Democrats fret about Parker's defiance

Posted May 14, 2012
Updated May 15, 2012

— Some Democrats are worried that the state party's inability to rid itself of embattled chairman David Parker could hurt their candidates' chances this fall. 

At a chaotic six-hour meeting Saturday, Parker offered his resignation, then reversed himself when the state executive committee voted 269-203 to reject it.

A smiling Parker returned to the stage to thank the SEC for its support. "My friends, I resigned this morning but I abide by the will of the state executive committee," Parker said. 

Supporters said Parker was the victim of a conspiracy by elected officials. Some said the conspiracy had to do with how party funding is divided. Others said Parker was scapegoated because the same-sex harassment scandal that happened under his leadership came to light just three weeks before a ballot initiative to ban same-sex unions.

Parker said he was pressured by elected leaders to refuse to serve.

"I will tell you there's been a lot of phone calls made. But this is our party," Parker said.

David Parker Party turmoil may hurt Dems in November

His decision humiliated those who publicly called for his resignation – especially the party's gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton, who announced at that meeting that Parker WOULD step aside.

"As you know David is resigning as the chair of the party," Dalton told the committee in his opening remarks Saturday morning. "And he says he is committed – he’s indicated he’s committed to a smooth transition. I want you to know that this is a very selfless act." 

In a statement Saturday evening, Dalton spokesman Schorr Johnson said the Lieutenant Governor was "surprised and disappointed" by Parker's move.

"David Parker had assured him that he would resign and assist in the smooth transition to a new chair. Clearly that did not happen," Johnson said.

A statement Monday from the Dalton campaign softened the message, calling the flap a distraction.

"Elections are about the issues and the candidates, and most voters don't know or care who the volunteer party chair is," Johnson said.

Voters may not care, but grassroots Democrats might, say some observers. 

"I think it was a big slap in the face to Walter Dalton," said Greg Flynn, a Democratic activist who thinks Parker should have resigned. He says the divisive fight will hurt Democrats this fall.

Flynn called the conspiracy theories a smokescreen. "I think David Parker was buying time. He said he was going to resign, and he knew he had a period of time to round up the forces and come up with an alternative narrative."

Parker had been reportedly lobbying SEC members for weeks, but denied he engineered the dramatic spectacle. 

"I had not planned on this at all," Parker said Saturday. "I came back because the people asked me to come back." 

North Carolina State University political science professor Steven Greene called the situation "bizarre."

"A lot of people in politics are somewhat self-delusional. I think you almost have to be," Greene said. "I think [Parker] is perhaps significantly more self-delusional than most —  the idea that hanging on to power this way can in any way be a good thing."

It could be a good thing for North Carolina Republicans, though.  

"You have a rift between the Democratic party and the top-ticket Democrat in the state," said NCGOP spokesman Rob Lockwood. "That's a huge issue for their party overall with their messaging, with their fundraising, everything they do.  So it plays into an advantage for us." 

Parker said he believes the party will re-unite behind him within two or three days, calling the controversy a "tempest in a teapot." 

"This Democratic party is united behind Barack Obama. This Democratic party is united behind Walter Dalton," Parker said Saturday. "The person who is the chairman in a lot of ways quite frankly is neither here nor there,"

Greene disagrees. "It's going to be more difficult to rally the troops to get the organization going because at the top of the organization, which is so central to the ground game in 2012, it's chaos right now," he said. 

According to Greene, face-to-face communication is one of the most effective ways for parties and candidates to spread their message. 

"That takes motivated volunteers getting out there every day, going door to door," Greene said. "This is the sort of thing where it affects your ability to get those motivated volunteers out there. And that can have a real negative impact on your electoral chances." 


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  • tiblet May 17, 2012

    crashingboulder...I am staunch Republican and even I can openly admit that the Republican party is a total train wreck. I am witholding any judgement on the Democratic Party...we have more than our share of skeletons, baggage, and who knows what's just around the corner and about to come out....

  • crashingboulder May 16, 2012

    It is such fun watching you Dummocrats self-destruct as we head into the November presidential election. You Dummocrats are in for such a hiding in the fall you won't know what hit you after the smoke clears. And you deserve every last bit of pain because of the destruction and losses that you have unleashed on this country and its suffering people. I can't wait to cast my vote for Mitt Romney! It is now an all out war against DUMMOCRATS!

  • Mitch May 16, 2012

    The only reason WRAL will keep running with this Dems in chaos story is to keep up pressure on Parker to resign. They don't want their candidates' chances to be further diminished by this spectacle.

  • dmn May 16, 2012

    Drudge has now posted a link to this story. Should be fun to watch the comments blow up. That is of course if WRAL doesn't pull the plug.

  • ladyblue May 15, 2012

    Some Democrats are worried that the state party's inability to rid itself of embattled chairman David Parker could hurt their candidates' chances this fall.

    Why don't you all just keep on whining and blaming republicans. After all you had his resignation and then after 6 hours of wasted taxpayers time you voted not to let him resign. so either stop squabbling and get to work on winning or get off the train...

  • divecut May 15, 2012

    I stand with all you true American republican and independent - heck even moderate democrats - who will work to take the great state of North Carolina back this fall! I'm from Tennesse where Obama is dead meat, and join with my North Carolina brothers in taking this great country back from 3 1/2 long years of an America hating, muslim, community!

  • ozzyrox2 May 15, 2012

    NO MORE DEMOCRAT GOVENORS!!! They have destroyed this state. Hopefully, Mike Easley and former Senator John Edwards is on their way to prison. Progressive Democrat is a cover name for communist!

  • eba163 May 15, 2012

    The State Executive Committee members planned to refuse Chairman Parker's resignation, not him. We elected him, it was not the elected official's place to call for his resignation. We were all asking "what did he do wrong". We concluded that he handled the situation as best as he could.

  • Reader11722 May 15, 2012

    Gay politicians and their harassment, yet another violation of our rights. The gov’t constantly violates our rights.
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like “America Deceived II”.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama, support Ron Paul.
    Last link of “America Deceived II” before it is completely banned:

  • dukecaniac May 15, 2012

    I am white and a proud Democrat, and to those of you who think this will matter in 6 months you are wrong. The party is actually fairly irelevant these days on both the Democratic and Republican sides. The bulk of the activist are for the Dems to the left of most and for the GOP to the right of most. Political Parties became irelevant a long time ago when money became the king. I doubt that any of you have any idea what being an activist in a party is all about, and quite frankly there is not enough space here to educate you on it, but based on the comments I see here, most of you have no idea of how this systems works, and probably do not really care.