The state Republican convention in Cherokee is still lacking that big national headliner; some 1,200 to 1,400 people are expected in Jackson County June 5-7, and organizers are feeling the pressure.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Tea Party darling from Texas, turned down an opportunity to speak in North Carolina because he’ll be attending his state’s convention. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, wanted $15,000 to secure his presence, an engagement fee North Carolina officials aren’t prepared to pay.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” Ralph Slaughter, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, said last night during a county GOP meeting.
The scheduling task has been complicated because, in addition to Texas, conventions are taking place in multiple states in early June, Slaughter said.
As of now, North Carolina has secured Bill Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, and Dennis Hastert, former U.S. House speaker. Charlotte minister Mark Harris, who failed in his primary bid for U.S. Senate, is on the agenda. State House speaker Thom Tillis, who beat Harris, also is on the schedule.
Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, will speak, too.