USA Dot Com is a blog covering politics and government from a conservative Christian perspective. Verne Strickland is a 50-year veteran of investigative journalism. This blog offers a take-no-prisoners style with a modicum of biting satire. Verne and his wife of 55 years, Durrene, live in Wilmington, NC.
has been a very tough week of reflection for me. At 9:03pm on Monday
night I got a call informing me that Jack Hawke had passed away. I have
shared lots of tears but also laughed and smiled a ton as I reflect on
my friend Jack Hawke. Jack is a legend of a man, but most importantly
to me he is a friend, a mentor, a role model and a father-figure.
Hawke is the father of the modern Republican Party in North Carolina,
and the positive impact he continues to have on our state cannot be
overstated. Some of the highlights include Campaign Manager for
Congressman Jim Gardner’s upset victory in 1966, Campaign Manager for
Gov. Jim Martin’s election in 1984, longest serving chairman in the
history of the NCGOP, chief strategist for Jim Gardner’s winning
Lieutenant Governor’s campaign in 1988, the architect of the Republican
takeover of the NC House in 1994 for the first time in the 20th
Century, campaign consultant for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx in 2004
when she won as tough and as expensive of a Congressional primary as has
ever occurred in North Carolina, and the campaign consultant for
Governor Pat McCrory’s big win in 2012 (the first time a Republican
nominee for Governor has ever out polled the Republican nominee for
President). Without him we would not have a Republican Governor and
Lieutenant Governor, a Republican Senate and House, and a Republican
majority on the NC Supreme Court for the first time in 1872.
the measure of the man and his greatest impact is on the lives that he
touched. Jack Hawke has been a friend, a mentor, a big brother, a
father-figure to so many in our state, inside and outside of politics.
His legacy will live on for decades to come.
son of a Methodist minister from Pennsylvania and a past president of
the New Jersey College Republicans, The Pennsylvania Yankee was the
Southern Gentleman of North Carolina politics. He was always honest and
forthright. Everything he did was ethical and above board. I never
heard him say a curse word and the worst thing I ever heard him say
about anyone was that they were acting like a jerk. He was always
positive, always upbeat, and always had something up his sleeve. His
sense of humor was timeless and his laugh contagious. Talking to Jack
just made you feel better, no matter what was going on, it just made you
mattered to Jack. He had time for everyone. There were no unimportant
people to him. When it came to campaigning two of the first things Jack
taught me is to take time to speak to everyone and let them know they
are appreciated and to lead by example…never ask someone to do something
that you won’t do yourself.
met Jack Hawke for the first time at the NCGOP Convention in Hickory in
1999. I was a freshman in College volunteering on Bill Cobey’s campaign
for State Party Chairman. We were meeting to discuss what needed to
happen that weekend when Jack Hawke walked into the room. I was
immediately blown away by both his wisdom and the respect showed to him
by everyone in that room. Our paths would cross a few more times over
the next 11 years and as a student of North Carolina politics I
certainly knew and appreciated the legend that is Jack Hawke, but I
didn’t really get to know Jack until June of 2010.
When Jack Hawke hired me in June of 2010 to manage Ilario Pantano’s campaign for the 7th
Congressional District, someone told me that managing a campaign with
Jack Hawke as the consultant is like getting a Master’s Degree in
Politics. I quickly learned they were wrong. It was more than that. It
was at least a PhD not only in Politics but also in life and in how to
be a better person.
was definitely true that I learned more in 5 months of working for Jack
Hawke then I learned in 8 previous years of working in politics (not
just because Jack was so smart but because he took the time to mentor
& teach), but I learned so much more about life and living.
wouldn’t just tell you to do something, he would take the time to
explain the why behind it (unless of course it was something he found
irrelevant in which case he would laugh and say “handle it, handle it,
handle it”). He didn’t just dispense orders. He sought out your advice
and input Jack respected everyone’s opinions and always listened. He
demanded your best and you gave your best because you never wanted to
disappoint him. He openly shared his experiences and lessons from 40 –
plus years of campaigns with me….the good, the bad, and the funny. He
taught me to always give it my best, to always work hard, to always be
respectful, to always do what is right, and to never back down.
the campaign ended, Jack didn’t abandon me. He kept me under his wing
and was always there for me, just a phone call away. He mentored me to
the point that I’ll be talking to a client, I’ll give them advice, I’ll
stop and wonder where that came from, then it will hit me that it came
from Jack Hawke. Up until the very last time I talked to him, Jack was
upbeat and positive. He wanted to know what was happening with my life
and my business, he was dispensing advice, and offering his help and
assistance. It didn’t matter how much he was suffering, he was
FAAANTASTIC and he was there for his friends.
Without Jack Hawke I don’t know where I would be today but I I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
many know, Jack’s trademark was to say “FAAAAAN-TASTIC, Thank You”
whenever someone asked him how he was doing. To which I would always
reply “That’s what I wanted to hear,” and it really was because no
matter what was going on it always made me feel better to hear him say
something strange, weird, or unusual would happen on the campaign
trail, I would tell Jack “I better write that down. That’s going in the
book” to which Jack would always respond “When you write your book just
remember to be kind to an old man.” Well Jack, I could never be as kind
to you as you have always been to me. Thank you Jack for being as good
of a man as I’ve ever known.
I would give to be able to pick up the phone one more time, call Jack
Hawke, ask him how he is doing, and hear him respond “FAAAAN-TASTIC,
Thank you!” Or better yet to meet him for lunch at the Player’s Retreat
said this to Jack and my close political friends have heard me say this
before, but I still want to be Jack Hawke when I grow up!
RALEIGH – The Civitas Institute has unveiled a new statewide web site, StopCommonCoreNC.com,
dedicated to educating North Carolinians about the problems associated
with Common Core Standards and the threat they pose to state and
The web site is a collaborative effort comprised of contributors from
Civitas, other policy and education reform organizations, and local
activists. Common Core is a national effort, powered by private
interests and the federal government, to impose untested academic
content standards for English language arts and mathematics on all K-12 public schools across the nation.
“Let’s be clear — we fully support higher academic standards,” said
Dr. Robert Luebke, a Senior Policy Analyst at Civitas. “However Common
Core fails to provide better standards. Common Core Standards are not
supported by research, provide no evidence that they will improve
student achievement, and run roughshod over the principle of local
StopCommonCoreNC.org is dedicated to educating citizens and reporting
how the standards impact schools, students and taxpayers. The site
includes a blog as well as articles and other resources about Common
Core. Visit the site at StopCommonCoreNC.org or the Facebook page.
More information on the Civitas Institute is available at www.nccivitas.org, or contact Jim Tynen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 834-2099.
Jack Hawke -- A cheerful political warrior who loved the
N&O Online November 4, 2013
RALEIGH — Jack Hawke, the
veteran political strategist who helped build the modern North Carolina
Republican Party, died Monday night after an extended illness. 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.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/11/04/3342175/political-strategist-former-state.html#storylink=cpyJack Hawke has died. It saddens me to acknowledge this, as he was not only a Republican with deep conservative roots, but a genuinely nice guy as weI knew him during his early years as a gifted GOP political strategist in Raleigh. He was a dedicated. conservative when conservatism wasn't cool.
Jack was tough as nails, knew how to cut the fat out of a liberal Democrat's stump speech, and confounded opposing political strategists he met in the bare-knuckle, high-stakes North Carolina political arena. And when the fat was gone, Jack made sure the rest of the claims made looked like mince meat. 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.
Jim Gardner almost changed political history twice – 20 years ago and 40 years ago.
In 1972, he was the fair-haired boy of the North Carolina
Republican Party. Six years earlier, he had unexpectedly defeated a
long-time Democratic congressman from the East, Harold Cooley. How big
an upset was it? Cooley was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee,
for Pete’s sake. Eastern North Carolina hadn’t elected a Republican
congressman since Reconstruction. And Gardner was barely 30 years old.
Gardner had been one of the early founders of Hardee’s out
of Rocky Mount. He was handsome and a hell of a speaker. He caught the
early Republican wave in 1966 and rode it to Washington. Gardner was a
fire-and-brimstone conservative. He knew all the racial code words, like
“law and order,” “forced busing” and welfare.
He was Jesse Helms before Jesse Helms.
But one term in Congress was enough for Gardner. In 1968,
he ran for Governor and nearly beat Bob Scott. He immediately started
running for 1972.
Then he ran into a quiet, more traditional Republican from
the mountains, state Rep. Jim Holshouser. Holshouser edged Gardner in
the Republican primary. So it was Holshouser, not Gardner, who rode the
Nixon landslide into the Governor’s office in 1972 – the same year Helms
was elected to the Senate.
Gardner went back to the business world, full of
high-flying plans. But they crashed in the Nixon recession and gas
shortages of the 1970s. He fell into a string of bankruptcies, bad debts
and business failures that would plague him later.
He stayed out of politics until 1988, when Republicans
recruited him to run for Lieutenant Governor. Governor Jim Martin was
sweeping to reelection that year, and once again Gardner was at the
right place and the right time. He destroyed Tony Rand, his Democratic
opponent, in a debate. And he began planning another run for governor in
Then he ran into Jim Hunt. Hunt was coming back into
politics in large part because Democrats feared Gardner. They fought a
bruising campaign. We (I was working with Hunt’s campaign) pounded
Gardner with his business record. Hunt asked him in a debate: “If that’s
how you run your business, I’d hate to see how you’d run the state.”
Hunt won big.
Now Gardner is back. He was front and center when Governor
McCrory named his transition team. Gardner’s old strategist, Jack Hawke,
played the same role with McCrory. And now McCrory has picked Gardner
to be ABC Chairman.
You wouldn’t think it’s possible to bankrupt the state’s liquor system. But Gardner has quite a track record. (VS: Very snide, Mr. Pearce. But certainly not beneath you.)
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
* Republicans see opportunity in conservative states
* Nervous Democrats offer possible changes to law
By Richard Cowan
Nov 2 (Reuters) - The chaotic launch of President Barack Obama's
healthcare law has Democrats in Congress increasingly anxious about its
potential impact on them in the 2014 elections and scrambling to
protect themselves if the program's problems persist.
nervous is a group of 16 Senate Democrats who are defending their
seats next year, as Republicans will seek a net gain of six seats to
try to take over the 100-seat chamber.
the Democrats, such as New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen, represent states
where enthusiasm has been high for the Affordable Care Act. Among
other things, the law aims to provide inexpensive health insurance to
many of the estimated 15 million Americans with little or no coverage.
such as Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana,
represent conservative states where skepticism has been fueled by
Republican attack ads discouraging participation.
balky website, HealthCare.gov, has been unable to process an untold
number of applications for insurance since its debut on Oct. 1, and the
frustration both types of Democrats have had with it was evident on
White House Chief of Staff Denis
McDonough was summoned to the Capitol for a closed-door meeting with
all Senate Democrats and peppered with "tough and pointed" questions
about the program, one Senate Democratic leadership aide said.
senators told McDonough that they wanted to see more progress in
getting the site working efficiently, and that the administration had
to do a better job of communicating its successes and failures in
implementing the biggest legislative achievement of Obama's presidency.
calls and letters from disappointed constituents began pouring into
Shaheen's offices almost immediately after enrollment in Obamacare
began with a thud last month, when it immediately became clear that
navigating HealthCare.gov was vexed.
Administration officials have said most of the site's problems will be fixed by Nov. 30.
so, Shaheen gathered nine other Democratic senators to encourage the
White House to extend the initial enrollment period beyond March 31.
rollout of the new law was a disaster. The administration had three
years to prepare," Shaheen told Reuters. "They clearly dropped the
The senator is feeling pressure from
voters partly because she was a vocal advocate of the healthcare law,
which could help about 130,000 uninsured people in her tiny state, as
well as many others who have insurance that does not cover preexisting
health conditions or that has significant limits on benefits.
is widely seen as having a strong chance of winning a second six-year
term next year. But several other Senate Democrats running for
reelection, including Pryor and Landrieu, are likely to face tough
challenges from conservative Republicans.
Obamacare's stumbles are a particular problem for them as they defend a landmark law they helped write and still believe in.
LIMITING THE DOWNSIDE
Democrats have offered proposals that could be rushed onto the Senate
floor if computer wizards cannot make the healthcare site more
functional within the next month - and if a controversy does not die
down over revelations that some people will lose health insurance plans
they like, despite Obama's earlier assurances to the contrary.
said Wednesday that she was crafting a bill to allow anyone who is
satisfied with their current insurance to retain it.
Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who is not up for reelection next
year but whose state is increasingly trending Republican, has called
for a one-year delay in requiring individuals to sign up for health
insurance, echoing arguments made by many Republican lawmakers.
the 10 Senate Democrats urging an extension of the March 31 deadline
for people to sign up or face a penalty, seven, including Shaheen, face
reelection next year.
"The fundamental reason
for doing the Affordable Care Act continues to exist," Shaheen said.
"Prices for health insurance were going up at a rate that was
increasingly unaffordable. Too many were not able to get health
But the snafus have raised her and other Democrats' political antennae.
"getting too far out on a limb" for Obamacare started to feel risky
and the limb began to crack, said Dante Scala, a political science
professor at the University of New Hampshire, Shaheen is "going to get
closer to the trunk of the tree.
we're seeing" in the proposal to extend the Obamacare enrollment
deadline, Scala said. While looking out for her constituency, "I think
she's trying to limit her personal downside," too.
frustration among Democrats is also evident in the Republican-led U.S.
House of Representatives. They are not likely to win enough votes to
take over the 435-seat chamber, where the Republican majority has voted
more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare, claiming it will destroy jobs
and raise medical costs.
Some Democrats describe feeling let down by the administrative shortcomings.
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told Reuters that he
offered some firm advice to Obama during a recent meeting.
think what the president has to do (is) ... own the problem," Cummings
said. "Then he's got to say, step-by-step, exactly how it's being
fixed and what kind of progress is being made."
now, the Democrats are mostly stuck in a wait-and-see mode, hoping the
administration meets its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline for eliminating
the website's glitches.
"If the Obama
administration fixes it and people start signing up, then we're in a
good spot," said a Senate Democratic aide, "and you won't see much of a
liability" from the messy rollout. If they don't, "then we're going to
have trouble" heading into the 2014 elections.
lawmakers have indicated it is increasingly urgent that people in
their states begin to see benefits from Obamacare soon, or else the
situation will feed critics' claims that the program is a failure.
is the only remaining Democrat in the congressional delegation
representing Arkansas, where Obama was trounced by Republican Mitt
Romney in the presidential election last year.
an interview with Reuters, he said misperceptions about Obamacare
dominate many of his conversations with constituents. Some people
didn't like it, but "others who have looked at the (costs) ... are
He said some voters have been
led to believe that the government itself is selling insurance, rather
than arranging for the sale of coverage from private carriers, with
government subsidies reducing costs for those with lower incomes.
the November 2014 elections, people will have had about a year's worth
of experience with Obamacare, Pryor said. He cited private studies
projecting that the law will help rural hospitals and the overall
economy in Arkansas.
Republicans see an opposite scenario, one they say will boost their election chances next year.
National Republican Congressional Committee, which strives to elect
Republicans to the House of Representatives, is targeting seven seats
held by Democrats who represent districts that have voted for
Republicans in the last three presidential elections.
of those Democrats proudly voted for the healthcare act, said
spokeswoman Andrea Bozek. "Now it's time for them to be accountable for
the failures of this law." (Editing by David Lindsey and Prudence
HOUSTON, November 1, 2013 — Democrats
will not be satisfied with anything short of full government control of
healthcare. Like good disciples of Saul Alinsky, they will use any
means necessary to get to this desired end.
In order to achieve the holy grail of single-payer healthcare,
Democrats must do three things, almost simultaneously: First, Obamacare
must fail; second, destroy the private insurance market by putting
private health insurers out of business; third, in conjunction with
their partners in the mainstream media, they must persuade America that
private insurance companies, not the federal takeover of healthcare, are
responsible for rising premiums, lack of access, and the cancellation
of tens of millions of Americans’ healthcare plans.
In order for this to work, Democrats and the federal government
must look at least semi-competent in their administration of the ACA. At
the end of the debate, private insurance companies have to look worse
than the government in the eyes of the American people. If private
insurance companies end up looking more trustworthy and capable to the
American people, the goal of government control of Americans’ healthcare
will be lost.
This debate is much larger than just whether the government is
blamed for a glitchy website; it is about whether the public trusts
government or the private sector more. If we allow government to run and
manage our health care, government will be in full control of our
lives. With a vested interest in every individual American’s health
comes a vested interest in every activity which even could affect any
Phases Two and Three of the Democrats’
plan to force socialized medicine on America are now in full effect. As
the Democrats planned, insurance companies are being forced to cancel
more and more healthcare plans, premiums are skyrocketing, and those who
want to buy healthcare cannot do so because of a failed website that
will end up costing over $1 billion when all is said and done. That
billion-dollar website was supposed to do two things: allow people to
create accounts, and link people to private insurance websites.
Obama and his minions have already begun to blame all of the
repercussions from the government takeover of healthcare that the Tea
Party had warned about for the last 5 years on insurance companies.
Obama himself said, “Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad
apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that
you received or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your
premiums or bill you into bankruptcy.” There are numerous examples of
rank and file Democrats doing the same, with many more to follow.
Obama repeatedly promised that people could keep the plans they
had before the health care law was enacted. “Period.” That was untrue,
but Obama and his spokesman are clearly not embarrassed by the lie. They
may not even be aware of it. The media have yet to call him on it, and
it seems to be only through the media that he learns of important events
that happen in his administration.
Section 1251 of Obamacare includes a grandfather clause that
allows people with pre-existing insurance plans to keep those plans. It
is fairly broad, and many in Congress on both sides of the isle demanded
it be included in the law. But the administration eventually issued
regulations that significantly narrowed the definition of what can be
grandfathered in. Now, as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius testified, a plan that alters its premium by as little as five
dollars a year does not qualify for grandfathering.
There have been over 10,335 pages of regulations issued by the
Department of Health and Human Services since the passage of the law. In
2010, the Obama Administration was aware that a large percentage of
Americans would lose their insurance. On page 34,552 of the 2010 Federal Register —
the publication that contains every federal regulation — the
administration wrote, “The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66
percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans
will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013.”
Given that 153 million Americans are covered by employer health
plans, that translates in 93 million Americans losing their health
plans. The Obama administration knew this in 2010, yet the president
said that if you wanted to keep your old healthplan under Obamacare, you
could. “Period.” His claim, repeated over and over again, that “if you
like your plan, you can keep your plan,” will forever be one of the
biggest falsehoods perpetuated on the American people in the history of
The Tea Party warned about all of this three years
ago, only to be viciously maligned by the media. Those kooky radicals
have been proven right yet again, but don’t expect the media, or even
the Republican Party, to admit it.
This debate, which few have placed much importance on, will very
likely make up the battleground for the hearts and minds of this country
for generations to come. If the federal government prevails, the
America that exists today will only exist in stories and history books.
There may not be a man in history who expressed this sentiment as
well as President Reagan when he said, in a very famous speech from
1964, titled A Time for Choosing, “Not too long ago, two
friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had
escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends
turned to the other and said, ‘We don’t know how lucky we are.’ And the
Cuban stopped and said, ‘How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape
to.’ And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose
freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on