Skip to comments.N.C. Democratic chairman defends controversial choice of Ben Chavis
Posted on 02/12/2014 8:33:10 PM PST by csvset
Despite a firestorm of criticism, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller Wednesday left open the possibility of hiring civil rights leader Ben Chavis to run the party.
Voller canceled a morning news conference at which he was expected to name Chavis as party executive director. Instead, the party has an interim director, days after Voller fired Robert Dempsey from the post.
The decision came after what was described as a contentious conference call Tuesday night with more than 100 party leaders.
Many Democrats objected to Chavis, an Oxford native who has been a high-profile civil rights figure. He was a member of the so-called Wilmington 10 and went on to lead the national NAACP. He later was a lieutenant to controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
But he left the NAACP after a $332,000 settlement in a sexual harassment case.
Mr. Chavis has not been exactly kind to ladies, said Geneal Gregory, a party and NAACP activist from Charlotte. I dont feel like he would be right for this particular job.
Gregory was among many Democrats who lobbied against the appointment of Chavis. So did Patsy Keever of Asheville, the partys first vice chair.
I hope that he (Voller) has gotten the message from people all over that Chavis is simply not the right person to be executive director of the state party, she said. Its just so clear that hes the wrong choice.
Voller, whos been in office for a year, said its not clear that Chavis will be a candidate when party officials meet within 30 days to choose a new director. But he defended him.
Dr. Chavis has a track record of looking out for communities that feel theyve been left behind, Voller said.
Im interested in what I call a democracy revival, and Im looking for anybody to work with us to revive democracy in all parts of the state. Democracy cant be a once-every-four-year exercise. We cant be the cicada party.
The discord comes two weeks after the partys annual Sanford Hunt Frye dinner, this year at the Charlotte Convention Center. The dinner and an earlier party meeting appeared marked by harmony and a focus on election-year politics.
Dempseys firing, and the prospect of Chavis getting the job, changed that.
Its unfortunate that we have good candidates around the state filing for office and theyre being overshadowed by this, said Pat Cotham, a party official and Mecklenburg commissioner.
Some Democratic bloggers have criticized Voller. Thomas Mills called him the dictator of the Democratic Party and to drive home the point, ran his photo next to one of Lenin.
In his own blog, Democratic strategist Gary Pearce said, the worst wounds in politics are self-inflicted. And this is a doozy.
Voller dismissed his critics.
Its easy to sit on the sidelines and lob hand grenades, he said. What they really need to do is say, How do we energize the base? How do we get more people involved?
When youre leading. youre going to take some punches.
You cant be a leader leading from behind.
Democrat's War On Women continues.
Here's a link to a story about Dempsey's firing.
I say let the 'rats hire him. He will end up being an embarrassment to them just as he has every other organization that had the bad judgment to take him on.
It's a leftist's right of passage.
Regarding Dempsey's firing.
In a controversial move, the chairman of the beleaguered N.C. Democratic Party on Sunday fired his executive director.
Executive Director Robert Dempseys abrupt ouster is the latest drama to hobble a party plagued by problems in recent years.
Chairman Randy Voller acknowledged through a party attorney that he fired Dempsey roughly eight months after picking him for the job. Attorney David Harris declined to give a reason for the firing.
Theres really nothing more to say because its a personnel matter, Harris said Sunday evening.
But whether Voller has the authority to make the move remains in question. The partys rules may require Voller to get the consent of the executive council in order to fire the executive director. The council has not met in recent days, though a meeting may be scheduled this week.
Not all party leaders agree with the move.
I thought Robert was doing a fantastic job, said Patsy Keever, the partys first vice chairwoman, who essentially serves as Vollers lieutenant.
Dempsey started in May after helping elect U.S. Rep. Scott Peters of California. He previously served as executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party and worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. At the time Dempsey was hired, Voller commended Dempsey, saying he understands how to win elections, raise resources and communicate with voters effectively.
Voller joined the party after a personnel scandal led to the exit of Chairman David Parker and former Executive Director Jay Parmley.
But from the start the former Pittsboro mayor has faced controversy. He barely won the job even though he ran against a candidate who didnt want the post and then proceeded to oust the interim executive director and faced questions about owing nearly $300,000 in back taxes. Amid additional controversies and calls for his resignation, his original first vice chairwoman resigned.
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