Rebuild the NCDP

Over the past two years, Democrats have suffered from significant losses, including losing majorities in the state house, congressional seats, and both the Governor and Lt. Governor races.

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.

As I visit with Democrats across the state I find that my experience as a small business owner, small town mayor and county chair have helped me understand the needs and concerns of the voters in North Carolina.

Like many Tar Heels I was an unaffiliated voter who voted for Democrats but was not engaged with the Party. In 2005, after I was first elected Mayor of Pittsboro, I decided to become a Democrat, and I have never regretted my decision. However, the years when I was registered as an independent voter educated me on the thinking of independents, and I understand how our Party can engage and attract them through better articulation of our message.

In traveling around North Carolina, I have met many Democrats who are struggling economically, who need work, and who understand the challenges of the "Bush recession" that President Obama inherited in 2008 -- and the devastation it has wrought across our country. Of course, I empathize with them because I was in business with my father when the recession financially destroyed many of our clients and left them unable to pay the invoices they owed us. The economic downturn led to our decision to close the construction business and work together to settle the company's debts. Since my wife and I chose to honor both of my parents (my father is now deceased), we incurred a tax debt that we have been paying on for the four years since the recession struck.

Because of our personal experiences, the economic situation has given me insight into the issues that plague our communities: lending institutions tightening credit; challenges for small businesses to borrow capital and create jobs and the struggles of holding a family together while keeping one's home.

Soon the obstacles we have faced with the recession of 2008 will be behind us, but that is only because my family is fortunate. The North Carolina Democratic Party needs to focus on the many who have had their dreams shattered and their hopes dashed by thirty years of "trickle down" and a prolonged recession.

Because of my firsthand experience in business, government and the Democratic Party, I believe that I can articulate our message to the broad majority of Tar Heels and revitalize their dream. We can use the hard lessons we have learned to rebuild and revitalize our party from the smoke and ashes of defeat into a stronger, more resilient force that is authentic and meaningful in every community of the Tar Heel state.

Our efforts in Chatham County can be a template for success, but no "one size fits all" approach is enough. You're the experts. We're going to give you the tools and we're going to share the successes of other areas of the state to build a Democratic Party that restores North Carolina as the progressive voice of the South.

Comments

How can we help?

How can we help you take today's whirlwind developments and turn them into the powerful force needed to push back the Pope machine? Whenever you have specific requests, bring 'em and we'll do everything we can to get your back.

In the meantime, some questions on my mind:

1. What do we need to do to recruit / seduce a powerful opponent to take on Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory in 2016? That guy has been running for office for ten years ... which means our candidate needs to be running now. I'm sure there are tons of backroom discussions going on. How can we bring those discussions into the sunlight ... so that front-line activists can be part of the process?

2. What is the party's situation with regard to legal services? It seems to me that litigation must be one of our lead tactics for the next four years, if not longer.

3. What can be done to strengthen connections between the NCDP and women's organizations like Lillians List and Planned Parenthood? Under the Tillis / Stam regime, women's rights will make no headway over the next four years ... and the women I know are getting pissed. How do we channel that anger? Can we recruit a woman to lead the ticket for Governor in 2014?

4. Social media engagement is essential for mobilizing the 21st century voter. It's obvious that you understand that ... but the rest of the party establishment in North Carolina seems woefully behind the times. Some boot camps may be in order.

These are just top of mind thoughts in response to your original post. Thank you for writing it ... and thank you for posting it here.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Questions on your mind

Jim,

Thanks for your generous offer of support. We will need you and everyone else on board to revitalize the dream. We must move this Party forward with speed and strength. I was in Raleigh all day and just left Oxford spending time with Democrats. I am now working within the limits of technology and answering you from the road.

1. Excellent question. Starting February 3rd, we need you and people like you from across the state to meet either virtually or in person to discuss a profile of the type of candidate we believe can defeat the incumbent governor and/or potential candidates. I am open to a discussion and dialogue with you and others about the process. It is clear to me from my travels across the state that our success in winning will directly depend upon the organizational strength and financial strength of the county parties. As the next chair, I intend to work on our county party structure in order for it to be the foundation for our future success at the ballot box.

2. I agree. A robust legal strategy is one of the tools we will need to raise money for and utilize over the next four years.

3. The Democratic Woman are one of our most vibrant and valuable auxiliaries and many of their members are already affiliated with or are members of these groups. We must continue to constantly message around women’s issues in all forums and using all media. As chair, I’m committed to turning back the republican war on women and recruiting and running female candidates for municipal, county, statewide, and federal races. By the way, a poll conducted in Chatham County in the spring noted that Planned Parenthood was one of the most popular organizations among voters in the county. The party needs to be willing to fight for issues and organizations that its base strongly believes in.

4. I agree with you, Jim. I saw a presentation in Charlotte by DS Political out of Washington, DC and other presentations about using new media and platforms to get out our message and micro-target the message. I am interested and willing to discuss this topic with you and others anytime.

I would love to have answers

I would love to have answers to my questions below, Randy! Enjoy the forum in Charlotte today.

I too want to help

In particular I'm especially interested in the relatively new LGBT caucus. The amendment fight brought a lot of LGBT and allies into political activity who have long been disengaged and many of whom are young and unaffiliated. I want to help make the NCDP party a home for them and bring them into the fold.

http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/mayors-for-the-freedom-to-marry

I'm excited that someone on this list will likely be in a position to do more good on equality issues. When I see Pittsboro on that list, but not Raleigh, Charlotte, Hillsborough, or Asheville, I'm glad you took that stand.

Lastly, I'll second the thanks James extended for posting here. Online communications does help democratize the communication process and open it up to anyone, and I hope that you'll remain active on bluenc, facebook, twitter, etc.

Party as a voice for equality

We look forward to supporting your efforts to grow the Party by bringing in folks to the caucus and making this party a strong voice on issues of equality.

I hope to be a part of party

I hope to be a part of party planning for the future.

I do like the idea

I do like the idea of putting one of the leaders of the Progressive Democrats of NC in charge of the party. I hope that will help us during this rebuilding phase make sure the future of the party is built on sound pillars and principles.

Questions

1. You speak of fundraising prowess. How much of the money that Chatham County raised came from individual donors? How much came from candidate committees or the state party?

2. How much money have you raised in your past campaigns? I would love to know about your relationship with individual donors who are desperately needed at the Party level at this point.

3. What experience do you have in communications? A powerful messenger and a powerful messaging strategy are equally important.

4. Would you describe your plan in detail? At least for the first 3-6 months. Eric had a detailed plan (http://www.ericmansfieldforchair.com/plan) while all I can find on your website (http://randyvoller.nationbuilder.com/rebuild) is a speech of sorts. Have you released a more detailed plan?

5. How long were you registered unaffiliated? What made you make the change? I find this part of your biography most fascinating as it might be a powerful opportunity to speak to the 1.3 unaffiliated voters in North Carolina.

While I have advocated for a choice on February 2nd, I am open minded now that my friend Eric has left the race. I intend to be a proxy on that day.

Just want to emphasize one critical point

A state cannot be gerrymandered. The NCDP should, imo, for 2014 focus almost exclusively on judicial seats such as court of appeals and supreme court. In 2016 governor, and the council of state along with any statewide judicial seats. The GA is lost until the R's gerrymandered districts can be thrown out. Pick up a stray seat if possible, but I doubt there are enough seats that could be flipped to make a difference.

NCDP Shouldn't be Gerrymandered Either

One of the problems we face going forward is an outdated Congressional District structure. 40% of our Registered Democrats in NC are in 3 Congressional Districts, and county organizations are the organizations that win elections, but we have a very congressional-district-centric party structure that needs to change.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks