by Bob Geary
State Sen. Don Vaughan, D-Guilford, the only announced candidate for state Democratic Party chair, said last night he is quitting ALEC. His statement follows below.
In calling around yesterday, I heard from party sources that Raleigh City Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin is among several others who's been dialing for support; Baldwin is expected to announce soon that she's in the contest against Vaughan. Baldwin didn't return my call.
[Update, 2:30 p.m.: I saw Mary-Ann downtown at the OutRaleigh event, working with the "Vote Against" volunteers. Good on her. She said she's been on the phone, will decide whether to throw her — what, hat? — in for party chair by the end of the weekend.]
The new chair will be chosen next Saturday in Greensboro.
I said yesterday that the new chair should be picked by whoever wins the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on Tuesday, either Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton or former Congressman Bob Etheridge.
I heard from some people how unlikely this is; how the grassroots (the new chair will be chosen by about 800 Democratic executive committee members) resent being told what to do; what a thankless job being party chair is — because it's not a real party, as Will Rogers said, it's the Democratic Party — etc. I heard how Gov. Mike Easley couldn't name a chairman, and had his pick rejected by the rank-and-file in favor of Jerry Meek. True, but that was Gov. No-Show himself, and Easley's choice very nearly prevailed anyway.
So, OK, Dalton/Etheridge may duck the duty, missing a chance to establish some bona fides as the legit Democratic Party leader. But I repeat, if the nominee puts his arm around a candidate and tells the party faithful that this is his guy or gal (and I'm assuming here that D/E would pick someone with reasonable party credibility), that person would be a shoo-in to win.
The Democrats are disheartened by their losses and by David Parker's forced resignation. They may not look like they'd welcome some direction from their leaders. But that's because, with Gov. Perdue abandoning her re-election race, they haven't had a leader lately. Tuesday night, they will — if Dalton/Etheridge is ready to take up the mantle.
Vaughan is getting out of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and sent us this statement:
Those who know me know that I have a long record of working on behalf of the Democratic Party. Those of you who don’t know me can look to my strong Democratic voting record and Democratic leadership in the Senate. I fought against the Republican cuts to our schools. I voted against the attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act. I’ve fought against the Voter ID law. I voted against Amendment One and continue to fight it every day. I fought against Republican efforts to place limitations on a woman’s right to choose. I also received the Green Tie award from the NC League of Conservation Voters for being someone who stepped up and spoke out for environmental issues at the General Assembly.
Many years ago, when I joined the American Legislative Exchange Council it was a nonpartisan group which provided a forum for legislators to discuss issues. However, I agree with the many others who have recently left ALEC. In recent years ALEC has become too partisan. Because of that, I am announcing my resignation from ALEC. I’m proud of my record on the issues. What’s most important for us as a party is to come together and win North Carolina in 2012 for Barack Obama, our gubernatorial nominee, and all of the other Democrats in North Carolina. Our Party, the Democratic Party, is a big tent.
Right now we need to unite and fight the Republicans and make sure that every Democrat wins in North Carolina on November 6 and the Amendment fails on May 8. Let’s keep our eye on the ball and not engage in distracting infighting.