Local Politics

GOP primary runoff sparks party in-fighting

Posted June 18, 2010

Party in-fighting has dominated a primary runoff to determine which Republican candidate will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell in November.

Tim D'Annunzio and Harold Johnson emerged as the top vote-getters against four other candidates in the May 10 primary. D'Annunzio carried nearly 37 percent of the vote, and Johnson 33 percent.

The winner of the runoff on Tuesday will face off with Kissell and Libertarian nominee Thomas Hill to decide who will represent the state's eighth Congressional district, which includes parts of Cumberland, Hoke, Anson, Carrbarus, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Richmond, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties.

Both candidates have talked about Republican issues such as repealing the health care overhaul, limiting government and creating jobs.

"I am a constitutional conservative," D'Annunzio said.

"I wish the president would sit up and say, 'You know what, I'm going to extend the George Bush tax cuts," Johnson said.

But their contest for the nomination has set off some fierce party in-fighting.

D'Annunzio, a successful Raeford businessman, enjoys backing from the Tea Party but clashed with Republican party leaders after the release of papers from his 1995 divorce that reported about past drug use and juvenile arrests.

The chair of the state Republican Party, Tom Fetzer, called D'Annunzio an "angry and irrational person who is unfit to serve."

D'Annunzio and his supporters fired back by calling for Fetzer to resign.

"I'm not a party guy," D'Annunzio said. "I'm not someone who will take orders from them."

Johnson, a longtime Charlotte TV sports anchor, has won support from Republican Party leaders, and recent polls show him benefiting from D'Annunzios' battles, like an exchange in which he told a critical Charlotte radio host that "there's a special place in hell for you."

"Which one of us is best suited to move on to November and beat Larry Kissell?" Johnson said. "Give Republicans a chance."

D'Annunzio said he has been wrongly characterized by critics. He has sued Johnson, alleging that campaign ads defamed his name.

"I think we're going to win because the people see through the attacks, see them for what they are, and they do really want change," he said.

Both candidates have put their own money into the fight: Johnson loaned his campaign nearly $300,000, and D'Annunzio gave his more than $1.3 million.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • soccerus Jun 18, 2010

    I bet D'Annunzio could walk across Hope Mills Lake. Hey, maybe he can fill the sinkhole with one of his pyramids. With him and Virginia Foxx representing us in D.C. what could go wrong? Kinda scary sort, isn't he?

  • Poleaux Jun 18, 2010

    D'Annunzio is the best choice. We need strong, vocal people to push back against the ObamaMarxist lunatics destroying the country.

  • geosol Jun 18, 2010

    Yay!!!! Go tea party whackos!!! Help finish off what's left of the Republican political party.

  • wildcat Jun 18, 2010

    Democrates is still ruling.

  • Roland K. Jun 18, 2010

    How can a guy who hates government so much run for public office and serve in Washington? D'Annunzio is pretty much an embarrassment.

  • tomfoolery Jun 18, 2010

    What is Johnson going to do in Washington, update the president on basketball scores? People from all around the world come to the US for the University systems and we elect TV sports anchors to run the country! Why don't we put the people that have an education in government and economics in charge? That is what's wrong with Washington.

  • Roland K. Jun 18, 2010

    D'Annunzio - isn't he the guy who claimed he can speak to the dead? and that he is the messiah, and that God would drop a 1000 mile high pyramid on Greenland as the New jerusalem? Isn't he a Tea Party endorsee who hates government? Yeah, he's unfit to serve.

  • blackdog Jun 18, 2010

    Tom Fetzer isn't helping the republican party anywhere in N.C.

  • saturn5 Jun 18, 2010

    Isn't party infighting the whole point of a Primary? If everyone already supported just one candidate, there wouldn't be much need for a Primary.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 18, 2010

    Is Johnson the Republican brainiac who accused Obama & BP of colluding to create this oil spill?