance to have their say.
Later, I told him that I needed to play a lesser role in county and state politics after the birth of my son. He strongly encouraged me to do just that, despite the pull I felt and the saddness I felt towards a long break from party activities.
It was the best decision I ever made and I appreciate his experience and guidance.
In an e-mail to party activists and the media, he explained that he wants to return to his home on Bald Head Island, play more golf, and continue running his small business there.
“I want to thank Chairman Pope for his outstanding service to the North Carolina Republican Party. Under his leadership, the Republican Party has secured key victories, including electing Thom Tillis to the U.S. Senate, sending an additional member to the U.S. House of Representatives and maintaining our super majorities in both the N.C. House and Senate. He will also be leaving the Republican Party in a strong financial position to have another successful election cycle in 2016.”
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, within hours of the Pope announcement, a candidate had announced his intentions to run for State Party Chairman.
“Craig Collins currently serves as the party’s 10th Congressional District chairman. His announcement cites endorsements from a host of GOP leaders: Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.”