Local Politics

Fetzer elected N.C. GOP chair

Posted June 13, 2009 7:50 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2009 9:25 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's Republican Party has chosen former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer as its chairman, party spokesman Brent Woodcox said.

Fetzer succeeds Linda Daves as party leader.


Fetzer beat Lee County Commissioner Chad Adams to become state GOP chairman on the second ballot after an initial round narrowed the four candidates. Adams bowed out when it seemed clear Fetzer would win, and the state Republican convention proclaimed Fetzer the winner without completing the votes cast by about 1,600 delegates.

The election was hotly contested as the party tries to rebuild in the wake of disappointing election cycles in 2006 and 2008.

Since 2006, Republicans have lost their majority in the state's congressional delegation. In 2008, Sen. Elizabeth Dole was soundly defeated, and the state's electoral votes went to Democrats for the first time since 1976 with Barack Obama's victory. Growth in Republican voter registration lagged behind Democrats and independents.

Fetzer, 54, was endorsed by U.S. Reps. Sue Myrick and Patrick McHenry, former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth, and former Gov. Jim Holshouser.

He stressed that he was a proven fundraiser, had the influence to recruit the best Republican candidates, and was an experienced grassroots campaigner.

Fetzer worked with former U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and John East, and served as an assistant cabinet member in former Gov. Jim Martin's administration before being elected to the first of three two-year terms as mayor of Raleigh in 1993. He also ran a high-end GOP political consulting firm the past five years.

"If we mean to end the Democrats' domination of our state's politics for over a century, let it begin here," Fetzer said in accepting his nomination Saturday. "We are leaving here today united - one team, one goal."

Adams, 42, presented himself as the upstart running against a failed Republican Party bureaucracy in Raleigh. He was on leave from his job at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh.

"The state chairman must come from a volunteer background in order to understand how to run this party," he said. "The Republican Party will never be a party to contend with until it realizes it starts at the precinct level and works its way up."

Former Guilford County GOP chairman Marcus Kindley and Bill Randall, a retired Navy veteran from Wake Forest, fell out after the first round of balloting.

Former Duplin County GOP chairman Dale Rankin said he came to the convention planning to vote for Kindley, whose ideas he heard fleshed out during frequent appearances on a Wilmington talk radio station. But after his second choice of Randall bowed out he said he decided to back Fetzer.

"I just felt like between the two of them he just had the most experience," Rankin said.