Wednesday, January 21, 2009

State Party Chair Race

I am baffled by what's going on (perhaps not going on is a better description) with the race for chair of the NCDP.

Pretty much everyone I know doesn't think any of the named candidates are suitable replacements for Jerry Meek. They all have done good service to the Democratic Party and have a role to play, but none of them have shown the fundraising ability needed to keep the party running strong. As I wrote last month, the new chair needs to be someone both with a strong commitment to the grassroots and the ability to keep the coffers flowing. Having one of those skills or the other isn't going to cut it.

Although Bev Perdue has done a great job during her early days in office (we'll have some polling showing the public agrees later in the week), I am baffled by her lack of leadership on this. Under the Dome has reported that she may not take a side. She not only needs to take a side, she needs to recruit a strong candidate to run with her support. Even though the election is only ten days away the complete lack of clarity about who's running and who's not has made it entirely possible that someone could get in the race with just a week's notice and win. I don't get the sense that any of the folks who have thrown their hats in the ring have locked up a lot of support.

Maybe she knows what she's doing and is just holding her cards close because the lack of strong candidates makes it so that she can afford to wait. I certainly hope so. As our report last week showed, keeping the Obama coalition engaged is going to be critical to Democratic success in 2010, and having a plan and the money to execute it could play a real role in the ability to defeat Richard Burr and maintain a Democratic legislature next year.


Anonymous said...

I think you make a good point about what's needed in the chair. It's why I've never understood what Jim Neal thinks he can accomplish in the position. He ran as a former party fundraiser and wasn't able to raise any money, and the enthusiasm for him among the so-called netroots didn't seem to amount to much. Is there a candidate that combines both an ability to organize the grassroots (read: not just bloggers) and raise some real money? Richard Sullivan obviously would have been ideal at the latter but is there someone out there that can do both?

Anonymous said...

I should say Sullivan would have been ideal as a fundraiser but don't know how he would have done as an organizer.

Anonymous said...

Well, what I guess what could happen is a fund-raiser as chair and an organizer as 1st vice-chair. That worked fairly well in 2003-2005.

But I'm guessing that Perdue is aware that many in the party's rank-and-file might resent her "leadership," given that Meek was elected over Easley's opposition.

She may not have enough time left to convince people that she's acting in the party's best interests instead out of a sense of her prerogative.

Finally, though, Jerry Meek was skilled, dedicated, and experienced. He enjoyed broad support and the admiration of the rank-and-file, and eventually earned the respect of insiders. He also had the liberty to spend much more time on the job than any other recent chair. He's going to be tough to replace, and I don't particularly blame the Governor for not having recruited a worthy successor.

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