On June 6, 2015, Hasan Harnett became the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. But he wasn’t always a Republican…
My story is probably a good example of how the Republican Party can and is growing by reaching out to different communities in North Carolina and across the country… and succeeding.
I wasn’t always a Republican… In fact, I only formally became a Republican much later in life… or rather, I didn’t realize I was a Republican until much later in life. I grew up poor in a rough neighborhood and in an area that was majority Black. I grew up where it was expected that you were a Democrat because of the color of your skin. Everyone was, and no one thought a thing of it.
But growing up, I was also taught two things: work hard, and get an education. I was told that would lead to success.
Later on in life, I met Dr. Tim Johnson. Dr. Johnson founded the Frederick Douglass Foundation and was the first African American Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. He was one of the most influential figures in my life in terms of becoming a Republican and a staunch advocate for strong conservative values in urban communities in North Carolina and across the country. He recognized that you couldn’t just show up in black communities every four years and ask for votes… He stood on Republican principles and his faith, and didn’t shy away from them in these communities. He advocated for less government regulations, stronger families and expanding opportunity for the people, not growing government… and those messages are powerful messages that cut across all political lines.
“I grew up where it was expected that you were a Democrat because of the color of your skin.” — Hasan Harnett
His life story and his spirit inspired me to research the differences between Democrats and Republicans. And once I did, I realized that the Republican Party best represented the values that were instilled in me from a young age… It turns out that the reasons I worked hard every day and fought for every dime in my paycheck are the same reasons why I am a conservative.
Sadly, he passed away in February. But throughout his life, Dr. Johnson was committed to growing the Republican Party… and so am I. And I think that my election as chairman shows that so is the rest of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Since becoming chairman, I have made it a priority to reach out to minority communities and share my story and passion for conservative values. I know where these communities are coming from and the box the liberal media tries to put them in.
By focusing on expanding our party, we can ensure a permanent Republican majority for North Carolina. Our approach needs to be outwards in order to spread the message of freedom to more communities across North Carolina and invite more people in to our big tent.
“Throughout his life, Dr. Johnson was committed to growing the Republican Party… and so am I. And I think that my election as chairman shows that so is the rest of the North Carolina Republican Party.” — Hasan Harnett
Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee in conjunction with state party organizations across this country have laid out the most aggressive engagement program in the Party’s history, and we’re going to continue that effort and make sure we’re not just showing up every four years and asking for votes. Like how Dr. Johnson helped me realize I was a Republican, we’re going to establish trust and relationships with these communities in a way the Republican Party hasn’t traditionally done.
I’m excited to get to work!
(originally published 6/29/15 at NCGOP Rapid Response