North Carolina Supreme Court Race Gets Dirty

BY JOHN T. PLECNIK: Lincoln Tribune

Sunday, September 26, 2004

"Together, we can bring ideas and idealism back to the forefront of politics."

The above quote concludes the first-ever statewide platform of the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans-the sentiment of a generation, immortalized by my pen. As the platform was accepted by acclimation at our statewide conference in Charlotte, Bill Peaslee, NCGOP Chief of Staff/Special Legal Counsel, stood by my side at the podium. We both presided over this noble moment.

Later that evening, I was awarded the Joey Stansbury "Unsung Hero of the College Republicans" Award. Such is presented to College Republicans that do great work for the Federation, while receiving scant recognition. I am not known for the pursuit of controversy or credit.

On September 23, 2004, the officers of the Duke College Republicans began to receive e-mails from an irate member of the NCGOP Executive Committee (said e-mails were copied to many politicos, swiftly achieving wide circulation). The man was incensed by the fact that Rachel Lea Hunter, Republican candidate for North Carolina Supreme Court, appeared on DukeCollegeRepublicans.com. He insisted that Rachel-opponent Paul Newby be given her spot. I responded to the rude inquiry by informing the member that any North Carolina conservative may be posted on our site, upon request. If Newby had taken the time to read our site and request the favor, his short biography would have already been posted. Since that time, Newby did ask for an introduction and it was posted on the same day. He also requested an audience with the Duke College Republicans, and we are working with his campaign to find a mutually acceptable date.

The member replied to our response with even less restraint, stating that College Republicans should not base their support on candidates actually taking the time to ask them for it. He also disparaged the education and qualifications of Rachel Lea Hunter. Apparently, the University of Pittsburgh Law School (alma mater of U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is not quite prestigious enough to educate a future North Carolina Supreme Court justice.

Shockingly, the same Bill Peaslee that oversaw the College Republicans endorse ideas and idealism, concurred in the Executive Committee member's sentiments. He was copied to the e-mail, along with everyone from U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick's chief of staff to the state chairman of the College Republicans. His infamous response to the member's attacks: "Well put."

The next morning, Peaslee claimed that he was unaware that he had e-mailed his reply to anyone but his friend, the Executive Committee member. Even so, he chose to stand by his prior statements.

I am aware that North Carolina boasts a cantankerous bout for Justice Orr's old seat on the bench. I recognize that eight candidates, four being registered Republicans, are rigorously taking their case before the court of public opinion. Conservatives Rachel Lea Hunter and Paul Newby are both competitive with liberal Judges Wynn and Manning to claim victory this November. Needless to say, there will be disagreements.

That said, as principled conservatives, we need to stand above the politics of personal destruction. We must stand for the politics of selfless volunteerism, ideas and idealism.

Many of the Duke College Republicans were deeply hurt and angered by the irresponsible behavior of such high-level representatives in the NCGOP. No doubt, Rachel Lea Hunter, the disparaged candidate, feels even worse. Her credentials, career, and convictions were all belittled and besmirched. Such actions, no matter how politically effective, are unacceptable.

Barring further developments, this sentiment is the final word of the Duke College Republicans on this tawdry affair. The good people of the great state of North Carolina deserve better. The people can and must demand better.

"Together, we can bring ideas and idealism back to the forefront of politics."

Paid for by Rachel Lea Hunter for Supreme Court
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