Black Republicans in North Carolina are about as rare as buried arrowheads — you occasionally hear about people finding them, but so few of us have ever had the pleasure.
Here in the last days of the Southern Strategy, though, it made a kind of sense for the NC GOP to elect an African American as chairman.
But Hasan Harnett’s rise in the state Republican Party was not without incident — earlier this month, Harnett claimed on his Facebook page that the party headquarters had “disabled” his email.
And on Monday the NC GOP released a memo detailing a “no confidence” resolution on Harnett, with a vote to censure him and place “severe emergency restrictions” on his activities. The charge: “gross inefficiency.”
Some of it has to do with the convention. The party claims that Harnett tinkered with the fee structure for the annual convention in May, and that he didn’t tell people about it early enough.
They also accuse him of wasting staff and volunteers for activities not sanctioned by the party’s central committee, the “posting or allowing to be posted on public blogs articles regarding the internal affairs of the NC GOP,” trying to remove party leaders without due process and causing “concern and expense” from actions taken regarding the NC GOP website.
In short, he’s been acting like a Republican.
The final charge, “creation of an uncertain and disrespectful environment,” may contain the most loaded language of them all. They might as well have called him “uppity.”
Because the problem with black Republicans is that, to some practitioners of the faith, their very existence goes against the party line.
Many — not all, but many — Republicans are uncomfortable with African Americans in positions of leadership, which is evident by the way the party has almost unilaterally treated our first black president. Tone-deaf to the techniques of racist oppression, they create alternate rules for blacks, like the one that says President Obama shouldn’t nominate a Supreme Court justice, or the one that says Harnett’s vote of no confidence stemmed, in part, “because he has fallen well short of his own fundraising goals and promises.”
Of note is that former NC GOP Chair Claude Pope left the organization $84,000 in debt when he stepped down in 2013 — without the added incentive of a no-confidence vote.
And the notion of Harnett’s timely “disrespectful” behavior rings hollow, considering that Politico has been writing about rumors of his demise since September 2015.
Back then, Niger Innis, another black Republican, told Politico that Harnett’s efforts to work with the old guard of the NC GOP had been rebuffed and that the chair’s demise was imminent, though inadvisable.
“Is the Republican Party ready for the repercussions of attempting to force failure upon the first black chairman of North Carolina?” he asked.
Back in September, the answer was, apparently, “Not quite yet.”