When Marshall Adame and Willie Fleming formed the minority coalition neither of these veteran Democratic party leaders expected it to take off as fast as it has.
Adame says, “it points to the fact that there is a void in the party – a void that minority caucuses across North Carolina can fill.”
For several years, both the Democrats and Republicans have been trying to figure out a way to draw minority voters, not only to their particular party, but to the polling booth.
Two years ago, the Democrats thought they had a leg up as Rev. William Barber led the Moral Monday fights against repressive GOP legislation. Moral Monday became a national movement, but in North Carolina it didn’t change the political landscape in Raleigh.
So, why was that?
Many media experts and talking heads acknowledge that it’s tough to get voters to the polls in non presidential years. But, some (including a few Democrats) recognize that in 2014, Democrats had lackluster candidates.
As one Democratic insider told me recently, “it’s good to register people to vote, but if you don’t have anyone worth a damn for them to vote for – voters are still not going to the polls.”
So, now what? Do Democrats have the candidates they need to win elections in 2016?
The answers to those questions depend on who you ask.
Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the NCGOP expects to lose a few NCGA seats, but he doesn’t think it will be enough for the Democrats to take back either side of the building. Privately, the GOP is more concerned about keeping a supermajority and veto override regardless of the gubernatorial outcome.
Interestingly, of the Republicans I’m talking with, none of them would shed many tears if Pat McCrory was “one and done.”
So where does this new minority coalition fit into this equation?
The Democratic minority caucuses have talked every day for the past month. They are hosting a candidate’s forum at the NCDP headquarters, Goodwin House, on January 29, 2016 – for Democratic candidates running for the U.S. Senate and the NC Governor’s race.
As Adame put it, “it’s not a debate – they won’t be talking to each other. It’s a forum for moderators to ask the candidates questions.”
The paradox (if I can use Rob Christensen’s word) is that some Democratic insiders don’t appreciate minority caucuses taking matters into their own hands and making things happen. It goes against the grain of standard politics – at least the way it’s played in the “absurdity” of North Carolina’s political system.
Keep in mind that Democratic candidates have always wanted minorities to go to the polls in droves and vote for them. But, afterwards, minorities and especially black have had a hard time getting a seat at the table when it came to the issues that address their needs.
Maybe that’s why some candidates, who have been asked to participate in the minority coalition’s debate have mixed feelings about attending. It’s hard to look minorities in the face and answer their questions when you know the history of how they’ve been treated in NC and within the Democratic party itself.
Beyond that, the coalition that Willie Fleming and Marshall Adame have formed, and the support they’re getting from minorities smacks in the face of politics as usual.
If Democratic candidates are successful in 2016, they will be held accountable for change. If the candidates don’t show up for the forum on January 29th – it’ll be a clear indication of how they feel about the minority vote. In some circles, it’s called ‘walking the walk – not talking the talk.’
Now, isn’t that one hell of a paradox?