The next NC Democratic Party chair

As many of you know, my wife Jane has been hosting a monthly political salon for almost 20 years now. Last night we had our annual potluck, and I led a discussion of North Carolina politics ... which was undeniably depressing.

The only bright spot in the discussion was an absolute consensus that the North Carolina Democratic Party has a unique opportunity to rebuild itself from the ground up. That consensus shined a white-hot spotlight on the importance of the next Chair. There was also a general agreement that the party leadership is and has been severely out of touch with grass-roots Democrats (all of us), and missing-in-action when it comes to social media engagement.

With that last point in mind, I am extending a personal invitation to any candidate for NCDP Chair to join us at BlueNC for a public discussion about your vision for the Party.
In the event that you are not already actively engaged in the socialsphere, this is your opportunity to demonstrate a willingness to dive in and develop new skills. All you need to do is register and post a comment on this thread telling us that you're interested. I will then contact you to schedule something at your convenience.


This is a test

After running into a brick wall in getting engagement from the current party apparatus, this post is a test to see whether Eric, Randy, or others have the basic skills to participate effectively in social media. That means:

  • Monitoring social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter) to see what discussion are happening
  • Personally participating in an authentic way
  • Getting past institutional risk aversion to engage effectively
  • Distributing and redistributing content to build a following and extend personal reach

Just as engagement is easy to see, lack of engagement is also readily apparent. David Parker joined us BlueNC as part of his campaign, and then disappeared into the woodwork. Any blogger will tell you that is no way to win friends or influence people. On the contrary, it's the height of boorishness.

NCDP Party Chair


I am delighted to participate and would be honored to receive an invitation to your wife's salon. I am not running against anyone, but rather for a new NCDP that adapts to the 21st Century demography and technology and is willing to discuss and embrace new ideas. It is on the basis of these ideas that I hope we animate the dialogue for Chair and in effect make them become part of the DNA of the NC Democratic Party. One such idea is to invest locally. As a builder of infrastructure, I can attest that a road is only as good as its sub grade and a building is only as solid as its foundation: it is time to place the resources of the party and its effort back in our local communities. This investment will create the foundation upon which we will build the next generation NCDP that will advocate for local communities, create opportunities, ensure fairness, be transparent and push for equality---for without it we are never truly free. We have been doing this in Chatham County---a template that can be adopted and adapted to other locales.


Thank you, sir.

I will check with Jane, the keeper of the calendar, to see if if we can get you to the salon.

In the meantime, would you be open to receiving questions from BlueNC readers about your ideas and vision for the Chair and party?

One question I plan to ask

One question I plan to ask candidates for party chair open to answering such questions is where they stand on marriage equality.

After the President endorsing marriage equality, the NC Democratic Party adding the LGBT Democratic Caucus and endorsing marriage equality, the national Democratic Party endorsing marriage quality, marriage equality winning in several states this election cycle, and an openly gay Senator being elected, and many countries around the world moving to enact marriage equality over the next few years, my support for candidates will not be extended to "separate but equal" civil union supporters or folks who talk about being against amendment 1 but not for marriage equality. I just say that to let potential candidates know that I plan to ask, and if I don't get an answer, then I plan to make mention of that too.

It looks like a lot of places around the world are catching up to South Africa, Canada, and much of Europe which already has marriage equality:

"Mexican Supreme Court strikes down gay marriage ban"

"Uruguay gay marriage bill approved in lower house"

The measure, which was passed by a wide margin, now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be approved.


"Scotland unveils draft gay marriage bill"

"Tens of Thousands Flood France’s Streets In Favor Of Gay Marriage"

Parliament will debate the issue on January 29

Question on Amendment One

I firmly opposed Amendment One and oppose any measures that undermine equality and create or attempt to create second class citizenship. The Town of Pittsboro passed a resolution opposing Amendment One and Chatham County defeated Amendment One at the polls on May 8th.

And just to be explicit

And just to be explicit, does that go as far as supporting full marriage equality for same-sex couples?

Amendment One


I have always supported marriage equality and see no reason for the State to deny marriage equality. (I have also followed Ted Olson's work on Prop 8 and in the Ninth Circuit.)

In any case, besides being wrongheaded, Amendment One will prove to be bad for economic development and recruitment for our universities and world class businesses and institutions.

Best Regards,


Vision for the party

I am happy to answer questions as I can online or in person.

Hope you will also insist on and/or uphold high standards

For Party staffers. Lately we've seen party staffers who engage in conduct in public places or in public meetings that reflects negatively on the Party. But they end up keeping their jobs.

This is behavior that in a real private business or even in a publicly-traded company would have gotten them fired or at least severely reprimanded. Instead they keep their jobs because we are always going from one election to another - and we are told we have to focus on "the election".

If we had insisted on high standards for our party staffers, Adriadn Ortega would never have had a chance to be exposed to whatever it was he claims was sexual harassment because he would have been fired for that "Aunt Jemima" stunt at the April 2011 SEC meeting.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting


Our discussion was so inspiring ... with so much energy in the room for rebuilding ... that I decided to re-register as a Democrat again ... and to do what I can to build the party from the ground up.

Over the years, I've changed my affiliation many times, usually in disgust or frustration with Party leadership. For the past several years I've been unaffiliated. In response to some recent criticism (someone said, "I know you don't care about the party") I decided to take another look at my affiliation. The fact is, I care about the party as much as or more than most people I know. The problem is, the party doesn't seem to care about me ... or about anybody else on the far left. Maybe this time we'll get it right.

Glad to have you back

Not that I'm any kind of Party muckety-muck, but I'm sure most of those types are glad to have you back, too. :)

Good to hear this. Welcome back. And remember ...

... you can't fight if you're not in the ring.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

The other takeaway from our meeting last night

was wild enthusiasm for capitalizing on Voter ID by kicking Republican asses when it comes to registering new voters and getting them carded up for future elections.

The battle should continue in courts, of course, but given Governor Pope's complete control over the machinery of government, the process of putting Voter ID into action will be timed to make legal challenges literally impossible to mount in time to affect the next election cycle.

Democrats will run Republicans into the ground when it comes to frontline activism, registration, and more. Pat McCrory and Thom Tillis will live to regret the day they pushed for Voter ID.

Last night's discussion was

Last night's discussion was great. I know there are many Dems interested in working hard for an energetic new party chair.

Thanks Vicki

It was great to connect with you personally on this ... your practicality and enthusiasm were contagious. Let's do this!

In the meantime, we'd welcome whatever help you can offer in helping to make BlueNC a more valuable resource for communications within and around the formal, institutional structures that already exist out there.

I find that it's kind of weird and unsettling being so plugged into the socialsphere, but so unplugged from the old-school party apparatus.

Thanks for weighing in.

Some reminders, for those intoxicated with whatever fumes

I heartily support Randy Voller! He is the one younger person who understands grassroots in this mob and has proven competent.

Some reminders:

1. NC Dems are flat on backs, all relevant directions are up.

2. However, like the upside down turtle on the fence post, NCDP and its denizens have no idea how they got there, lots of blather but nothing definitive; sort of like the Childrens' Crusades. And seems not to know where it is going.

3. In 2010, despite manifold warnings, our clocks were cleaned (some of us have stuck in there through thick and thin - not vacillated and swapped in and out)--but NO ONE anywhere really looked candidly at what led to 2010, and with all this celebration, seems no one will. There is still very limited recognition that 2010 resulted from a national GOP strategy of taking legislatures and governorships - should of listened to Fetzer. This degree of political malpractice still amazes me.

4. There are other influences at work: OFA for example is a second Dem party in NC. The old guard is still there, working the ropes and manipulating - Hunt working on keeping influence, consultants intent on keeping NCDP and campaign contracts; some electeds who want to take over; many a slip between cup and lip.

5. The rebuilding of the Dem Party, which we dearly hope the
"summer soldiers" stay the course of, will take up to four years, probably 8-10 - can we remember that redistricting is a primary goal and that the Dems did not accept several decades of recommendations for impartial commission for redistricting.

6. Any plans and strategies which are not grounded in realities and not "druthers" will go nowhere.

7. Any of the "electeds" who want to "control" the NCDP are simply poisonous -- too much conflict of interest. Control of the NCDP by money is another set of issues - and whose money--Key (Blue Dog) Hagan's money (check); OFA/DNC money (check); all used for what purposes? Control via political legacies is another issue, but I look for a new "elite" to arise filled with infinite wisdom and cleverness.

So, the real questions concern what is doable with aggressive strategy and money? And, kiss the Tax Check Off funds goodbye, and for District Chairs, any influence with it. Nice summer we had, now fall and winter is here.

Stop trying to solve all in two or even four years. Recognize that the Republicans, as the White Peoples Party, have defacto branded the Democrats as the black/brown party, and celebrate its inclusiveness all around.

These are some hard questions and issues. But, to basics, what happened in 2010 and who will write that story, because out Democratic Leaders cannot and will not.



This is currently my favorite

This is currently my favorite 'slogan' and email tag line:
You can't start a new chapter in life if you keep re-reading the last one.

Voller & Mansfield

If one of the criteria for a new NCDP chair is the ability to engage with grassroots activists through social media in a timely fashion, then Voller beats Mansfield hands down.

If that is not one of the criteria, it sure as hell should be.

But James, no one else has

But James, no one else has announced a candidacy! Give him/them hell if they announce and ignore you, but don't give him/them hell for not responding before they've thrown a hat into the ring.

Good point, Anonymous

I forget sometimes that there are formalities involved in the chess match of positioning to win. One of the hazards of being an outsider living in a fishbowl.

Thanks for the reminder.

Now you can start your timer

I think you can start your timer now, James.

It begins!

Support for Randy Voller as NCDP Chair

As Vice President of the Chatham Co. Democratic Women, I am writing you about Mayor Randy Voller, candidate for the Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. I have worked with Mayor Voller on his campaign in 2011 and ever since. (A campaign where he worked to elect two progressive democratic women, Bett Foley and Beth Turner, to the town board as well.)

Subsequently I worked with him and the local party as a volunteer coordinator as we organized to defeat Amendment One in the primary and later as we delivered victories for Democrats in the general election

Through this year, when he served as the Chair of the Chatham County Democratic Party (CCDP), I have some thoughts inspired directly by my work for the Democratic Party and with Randy Voller as my county chair.

Randy Voller is not afraid to work and is quite effective at attracting volunteers utilizing their talents and raising funds for the party.

He worked with the team to create a framework of terms that everyone can grasp and already does believe in and work for such as: Community, Opportunity, Fairness, Transparency and Equality (COFTE). These values already connect locally and by building up from that platform he was able to consistently network the message. COFTE is a reminder to Democrats of who we are and what we believe in and apply it to the community.

In a nutshell I support Mayor Voller because he is dynamic, creative, has a backbone, emerged from the grassroots, knows how to win candidate elections and referendums, can raise money, gets along with a wide range of folks and has worked to create a template in Chatham County that can be adapted to other counties in the state.

Virginia Penley

Local Perspective

I thought I would offer this local recommendation from a Chatham County resident who has worked alongside Randy Voller, witnessing his focused, energetic, and determined work for our party. I am deeply impressed with Randy Voller's ability and systematic approach to both rally new and formerly-apathetic voters to the polls and new party members to the front lines. While a collective effort, Chatham County has led the state in early voting, and North Carolina has led the nation. Randy Voller was actively working to make this turnout happen. He lives and breathes this work! He knows how to connect and engage. He seeks out and supports new leaders for sustained political involvement, including young people with a potential lifetime interest in the work. He has encouraged a number of women to run for office and provided active mentoring and connections. Although it was some time ago now, I worked for Terry Sanford and for a couple of legislators at the General Assembly. I also interned for one of our members of Congress and at the State Party Headquarters and served as a district and a precinct party officer. For whatever tiny inside glance these experiences may have offered me, they inform my local recommendation of Randy Voller some. I stood in front of the doorway of the legislature yesterday evening during Raleigh's First Night celebration, contemplating the massive turn-over about to take place and thinking about what we need to do to regain our legislature. To get the House and Senate back we have to reach our rural communities again. The rural vote went overwhelmingly Republican in the last election. We can no longer rely on FDR or 'yellow-dog' democrats in our small towns, the voters of which have a strong collective impact. We need someone who has worked and learned in a rural community who understands the challenges, and who pulls it off. Randy Voller has that experience. Our county of 700 square miles is still predominantly rural. Still Chatham County's turnout and support for Democrats was huge. (Randy Voller also reaches those of an urban mindset.) He is both passionate and sensible, a combination we need now. He has the intelligence, articulation, and fervor to impact engagement on the state level and turn things around in an enduring way. I have seen him do it. He is truly keen at party organizing and a natural public speaker. I hope you will give him a good close look and support him for chair.