To spin this election cycle for Democrats, we need someone like Baghdad Bob. He was the Iraqi Information Minister for Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm.
Journalists loved this guy. When U.S. forces were entering Baghdad, during the final push of the 100 day war—Baghdad Bob held a press conference and said, “There really is nothing to worry about . . . We have everything under control . . . Our military forces are driving back the Americans as we speak.”
Within the shock and awe of that war torn country, there was at least that humor in hearing him on TV and watching the journalist try to keep a straight face when he answered questions.
Well, that was 20 years ago and North Carolina Democrats (and future NC Democratic candidates) need someone like Baghdad Bob now. Yes, it’s that bad and we’re still suffering the “shock and awe” of 2010.
As I traveled around certain areas of eastern NC over the weekend, I could hear local Democrats metaphorically moving their eggs into 2016 political baskets.
Chief among them is Roy Cooper who will run against Pat McCrory in the next election. From where I sit that’s a good thing and he will win.
Democrats need him to win if they want to salvage some semblance of cohesiveness for the next election cycle. Because, let’s face it, our credibility with voters is shot to hell.
But, Roy Cooper deserves to be our next governor. He’s got the political experience, and he battled the Draconian NC Legislature almost single-handedly since the NCGOP slithered into office back in 2010.
If NC politics is like a movie, I’d make Roy Cooper a Jedi like Obi–Wan Kenobi—with a voice over “…help me Obi–Wan you’re our only hope….”
The saddest part of all is that Democrats could have taken charge of this past election cycle and, at least in my view, could have captured significant seats in the NC House and Senate. But, as it stands now, we’ve pushed ourselves further behind the eight ball.
How did all this happen? Well, if you’ve followed my blog or my Facebook posts for the past two years, you probably already know the answer. But, in case you haven’t here’s the short version of how things played out.
Reason 1: For the last few election cycles NC Democrats have had some good candidates—but, unfortunately they didn’t get the traction they needed to get voters attention. But, we’ve also had some piss poor candidates that, for one reason or another, made it up the food chain.
Case in point: Two years ago, Sen. Buck Newton, Wilson Co—had a challenger who on election day was in in jail on prescription drug dealing charges.
Even though I don’t know everything about politics, I doubt that was a anticipated campaign strategy. This cycle, Sen. Newton doesn’t even have a challenger; which in my view is a step in the right direction for local Dems.
I could use other examples, like a Democrat with multiple DWI convictions trying to unseat a Dem NC House member—thankfully that didn’t go anywhere because he lost 80/20.
My point is that Democrats, from the top down, need to vet candidates and they need to build relationships with community leaders who can actually win elections. This is something we haven’t been able to do in a while. Why? Keep reading, that brings us to the next reason.
Reason 2: Who among NC Democrats has the responsibility to vet good candidates and build the party? The Chair of the NCDP. Unfortunately, for the past few years (going back before the days of David Parker), the NCDP Chairs have faced public battles that have forced them to take their eye off the ball. It use to be Republican’s would put out misinformation and create a media circus so voters would focus their attention on something besides the real issues.
Republicans don’t have to do that anymore; as Democrats we do it to ourselves (and we do it better). There’s no reason to outsource slander to the GOP when when we can do it in-house with the almighty Democratic Machine. And, that takes us to another reason.
Reason 3: When Democrats lost power in 2010, we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, speculating how it happened and who to blame. Meanwhile, there was a vacuum of leadership within the party to bring us back into focus—mainly for the reason I stated above.
The Machine is the big money in NC Democratic politics—controlled by the upper crust movers and shakers within the party. Like the Golden Rule: He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rule.
Republicans know this: that’s why you don’t see the $3 check off on your tax return anymore. Historically, that money benefited NC Dems 5-3 over NC Repubs.
NC Democrats are still trying to tackle the money issue, which brings us to the final reason.
Reason 4: Randy Voller, former mayor of Pittsboro and Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you know that I’ve argued that Voller was never supposed to get that job. If you’re part of the Democratic Machine it becomes problematic when you’re trying to control what little money is left in the coffers.
Since Voller wasn’t hand picked to be “voted” Chair, nobody controlled him. Which meant that, as Chair, with his vision of how Democratic politics should be molded and shaped, he would have built the party from the bottom up.
His vision might have worked, too—except the “Machine” land mined his chances. And, here’s why.
If you build the party from the ground up, the Machine loses its power to control NC politics. So, in theory, it’s to the big money player’s advantage to crash and burn 2014 (for lots of reasons) but in this case, they crashed and burned it to take back the NCDP Chair.
Make no mistake about it: the Democratic Machine is alive and well. They moved Sen. Kay Hagan’s cash over to the Wake Dems, not for the reasons you might think: they did it to control the money.
(Which turned out to be a good thing, now that the NC Board of Elections has hired a Republican former FBI agent to look into campaign finance issues—the same guy that handcuffed John Edwards* and ran that issue into the ground. What? You didn’t know about that? Everybody else does.)
In a nutshell, the problem here is that NCDP Chair Randy Voller will be blamed for Kay Hagan’s loss. He’s already been blamed for why Hagan couldn’t raise big NC donor money.
And, that he had nothing to do with either. Voller’s vision was grassroots: build from the bottom up and not the top down.
He wanted to use a version of the Howard Dean “50 State Strategy” to make Republicans spend money in safe races—because it would scatter their resources and open holes of vulnerability.
More than likely, we’ll never get to see if it would work. Voller has had to battle many issues and a lot of misinformation propagated by the Democratic Machine.
The Ben Chavis incident is only one of many examples; some of which I’ve written about on this blog.
Make no mistake about it, when the Machine turned on Chavis the way they did, they knew it would hurt in the Black communities around NC. And, it has—in spite of Moral Monday and the Push To The Polls.
Voller knew that Chavis, regardless of the job he might have taken within the party, would have headed a Democratic revival thought out North Carolina.
And, let’s be honest here, the Democratic Machine isn’t friendly to Chavis because Jim Hunt is still a major PAC part of the Machine coffers.
Anyone who thinks that the North Carolina collective Democratic Machine has outgrown its racist tendencies are possibly lying or living under a rock. People who have been in politics long enough will tell you that in NC, if you want to galvanize the voter turnout—you start within the Black community. The rest of the time you put them back on the political shelf and forget about their issues.
This is in no way taking the current ED, Casey Mann, for granted—or minimizing her position. Mann is one of the best organizers I’ve seen and she’s the best Field Director in the business. But, the Machine does not like Randy Voller—and to stop him they have shown they’re willing to burn the party down to the ground.
Sadly, the Machine may have won. Voller is tired of having to fight battles dealing with non-issues when the real battle is the NCGOP terrorizing NC’s poor and working class citizens.
I’ve heard from many within the Democratic community that if Hagan loses and other Dems crash and burn, Voller will offer his resignation before the next NCDP election. I would hate to see him resign; most of his naysayers are already jockeying for his job—and they all have a hidden agenda.
At the end of the day, if I were to shake up my Magic 8 Ball here’s what I’d see:
1. NC Dems will have the same problems in 2016 as they do now, regardless of who’s Chair—unless they fix the issues that caused them to lose in 2010.
2. Dems will gain some NC House and Senate seats, but they will be few and far between. All politics is local and a few Dem candidates will have a local advantage—it will be absent of any migratory political Democratic shift in voter turnout.
3. On the federal level, it sucks. We would have had a better chance if the Chavis issue had been different; the voter turnout in Mecklenburg Co. will tell you all you need to know about the 2014 cycle and it will predict 2016 unless we make some changes.
The take-away is that North Carolina has enough voters that will vote for Democratic candidates, if we give them good candidates to vote for. Period. The days of just putting a “D” after your name and getting elected are over.