pexels element digital 1550337 500x350Campaign season is in full effect, with local primaries held on March 5, Super Tuesday. The newly formed Independent Conservative Alliance PAC is hoping the candidates they back will be pulling in some wins.
For those unfamiliar with what a PAC is, it is a political action committee that dedicates time, resources, and funding to candidates it feels will best represent the ideology of the committee. While many of the core members of the PAC are Republicans, the PAC’s focus is more on the conservative approach than Republican ideology.
“It’s not so much the issues, although the issues are important. It’s the approach that you take to solve the issues. Are you going to rely on the government to solve all your problems or are we going to empower people to solve their problems? Are we going to be a welcoming county for businesses, or make it hard for them to do work? Are we going to raise taxes because that's the easy road, or are we going to look at places where we can save money in county government and keep from having to raise taxes? Are we going to talk about problems until the cows come home or are we going to do something about it?” said John Szoka, one of the core members of the PAC.
The Independent Conservative Alliance or ICA PAC was formed by core members: a former State Representative, business owner, and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel John Szoka; former Senator Wesley Meredith; former Fayetteville City Council member from 2007-2017 Bobby Hurst; and Jackie Taylor, former Cumberland County Republican Party Chair. The objective of the ICA PAC is to “recruit the best candidates in winnable races for the local, county, and state offices.”
The Independent Conservative Alliance is looking for members, “local officials, businesspeople, and community leaders wanting to bring positive change and improve the quality of locally elected leaders and actively recruiting candidates.”
“I served on the executive board of the Republican party and in my position, I actually created the recruitment committee for candidates to run for political office,” said Hurst. “That was really why I joined: to use that as an opportunity to recruit the best candidates to serve in public services. Then I got this group together and people from various backgrounds that have served, that know what it takes to win a campaign and a great group of people. We were going to focus on the county commissioners' race and endorse candidates, who we thought would be the best three for the three seats. Realizing the Plan of Organization says that the Republican Party can’t endorse candidates in the primary, I thought it best to step down from the Executive Committee and just focus on this PAC, and that's what we've done…. That's kind of the beginning of it.”
ICA PAC established criteria based on 8 key factors for candidates looking to seek endorsement.
1. Candidates have been vetted.
2. Candidates are knowledgeable of the issues facing the county.
3. Financially sound and fundraising in place.
4. A good work ethic and positive attitude.
5. A good base of support with a campaign team of volunteers.
6. Organized campaign plan.
7. Thoroughly replied to interview questions.
8. Ready to start work on day one!
ICA PAC is currently focused on the county commissioner race and on Thursday, February 1st, they conducted interviews with 7 commissioner candidates. They chose three to endorse based on the criteria the PAC has set: Pavan Patel, Henry Tyson, and Peter Pappas. ICA PAC has plans to begin recruiting candidates for Cumberland County Board of Education races coming up this year (filing opens on July 5, 2024) and the Fayetteville City Council races in 2025. For more information on the Independent Conservative Alliance, you can reach out to member Bobby Hurst.

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