Raleigh, N.C. — The rift within the North Carolina Democratic Party widened Tuesday in the wake of the resignation Monday night of first vice-chairwoman and lead fundraiser Nina Szlosberg-Landis.
In an email sent late Monday to the several hundred members of the party's State Executive Committee, Szlosberg-Landis said she was stepping down from the party's No. 2 position because she has become "increasingly less comfortable with the tone and practices of the leadership of the party," meaning Chairman Randy Voller.
"It has become abundantly clear that donors are not comfortable with the actions of the current Chairman, and our Party will not have the support it needs under the current leadership," she wrote.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, Voller said he was "saddened" by Szlosberg-Landis's resignation.
"We are better because of Nina’s service and commitment to this party. In her time as 1st Vice Chair, she has served our party with grace, distinction and competence. We know that she will continue this service, regardless of the role she assumes," the statement reads in part. "The door to the Goodwin House will always be open to her and her steadfast dedication to the values we all hold dear as North Carolina Democrats."
Reached Tuesday, Szlosberg-Landis declined to comment further on the cause or timing of her announcement or on whether the party should replace Voller.
"The decision about whether he should stay or go now lies with the State Executive Council, or with Randy if he chooses to make that decision," she said in an email to WRAL News. "I remain committed to, as all Democrats (and others should be) to re-electing Kay Hagan to the Senate. I plan to work very hard during the next 18 months to remove the backward thinking, extreme brand of Republicans legislators who are now in power, from the General Assembly."
Szlosberg-Landis also said she will continue to do fundraising work for the Democratic caucuses in the state House and Senate – work that appears to have been a point of friction within the state party.
Voller supporters: Szlosberg-Landis 'didn't try'
Democratic activist, donor and Voller supporter Dr. John Hammond said he voted for Szlosberg-Landis for vice-chairwoman in February because he had been told she was a top fundraiser. But he said he saw no evidence of that during her tenure in party leadership.
"I thought I was sold a bill of goods," he said.
Hammond said he and other executive committee members were angered by a fundraising email Szlosberg-Landis sent last week, urging donors to contribute to the House and Senate Democratic caucuses as "the absolute BEST mechanism" to get Democrats elected to the legislature statewide.
"If you asked to be the first chair and you touted your ability to raise money, the assumption would be that you would be doing it for the party," Hammond said. "It’s fine to do both, but her activities for the party have really been squat."
Party spokesman Micah Beasley declined to comment on the accusation, noting that "Hammond is not authorized to speak on behalf of NCDP." Szlosberg-Landis also declined to respond.
However, multiple sources within the party said Szlosberg-Landis had in fact worked hard to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the party over the past few months.
Voller critics: Vote needed
Those same sources say the party has been in major financial trouble for the past several months, nearly missing payroll as its big donors have dried up. Voller cited those financial difficulties in laying off key staff members, although funds were apparently sufficient to pay two consultants, Michael Carmichael and Jim Neal.
Meanwhile, Winston-Salem activist Frank Eaton, an outspoken critic of Voller, has released a new video calling for the chairman to stand for a vote of confidence at the party's next State Executive Committee meeting in August.
"The first five months of his term have been contentious, and we find ourselves in the worst financial condition of our history. For the second time in two years, the Goodwin House is involved in an embarrassing scandal," Eaton says in his video. "For Democrats, it’s as bad as it’s ever been, but it’s not nearly as bad as it can get. I cannot overstate that."
Eaton says Democrats must resolve the problem quickly, before the 2014 election cycle gets underway.
“I believe that Randy Voller wants to see the party grow,” Eaton says, “but great leaders know that we’re not always as integral to our own plans as we’d like to be.”