Raleigh, N.C. — Jack Hawke, the longest-serving chairman in the history of the North Carolina Republican Party, has died, the party announced early Tuesday.
He was 72 years old.
Hawke most recently served as a senior adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory and was the founding president of The Civitas Institute, a conservative nonprofit started by Raleigh businessman Art Pope, now the state budget director, in 2005.
"Hawke was universally regarded as one of the greatest political operatives in North Carolina’s history, having been a former state party chairman, congressional candidate and a top adviser for two Republican administrations," the state Republican Party said in a statement.
Hawke served as party chairman from 1987 to 1995.
“In many ways Jack was emblematic of the transitions North Carolina has gone through in the past 50 years,” Civitas President Francis De Luca said in a statement. “He came to North Carolina to attend law school at Duke, and he stayed. Jack was involved in most of the state’s political and policy developments from the '60s on, and was on the leading edge of the movement to take North Carolina from a stagnant one-party state to today’s robust two-party system.”
Hawke was the campaign manager for Jim Gardner’s successful congressional campaign in 1966 and was a candidate for Congress himself in 1968, 1970 and 1972. He was also the campaign manager for Jim Martin’s successful campaign for governor in 1984 and Gardner’s successful campaign for lieutenant governor in 1988, according to the state GOP.
McCrory said was a longtime friend and mentor.
"He was more than a political adviser to me and so many others. He was a trusted mentor, friend and father figure with a fantastic positive outlook on our state and life," the governor said in a statement. "During the past five years, we have argued together, laughed together and cried together. Today, many of us are dealing with tears of sorrow about his passing and also joy in having the privilege to have known him. Ann and I express our prayers to his wife, Grace, and his wonderful family."
Hawke helped organize Renew North Carolina, a foundation designed to keep McCrory's ideas before the public. The group has been airing television ads in recent weeks touting the governor's accomplishments during his first months in office.