State News

N.C. GOP chair apologizes for pain caused by mailer

Posted October 22, 2010

— The head of North Carolina's Republican Party apologized Thursday for any pain caused by a mailer criticizing the Racial Justice Act that was distributed in the district of a House Democrat whose daughter was murdered 25 years ago.

A mailer created by the Republican Party criticizes House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman's support of the Racial Justice Act and quotes press reports that the law could parole death row inmates.

Holliman issued a statement Wednesday protesting that capital punishment is a serious issue for him. His 16-year-old daughter, Suzi, was kidnapped and killed in 1985. Holliman witnessed the execution of her killer in 1998.

State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer said he has spoken to Holliman since the mailer went out this week to Davidson County residents.

Fetzer said he didn't know that Holliman's daughter had been murdered and that. had he known, the mailer wouldn’t have been sent to voters in Holliman’s district.

Holliman has said the ad isn’t accurate, and he wants it retracted. He said he supports capital punishment but voted for the Racial Justice Act because he believes it will improve the criminal justice system.

The state NAACP sent a letter to Fetzer demanding that he apologize to all supporters of the law, saying the GOP flier is full or "lies and distortions."

"He rightly should apologize to Rep. Holliman's family, but he still has not apologized for the distortion," the Rev. William Barber, chairman of the state NAACP, said at a Friday morning news conference.

Rep. Hugh Holliman GOP mailer on crime draws controversy

The mailer, which was also sent to households in two other districts, shows a man wearing a ski mask using a crow bar to break into a house. The flip side shows mug shots of a white and a black death row inmate and the words, “Thanks to Hugh Holliman, death row inmates could leave prison and move in next door.”

The flier cites a newspaper article stating that some death row prisoners could be paroled almost immediately if a judge rules in their favor. In another article, a Republican district attorney suggested that people sentenced to death before a new sentencing system took effect in the mid-1990s could be considered for parole after serving 20 years for their crimes if a judge changed their sentence.

"The mailer's obvious purpose is to get people to vote their fears, before any factual rebuttals and enlightenment might bring some reason into play in this important election," the NAACP letter to Fetzer said. "Your sloppy research, your not-so-subtle appeal to racial fears and your boorish behavior toward the Holliman family, who themselves suffered the great family tragedy of losing a daughter to a violent crime, are over-the-top."

The Racial Justice Act, which lawmakers passed last year, allows death sentences to be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole if inmates can prove, with statistics and other evidence, that race played a role in their sentencing.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said that there's no chance that a death row inmate would be released.

Nearly all of the 159 people on North Carolina’s death row filed motions seeking life in prison under the act before a one-year window closed in August. Republican lawmakers have said that the law will further delay justice for heinous crimes.

81 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Plenty Coups Oct 22, 7:17 p.m.

    "What I want to know is why so many liberals hated Bush when he was a liberal in a conservative costume."

    You mean he was a moderate. Seems these days, the Republican party caters to the far right nuts who refuse to support any one in their party with any ounce of reason that goes counter to the Limbaugh/Tea Party Purity of Thought Law.

  • tgiv Oct 22, 6:48 p.m.

    It's so much easier to respect someone who made a mistake and apologizes than someone who sees that same mistake and screams at the top of their lungs there was no mistake.

  • soyousay Oct 22, 6:36 p.m.

    did..What I want to know is why so many liberals hated Bush when he was a liberal in a conservative costume

    I guess it will forever remain a mystery to you, very sad really

  • ykm Oct 22, 6:25 p.m.

    the Gop is really run by some simple minded . All they need to do is stick to the budget, taxes, spending. Nothing else matters. We the people will take care of all the rest.

  • didisaythat Oct 22, 4:49 p.m.

    Way too many Socialist Liberals on this site today. What I want to know is why so many liberals hated Bush when he was a liberal in a conservative costume.

  • Proud Black Constitutionalist Oct 22, 4:30 p.m.

    "oin the persona,"

    soyousay--Help me out bro, I'm sure you're a product of the NC public school system, so I'll take that into consideration.

  • soyousay Oct 22, 4:19 p.m.

    proud..he was the only brother reporter

    keep working oin the persona, slang doesn't make you credible

  • sabol100 Oct 22, 3:57 p.m.

    Deep Thought...not deep enough. "Is anybody really surprised at the Republicans, the apology is the surprise. These 'new' republicans have just about run off the old guard republicans. They were the logical base that tried to keep the party on track. Now with the addition of the tea baggers, the entire party is off the rails. They seem to worship Rush, Beck, Rove, Palin and any extremist that claims to be a conservative or republican. Did they really look at O'Donnell."

    You want to group anyone conserative into one big heap. Gee, what can I say about the Dems...wait, not what, but where in the world should I begin. Yes, this is all in jest, unlike you and your "the entire party is off the rails". Does that make all Dems liars, or all Dems liberals? No, it doesn't. I just wanted to let you see how narrow minded you are.

  • geosol Oct 22, 3:54 p.m.

    Wow!! Looks like the same hate and fear-based tactics that the GOP has used for years, though. Remember Helms' "white hands" campaign lie/ad? This one is cut from the very same mold.

  • Proud Black Constitutionalist Oct 22, 3:43 p.m.

    I'm ticked because he apologized.

    NAACP--How about some outcry over the firing of Juan Williams, since, he was the only brother reporter!

More...