Dallas Woodhouse will always be linked to Robin Hayes.
Woodhouse started as executive director of the N.C. Republican Party in October 2015, less than six months before the state party ousted Hasan Harnett and installed Hayes as the chairman. You might remember that Woodhouse clashed with Harnett during those last few weeks.
And now, Dallas Woodhouse says he’s leaving his job, just a few weeks after Hayes was indicted on federal bribery charges. Earlier in April, federal prosecutors accused Hayes of trying to help a prominent political donor, Greg Lindberg, funnel donations through the party to the state commissioner of insurance. The commissioner, Republican Mike Causey, ultimately blew the whistle on the arrangement.
Woodhouse did testify to the grand jury, but has not been implicated in wrongdoing. He said publicly after the indictment that he had “nothing to resign for.”
So why is he stepping down now?
More than likely, it’s to avoid a power struggle this summer.
The NCGOP holds its annual convention in June and will be electing a new chairman. Hayes technically hasn’t stepped down, but has delegated his duties to vice-chairs in the party and had already said he wouldn’t run again before he landed in legal hot water.
There was no guarantee that Hayes would have won another term had he run. The state’s Republicans had an abysmal 2018, shellacked in Wake and Mecklenburg County elections, losing their supermajority in the General Assembly, nearly wiped off of the state Supreme Court and with the party’s reputation tarnished by the absentee by mail election fraud in the 9th Congressional District. The results of that election were thrown out despite the party’s efforts to get Mark Harris seated in Congress.
At this point, Woodhouse is too linked to the Hayes administration to survive a leadership change. As long as he’s been in the job, Woodhouse has played an outsized role. He’s been the real face of the Republican Party in North Carolina, appearing on television nationwide, sparring on Twitter and embodying a larger-than-life personality.
This isn’t a role that the Democratic Party executive director has taken — can you even name that person without looking it up? It was Kimberly Reynolds, but she just stepped down with nary a headline.
Whoever wins the NCGOP chairmanship in June will want their own person in the executive director role. Instead of having to lobby the executive committee for change, they’ll now have a vacant seat. Woodhouse decided to avoid a summertime fight for his job by getting ahead of things and planning his next move.
Unfortunately, this also leaves the party essentially rudderless for the next few months — with two special elections underway.
So, what is Woodhouse’s next move?
He has a surprising number of options. Woodhouse started his career in television and remains a natural on the medium, so he could conceivably find a place on a program.
He’s also linked to Pat McCrory, and could help expand the former governor’s media empire.
Or he could get back into campaigns. Woodhouse once ran a congressional campaign for Phil Berger Jr., who’s now going to run for state Supreme Court.
And there’s also plenty of space in fundraising and independent expenditures ahead of the 2020 elections.
Photo of Dallas Woodhouse via Facebook