NC Dems turn focus to rebuilding for 2016

Posted November 10, 2014

— Last week's defeat of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has shaken up North Carolina Democrats. Some critics are blaming the state party for not doing enough to help her, while others say the party did better here than in other Southern states.

The North Carolina Democratic Party has had several rough years, with personnel problems, power struggles and financial difficulties since Republicans seized control of the General Assembly in the 2010 elections.

Former state Democratic Party director Scott Falmlen said the party apparatus needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

"The official infrastructure of the party has hit rock bottom," Falmlen said. "There's going to have to be a lot of soul searching amongst Democrats at every level."

Money has been a big problem. Both parties lost a key source of revenue last year, when lawmakers got rid of the check-off for political parties on state income tax returns. That cut off millions of dollars in operating funds.

Being in power, Republicans can replace that money more easily than Democrats can.

"It's harder to raise money because transactional donors don't necessarily need to transact with you," state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller said.

Voller says the state party did everything it could to support its candidates. Democrats did have more success in North Carolina than in any other Southern state, he noted, from county boards to state House seats to five statewide judicial races.

"It all starts with electing local people, so I look at the ballot from the bottom up. I don’t look from the top down," he said. "I think we’re going to have start doing that. Build with your county commission, build with your board of education and go upward."

Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said that, despite its troubles, the state Democratic Party still managed to raise money this year and field some strong candidates.

"They did the kind of things that parties do; they still lost during a wave election," McLennan said. "So, can you blame it all on what's going on in the state Democratic Party? No. Are there some fixes that could happen before 2016? Obviously."

Finding solid candidates for the 2016 elections should be the top priority for the party, he said.

"If you look at some of the major races for 2016, we know who’s running for governor for the Democratic Party, but (against U.S.) Sen. Burr? There’s nobody," McLennan said.

Attorney General Roy Cooper is widely seen as the top Democrat to oppose Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in two years.

"They’ve got some candidate recruitment to do. They’ve got to rebuild relationships within the base of the Democratic Party. The turnout in the election, it wasn’t what they wanted it to be. So, I think, again, it’s not all about the leadership of the Democratic Party,” McLennan said.

Voller, who said he hasn't decided yet on whether he'll run for re-election next year as party chairman, agreed that Democrats have to work harder on turning out voters in non-presidential years.

"I think Democrats have to keep getting in the notion that elections are a yearly exercise," he said.


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  • beef Nov 14, 2014

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    The problem with democrats they have gone from promising a chicken in every pot to worrying about the rights of the chickens.

  • bmac813 Nov 14, 2014

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    ts to Hear you. Please Obama is Not a Socialist, He is a Communist.

  • tmstubbs63 Nov 14, 2014

    Hagan's loss is directly attributable to the fact that she is incompetent and a rubber stamp for Harry Reid (the biggest obstacle in Washington to getting anything done), Nancy Pelosi (she is mentally derainged), and Mr. Obama (Socialist in chief).

  • Tom Boswell Nov 14, 2014
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    Democrats do not have to rebuild. They swept the County Commissioners race. The only reason Hagan lost was that she was an enabler (96%) to a president that according to a very left Washington Post/ABC poll stated 52% of Americans say he is a failure. This was not they disagree with his polices or the direction of the country but a FAILURE.

  • lprop Nov 13, 2014

    Get over it . There will be more elections in the future.

  • prn13norm Nov 13, 2014

    The Party needs to move away from its leftist finge and embrace middle class American values. Rid itself of the Chicago and North Carolina criminal element and fight for the issues facing mainstream Americans!

  • glarg Nov 13, 2014

    Representatives need to have real jobs and and an expectation that they will quickly be returning to them when they days tinkering with the levers of power are over. They shouldnt get too comfortable and term limits are the way to do it.

    One family controlling a congressional seat in Detroit for 80 years is an obscenity. Nancy Pelosi is now retirement age and she has never held an honest job in her life.

  • Gary Lasereyes Nov 13, 2014


    Hey dems "You didn't build that!"

  • rcherry132004 Nov 12, 2014

    The problem with BOTH parties is that "normal, everyday" people cannot run for office. If the rich are getting elected, who do you think they are looking out for? Obviously, they are protecting their own interests. The average person cannot afford to run and couldn't get dirty $ from outside sources even if they wanted to. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.Theodore Roosevelt

    I don't blame them entirely, if you have not had to live day by day or paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult to understand the problem and have empathy for those in this situation.

  • PanthersFan45 Nov 12, 2014

    I think she got plenty of help from all levels. This was the most expensive race in the country and Democrats outspent Republicans in advertising. It was a tough climate to run in with an unpopular president that she could not overcome.