Who is Jim Hunt raising money for again?

A Feb 01 Charlotte Observer story told us something we already knew - that Jim Hunt (and others) are forming SuperPACs to raise money to influence elections. He declined to elaborate on the group and exactly what they are doing even at the Sanford-Hunt-Frye fundraising dinner where he was a speaker.

That same weekend, the N&O's John Frank reported that Hunt donated $1000 to Tea Party Republican Justin Burr during the 3rd quarter of 2013.

ONE MORE FUNDRAISING NUGGET: Former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt gave state Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican budget writer, a $1,000 contribution Oct. 12, campaign finance reports show.

The business of the NCDP

At issue here with the State Democratic Party is no longer a matter of personality clashes or competing party ideologies. The core problem of the struggling NCDP is a lack of leadership. I am convinced that Chairman Voller is a nice guy. I have talked with him one on one and have listened to him speak. I am convinced that he genuinely cares for the party and the people in it. If all it took to be in charge was a winning personality Jimmy Carter would have won a second term and John Kerry would be a former President instead of current Secretary of State.

Understanding the roles various democratic political entities in elections

Many NC Democrats think that the NCDP runs all elections in North Carolina. Historically, the election responsibilities have been divided as follows:

1.) The NC House and Senate Caucuses recruit candidates for their districts, develop the election strategy, hire the political campaign consultants and raise funds to get them elected;

2.) The NC Democratic Party responsibility is to work principally for the election of the President and US Senators;

3.) Political campaign consults, like lawyers are in the business to make money and like some lawyers, they may take hopeless cases as long as the money is there;

4.) There may or may not be coordination of activities between these four entities.

I have been repeatedly told this is how election have been done by Democrats in NC by my members of the General Assembly. I don't doubt that they are correct.

Obtaining property under false pretenses is a crime!

So two bail bondsmen and two court clerks who improperly accessed court computers are being charged with obtaining property by false pretenses - which is a crime.

Any thoughts about the political consultant who got an NCDP contractor to use NCDP resources to perform a LexisNexis search on candidates in contested races for public and party office, then passed it onto another campaign?

Do you think the contractor, consultant and the campaign worker should be similarly charged? I do!

A party staffer takes e-mail addresses that are the property of one campaign and trades them to another campaign in exchange for a job.

Do you think both the party staffer and the campaign worker (and maybe the candidate himself) should be charged? I do!

We've long since passed the point where any NCDP discussion is productive

Several folks have asked me to weigh in to mediate the messy discussions about the NC Democratic Party, the executive director, Chairman Voller, and such. I decline. From out here on the sidelines, it looks like a classic blood feud with strongly committed people representing strongly held beliefs on all sides of the issue. Many of the comments involve actions in meetings that happened in private, which then spilled over to these pages.

I'm sympathetic to all sides of the issue, and wish only that a productive path forward can be found. Given the obvious deep divides, that seems unlikely.

My thoughts on the NCDP ED controversy

I've sat patiently while watching events go by, largely talking to my friends and refraining from commenting in public other than to refute the usual Voller-haters (who were also Parker-haters two years ago). But I do feel I must make a few comments on the whole ED firing/Dr. Ben Chavis matter.

Previous Chairs largely made the selection of ED, with their selection validated by the Executive Council. Certainly some ED candidates were trotted around to various constituency groups - including elected officials - but the Chairs largely made the choices on their own. The job of the ED is not to be a celebrity - it's to be a competent administrator of the Party for the officers, delegates, electeds/candidates and donors. A good ED should follow the directives set by the Chair and the SEC and Executive Council at the state level, and the CEC and the elected county-level officers (the "board") at the county level. Their job should be to properly administer the Party so that the officers and delegates can decide what the party stands for and elect candidates who can turn that party platform into public policy.

Transparency matters

Let me go on the record to say I have no first-hand knowledge of Ben Chavis. For all I know, he could have been the guy Democrats in North Carolina need to save the day. Whether he is that guy or not, however, has become moot. His nomination fatally tarnished by the lack of a transparent process.

It will be tempting for some to see this as a conspiracy against a long-standing black leader. That's certainly the view of Cash Michaels, who wonders out loud whether this episode should give black voters pause.

But the behind-the-scenes movement among Democratic rank-and-file members to ensure that Dr. Chavis, a veteran civil rights leader and member of the Wilmington Ten, was stopped, is something that may give African-American voters pause come the critical 2014 mid-term elections.

Message to NC Democratic Candidates

There are two types of political campaigns: There is the message campaign, which is less focused on winning and more involved in promoting a specific "message" to the public and then there is a winning campaign which takes a broad look at the variables, targets the voters needed to reach a "win" number and tailors a campaign around the needs of the constituents instead of attempting to morph the constituents to meet the needs of the candidate.

If you want to make headlines go for the message campaign. If you want to win be a statesman/woman. Listen to the people. Be flexible to change your tactics and approach to better serve the people and look at the big picture instead of being led by your ego or the echo chamber of your inner circle.

Musings on being a Democrat in North Carolina

Had a fairly long conversation with my son yesterday, mostly centering around the challenges facing the Democratic Party here in our state. A sampling of two is by no means a statistical foundation for taking action, and it's also important to note my firstborn is an unrepentant contrarian, always ready to assume the mantle of the devil's advocate. Or just the devil...anyway, we spent some time poking at soft spots and chewing on assumptions, and I may have a slightly better understanding of why the ranks of the Unaffiliated (like my son) have swelled so much in North Carolina, seemingly at the cost of registered Democrats. As I've mentioned before, I think it is critical the NCDP dedicate some resources to figuring this out, however much the data will hurt some feelings. In lieu of that, chew on this for a while:

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