North Carolina Is a Complicated Place for the Democratic Party
In North Carolina, where the Democratic Party will hold its national convention next week, politics aren’t on the side of the Democrats like they were four years ago.
Holding the convention in the state is a strategic choice for Democrats, who are hoping to win over swing voters in the “purple” state, which President Barack Obama won in 2008. But the state’s politics are a messy backdrop for the party’s message of economic progress and inclusion.
Both chambers of the North Carolina state legislature, for the first time since reconstruction, are held by Republicans. The gubernatorial race looks to be on the side of the GOP. And the state voted earlier this year for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Experts say the state’s own Democratic party is in shambles.
The states’ party chairman is David Parker, who will lead delegates at the convention after many say he mismanaged a sexual harassment scandal earlier this summer involving the party’s former executive director, Jay Parmley, who was accused of harassing a male employee.
Parker initially resigned, but the executive committee has since reinstated him, complicating campaigns for Democrats running in both local and congressional races. The state’s Democratic party was outraised nearly 7-to-1 in June.
The scandal has paralyzed the state party from being an effective partner for the national party. Both the Obama for America team and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have taken state fundraising into their own hands.
“The national party and the democratic party have done a fantastic job of circumventing the dysfunctional leadership in the state,” says North Carolina-based Democratic strategist Brad Crone. “Obama for America and the DCCC have set up a system so the state party doesn’t get its fingertips on the direct cash flow.”