Monday, February 04, 2013

Big Progressive Win In North Carolina Over The Weekend


On most days North Carolinian Democrats now wake up to a nightmare. Just a few years ago the state had turned blue. Barack Obama became the first president to win the state since 1976, Democrats picked up Congressional seats, elected a Governor and even took Jesse Helms' old US Senate seat. 2008 was a great year for the Tar Heels; one could almost see a future free of Virginia Foxx on the horizon if one squinted hard enough.

A dark cloud started to roll over the state in 2010. The backlash against progress and the complacency of Democrats took the form of a tea bag. Everyone had fun making dumb jokes and laughing at these folks clutching the Constitution in one hand and waving their misspelled signs in the other. Well, these folks didn’t mind being the butt of Democrats' jokes, because they were busy winning elections. They "took control of both chambers of the N.C. legislature for the first time in over 100 years. In the wake of the 2010 election, the new GOP majority in the N.C. General Assembly controlled the decennial redistricting process, resulting in new congressional and legislative voting maps that were viewed as being more favorable to Republican candidates."

Richard “Bank Run” Burr won re-election and Congressman Bob Etheridge lost to Renee Ellmers and her Victory Mosque ad. Yes, this person is now in Congress.

Then it got bad in 2011. Governor Perdue announced she would not be seeking re-election and so did Congressional Democrats Brad Miller and Heath Shuler. The NCDP got mired in intra-party shenanigans. Then the inconceivable happened: it got worse in 2012, much much worse.

McCrory will be North Carolina’s first Republican governor since Jim Martin left office in 1993, he will also be the first Tar Heel Republican governor to serve with a GOP-controlled legislature in more than a century. Republicans appeared to pick up nine seats in the N.C. House, building a 77-43 majority, and added one seat in the N.C. Senate, where they will have a 32-18 edge over Democrats.” North Carolina sent 6 Republicans and 7 Democrats to represent the state in the 112th Congress. The 113th, thanks entirely to GOP legislative gerrymandering, has 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats.

Even the bombastic Romney-Ryan won easily. There were reports of Virginia Foxx playing a fiddle on election night as she basked in the warm glow of the NCDP burning to the ground.

But Saturday a ray of sunshine broke through these dark clouds revealing a little blue over North Carolina and giving Democrats some hope for the future.

Randy Voller was elected as the State Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party Saturday afternoon. Chairman Voller was considered to be the scrappy grassroots candidate who traveled throughout the state winning endorsements and support for his campaign. He defeated former conservative congressman and gubernatorial candidate Bob Etheridge in a close race.

Randy is quite an interesting guy. He's the Mayor of Pittsboro and the Democratic Chair for Chatham County which had amazing results for Dems in 2012. He is also a board member of the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina. Here is his approach:
In Chatham County, we revitalized the Democratic Party by rebuilding from the grassroots up through the precincts to the county level. Party rebuilding in Chatham did much more than put a new structure in place. Rebuilding our Party revitalized our community as we implanted a stronger infrastructure that wins elections for Democrats, elects women and minorities and raises money from the small sustaining donors at the grassroots-- the very things that a once effective Democratic Party used to do really well.

...Where some see devastation and fear the loss of influence that has sent transactional donors to the new power brokers in the General Assembly and the Governor's Mansion, I see opportunity.
Voller’s win signals that the insiders and consultants have long ago left the dance and with them the old money that kept them in power. Now is an opportunity to build the party and with it attract new donors. North Carolina is still the 10th largest State with a growing Latino and Asian population. It also has a long tradition of great Progressive minded Politicians.

2016 is right around the corner and the NCDP is going to need all the help it can get. North Carolina will again play a critical role in Presidential Elections and Republicans know this. It is how they beat us to the punch last time.

But now there is a glimmer of hope. The Vice-Chairs of the Party elected Saturday, most notably Zach Hawkins and Andy Ball, are also total rockstars with strong grassroots background who are the party’s future leaders.

It certainly is a new day in North Carolina as a complete outsider takes the reigns of the party’s future. His vision and approach couldn’t come at a better time. As a nation we need him to succeed. And as a Democratic leader himself in North Carolina, Rep. Brad Miller is also eager to see Randy succeed in building and strengthening the party.

Randy's reputation both as a mayor and a party leader is a grassroots progressive. I think he will pay more attention to the grassroots than to the Democratic establishment, which is what we need right now. Grassroots Democrats are pretty progressive, and the establishment is the business wing. The Democratic establishment's power has been from raising money by peddling "access." A lot of the contributors who gave to establishment Democrats in the past are Republicans or nominal Democrats. The Democratic establishment really doesn't have any access to peddle to them now. If North Carolina Democrats are going to get back in the game, it's not going to be because of establishment money, but grassroots energy.

The election wasn't all about the grassroots and the establishment, of course. Some grassroots progressives really think we need a chair who is known statewide, and Randy isn't yet. But I think the most important thing we need in a state chair is someone who will work with grassroots Democrats. Randy knows how to do that.

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At 7:05 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Yay NC Dems!

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Environmental Equipment Blog said...

Voller may bring the North Carolina Democrats into the 21st century but his ascension doesn't make progressives one iota closer to getting some power back in our state until the Democrats pickup seats in the state legislature or, hopefully, in Washington.


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