Wake Dems endorse Democrat as Kightdale mayorial candidate, but other Dems object?

What sort of annoys me about this story is that several of the people quoted in the story are also officers in the Democratic Party - some are precinct officers and therefore members of the Wake Dems County Executive Committee. Two are also members of the SEC.

Munger's comments are sort of ridiculous. He ran as a Libertarian and has been fighting for third-party ballot access for years. If partisan elections don't mean anything, why is he trying to get more parties on the ballot?

And while Munger is entitled to his opinion about parties and local elections, perhaps he has forgotten that the current school board majority got to be that way by injecting partisanship into the 2009 school board election? They used their outside political influence against the Democratic incumbents. But that was at a time when most (but not all) of the Wake Dems didn't have their eyes open about the way the Republicans would whip themselves into a frenzy over the 2009 race.

Many other communities do have partisan elections - they have primaries for their local elections. It seems to work well for them.

One thing that I have felt is unexplainable about our Wake elections is why we have a mid August filing deadline for the October elections, but a mid July deadline for the November elections. One would think it would be the other way around...

Chris Telesca


Party endorses Lee, but local Dems dissent
Wake Dems like challenger, but Independent has hometown support

BY PAUL A. SPECHT, staff writer
KNIGHTDALE - It may not seem like news: the Wake County Democratic Party is endorsing a Democratic mayoral candidate in Knightdale. But such an endorsement has split Democratic leaders in this town.

The party, at a meeting in Raleigh on Monday, opted to support local businessman and Democrat Jun Lee - a move opposed by some of Knightdale's Democratic powers-that-be, who say incumbent mayor Russell Killlen, an independent, has their vote.

Municipal races are nonpartisan - meaning ballots won't list party affiliations - but candidates who identify with a certain party often receive its promotional support.

Wake Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul in a telephone interview said some leaders within the party supported Lee and Killen, but that Lee's party affiliation, involvement, and support for other party members earned him an endorsement and "non-monetary support," such as volunteers.

"Jun Lee has the perspective of someone who has worked really, really hard and has given back to the community," he said.

"Now he wants to take it a step further by offering public service and trying to help others achieve the American dream like he did," Paul said, referring to Lee's move to the U.S. from South Korea in the 1980s.

One of the Democratic party dissenters was N.C. Rep. Darren Jackson, who supports Killen and asked that party officials not endorse Lee.

"I have nothing against Mr. Lee, but Russell has a great working relationship with citizens and I think that's evident in him pushing for the new park, the greenway, and his involvement in recruiting new programs to local schools," Jackson said, noting that the two attended high school together and were on the same wrestling team.

Killen, 42, has been mayor since 2008 when he won an unopposed election. Killen says his history of voting for Democrats like Rita Rakestraw in the 2008 District 1 school board race and his relationships with local Democrats should have been considered by the party before it endorsed Lee.

"Obviously, I am disappointed that the Democratic Party leadership decided to endorse Lee over the objection of Rep. Jackson and others. That said, I am gratified by the continuing support from many Democrats in our community, including Representative Jackson, Councilman James Roberson and former Mayor Billy Wilder," Killen said in an email. "In the end, I believed that the good work that I had done as mayor would overcome the fact that Lee is a registered Democrat who offers significant financial support to the Democratic Party - I was wrong."

Uncomfortable position

Democratic councilman Tim Poirier and Mike Chalk, who is unaffiliated, say they'll vote for Killen.

But councilman Roberson, when asked about his support for Killen, said he was "not supporting anyone."

"I haven't endorsed anyone or said I would endorse anyone," he said. "It would put me in an uncomfortable position."

Roberson was the only other Knightdale candidate endorsed by the Wake Democratic Party. He is one of six candidates vying for two open town council seats.

When asked about his statement regarding Roberson's support, Killen said that Roberson had given him permission to use "promotional quotes" on his campaign material. Killen also said he wasn't surprised by Roberson's non-endorsement.

"I knew he wasn't going to endorse anyone, but he's told me before that I have his support," Killen said.

Rakestraw, the former school board candidate who lives in Knightdale, says that because of her close relationship with Lee and Killen, she won't endorse either of them.

No hard feelings

Paul says he's not bothered by local Democrats' support of Killen - specifically Jackson's.

"I respect Darren's personal views and relationship, since it goes back a long time," he said. "There are no hard feelings about it."

Lee said Jackson's feelings don't bother him, either. Lee thinks he can win anyway.

Mike Munger, political science professor at Duke University, isn't so sure.

Munger says Killen's status of an incumbent gives him an advantage. And Lee's party affiliation may end up hurting him because some voters see organized parties as "glorified political mafias," Munger said.

"In a small town, I wouldn't be surprised if (the endorsement) backfired since an outside organization is using its political influence against the incumbent," he said.

"But it's also possible that no one pays any attention."
aspecht@newsobserver.com or 829-4826