Randy Voller on Ben Chavis

NC Democratic Party Chairman called and we spoke for several minutes about reports that Ben Chavis will be named as new Executive Director of the Party. Voller feels he is not getting fair treatment from some media outlets, especially the Raleigh News and Observer.

He appeared to be listening attentively to my questions about the firing of Dempsey and the hiring of Chavis. He did not want to get into details of Dempsey personnel matters, nor did I ask him to. However, he stated for the record that he "considered the situation like that of a coach who has to pull a player in the middle of a game. It is not easy, but sometimes it has to be done."

Voller cited several misrepresentations of Ben Chavis by state media. He said he is not a long-time friend of Voller, but they only met during the period when Gov. Bev Perdue was considering a pardon for the Wilmington 10. He said he spoke up on behalf of Chavis, when other public officials would not. Voller said, "I was out front when others were not."

Voller thinks Chavis will move the state forward and address questions of wealth and income inequality. He feels Chavis has the background to lead the organizing around these issues.

I asked him about the concerns raised about Chavis' connection to the Nation of Islam, and I said this connection would not play well in NC. Voller downplayed Chavis history, especially about the allegations of sexual harrassment. He followed up with an email that said this:

Martha from Ben directly:

1. 50 year veteran of the Civil Rights Movement who has been "falsely" accused on numerous occasions and arrested over 65 times in NC and VA, unjustly jailed and imprisoned, yet during the past 50 years has "never" been convicted of any serious infraction of the law, except in the Wilmington Ten case that also was eventually overturned and found "innocent" of the charges per the investigation and action of the Honorable Governor Beverly Perdue.
2. Although false allegations of sexual harassment have been made in the past, it is a fact there has "never" been an arrest, conviction nor admission of guilt with respect to any of those specific false allegations.
3. Today in 2014 I am a member in "good standing" of the Oak Level United Church of Christ in Warren County North Carolina where I was ordained as a minister of the United Church of Christ 34 years ago. Currently not in the Nation of Islam.
4. A registered Democrat for 45 years
5. Native of Oxford, NC in Granville County NC where the Chavis family has lived since 1740.
More to come

Hon. Randolph S. Voller, Chair
North Carolina Democratic Party

I talked with Stephanie Goslen of Franklin County after speaking with Voller. She backed up much of what he had told me. She feels once the voters in NC have heard from Ben Chavis directly that they-- like her--will see that he can be a dynamic leader who is not afraid and who will unite folks across all races and creeds."

Stephanie also said that Voller has strong support from members of the Party's State Council. She said 11 of the 13 District Chairs support his recent actions, and there is strong support among at-large members, too.

Just want to say I appreciate both Randy and Stephanie taking the time to talk and being so frank with me. Randy said more information will be coming soon.

Comments

An anti-Semite running NCDP?

A civil rights leader who served at the helm of NAACP seemed like a good choice, at first glance.

Many of you may already know about the issues regarding his performance and termination at NAACP [1]. They are concerning.

What really got under my skin were Chavis's attitudes toward my fellow Jews. When he was fired by the NAACP, he claimed that a Jewish conspiracy brought him down [1]. Chavis's speech at the University of Oklahoma was laced with anti-Semitic dog-whistles and innuendo [2]. He served as the right-hand-man to the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, who has a prolific record of anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric, but Chavis's words speak for themselves.

These sentiments differ little from those my family endured as eastern European Jews. These views and statements are unacceptable for a leader of a Democratic state party.

Hiring an ED who holds such prejudices would be outrageous in and of itself. Practically, it would undermine the state party's credibility with its activists, donors, members, and voters. As a staffer for several Democratic campaigns and a volunteer for many more, I am ashamed that my party finds itself in this situation.

The nomination brings into question the judgment and allegiances of state party chair Randy Voller. How could he think that Chavis would be a good choice as the day-to-day leader of the NC Democratic Party? Democrats deserve not only a retraction of Chavis's nomination but also an apology and explanation from Voller.

Mike Radionchenko

1. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-08-22/news/1994234119_1_chavis-leadership-summit-farrakhan

2. http://newsok.com/chavis-a-poor-choice-for-ou-event/article/2496811

Wow

Yeah, I'd probably bolt.

YEP

If Chavis is no longer a member of NOI, this would be the first time that has ever been stated in the media. Frankly, I want to hear him say it. The NOI has done a lot of good work for the black community but nothing can excuse the fact that the NOI is a virulently anti-semitic organization whose rhetoric about Jews is almost indecipherable from hate groups like the KKK and the Aryan Nation, etc. Having an Executive Director of the NCDP that was still a member of the NOI would be hugely problematic.

This would be wrong for the party

No matter what kind of pretty face anyone wants to put on Chavis, he is absolutely wrong for the North Carolina Democratic Party. If every bad deed has to be "excused" and if every bad deed has to be countered with a good deed, it sends a very troubling message.

It is wrong and if it happens, it will further divide the democratic party in North Carolina.

I am sure there are those here that do not agree with that. I see, however, that there are those that do agree with that. If this microcosm shows anything, it shows that this will create more problems than it solves.

Vote by Democratic Executive Council

Statement from The Chair Dan Blue
http://fb.me/10cBZyJta

List of 51 Members of the Democratic Party Executive Council which is to meet at 8pm:

http://www.wakedems.org/ncdp-secouncil

UPDATE: this link has been removed

If you have an opinion on the leadership of the state party in an election year, contact your Congressional District Chair or other member(s) of the Council. Here is link to the list of Congressional District Chairpersons with their phone numbers from the NCDP web site.

Here is the list of NC Democratic Party Officers. Follow this link for email addresses.

Martha Brock

The guy must be at least in his late 60's

I would much rather have a younger, energetic ED who can execute policy efficiently than a guy who is a mostly a symbolic choice. What experience does Chavis have running a political organization?

anti gerrymandering petition can be found at ... http://wh.gov/iaUnX

Say what?

Voller must be trying to compete with Dana Cope for "Most Mystifying Behavior from a Supposedly Progressive Leader." No, actually, I think he's already won that contest. What kind of vetting did he do? (Any?) Is he actually a Republican mole, sent to destroy the Dem party from within? Or just a moron?

Voller needs to be fired. He

Voller needs to be fired. He was an extremely poor mayor/leader in Pittsboro. I think he hired Chavis to save himself from being fired. It won't work. The Democratic Party is doomed under Voller's leadership!