Local News

N.C. Democrats Mostly Mum On Black's Murky Future

Posted April 8, 2006

— A political storm is brewing in the North Carolina House. With ongoing state and federal investigations linked to Speaker Jim Black, several lawmakers, including some Democrats, have publicly said it's time to consider a change of leadership.

It's an election year, and Wake County candidates are campaigning early and often. At the Wake County Democratic Party convention on Saturday, platforms and primaries were topics open for debate. But few people are talking publicly about Black, who is a top party fundraiser.

Black says he intends to bang the gavel to start the session next month, despite allegations he misused his office and campaign money. So far, three House Democrats have called for him to resign.

"There are some others who would at least like to talk about the subject, and I'm sure they'll discuss it and get Jim Vlack's side of the story and make a decision that's best for the party and for the state as well," said North Carolina Democratic Party chair Jerry Meek.

Meek,says that meeting will likely come at a caucus in the next couple of weeks. Until then, even Meek is staying neutral on the subject.

"I think it's too early," said Meek. "I'd like to talk to caucus members more and find out what are the facts here."

Meek did say that Black accomplished a lot for education and praised his leadership before acknowledging the investigations are a concern.

"I think there would be a leadership void in the House if he were to step down; but at the same time, we can't have distractions, and it seems like what's going on is a distraction," he said.

The latest statewide poll suggests that voters think it's time for Black to step down. The new Elon Poll shows 40 percent think Black should resign, while 18 percent think he should stay. The rest did not have an opinion.

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