Dems change course on Parker

Posted April 17, 2012 10:57 p.m. EDT
Updated April 17, 2012 11:42 p.m. EDT

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Etheridge is the latest in his party to call for the resignation of state Democratic Chairman David Parker. 

In a statement released this evening, Etheridge said, "I call on David Parker to do the right thing and step aside in his role as Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party."

Monday night,  Etheridge said he wouldn't call for Parker's resignation without more information. "Transparency should be the rule of the day," he said at the WRAL debate. "If there's a cover-up, then that'll have to happen." 

Etheridge's primary competitor Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton did a 180 today, too. At the debate Monday night, Dalton said "anyone who commits, condones, or covers [sexual harassment] up should resign," but added, "We don't have all the facts." 

Today, after five other Council of State Democrats called on Parker to step down, Dalton changed his mind. 

“It has become evident that Chairman Parker’s effectiveness as leader of the party is greatly hindered, with many leading Democrats speaking out today," said Dalton in a statement sent out at 4:30 this afternoon.

"This is a crucial election year for the future of North Carolina and we cannot allow this issue to distract from our efforts to create good jobs, expand access to education and help people through tough times. For this reason, I think that David Parker should step aside for the good of the party so that we can turn our attention to moving North Carolina forward,” Dalton added. 

But the biggest about-face of the day was that of Governor Bev Perdue, who insisted at 12:30pm that the scandal was "an internal personnel matter of the party" - a phrase she repeated several times, ducking questions about what she knew and when she knew it. 

Pushed for more details, Perdue lost her temper. "Get over it," she told reporters. "None of us, none of us ever condone or put up with or tolerate sexual harassment. It's unacceptable, illegal and intolerable." 

Perdue urged the reporters present to stop dwelling on the scandal and focus on jobs and education.

Six hours later, the governor had a very different take on the matter.

""I have spoken with David Parker several times today and told him that he had lost the confidence of Democratic leaders, and I asked him to step aside for the good of the Party," Perdue said. "I told him that the Party had to get back to focusing on our core values: strengthening schools, creating jobs and expanding opportunities for all North Carolinians."