The illusion of power

by | Mar 11, 2014 | Democrats, Editor's Blog, NC Politics | 17 comments

I want to take a point of personal privilege here and get a few things straight.

I don’t hate Randy Voller. On personal level, I like the guy. I’ve known him for years, but I am as angry at him as I’ve been at anyone over politics. For me, watching the destruction of the party is painful.

The North Carolina Democratic Party has been part of my life since I was born. It’s part of my family’s lore. My father served as vice-chair of the Anson County Democratic Party and had a gun pulled on him at a rural precinct in the early 1960s when the county parties were charged with ensuring that African-Americans were allowed to vote. As a District Court and later Superior Court Judge, he ran on the Democratic ticket for more than 25 years. His brother, my uncle, served in both the state senate and state house during the 1950s and 1960s.

For many years, I never missed a precinct meeting because I was taught that was part of my civic responsibility. I’ve served as a precinct vice-chair and chair. I was Third Vice-chair of the Cleveland County Democratic Party. I stopped participating as regularly when I started making my living from campaigns. It’s hard to stay neutral in a primary when one candidate is your client.

And staying neutral, in both issues and primaries, is essential to the successful operation of a big tent party. The function of the State Party was always to elect Democrats of all stripes, from the Mike McIntyres to the Mel Watts of the party. The role of party chair was to serve as the face of the party without embarrassing or alienating any faction within it. The chair was also to serve as the bridge between the party activists, both donors and rank-and-file, and elected officials.

Now, two chairs in a row have brought national embarrassment to the party and made clear that there is a progressive litmus test for candidates. They’ve run off the donors, fired the the most competent and experienced staff and empowered a small group of wing-nuts who attack the press as liars and our top elected officials as DINOs. As one leading conservative said in an email to me yesterday, “This Voller guy is a godsend to the GOP…”

Drunk with the illusion of power, Voller and his minions can’t or won’t see the damage they’ve done. I yearn for a time when leaders would put the party ahead of themselves. I’m not sure we will see those days again.


  1. Leake Little

    I can’t imagine anyone working effectively with party operatives who respond as WAFRANKLIN in his or her comments to Mills’ concerns. The discussion of leadership is not a cause for rancor unless there is a leadership vacuum. Pointing out the obvious is not a crime – no such issue existed when Bert Bennett was involved. The traditional source of NC democratic power was populism – in education, the university system, improving the lives of workers, and investing in the progress of the state with the Research Triangle. There is no litmus test for liberalism that builds a big tent, that crosses the aisle, that wins elections. North Carolina needs a mainstream Democratic party that does not parse the funding of it’s successes. Money, by it’s very nature is amoral. If WAFRANKLIN’s remarks are to be believed the present party leadership is divided from the mainstream by ego and hubris.

  2. 3CD Chair

    well said Thomas

    Chris Hardee

    • Thomas Mills

      Thanks, Chris. Thanks for reading. Hope you’re doing well.


    I have the utmost respect for Thomas- who worked his tail off on my Senate primary campaign in 2008- and for Randy who has one of the sharpest minds of anyone I’ve met in North Carolina politics. Having said that I want to offer one blanket comment/criticism. There is an election in less than eight months people. Kay Hagan is at the top of the ballot. She absolutely has to hold that seat, no ifs ands or buts. Then there are the crucial races in the General Assembly in which Democrats have to pick-up seats to battle the blank-check that the GOP currently enjoys as it turns the clock back 50-75 years.

    Democratic donors who have supported state parties are turning to alternative independent committees in the wake of the expanded options afforded by the Citizens-United ruling. In addition, no matter who was chair of the NCDP they would face the reality that for the first time in a century, Democrats in Raleigh are effectively neutered: there’s no reason for self-interested donors (reality check: many of the NCDP’s legacy big donors have self-interests that influence the largess of their contributions) to throw money at a party which has no legislative power. This would present unprecedented challenges to whomever was chair of the NCDP.

    It is time to stop the bickering and finger-pointing. The clock is ticking and if Democrats can not set aside their grievances and work like hell to reelect Kay and candidates in down-ballot races, the GOP with its smaller numbers will prevail. And life will only get worse for the disenfranchised, poor, powerless adults and children in the state who need your helping hands now more than ever. They will suffer the most as is always the case.

    Circle the friggin wagons and get to work.



  4. Vicki Boyer

    AT this point, the attacks are doing more damage than Voller’s actions ever did.

    What we are going to have a hard time recovering from now, are the attacks themselves. They leave a lingering sense of angry energy in the minds of unaffiliated voters, and those are the people in whom we need to cultivate a sense of trust. All they are hearing is negativity.

    For the next 8 months, these attacks need to stop. You will have a chance to replace him at the next election for chair, and if that is what you want to do, you now have just over a year to plan, to recruit your Mr. Perfect Candidate For Chair. That is what we do in a democracy.

    But between now and the election, these attacks hurt the party more than Voller’s actions. Stop. Or you will be hurting all of us not just him.

  5. wafranklin

    No Mills, none of us are in power of anything! Nor do we want to be. We would like for the rules to be for everyone, including the lowly. It was the conduct of your crowd that drove me to respond to you people. I watched the destruction of Parker, then attempts by the same people on Voller. Pick up the damned phone and I will be glad to give you chapter and verse. If wrong, i will admit it. But, I have no truck or respect for many who ran the Democrats as Dixiecrats – and that is any time before 2000! The Democratic Party has far too much to answer for, as even you might admit. But, the other party, which has morphed into the Dixiecrats as I watched is now worse. But, first, I am grounded, but not in fantasies sewn around the beltway. Second, I know hatred and persecution at first hand – seen it, fought it. Third, There was NEVER anything which Voller has done to elicit the pure rancid hatred I have seen from supposedly ordinary people – egged on by people like you, Pearce, Wood, Geary, etc. and random other bloggers and reporters – like John Frank – who is being fed a diet of poison by Beth Woods. Taped interview on WUNC-State of things,
    with Frank. He is still flogging the same stuff, even when he knows it is lies and lies.

    And I do not object to your insanely stupid use of “wing’nut”. But answer this question: Who is feeding you and that coterie of political hacks which suddenly generate 6 or so attacks on Voller within one week of a major Party meeting. Odd do you not think??? More contrived by the enemies of the party. Sorry, Mills, I see bullshit, I call bullshit, and I flat out call it on you.

  6. Will

    Are you sure wafranklin isn’t a Republican plant? Seriously, how about using some of that righteous anger to improve the Democratic party. I’ve seen no character assassinations of Voller et al, only frustration with actual behavior. I’ve been a Democrat my entire life (age 60) and I’m ready to say enough.

  7. wafranklin

    For those who sing Mills praises, to hell with you. You have gotten sucked in completely. A series of attacks, all anti Voller have come from Bob Geary, Garry Pearce, John Frank of the N&O, all designed to hit about the time of the Executive Committee meeting. They have one single common factor – Her highness, Beth “the auditor” Wood is repeatedly been quoted, so I strongly suspect this is Beth, on behalf of other members of the COS, trying to inflict wounds and whatever on Voller. She is steamed that they let Dempsey go — and for a number of very good reasons, the least being severe loyalty to his employer, Chair Voller. Now he is being carried around by the Malcont Caucus as if he were a religious relic. We got Casey Mann now, and she is about 5 times the Director and man Dempsey is-was. Now, we have here, Mills and another hatchet job on Voller. Mills: I told you that Wood and the other Malcontent Caucus, which includes Elaine, were behind most of the mischief since the attempted assassination of David Parker in 2012 trying to take all the remaining Tax Check Off Funds from the voters and counties. This crowd, including Szlosberg and the YDs have done all they can in a year to destroy, personally destroy Randy Voller. Reason, he is not 6’3, 185 pounds, in a bespoke suit, with a Pompadour blow dried hair cut and smooth face, you know all the important things to a bunch of socialites and monied people warped out of their minds because they are not in control.

    This crowd has caused the problems in the Democratic Party and its current state of Penury. They said they would do this. The told the large donors to NOT give to the NCDP, always phrasing it as if Randy Voller is a thief. So, Mills, take this back and tell Beth Wood to shove it, hard and quick; You have once again shamed yourself terribly. But, since you hangout with shitheads, you should not care.

    • nancy g rorie

      I’m laughing out loud, W.A. Franklin “For those who sing Mills praises, to hell with you.” If I get there first, I’ll hold the door open for you — and you do the same for me. Thanks in advance. (Still chuckling.)

  8. nancy g. rorie

    Thank you, Thomas. You spoke the truth.

  9. Robert Kellogg

    If it were just one or two small incidents the chorus of those singing the praises of Chairman Voller as a victim of a grand conspiracy to dethrone him from power might ring true. At this point the daily barrage of blunders, missteps, PR gaffes, Media articles and controversies tell a much different story. Where there is smoke there is fire. It can’t all be lies and conspiracies. At some point personal responsibility and party accountability must demand answers and action. True leadership unites and works to bring all factions together……pride and personal agendas work to promote self over the party!

    • nancy g. rorie

      Well said.

  10. Betsy Muse

    Thank you, Thomas

    • wafranklin

      Thought you were sane Betsy.

  11. heather stewart

    If what you say were true, I would agree, but it is not true. The attacks on Randy began well before he was elected, continuing with false allegations, some resulted in libel suits. The staff that left were not fired as you allege, they were in positions which were eliminated or they failed to show up for work, and resigned.

    When the press in inaccurate, that should be pointed out. So far, Randy’s people have been accurate in every instance. He has never failed to support Kay Hagan, either, so that link is somewhat mysterious.

    If you have been embarrassed, your argument lies with those who feel his election was somehow an accident, not the free choice of the SEC, and who continue their campaign of sabotage against the Party. Take it up with them. From the first ‘tweet’ misrepresenting Voller’s speech in Greensboro to the inaccurate ‘text’ misrepresenting the number of EC members at Sunday’s meeting and status Goodwin House, the inaccuracies and deliberate lies came from there.

    Do not blame the victim for bloodying the floor, blame the guy holding the shotgun.

    I yearn for the time when those who lost previous elections to the GOP and within the Democratic Party itself will realize the Party represents all the people of this state, not just the Wake County country club Democrats.

    • Lucia Messina

      Thank you , Heather. This is really a white and black issue, as in good vs evil. I have never seen such blatant lies about the NCDP , Parker and Voller. The only reason there was national embarrassment about the NCDP was because the Democrats that didn’t want Parker or Voller to be Chairmen , made it that way. The most ludcirous statement by Mills , is, how he yearns for the leaders to put the Party before themselves ….. does Mills really believe this is not what happened in the past! Certainly,the recent past , we (NC) lost in the last 2 elections because of the self serving actions by the NCDP staff , national and statewide elected officals and organizations, who used NC for all the money they could find and all the volunteers they could use.
      NC suffers because the NCDP did not and was not allowed to do its mission – to elect statewide Democrats. Maybe we can get back to the task at hand, with a new ED and a direction to make sure that all the statewide candidates have the resources to run on.

      The history of Mr. Mills support of the Party in NC is certainly commendable, but I am sure that lots of families in NC can tell their own tales, I know I can. If, Mr. Mills is so concerned about the Party, it is time for him to stop trying to tear it apart. Losing to the GOP in the next election, just may be part of your legacy for NC.

  12. Mike


Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!