State Democrats can’t seem to catch a break. The legislature is in town, and with that they’re pretty much guaranteed to always get a beating. The only place they can win is in the forum of public opinion, where they’ve had a bad week. First it was the Blueprint NC memo scandal, which called for “eviscerating” and “crippling” the Republican leadership. The story pretty much dropped from the radar, until this came up. Apparently Randy Voller owes the feds a substantial amount in back taxes.
It was considered a breaking news story, but it really wasn’t. In fact, this was reported on over a month ago by Bob Geary of the liberal Indy Week. But obviously, this came as news to many people. Does this point to a flaw in the Democratic chairman selection process?
This post from former Hunt strategist Gary Pearce got a bit of attention. Pearce thinks Voller should resign, that the party needs to move on.
Voller’s response is that his financial difficulties give him insight into the problems with which average North Carolinians are dealing. But Pearce brings up a good point – most people in North Carolina don’t owe $300,000 in taxes. And if Voller can’t handle his own financial problems, how can he bring the state Democrats back from the brink of despair? The role of a party chairman, after all, is to raise money.
My view is this: if Democrats want Voller to resign, they’ll find a way to get him out. Right now there’s a battle between the party’s “old guard” and the grassroots, who often favor more progressive candidates. It’s clear from Voller’s weak victory over an undeclared candidate that many members of the old guard are wary of their new chairman. Will they be able to push him out?
This strikes me as a story that will go away pretty soon. But Democrats should be prepared to have this brought up every time their state chairman is mentioned in a news story. And it’s just one more embarrassment that they shouldn’t have to endure. Probably the only thing more embarrassing would be if Voller actually resigned. And, even though this is an embarrassment for Mr. Voller, there is precedent for a Democratic chairman not resigning over far more scandalous circumstances. The question is: how much confidence do state Democrats have in their new chairman? Are the benefits to a Voller resignation better than the alternative?
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.