Rallying NC Dems: Party chair cites record organizing

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Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party and former state insurance commissioner, speaks Tuesday at a luncheon of the Pasquotank County Democratic Party, at the Golden Corral in Elizabeth City. Goodwin's visit continued what he's referred to as his "rural listening tour."


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The leader of North Carolina’s Democratic Party rallied the troops in Pasquotank County on Tuesday, urging local Democrats to join efforts to break Republicans' legislative majorities and elect candidates he said are more committed to progress for all state residents.

Wayne Goodwin's visit to Elizabeth City continued the state Democratic Party chairman’s “rural listening tour” now winding through eastern North Carolina. During his meeting with the Pasquotank Democratic Party at the Golden Corral, Goodwin said Democrats aren't taking any votes for granted, and statewide organizing for the 2018 midterms is already well underway.

“As state party chair over the last year, we've had some record organization going on,” Goodwin said.

He said Democrats last year organized 245 more precincts statewide than they did in 2016, with more precincts still organizing. That organization should Democrats persuade and turn out more voters, adding that it's never too early to start engaging voters.

“I believe we should treat every day as if it's election day,” Goodwin said.

To underscore the idea that every vote counts, Goodwin cited several close, statewide races in 2016. The margin of victory for State Auditor Beth Wood was about 3,000 to 4,000 votes, he said, or a margin of about one vote per precinct.

While the auditor's race was very close, state election results report Wood's margin of victory as 6,042. Based on 2,704 precincts contributing votes, her margin of victory equated to two per precinct.

Goodwin similarly noted that just a few votes per precinct could have meant that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn't have defeated then-Gov. Pat McCrory — or that Goodwin himself wouldn't have lost re-election as state insurance commissioner in 2016. Goodwin lost to current GOP Commissioner Mike Causey by just under 36,000 votes.

When Goodwin took questions from the audience, local resident Hezekiah Brown expressed frustration that the national Democratic Party isn’t investing in elections for northeastern North Carolina. He called on the party to invest in local races — and to hire local residents who know the community to run campaigns.

Goodwin said he “can't control” the national party, but conceded “we should do a much better job” of recruiting local volunteers and workers. He added the state Democratic Party is working to get local workers in place.

“We've already begun hiring regional folks who are from North Carolina, to work in the regions for the party, to get to know the community leaders and party leaders, hiring folks from the region,” he said.

Goodwin also said the Democratic Party is offering internship programs to get young workers involved. He noted the party has reached out to historically black colleges and universities in particular.

Goodwin also stressed Democrats need to better make their case to millennials, who are young voters often unaffiliated with either Democrats or Republicans.

To that point, Pasquotank Democratic Party Chairwoman Treva Gregory encouraged the audience — mostly senior citizens — to bring at least one young person to the party's upcoming county convention.

Also attending Goodwin's visit on Tuesday were a number of local officials, including Pasquotank Board of Commissioners Chairman Cecil Perry and Commissioner Charles Jordan, plus Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden and board member Virginia Houston.

Also attending was Senate District 1 candidate Cole Phelps, a Washington County commissioner running against Richard James, of Hertford County, for the Democratic nomination. Phelps said he's campaigning through northeastern counties this week, and would soon publish his political platform online.