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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jack Hawke, June 7, 1990. Interview C-0087. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Divisions within the North Carolina Republican Party over state and national issues

Hawke continues to focus on divisions within the North Carolina Republican Party and its evolution since the 1960s. Here, he focuses specifically on his own bid for party chair in 1987 and the opposition he faced from the Jesse Helms branch of the party. Hawke explains how his emphasis on organizing the state party at the grassroots level by focusing on state issues was at odds with the Helms organization, the Congressional Club, and its emphasis on national issues. His comments are revealing of complexities and dynamics within the party at the state level.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jack Hawke, June 7, 1990. Interview C-0087. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK HAWKE:
So that the Helms organization today is much different. They're working very close with the state party. We had a fight when I ran for chairman.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
Right, they opposed you.
JACK HAWKE:
Which was more philosophical in nature, I guess.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
You think it was? What was the philosophical difference that led the Club to oppose you?
JACK HAWKE:
Well, I say philosophical. It was almost like the situation I had when I was a college kid. I wasn't a 100% so, you know, I was suspect.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
What were the suspect areas that made you less pure or just different?
JACK HAWKE:
They tried to make it because I wanted to talk about building a Republican Party and attracting candidates and doing a grassroots organization and had been part of the Martin administration, so talk about state issues. That that meant that I wasn't pure. Fighting communism, on abortion, on prayer in school, on all those things that were issues in those days. And the guy they got to run against me was president of a bible college. In fact, his Ph.D. was in public speaking. He was a tremendous speaker. They thought they had the guy that could debate those issues and turn the troops on in terms on the emotional issues and beat us that way. From that reason I say it was philosophical. I think underlying it was their concern of what was going to happen. They'd just gone through the Broyhill primary.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
Where they offered up Funderburke and he lost to Broyhill and then Broyhill lost to Sanford. So a lot of blood.
JACK HAWKE:
Yeah, I think their primary concern has always been U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress.
JONATHAN HOUGHTON:
Well, is that how they think they're going to turn the state Republican, by focusing on national issues, where there's a greater difference between Democrats and Republicans, than on state issues. So they down play grassroot precinct level tasks, thinking that it would bring the troops out of the woodwork by focusing on a bit more traditional issues, is that it?
JACK HAWKE:
Yeah, I think the Club truly believes that you motivate people to vote on emotional issues and they don't believe in grassroots organization. That's my observation. And they do it through T.V. ads, and they've been very successful with it.