Two rivals for chairman of the N.C. Republican Party are calling former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes the "establishment" candidate.
Tim Johnson, currently the party's vice-chair, said he expects to get tea party support in his bid for the top job. And Marcus Kindley, former Guilford County GOP chairman, said he's hoping to win grass-roots support.
The GOP state executive committee meets Saturday in Raleigh to name someone to fill the remaining six months of Tom Fetzer's term. Fetzer is resigning to start a consulting business.
"This is a classic case," Kindley said today. "We have the guys in Raleigh, they sat down and decided who they wanted to run.”
Johnson, meanwhile, said of his own support, "the vast amount is coming from Tea Party groups." He has spoken to Tea Party rallies in Charlotte and elsewhere.
"They truly were the ones that allowed Republicans to win and recapture the General Assembly the first time in 140 years," he said.
It's unclear how many Tea Partiers will be among Saturday's voters. The executive committee is made up of local and regional party leaders.
Hayes could not be reached. But his campaign manager, Jennifer Behr, said he expects to win.
"Robin’s got support from across the board," she said. "He's not in this because somebody handpicked him …. He realizes that this is just a job that he’s cut out for and now is his time and he’s seizing the opportunity.”