David Parker, 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 are posted in the order they were received.
Our third and final installment features a one-day tardy David Parker. His website is here. I invited all the candidates to send photos and/or video, and Mr. Parker attached this to his responses:
1) What are the primary duties of a State Party Chair?
The NCDP Plan of Organization §4.05 sets out the official duties of the State Chair, but, of course, those duties are only a de minimus outline of what the State Chair should be doing. I believe that the State Chair should work in all three main areas of the party’s business:
Message – what do we stand for? A mushy message will not attract swing voters, attract contributors, or inspire people to work. FDR’s list of core values in his four freedoms speech is a great place to start any Platform discussion.
Money – money is, for better or for worse, the mother’s milk of politics. Having raised money for numerous political and civic campaigns, I know that there is no one formula – fancy dress fundraisers are an important component, but small dollar fundraising drove the Obama team to victory. It takes every level – and small dollar fundraising is a great way to build organization as well.
Members – although Will Rogers’ statement about belonging to no organized Party as a Democrat is fun to quote, our organizational work on the ground carried Obama and the rest of our ticket in 2008 when accompanied by “air support” messaging over the air and internet. There is a reason that the Legislative Caucus’ campaigns won 52 out of 120 seats in the House and 20 out of 50 in the State Senate while the Congressionals were winning 8 out of 13 seats: the volunteer work made the difference. In 2012, we will compel OFA to help down-ballot and to train on local races to cut the disparity. Only by working together can victory be achieved.
2) What distinguishes you from the other candidates in this race?
Experience in the Party trenches and in numerous campaigns over the years in tough races. Having been a precinct committee member in Orange (Rebecca Clark was my mentor when I was 21 – and a patient and wonderful person to learn from), a precinct Chair in Iredell (where we turned the precinct around with election day poll-watchers coordinating with calling identified voters for GOTV from 3×5 cards), and a County Chair in Iredell (where we turned an environmental stance of the Republicans to our advantage and took back a State House seat, the Register of Deeds, the Clerk of Court and the Sheriff), I know the value of Party work.
Experience raising money. I have raised small dollar money (the “Peanut Brigade”) as a staff person with the Carter campaign in 1976 that stopped George Wallace once and for all, raised $2.5 million in the Sanford campaign (mostly with Regional Finance Chairs – just as I would attack large dollar fundraising as Party Chair), worked walks for America as March of Dimes regional Chair, implemented the Mitchell Community College Endowment while Board Chair.
Experience in messaging. During the Sanford campaign, I was the campaign spokesman but of more relevance is my experience during the 2008 Super Delegate period when I was interviewed on CNN, FoxNews, ABCNews, local TV and for national papers including the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times where I was quoted. A montage of those interviews may be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t8xXsjsfGg&feature=related . A foretaste of my approach against the Republicans is also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6wop9Sjv5E&feature=player_embedded . I enjoy press interviews and have continued to do interviews with New14 on the Charlotte Convention and other issues.
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
Sorry: these are impossible to prioritize. The Democratic Party is like a three legged stool – each leg has to be of equal length and strength – Members (organization), Message and Media – in no particular order. The seat on the stool is the Party Platform. Without the seat, the legs fall over. And our candidates stand on the Platform.
We must have all ballot slots in all 100 counties filled: making the GOP defend its base in pulsating red counties is essential – we make them spend resources and every once in a while, we score an upset and start the long process of returning our State to prosperity.
Coordination with OFA involves all three, but primarily Members (organization) – I have begun productive conversations with OFA and anticipate running closely with Obama across North Carolina. If we run and hide, we assure defeat. OFA must integrate local folks, train on local politics, call for local candidates, and be mindful that we need to prepare for 30 months from now when, in July of 2013, we need to have a well-functioning Party for the 2014 off-year elections to avoid the 2010 set-backs.
4) Strategically, do you believe we ought to carefully choose our battles or that we ought to have a 100-County effort?
100 Counties (see above). Consultants always want to target the major counties and the key precincts in those counties as well, leaving the rest of us to fight alone and without adequate resources. Howard Dean’s 50-State strategy and Jerry Meek’s 100 County strategy were key precursors to my efforts to support the District Chairs in distributing the Tax Check Off Moneys to the Districts and Counties – over the objection of the Legislature that wanted to stack the Committee to overrule the District Chairs. I will support the elected District and County Chairs via the Tax Check Off Committee and the creation of an Association of County Chairs (see my “First 30 Minutes” Plan under the Media tab at www.voterparker.com
5) What are your fundraising goals, and how do you plan to achieve them? Numerical estimates are appreciated.
Our 2011 Budget for the Party as submitted to the Executive Council (in large part because the District Chairs that I supported demanded notice of the budget 30 days ahead of the SEC Meeting and we got the Executive Council to pass that as a Party Rule) is for $100,000 per month for a total of $1.2 million. The several thousand dollars raised from PAC’;s and lobbyists this past Thursday night at the Goodwin House will not even carry us through a week! It takes more than just an email and a few calls to PAC’s to generate money – but I will call PAC’s and lobbyists starting the day I am elected to raise money.
I have talked with numerous large dollar fundraisers in North Carolina – starting with the “heavy hitters” that raised money for Obama, Clinton and the Governor’s race in this and past years. They are ready to go and want to see an activist Chair that will run closely with the President – that I will do unequivocally. I have also talked about staffing ideas for Fundraising because we are without a Finance Director and have a blank slate in that department.
I will attack getting the $3 Check-off Campaign vigorously prosecuted across NC – my theme will be “Did you know you can vote for who spends your tax money in North Carolina? Well, you can – when you check off the Democratic box on your NC tax return, you are voting Democratic with your pocketbook.” Vote Democratic on Tax Day – it will make all the difference.”
We can use pledgers for the $3 as a base for Membership activity and fundraising – and give precincts something concrete to do and a reason for being active in the off-season.
6) What qualities would you like to see in a new NCDP Executive Director?
Experience in the Party and in campaigns. Maturity to be able to manage a staff during a rigorous election cycle in which we will likely be an Obama target State and may even be hosting the National Convention. I will ask the State Executive Council, which must approve the choice of ED, to develop a personnel guide at our first meeting which will be January 30, 2011 – the day after the SEC Meeting. The work does not wait – it begins immediately.
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?
I have begun productive conversations with OFA and anticipate running closely with Obama across North Carolina. If we run and hide, we assure defeat. OFA must integrate local folks, train on local politics, call for local candidates, and be mindful that we need to prepare for 30 months from now when, in July of 2013, we need to have a well-functioning Party for the 2014 off-year elections to avoid the 2010 set-backs. Party building is a necessary component.
In 2010 North Carolina and Pennsylvania coordinated OFA and local campaigns as a test-case. The resulting carrying of 8 of 13 Congressional seats is a testament to the work done but the failure to carry the Legislature and the loss of so many County Commission seats and Courthouse jobs indicates a failure to integerate local issues and candidates into the calling and training. This we can and will change.
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?
The Plan of Organization (§8.02) creates a State Legislative Policy Committee. It has very rarely met. I will call for it to meet immediately to discuss Legislative Policy and the integration of the party’s Platform and messaging with that of the General Assembly Democrats. Until the Legislature meets with the Party, which it has declined to do in the past, the Committee’s work will not succeed – I will do everything that I can to persuade our Democratic House and Senate leaders to meet. I have talked with legislators in the General Assembly leadership and they have told me that they look forward to working with me if I am elected Chair of the State Party.
Part of the duties of the State Chair under Plan §4.05 is to (9) Serve as a spokesperson for the state party and (11) Encourage communication to all interested persons and organizations relating to party activities and political and policy positions of the state party. This is a mandate for the Chair to promote the Platform and Resolutions of the Party, including voting for them and advocating for them regardless of the Chair’s personal opinion.
Our message must be clarion clear. It has been said that if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will gird for battle? We must make a “certain sound” through our Platform and the Chair’s advocacy of it.