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The minds behind McCrory, Perdue

In some ways, Jack Hawke and Mac McCorkle have little in common.

They're from different parties, different generations. Hawke, a politician at heart, likes the limelight. McCorkle, a policy wonk, prefers to stay behind the scenes.

But the two Duke Law school graduates from Raleigh have spent decades on the front lines of N.C. politics. They've helped put clients in Congress and elect a pair of two-term governors.

Now, as top strategists for North Carolina's current gubernatorial candidates, they're shaping the campaigns of Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Bev Perdue.

“Both these candidates have brought the ‘A' team with those guys,” says Gary Pearce, himself a longtime Democratic strategist. “They know the state. They know campaigns.”

At 67, Hawke is the godfather of GOP consultants in North Carolina. He wants to help McCrory become the first Republican elected governor in 20 years. He managed the first campaign of the last one, Jim Martin.

McCorkle, 53, has worked as a political strategist and political adviser for Perdue, the lieutenant governor, and for the man she would succeed, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley.

Hawke and McCorkle have met on rare occasions. To their latest campaigns, both bring a familiar stable of operatives and consultants. And years of experience.

Hawke won with underdog

Hawke, stocky and silver-haired, is a Pennsylvania native who came to North Carolina to attend Duke law. In 1966, the year he graduated, he went to work for a little-known Republican named Jim Gardner, a fast-food entrepreneur trying to unseat a longtime Democratic congressman.

“In those days, you didn't have consultants, you didn't have media people,” Hawke says. “You did it all yourself.”

At a time when few North Carolinians called themselves Republican, Gardner won. Hawke went to Washington as his chief of staff.

He ran for Congress himself in 1970 and 1972, losing both times. He went on to serve as a deputy secretary in Republican Gov. Jim Holshouser's transportation department and later as co-chair of the federal Coastal Plains Commission.

In 1984, he ran Martin's successful campaign for governor and three years later won the first of four terms as state party chairman. He has since been a lobbyist, consultant and president of the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute.

“McCrory needed someone who understands politics outside of Charlotte, and Jack definitely does that,” says GOP consultant Paul Shumaker. “He has a very keen political intellect.”

McCorkle's first taste epic

McCorkle is a lanky Memphis, Tenn., native who, like Hawke, came to North Carolina for law school. At Duke he became a protégé of the school's president, Terry Sanford, a former governor and two-time presidential candidate.

After graduation, he worked for Sanford's law firm and in 1984 as a party researcher in the epic Senate race between Republican Jesse Helms and former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt.

Two years later he helped Sanford win a seat in the U.S. Senate, and by the end of the decade began what would become a long association with Easley.

After working on Easley's unsuccessful 1990 Senate campaign, he served as his political adviser through two terms as attorney general and two as governor. He also worked for former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker as well as Perdue.

Along with his stable of N.C. clients, McCorkle has consulted for Democrats in other states. He calls himself a “plumber,” often helping on specific issues in places such as Alabama, Missouri and Washington.

“One of his real strengths is policy,” says Pearce. “You don't run into a lot of consultants good on policy and politics. He can do both.”

No scratching this itch

McCorkle says politics “sure beats being a lawyer.”

“I like the independence,” he adds. “I like getting involved in more than one race. It (uses) some of my legal training, but a lot more exciting.”

Hawke would agree.

A couple years ago, he says he told himself he was finished with politics. Then McCrory called.

“It's a horrible disease,” Hawke says of politics. “Once infected by it, you can't get rid of it. There is no known cure.”

In some ways, Jack Hawke and Mac McCorkle have little in common.

They're from different parties, different generations. Hawke, a politician at heart, likes the limelight. McCorkle, a policy wonk, prefers to stay behind the scenes.

But the two Duke Law school graduates from Raleigh have spent decades on the front lines of N.C. politics. They've helped put clients in Congress and elect a pair of two-term governors.

Now, as top strategists for North Carolina's current gubernatorial candidates, they're shaping the campaigns of Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Bev Perdue.

“Both these candidates have brought the ‘A' team with those guys,” says Gary Pearce, himself a longtime Democratic strategist. “They know the state. They know campaigns.”

At 67, Hawke is the godfather of GOP consultants in North Carolina. He wants to help McCrory become the first Republican elected governor in 20 years. He managed the first campaign of the last one, Jim Martin.

McCorkle, 53, has worked as a political strategist and political adviser for Perdue, the lieutenant governor, and for the man she would succeed, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley.

Hawke and McCorkle have met on rare occasions. To their latest campaigns, both bring a familiar stable of operatives and consultants. And years of experience.

Hawke won with underdog

Hawke, stocky and silver-haired, is a Pennsylvania native who came to North Carolina to attend Duke law. In 1966, the year he graduated, he went to work for a little-known Republican named Jim Gardner, a fast-food entrepreneur trying to unseat a longtime Democratic congressman.

“In those days, you didn't have consultants, you didn't have media people,” Hawke says. “You did it all yourself.”

At a time when few North Carolinians called themselves Republican, Gardner won. Hawke went to Washington as his chief of staff.

He ran for Congress himself in 1970 and 1972, losing both times. He went on to serve as a deputy secretary in Republican Gov. Jim Holshouser's transportation department and later as co-chair of the federal Coastal Plains Commission.

In 1984, he ran Martin's successful campaign for governor and three years later won the first of four terms as state party chairman. He has since been a lobbyist, consultant and president of the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute.

“McCrory needed someone who understands politics outside of Charlotte, and Jack definitely does that,” says GOP consultant Paul Shumaker. “He has a very keen political intellect.”

McCorkle's first taste epic

McCorkle is a lanky Memphis, Tenn., native who, like Hawke, came to North Carolina for law school. At Duke he became a protégé of the school's president, Terry Sanford, a former governor and two-time presidential candidate.

After graduation, he worked for Sanford's law firm and in 1984 as a party researcher in the epic Senate race between Republican Jesse Helms and former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt.

Two years later he helped Sanford win a seat in the U.S. Senate, and by the end of the decade began what would become a long association with Easley.

After working on Easley's unsuccessful 1990 Senate campaign, he served as his political adviser through two terms as attorney general and two as governor. He also worked for former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker as well as Perdue.

Along with his stable of N.C. clients, McCorkle has consulted for Democrats in other states. He calls himself a “plumber,” often helping on specific issues in places such as Alabama, Missouri and Washington.

“One of his real strengths is policy,” says Pearce. “You don't run into a lot of consultants good on policy and politics. He can do both.”

No scratching this itch

McCorkle says politics “sure beats being a lawyer.”

“I like the independence,” he adds. “I like getting involved in more than one race. It (uses) some of my legal training, but a lot more exciting.”

Hawke would agree.

A couple years ago, he says he told himself he was finished with politics. Then McCrory called.

“It's a horrible disease,” Hawke says of politics. “Once infected by it, you can't get rid of it. There is no known cure.”

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