Jack Hawke, 72, was most recently the senior advisor to Governor Pat McCrory.
"He was more than a political advisor to me and so many others. He was a trusted mentor, friend and father figure with a fantastic positive outlook on our state and life," McCrory said in a statement. "During the past five years, we have argued together, laughed together and cried together. Today many of us are dealing with tears of sorrow about his passing and also joy in having the privilege to have known him. "
The NCGOP also released a statement sending its condolences to Hawke's family.
"The North Carolina Republican Party extends our deepest condolences to Jack's family and the many friends he made throughout his life," the statement said in part. "Jack's tremendous devotion to North Carolina, his sheer political brilliance, and his legendary sense of humor will be sorely missed."
Hawke was the longest-serving chairman in the history of the North Carolina Republican Party from 1987 to 1995.
He was the campaign manager for Jim Gardner's Congressional campaign in 1966, and was a candidate for Congress himself in 1968, 1970 and 1972.
Hawke was also the campaign manager for Jim Martin's campaign for governor in 1984 and Gardner's campaign for lieutenant governor in 1988.
He most recently served as the former president of The Civitas Institute before become senior advisor to McCrory.