Rep. Bill Faison, Candidate for NCDP ChairBy
This week Scrutiny Hooligans is highlighting the North Carolina Democratic Party Chair race between Bill Faison, David Parker, and Dannie Montgomery. The same questions were asked of each of the candidates, and their responses are republished here without changes. They will be posted, one per day, in the order they were received.
1) What are the primary duties of a State Party Chair?
The most important duty the Chair has is to win elections. Doing so requires laying out a vision for success, and making sure that it is being implemented. To achieve that goal I believe that my number one job as Chair will be to facilitate the work everyone in our party is doing. That means making sure we give training where it is necessary, find more money when there isn’t enough, and provide a vision where there isn’t one.
The Chair is also the face of the Party, and in areas such as fundraising and communications the “Buck Stops Here.”
2) What distinguishes you from the other candidates in this race?
The most important is that I am a winning politician. The situation we face as a party is extraordinarily difficult. I am running for Chair because I have the skills necessary to win back our state from the Republicans. I am not running for Chair because I want a title or because it has been a lifelong goal. My principal opponent has been a candidate for Chair many times before without success.
I have been challenged by the Tea Party and won. In similar districts to my own, other Democrats won with between 3 and 5 percent. Through hard work, and listening to the voters in my districts and not Raleigh or out of state consultants, I won with almost 13%. The other candidate who seems to be my toughest competition lost his last race by 12 points in a local race in a Democratic year in 2006, and managed the only race that Terry Sanford ever lost.
3) Yes – They are all important, but please rank the following in order of priority:
Training local party organizations
Coordination with OFA
Improving data collection and distribution
1 – Fundraising– You can’t do anything else listed without proper funding. Fundraising does not mean tax check off money, it means hard work and asking people to give. I would invite anyone reading this to go to https://www.d4d.org/ncpldg.htm and donate to the party, or to come to the fundraiser I am hosting for the State Party on November 20th at the Goodwin House.
2 – Messaging – In 2010 the Republicans had a message and we did not explain all of the great things we had done for this state. That failure opened the door and made a bad year worse than it should have been.
3 – Training Local Party Organizations – The real work of the Democratic Party is done by grassroots activists. We must increase and expand our training. That training should include field plans, fundraising, messaging and candidate recruitment.
4 – Candidate Recruitment – As said below, we must compete everywhere in 2010.
5 – Field Operations – The State Party failed to have a field operation in 2010. Some work was done in coordination with OFA, but that was limited and it was done without an adequate plan. I will hire a Field Director to create a single statewide plan to GOTV our Democratic base and to work with candidates and county parties across the state to formulate their own local plans.
6 – Improved Data Collection and Distribution – When we spend money and time talking to voters, recruiting volunteers and collecting information that data should be treated as a permanent resource. We can’t spend precious resources and then throw away our work by throwing away the data. I understand that in 2009 David Young promised a lot of this data from 2008 and from OFA would be part of the party database. I won’t promise what I can’t deliver. What I will promise to you is that from the minute I am elected data will become a long term resource of the party. Data will be gathered and shared from year to year and campaign to campaign to make sure that we are effectively using the limited resources that we have.
7 – Coordination with OFA – I will address this more fully below.
4) Strategically, do you believe we ought to carefully choose our battles or that we ought to have a 100-County effort?
The 100 county strategy was started by Jerry Meek, and it is essential we bring that back. I have made it a priority to recruit quality candidates in all 100 counties, and to then provide those candidates with training. We are much more likely to win back the legislature and keep the Governor’s mansion if we have quality candidates everywhere, working in the community to explain Democratic principles and asking for people’s votes.
5) What are your fundraising goals, and how do you plan to achieve them? Numerical estimates are appreciated.
I don’t have a specific number goal, rather I would say that we need to have enough. It is obvious to me that even when you combine what the party raised in the 2010 cycle with the tax check off money that it was not nearly enough. We must greatly expand the size of our budget at the local and state level.
To do that, we must establish goals and have accountability. I plan on asking people from different regions and constituency groups to take on specific fundraising goals. I will also implement a training system based on the EMILY’s List model to help local candidates and county parties increase their fundraising capabilities. You can read more about my fundraising plans and more at www.billfaison.org/ThePlan
6) What qualities would you like to see in a new NCDP Executive Director?
The next Executive Director should be chosen with input from a number of people. As soon as I am elected I will convene a diverse committee to collect resumes and conduct interviews. I will not do what the previous chair did and ask for advice then ignore it in hiring decisions.
In terms of specific qualities, they must be dedicated and qualified for the job. They must be able to supervise the extra staff I will hire, but they also must be responsive to local leaders. Ideally they would also be capable of handling some of our fundraising and compliance needs so that the party can stop spending large amounts of money to outsource that work to consultants.
7) How exactly will you improve cooperation between the Party and OFA? Why should local candidates and campaigns believe that OFA will help them and vice versa?
Everyone I talk to has mentioned OFA as a source of potential help, but I have also heard of many problems in 2010. The first step is that the NCDP must create its own plan to get our candidates elected. We cannot think that just because Obama is on the ballot in 2012 that we will win a single down ballot race without hard work and planning. From what I have seen, local candidates have no reason to think that OFA will put their local campaign first.
OFA has a specific role to play in helping to motivate specific voters who are motivated by the President. We should work with them to make sure that down ballot races are not forgotten, but we should create our own plan to persuade and turn out everyone else.
8 ) SEC and state convention meetings see our elected officials most often when they are running for election. It suggests a disconnect in the party between the grassroots and elected officials. This impression is reinforced when resolutions debated, voted on and re-voted on at the county, district and state levels disappear down the memory hole once passed.
What responsibility do you believe elected Democrats have (when not running for office) for championing the concerns of grassroots party members, and
What would you do as chair to help ensure that our Council of State and legislative delegation work better with the party to reflect those concerns
I have carefully read the party platform and I feel very comfortable saying that the legislative agenda advanced by the Democratic House over the past six years has been very consistent with our NCDP Platform. I have glanced over the Resolutions but have not read those as carefully. The last set of Resolutions was passed in August 2010 after the Legislature had adjourned. Moreover, I do not recall anyone ever having sent a NCDP Resolution to the House members and certainly no one has ever appeared in my office to lobby for the passage of any Resolution passed by the NCDP.
Elected officials at all levels have to listen to the people who got elected if they expect to win reelection. As part of that I think it is my role as Party Chair to bridge that gap and make sure the Party is relevant to elections and that those elected officials are listening. What that means is being willing to sit down and take the requests of grassroots activists directly to any elected officials who are not listening, and to broker meetings between elected officials and local activists when necessary.
The most important thing I will do as Chair to bridge the gap between the Party and Elected Officials is to ask my friends in the General Assembly to help us win our state back. I already have received commitments from Representative Angela Bryant to help with candidate recruitment, Representative Rick Glazier to help with Redistricting and Former Representative Cullie Tarleton to use his media background to help our communications effort.