And just when we thought the North Carolina Democratic Party was back on track, Randy Voller reminds us that he’s still chair. Yesterday, Voller, against the wishes of the executive committee, fired executive director Robert Dempsey. Apparently, Dempsey’s gotten too big for his britches, acting like he’s running the party or something.
Dempsey might not be perfect, but he’s the best thing that’s happened to the party since Voller became chair. (I know, I know. That’s not saying much.) Voller’s first months were marked by incompetence and embarrassing revelations. Dempsey began putting the house in order and people began taking North Carolina Democrats seriously again.
I don’t know Dempsey well. I’ve only met him once and spoken to him a few times on the phone. But he knows what he’s doing. He’s very professional. And he understands the role of the party and understands the job of executive director.
Since he’s been there, Dempsey’s overseen two major party fundraising events, the Western Gala last fall and the Sanford-Hunt-Frye Dinner last week. He’s respected by the staff, elected officials and other party officers. He was slowly rebuilding the trust that was lost under Voller and the previous chair.
Most importantly, Dempsey kept the party out of the headlines. Until now.
It was apparently too much for Voller. He needed to reestablish him self as buffoon-in-chief, since, you know, bad news is better than no news. At a time when Democrats should be rallying around their impressive candidates as the filing period opens, they’re focusing on more drama at the Goodwin House. The timing couldn’t be much worse.
Nobody’s saying much about the actual reasons for Dempsey’s dismissal. Rumors have it that Voller says he spent too much time with the Hagan campaign, that he didn’t raise enough money or that he slighted some people at the Sanford-Hunt-Frye Dinner. None of those seem fireable offenses, especially since Hagan is the top of the ticket, it’s Voller’s job to raise money and personal stuff needs to be put aside until after the election. Short of embezzlement, sexual harassment or some other grievous offense, Dempsey should stay through the cycle.
Voller may just be stupid, politically tone deaf and narcissistic. But what if he’s a Republican plant? It’s hard to imagine someone doing more to harm the credibility of the Democratic Party than Voller.
I’m just being facetious, but given the damage he’s done, what’s the difference?
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >