While Randy Voller was elected chairman of the state Democratic Party in February by a narrow margin — just 11 votes out of some 600 — the newly elected first vice chair, Nina Szlosberg-Landis of Raleigh, won by a landslide. The combination of Voller, the grassroots guy, and Szlosberg-Landis, who combines big-time fundraising experience with a progressive resume in women's and environmental politics, was a hopeful sign to those wondering if the two warring wings of the Democratic Party could be brought together.
If Voller and Slzosberg-Landis could work as a team — and they pledged to do so — then maybe the deep rift within the party could be healed. That was my thought, anyway.
Tonight, though, Szlosberg-Landis announced her resignation. In a letter to state Democratic executive committee members, she said donors "are not comfortable" with Voller and won't part with their money while he remains chairman.
She wrote separately to her friends, in part:
I have been very concerned about the direction and practices of the new Chairman. You have likely heard or read about some of the more public missteps, and I felt that I could not accomplish the work I know needs to be done if I remained associated with him. However, I firmly believe we all MUST continue to support our Democratic candidates and the organizations that can most effectively support them. I will be working as hard as I ever have to that end. As a matter of fact, I am currently raising money for the NC House Caucus which works directly to elect Democrats to the General Assembly. I am raising money for the DSCC, which is supporting Kay Hagan’s campaign. And I am hosting a fundraiser in New Hanover County to support the county party there; which is a legislative district we CAN win in 2014. And I am doing this all within the next five weeks!
And of course, I will re-engage working with Lillian’s List to elect pro-choice Democratic woman to the legislature, and the NC League of Conservation voters which elects pro-environment candidates to the NC General Assembly.
"I have a very heavy heart because I really believed I could help rebuild the NCDP from within," Szlosberg-Landis added. "But I know now, I can do more for Democrats through independently working to recruit, train and raise resources for our candidates. We simply must win in 2014 ..."
The two wings are farther apart than ever. One thinks party resources should be devoted to building the party's grassroots infrastructure — an indirect route to winning elections. The other is focused on identifying winnable elections right now, and on getting resources to the candidates, and campaign managers, who can win them.
Ideally, both things would be done. But with Democrats literally scraping for funds, ideally isn't a useful starting point.