Parker will not resign, calls for referendum on his job

Posted April 18, 2012 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated April 18, 2012 8:26 p.m. EDT

— The embattled chairman of the state Democratic Party says he will not resign but has called a referendum on his role.

"I have met with our Executive Council via teleconference and am gratified by their strong support for my continued Chairmanship," David Parker said.

Parker came under fire late last week when sexual harassment allegations against former party executive director Jay Parmley surfaced. Parker arranged for a settlement with the victim in the matter and allowed Parmley to continue working at the party.

Parmley resigned Sunday. Speculation soon followed that Parker would follow, but he has stood fast. 

Tuesday, Gov. Bev Perdue and six other Democrats elected statewide and legislative leaders called for Parker's resignation. 

Parker said Tuesday he would not resign and repeated that Wednesday.

“In light of recent events and the fact that a significant number of Democrats, and especially the statewide-elected officials, have voiced the opinion that Chairman Parker no longer is able to be effective as chair, it is disappointing,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “The request that was made yesterday … was for good cause.”

Perdue also reiterated her call for Parker to step down. 

“I am reiterating my call for the chairman of the party to resign. The process laid out by the chairman in his email late today to Executive Committee members is totally unacceptable. The chairman needs to go," Perdue wrote.

Gwen Wilkins, the party's first vice chair and one of the people with whom Parker met, said the chairman's claims of support were not founded.

"I was elected because dedicated and loyal democrats had faith that I would not sit back and be quiet when the time came to speak up... With that said, let me be clear: that all – and I stress ALL -- those on the [state Democrats'] Executive Council have NOT indicated their support of Chairman Parker," Wilkins said. "It is my opinion that the statement made by him is misleading to the Democrats that elected him to office and to our voters."

Parker said he has called a meeting of the party's state executive committee for Sunday, June 17, in Raleigh. 

"At that SEC meeting we will, in addition to the conduct of regular business, hold elections for all party office vacancies and hold a referendum on the State Party Chair, which I will not conduct. If there are multiple candidates for State Chair, we will have an election. If there is a single candidate, there will be an acclamation," Parker wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.