When Marshall Adame (a former Marine and retired Diplomat who worked with the State Department in Iraq) was elected Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Hispanic Caucus – nobody thought much about it.
Let’s face it, the Hispanic caucus had been dormant for a long time and they hadn’t made noise. Democratic insiders figured it would take years to bring that caucus up to speed.
Well, they were wrong.
The day after Saint Marshall (as he’s called in diplomatic and clandestine circles) became Chair – he started making phone calls. He worked a deal with other minority caucuses to form what he calls “a minority coalition.”
Now he and Willie Fleming, the former Chair of the African American Caucus of the NCDP are making plans to finally bring together, as one mighty voice (and vote), all people of color for a common goal: to get candidates elected who represent their interest.
Changing the way the game is played.
Fleming and Adame aren’t just supporting Democratic candidates because they happen to be Democratic front runners. Both of these leaders have been called by all the major candidates running for office in North Carolina, including those running in the presidential primary. And, both men have told the candidates the same thing: you’re not getting our support carte blanche, you’ll have to work for it.
The minority coalition is meeting this week after having several conference calls and they are hashing out their battle plans.
They’re scheduling candidates for interviews and all the candidates know when they’re called to the table, they are going to be grilled with tough questions.
Fleming told me recently in a telephone interview that he expects a significant minority vote going to the polls in 2016 – somewhere close to 40%.
Adame is going one step further by saying “we’re not playing politics as usual. Gone are the days where candidates can express interest in minority issues but once they’re elected those candidates forget about minorities until they need them again.”
They’re also fighting against the Democratic Party if it comes to that.
Democratic insiders are reluctant to support grassroots minority endeavors. Mostly because insiders are afraid of a power shift away from special interest and pay-to-play.
The first thing Fleming and Adame talked about was the backlash from their own party and how to mitigate the fallout.
“We’re not going to let insiders, or anyone else, drive a wedge between this coalition and what we plan to do. It just won’t happen,” Adame said.
But, can they make it happen?
By most accounts, yes. Minority caucuses in NC have different opinions on some issues, but they’re willing to work for what they call the greater good. Fleming says, “we know we won’t get everything we want and we won’t hear exactly what we want to hear from all the candidates. But, taking all that together, we’re going to work for the candidates who represent us best – whoever those candidates may be.”
Fleming and Adame have a plan – a plan that has never been seen in NC before. A cross between the Howard Dean strategy and Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign comes closest to explaining how they plan to get out the votes.
When all is said and done, their plans could be a game changer for North Carolina in 2016 and beyond.
In the original title, I wrote “ex Marine” to describe Marshall Adame. That was brought to my attention and corrected. It was pointed out that once a Marine, always a Marine. It was a misspeak and not intended as anything derogatory. Trust me, I’d rather brush an alligator’s teeth than to piss off a Marine – it’s safer.