Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The new party chair

It is going to be very interesting to see what happens with the new chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Under the Dome mentions today that Dannie Montgomery, currently first vice chair of the NCDP and someone well known to the activist segment of the party due to her present position, has thrown her name in the ring. Also considering it is Richard Sullivan, a skilled fundraiser and the brother of one of Bev Perdue's main fundraisers.

I don't know much at all about either Montgomery or Sullivan, but they both sound like they bring some great strengths to the table.

What's going to be interesting to see is whether this becomes a repeat of the 2005 contest for party chair, where the rank and file rejected Mike Easley's choice of Ed Turlington and elected Jerry Meek. Will Perdue's preferred candidate be acceptable to the party activists who have the votes on the matter, or will they once again rebel against their elected Governor's preference and put in somebody perceived as being more committed to the grassroots wing of the party?

Perdue certainly has put more effort into courting party activists over the last year than Easley had in 2005, the product of a contested primary and a different personality. But it's very unlikely party leaders will give her choice a rubber stamp unless he/she is clearly committed to the kinds of bottom up initiatives that have made Meek wildly popular with party activists.

There was concern when Meek was first elected about whether he would be a strong enough fundraiser to keep the ship running smoothly. Four years later it is clear he has done an outstanding job of building the party both money wise and people wise. The new chair needs to be someone who can continue to successfully juggle both of those party functions.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out, and how Perdue plays her cards. If the person she puts forward is not elected NCDP chair that would be an early blow to her Governorship that she can surely do without. Since the days where the Governor can just dictate the chair may have passed with the results of the 2005 election, it means she's going to have to really go to bat for her preferred choice with party activists and convince them that he or she is the person who can ensure continued success at the level North Carolina Democrats enjoyed in 2006 and 2008.

One thing's for sure: this is another place where Easley has made Perdue's job harder. If Easley had held enough sway four years ago to get Turlington in place, the custom of the Governor being able to almost exclusively control this process may have continued.

1 comment:

William said...

There's another thing that Perdue could do, and that is to choose somebody acceptable to the grassroots wing of the party.

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