Jack Hawke -- A cheerful political warrior who loved the game
N&O Online November 4, 2013
Hawke, who was 72, was the leading architect of the campaign for GOP Gov Pat McCrory, and for previous Republican governor Jim Martin, as well. He also played an important role in countless other Republican campaigns. He was particularly close to former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner, a three-time candidate for governor.
A cheerful political warrior who loved the game, Hawke was state Republican Party chairman from 1987-95, which was believed to make him the longest serving chairman in state history.
He also ran for Congress in 1968, losing a close race. More recently, he served as president of the Civitas Institute, a conservative advocacy group in Raleigh.
By Verne Strickland November 5, 2013
Jack Hawke has died. It grieves me to acknowledge this, because Jack was not only respected and appreciated for his abilities in grooming GOP political talent for high office -- he was also a genuinely likeable man.
In those days, Jack looked like a good-natured choir boy. But his youthful appearance belied the fact that he was endowed with fangs that could take down some of the most entrenched and revered Democratic hot shots of the day.
I was an agricultural reporter at WRAL-TV in Raleigh when Hawke burst onto the scene. My farm connections gave me an insider's view of the first dragon that Jack Hawke slew -- the pompous, excessively incumbent chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee -- Harold D. Cooley of Nashville, NC.
Which brings me to a point that I am obliged to make early in this essay on a man who was a talented player in North Carolina politics for decades. And that point is -- you can't discuss the Jack Hawke legacy without mentioning the first rising political star he expertly groomed and propelled into high office -- Jim Gardner.
To pick up the narrative here, I'm going to reluctantly hand the baton to Gary Pearce, former poster boy for Democrats salivating to gain high office in North Carolina. Pearce was also a talented strategist, always rode Democrat horses, and rarely lost a race. But when he did lose, it was a calamity for him, and shook the North Carolina Democratic Party to its roots. Pearce had failed to take home the prize in the epic "Battle for the Soul of North Carolina" between Jim Hunt and incumbent U.S. Senator Jesse Helms.
The following few paragraphs are excerpted from Pearce's ascerbic report on the life and death of Jack Hawke. This little essay he entitles "Diamond Jim Gardner", a disrespectful reference to the man whose audacious win over kingpin Harold Cooley handily dismembered a Democratic dynasty in Washington.
The following is a comment from a writer challenging Pearce's essay (above) on Jack Hawke, Jim Gardner, and other GOP leaders whom Hawke successfully groomed for office:
"Gardner was a successful businessman. No one in business has total success, but Gardner weathered the storms and survived. I'm curious why you're so worried about a lowly chairmanship like ABC Chairman. Just fodder to trash a republican, I guess. Lovely. More...a chance to trash McCrory. It's the order of the day for you, Gary. You're watching McCrory and every other republican politician here in NC to find whatever you can to post negatives about them. I guess it's just what you do. I guess it will make you look even more "democrat" so that you can realize more paid gigs help democrats in their quest to win elections and sway public opinion here in our fair state. Okay...fine. I applaud that you actually work for a living and pay taxes.
"But, when ya do it on your blog here, I'm here to call you out. Not sure just how many democrats read/peruse TAP. But, hopefully they see Dap's posts and at least consider what I say about your Front Page posts here. We've got a lot of republicans/conservatives here in NC. We don't have a huge "immigrant" population that votes here and we have a great many conservative African American residents here. If that wasn't true, Jesse would have had a much tougher time in his many, many terms as U.S. Senator."