What Should Democrats Do?

by | Feb 8, 2013 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features | 2 comments


This is what Democrats are asking themselves after a weekend where they elected their new chairman, Randy Voller. Unfortunately, Democrats are pretty much screwed at the legislative level. Sure, it’s possible that absolutely everything could go right and they end up winning the requisite number of seats to take back the legislature (the Senate at this point is much more obtainable than the House, though still a real stretch).

They can at least console themselves that they have a formidable bench for 2016. Roy Cooper, Janet Cowell, and even Anthony Foxx would make strong candidates (so long as he stops moaning about his streetcar). With metropolitan areas in North Carolina becoming more powerful, Democrats will have an endless source of mayoral candidates who could perform strongly in races for higher office.

But none of this really matters at all if McCrory is popular by the time 2016 rolls around. Voters never oust a popular incumbent, no matter how beloved the challenger is.

Of course, they don’t have to wait until 2016, and there are a number of things they can do in the short term. They need to raise money like hell, which is difficult for the minority party, and their new chairman’s fundraising prowess is untested. They need to register as many new voters for their side as possible – their ability to do this without Obama on the ticket is again, untested. And they need to defend Senator Kay Hagan.

Many Democrats are confident that no matter how elections they lose, time is on their side. Gradually a demographic tidal wave will wash away conservatism forever, and in its wake America will be reborn, a diverse utopia of high speed rail and universal health care. But counting on some future date is always folly. This is the sort of complacency that lost them their majority at the state level in 2010. Democrats need to face the fact that the political scene in North Carolina has been turned completely upside down, and if they want to take back this state, they need to hit the ground running – hard.


  1. russgottfried

    Thanks for the comment! Although past Insurance Commissioners haven’t been too successful at winning higher office (see Ingram, John), Goodwin could prove to be an exception. That he has a rural background is probably an asset to many voters (and State Fire Marshal isn’t a bad title either!).

    I’ll have a more comprehensive post on the Democratic bench out soon.

  2. John Q Patriot

    The Democratic bench in 2016 is much deeper than you let on. Don’t forget North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, whom D.G. Martin and other pundits have included on their short list of gubernatorial prospects in 2016 and 2020. Not only is he a better and more inspirational speaker than Cowell, for example, but Goodwin has developed a populist, bipartisan appeal. He is also a true North Carolina native, not the case among some of the political prospects mentioned by both major political parties in the state these days. Goodwin’s personal story is one that voters can – and will – relate to. Don’t count him out.

    Plus there are other Democrats on the horizon who were caught up in the bottle neck of state electoral politics over the last 15 years. Due to the 2010 and 2012 election results, many of those Democrats are ready for prime time. The North Carolina bench is deeper than many realize.

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