North Carolina Republicans celebrated last month when party officials awarded Charlotte their 2020 national convention. Now they hope to capitalize on it.
They’re holding a volunteer recruitment event uptown Saturday, holding out the promise of choice assignments at the convention.
But the event is as much about this November as it is about 2020.
“Training and activating people in the 2018 elections will help us recommend people for key volunteer assignments in 2020,” state Chair Robin Hayes wrote this week. “If you would like a key role in this historic event, the best advice I can give you is to volunteer with us now.”
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Though two years away, the convention will need plenty of volunteers. More than 8,000 took part in the 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland. More than 10,000 worked on the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte.
But the volunteer event comes three months before crucial elections for the General Assembly and Congress.
Republicans are trying to defend their legislative super-majorities and keep the 9th and 13th congressional districts in GOP hands. In both districts, Democrats have outraised the Republican candidates. And in the 9th, a poll by the conservative Civitas Institute found Democrat Dan McCready with a 7-point lead over Republican Mark Harris.
Chris Turner, who chairs the Mecklenburg GOP, has invited Republicans in surrounding counties to Saturday’s event.
“The idea is that we want folks who are excited about the convention to come out and hear more about it,” Turner said. “Hopefully we can encourage them to get involved with candidates this fall.”
A handful of legislative Republicans face what could be tough challenges in Mecklenburg County.
Democrat Hillary Clinton carried three suburban districts now held by Republicans: Senate District 41 and House Districts 104 and 105. Through June, Democratic candidates outraised GOP incumbents in two of those districts as well as House District 103, where Democrat Rachel Hunt, the daughter of former Gov. Jim Hunt, is challenging Republican Rep. Bill Brawley.
Democrats are targeting those districts in hopes of breaking Republican “super-majorities’ in the General Assembly. Those majorities weaken the power of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper by virtually ensuring Republican ability to over-ride gubernatorial vetoes.
Democrats need a net gain of four seats in the House and six in the Senate to crack the GOP majorities.
“Democrats could break the super-majorities in the House simply by picking up Republican-held House seats in Wake and Mecklenburg alone,” said Jonathan Kappler, who tracks legislative races as executive director of the Free Enterprise Foundation, a business group.
GOP Rep. Andy Dulin, who represents district 104, said volunteers are crucial to his and other campaigns.
“They’re really the lifeblood of campaigning,” he said.
Turner, the Republican chairman, said the convention gives the party an opportunity not only to recruit volunteers but get them excited.
“We’ve got the potential to have the RNC be an effective tool,” he said, adding that Saturday’s event is just a start on getting more volunteers involved.
One Charlotte Democrat dismissed the Republican event. Consultant Dan McCorkle said Democrats have already mobilized volunteers.
“We’ve never stopped,” he said. “And we don’t need a gimmick.”
Want to go?
Saturday’s volunteer recruitment kickoff runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings, 400 E. Martin Luther King Blvd., Charlotte 28202.