A few weeks ago, Marshall Adame won Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party Hispanic Caucus. By many accounts that caucus had been stagnant for the past two years as interest waned and participation slowed.
Marshall wants to change that, and he has an ambitious plan.
Marshall’s plan is for the Hispanic caucus to catch fire – not only with Latinos but with the rest of North Carolina Democrats as well.
“Latinos are making up a large portion of NC,” Marshall told me a few days ago. “It’s a resource that hasn’t been tapped. And, I intend to tap into that energy.”
Adame isn’t doing it alone; he has the help and enthusiasm of four other officers of the Hispanic caucus who won election at the same time.
1ST VICE CHAIR Juvencio Rocha-Peralta
2ND VICE CHAIR Ricardo Velasquez
SECRETARY Carolina Fonseca
TREASURER Tamara Bartreau
Marshall’s talking point is about “leveraging hope” as he outlined in a video he made a few days ago introducing himself as Hispanic caucus chair. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZBRQPv0bEo
If Marshall is correct, close to 500,000 registered Latino voters can make a tremendous difference in the next North Carolina election process. There’s a lot riding on this 2016 political race, as the governor’s mansion and Senator Richard Burr’s seat are up for grabs.
The questions now become will the Latinos turn out to vote and will they turn out the vote for Democrat candidates?
Marshall Adame says yes. And, if Marshall’s energy is any sign of what his actions my entail, I think he might be on to something.
Adame is a hardworking man and passionate about his activism as evident by his past political experiences.
Adame ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008, in the primary, and 2012, in the general election against twenty-two-year incumbent Republican Walter Jones. His losses weren’t due to an absence of hard work—on the contrary; Marshall worked those races from sun up to sun down – sometimes to the chagrin of his wife of 46 years, Becky Adame.
But, Marshall was in an R+10, a heavily gerrymandered eastern North Carolina district. And, it hurt that for the first time in one hundred and twenty years, North Carolina voted into office a Republican supermajority in the state legislature.
Adame also ran for the Chairmanship of the North Carolina Democratic Party last year. He entered that race late after the urging of many state Democrats looking for a change.
In the short time he campaigned for Chair, Marshall gathered a third of the State Executive Committee votes and took most of the rural counties across North Carolina. Not a bad showing at all, considering he went up against a vetted Democratic insider powered by the almighty Jim Hunt machine.
But, Marshall Adame is much more complex and his political races only tell a small part of his story.
Marshall began his life in humble surroundings. He and his brother were homeless for much of their teenage years – living hand to mouth, scavenging food from dumpsters and trashcans and doing what they could to make ends meet.
Part of Marshall’s activism stems from knowing what it is like to live homeless and hungry. He and his brother banded together as homeless youths, and Marshall, even at that young age, was as much of a protector as his older brother was.
The story could end here and it would be a book worth writing.
Marshall entered the Marines having lied about his age to enlist. “It was the only thing I could do. And, it saved my life,” Adame told a gathering in Pitt County during his 2012 run for Congress.
Marshall went to Vietnam and stayed with the Marines when his tour was over. The Marines educated him and taught him leadership but he learned compassion from his early years of living on the streets of Los Angeles.
After Marshall retired from the Marine Corp he worked for the State Department. Of all the things Adame has done in his life – two things stand out in my mind. He saved the country millions of dollars as he played a senior role in wartime contract oversight and he saved the lives of more than one person in Iraq. He put his own life in peril to save others.
Between all of this, Marshall settled down in Jacksonville, NC and raised a wonderful loving family.
As Marshall will tell you, it’s no small miracle he’s here to tell his story or become the Chair of the North Carolina Hispanic Caucus.
He’s the only person I know of whom Blackwater, a wartime contractor working in Iraq, threatened to kill when he exposed their tactics in a newspaper article.
I doubt the Democrats will be that tenacious, but then again?
So, what is the Marshall Plan for the North Carolina Democratic Party? His vision is to organize as many Latinos in as many counties and precincts as possible.
He also wants to band with other minority caucuses throughout the state and collectively have a big voice.
Marshall has big dreams and a lot of energy – it will take both to move North Carolina forward. My feeling is that he will have to fight some Democrats as well.
Parts of the Democratic Party are fractured and Adame understands the task is large.