New NC Dems chair? It's the first decision Dalton or Etheridge should make | Citizen | Indy Week
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Friday, May 4, 2012

New NC Dems chair? It's the first decision Dalton or Etheridge should make

Posted by on Fri, May 4, 2012 at 1:55 PM

[Update, 5/5: Sen. Don Vaughan, the only announced candidate to replace David Parker, has quit ALEC following yesterday's disclosures. He sent a statement last night; I've copied it below.]

Poor David Parker is out as state Democratic Party chair as of next Saturday, the victim of a sexual harassment claim by an ex-party staffer that he didn't know what to do with. So who should replace Parker?

And replace him, I'd add, at a time when the Democrats are in danger of losing the Governor's office, the Lt. Governor's office and everything else that isn't nailed down in Raleigh ... so that come November, it may actually matter who the state party chair is.

Sen. Don Vaughan of Guilford County has announced his candidacy. Our friend Chris Kromm at Facing South has some bad news about Vaughan: He's an ALEC man. ALEC being the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch Brothers enterprise. I'm sure Vaughan has good qualities too.

Some Democrats who played with ALEC in years past have disavowed it of late, if only because it's not as super-secret as it used to be — and its deep ties to right-wingers like the Kochs are now apparent for all to see. Perhaps Vaughan has done so. I put in a call to his office and left a message. Hopefully he'll call and say he's not an ALEC man any more.

Beyond that, I don't have any great insight into Vaughan. What I can say, though, is that we'll wake up next Wednesday and almost certainly will have a Democratic nominee for governor, either Walter Dalton or Bob Etheridge. It's possible the two will be in a runoff, but only if neither hits the 40 percent mark in round one. And given that the other four candidates are polling in the low single digits, they probably won't add up to more than 20 percent, meaning that whoever is in the lead, either Dalton or Etheridge, will win outright.

At that point, it will be within the winner's realm to name a new chair — or rather, to announce a candidate he'd like to see be elected chair when the party's executive committee meets on Saturday in Greensboro.

I cannot imagine that the executive committee — the rank-and-file, sort of — would revolt and not elect whoever it is their gubernatorial nominee has recommended.

Here's what also shouldn't happen. The nominee should not fail to take charge of this process. It's a test of leadership — as easy a test as he'll ever get.

Oh, and he shouldn't recommend an ALEC member for chair, or else there could be a revolt.

***

Here's what Sen. Vaughan said:

Those who know me know that I have a long record of working on behalf of the Democratic Party. Those of you who don’t know me can look to my strong Democratic voting record and Democratic leadership in the Senate. I fought against the Republican cuts to our schools. I voted against the attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act. I’ve fought against the Voter ID law. I voted against Amendment One and continue to fight it every day. I fought against Republican efforts to place limitations on a woman’s right to choose. I also received the Green Tie award from the NC League of Conservation Voters for being someone who stepped up and spoke out for environmental issues at the General Assembly.

Many years ago, when I joined the American Legislative Exchange Council it was a nonpartisan group which provided a forum for legislators to discuss issues. However, I agree with the many others who have recently left ALEC. In recent years ALEC has become too partisan. Because of that, I am announcing my resignation from ALEC. I’m proud of my record on the issues. What’s most important for us as a party is to come together and win North Carolina in 2012 for Barack Obama, our gubernatorial nominee, and all of the other Democrats in North Carolina. Our Party, the Democratic Party, is a big tent.

Right now we need to unite and fight the Republicans and make sure that every Democrat wins in North Carolina on November 6 and the Amendment fails on May 8. Let’s keep our eye on the ball and not engage in distracting infighting.

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