Comrade Voller

by | Feb 11, 2014 | 2014 Elections, Democrats, Editor's Blog, NC Politics | 9 comments

Ever notice how Randy Voller looks like an overweight Vladimir Lenin? Well, now you can notice how his leadership style mimics the Bolshevik leader also. Voller has decided that he’s dictator of the Democratic Party.

First, he fired a competent executive director with little support from the staff or executive committee. Now, he’s hiring a guy with no experience in political campaigns to  run the organization charged with leading the state in electing Democrats. Again, Voller’s got little support.

Oh, and did I mention that the new ED has a history of sexual harassment complaints? Didn’t we just have a problem with that at the party? And did I also mention that one of those claims was made while he was a lieutenant of Louis Farrakhan, the homophobic, anti-semitic leader of the Nation of Islam? 

Maybe Ben Chavis has just been a victim of circumstance. He was certainly a victim of North Carolina’s legacy of racism. But that doesn’t qualify him to be ED of the Party. He’s a controversial figure coming into a party that needs stability, not headlines. The role of executive director is operational, not inspirational. His role will be to oversee the day-to-day operation of the state party and to elect candidates, not promote an agenda or organize a movement.

That’s the role of the NAACP and Moral Mondays. They are doing a damn good job. Now somebody needs to build a GOTV operation, develop a message and provide a lot of Democratic candidates cover while they try to organize campaigns. That’s the role of the party.

Randy Voller quite clearly sees himself as an autocratic leader who is not responsible to anyone. Robert Dempsey was hired after an extensive search process and he was vetted by the executive committee. This time, Voller’s chucked the process aside and is making unilateral decisions that ignore any protocol.

Voller’s far more interested in being around famous people than he is in rebuilding the Democratic Party. At a time when Democrats need someone with a single-minded focus on electing candidates, they have a guy bent on ideological purity and self-promotion. He’s quickly doing to Democrats what the Tea Party did to Republicans.


  1. Chris Telesca

    So Polly I guess you are a donor. Nice to know that. You say that you don’t care about consultants, but you do care about values and victory. Yet all I hear from the consultant class is that consultants do matter – who is hired to work at NCDP or a campaign does matter.

    You say you care about values – whose values? Who decides what values make up our “brand”? Do the big donors decide what our “brand” is – whether or not they are party officers or delegates – or do the party officers or delegates decide through the democratic process?

    What happens when we had 112 years of victory, but we had Democrats in public office who weren’t turning our party platform into public policy? Why was there no collective bargaining, universal health care, investment in infrastructure, cleaning up hog lagoons, etc.?

    You talk about moral force. What moral force did we have when we looked the other way when our elected politicians and their consultants or staffers were taking bribes from big donors?

    We don’t have weak moral force when we are cleaning house at NCDP. It takes strong moral force to attempt to change old habits. It’s work that needed to be done a long time ago much more thoroughly. But it’s finally getting done now.

    Funny you should mention how fundraising was going among small donors. They aren’t doing any, or doing very little. There was a recurring small dollar program created by the Taxpayer Checkoff Committee. The TCOC voted to approve it – so did NCDP Chair Voller. Sen. Nesbitt and Rep. Hall thought it was a good idea too! Every dollar donated would be split roughly equally between the House Caucus, Senate Caucus, NCDP, and the Districts for GOTV.

    $60K in the form of a loan from the TCOC was invested in the program in early June. Where is the program? The staff didn’t like it – so they didn’t do what they were supposed to do to get it up and running. For 8 months.

    The staff didn’t like that half the Taxpayer Checkoff money was under control of the District Chairs. Caucus staffers tried to change that in 2009, and it caused quite a ruckus. David Parker stepped in to help with that back in 2010 – drawing a big bulls eye on his back because the consultants used to regard that money as theirs.

    If you supervised people and told them to do something in June and gave them the money to do it and it hadn’t been done by February – after 8 months of one excuse after the other – what would you do?

    • Martin Hunter

      “What happens when we had 112 years of victory, but we had Democrats in public office who weren’t turning our party platform into public policy?” You paint with an overly broad brush – Kerr Scott, Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt come immediately to mind as exceptions to your statement, as do Leslie Winner, Mel Watt and Howard Lee. That’s not to say that things have always been rosy. I’m certainly in favor of much tougher environmental regulation, living wages for teachers, etc. As just a “regular person” who votes and donates to particular candidates, and wants a Democratic comeback, I am dismayed by this latest turn of events. I don’t think the appointment of an ex-Nation of Islam leader is going to play very well with the rank-and-file person in North Carolina. Being a former leader of the Nation of Islam is a problem. It is anti-Semitic. I voted against Amendment One. I don’t think that the Nation of Islam is exactly gay-friendly. I don’t think having a party chair who has tax lien issues and used the party’s AmEx card in a trip to Vegas fits with my values either. There’s just too much baggage for me – or for many regular people – to be comfortable with Chairman Voller or Benjamin Chavis. Kay Hagen, Roy Cooper, Elaine Marshall, Jimmy Ervin and others deserve better from their state party. I expect that many of us “regular people” will continue to vote for and contribute to individual candidates and try to ignore the state party mess.

    • Paleo Tek

      Chris, you obviously know a lot of inside baseball here, but for those of us outside the Beltline, there is a terrible perception problem with Voldemort, er, Vole, I mean Voller. The perception HE HAS CREATED is one of arrogance and incompetence. You’ve done a fine job attacking everyone who criticizes him. Do YOU think he’s doing a good job? Why?

      Martin Hunter nails it. Someone with an anti-Semite, anti-gay, serial sexual harassment settlement history simply stinks as a choice for this administrative position. He’s guaranteed to tee off the progressive youngsters and the old guard both. This is a job that needs to execute well IN THE BACKGROUND. The job of party officials is to make the organization run, not to bask in the limelight and run up credit cards in Las Vegas. Voller and Chavis aren’t the right people for these positions. We deserve better.

      • Ceva

        Paleo, word of warning. Do not engage the troll, he’s a Voller devotee. Voller has run the party off the track and those who refuse to acknowledge it are part of the problem. Now watch, the troll will focus his vitriol on me next.

      • Chris Telesca

        Paleo: Voller isn’t creating the terrible perception problem. The people who are making a mountain out of a molehill are the ones doing that. If OFA and the Obama campaign can go to Vegas in October 2012 for a fundraiser for President Obama and incur legitimate campaign expenses for both the advance scouting trip and the fundraiser itself, why can’t Randy Voller go to Vegas to explore the option of a Vegas fundraiser 5 months after OFA does it?

        I think he’s doing a good job, but he’s not doing the best job he could be doing. He’s has had and continues to have an enormous handicap with the folks objecting to everything he does just like the Republicans are objecting to everything President Obama does or says!

        Then there is the staff that has been doing whatever the hell they wanted to – even when given specific instructions to do something else by Randy or other officers! Geeze – I remember sitting around for nearly half a day as a volunteer because some of the staff screwed up a print order for some JJ table decorations. They were told to order 3×5 B&W prints to fit on the frames, but these geniuses decided they knew better – so they ordered 5×7 color prints.

        Then the SEC meeting originally scheduled for June in Greensboro had to be rescheduled to August because a former staffer FORGOT to reserve the convention and hotel rooms early enough!

        Then there was the 8 month hold-up on the recurring small dollar donor program. After $60K was loaned to the House and Senate Caucuses and the NCDP to start up the program, nothing was done other than make excuses.

        Then there was the foul-ups at the August SEC meeting/Sanford-Hunt Frye Dinner, along with the ones at the February SEC/SHF in Charlotte a few weeks ago. And up on the schedule for the rest of the year was a state convention in June – but where is the other SEC meeting that is usually scheduled the same weekend? Why not schedule the District Conventions a little later in May (after the May primary and after Mother’s Day), then schedule the State Convention & SEC meeting (and maybe a nice low-dollar pig-picking) on a weekend later on in June (or even in July)? What’s the rush?

        And when Randy tries to get the staff to do what needs to be done (correct their screw-ups that he either sees or people complain to him about), he is accused of being a bully.

        And speaking of Ben Chavis, I certainly think that his pros and cons should have been considered along with other interested candidates. Funny thing – the folks who objected the loudest to Dr. Ben Chavis being considered as ED didn’t do or say a damned thing when he was a speaker at the August SEC meeting. He had been pardoned by Governor Perdue along with the rest of the Wilmington 10 – but too bad no one could pardon him for other stuff he was only alleged to have done!

        The ED’s job is to do whatever the hell the Chair and the Executive Council tell him or her to do. If you aren’t on the Executive Council, you don’t have a vote. You can tell them how you feel, but that’s about it – short of voting them out of their offices the next time things come around. There are pros and cons for everyone. The Chair and Exec Council should have been allowed to do their job without folks throwing racists rants at them.

        • Chris Telesca

          And do you think that the Exec Council members were taking the time to check and see if the rants directed towards them were coming from SEC members, party officers or delegates? The opinions of consultants and contractors who may not even be registered to vote shouldn’t matter!

  2. Carolina Polly

    The money won’t be coming back to the party as it is outside the party structure. Donors really don’t care about the consultants, we care about values and victory. We can’t make forceful arguments about the republicans self interest and self dealing when we have such weak moral force. The question is whether you want the money in the party.

    We don’t need Ben Chavis and his record to further damage our brand. That’s the best we can do? They just ran a hiring process and now he makes a snap decision to put someone in place out of left field. Not vetted, not discussed.

    All this drama and incompetence is beneath the ability of a rookie supervisor at any company. The governance issues will further damage the brand of the party. We have a Chair interested in his personal agenda and frankly lacking the business ability to run this organization. It’s a tragedy really.

    The central question is whether he is competent, capable and the best we can do. No one wants the job as its’ a world of inside drama. Don’t be surprised when money continues to flee. How is fundraising among small donors? Not so hot either. Just wait until the check off is gone…..

  3. Chris Telesca

    Wow Thomas! As if you didn’t know that one of your buddies created a fake Twitter account for “Vladimir Voller” back in April. Do you really think that enough time has passed before you bring this up? Picking on someone based on their weight?

    The party’s role is whatever the officers and delegates say it is. We rejected that “campaign-only” mode years ago. The party has to be about more than just electing Democrats to office. Otherwise how do we hold our candidates accountable for what they do once elected?

    There were allegations of sexual harassment made against Chavis – just like their were allegations of sexual harassment made at NCDP. Allegations is the operative word – none were ever proven. And Ortega’s lawsuits against Parker and NCDP were either dismissed or withdrawn. And funny thing – right after that happened, Ortega’s lawyer quit his post at Public Safety.

    Thomas – you are or were a paid political operative. It must really suck to realize that your friends who are also paid political operatives lost the majority back in 2010 and aren’t Kings of the Hill anymore. You’ve got to pay your bills without the transactional donors supporting the Party and our candidates. I know you and your friends want to go back to the good old days when money was so plentiful that it literally fell out of the ceiling in a pancake house men’s room. But even when Democrats take back the majority, those days are over. The “wacktivists” are taking back our party and we aren’t giving it back to big donors or the consultants. So you had better make your peace with that and figure out how your skills can be put to good use in the new paradigm.

  4. Will Hurley

    And I thought “circular firing squad” was a phrase reserved for Republicans. It’s so disheartening to see Democratic leaders of such poor quality in this time when we are so desperate for change in NC. And I use poor quality to describe their political acumen, not them as persons.

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