Lawmakers urge black Democrats to unite

Lawmakers urge black Democrats to unite
November 25
00:00 2015
above: Dan Blue and Larry Hall

By Cash Michaels

For The Chronicle

“I know that if I don’t protect my freedom, no one is going to be as interested in it as I am.”

And with those words, state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) urged members at Nov. 14th’s Bi-Annual Convention of the State African-American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party (AAC-NCDP) in Chapel Hill to come together, and organize for the crucial 2016 elections.

North Carolina will see March primaries, in addition to gubernatorial, presidential, congressional and legislative races. With Republicans already in charge of the Governor’s Office and in the majority of the state General Assembly, Sen. Blue and other black Democratic Party leaders made it clear at the AAC-NCDP Convention that turning out the vote was crucial to stopping what many believe to be regressive GOP policies.

Blue made it clear that despite protestations to the contrary, many of the laws passed by the Republicans in the Legislature, and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory – like the 2013 voting restrictions, and 2011 redistricting plans “stacking and packing” black voters into a handful of voting districts – are racially based and inhibit the rights and citizenship of African-Americans in North Carolina.

Blue said there are currently 16 Democrats in the state Senate and they’ve identified eight seats that they feel are winnable to give them the majority in the 50-member state Senate come 2016. Because each campaign could cost upwards of over $1 million to fund, the statewide effort is currently underway to make sure that adequate campaign war chests are in place to unseat each Republican incumbent.

Since many African-Americans have now been redistricted to majority black voting districts, Sen. Blue asked that they use their influence outside of their districts to help elect the eight Democrats needed. “I don’t care what color they are … you can tell them that the future of their kids and grandkids depends on what they’re willing to do.”

“It doesn’t matter who the governor is [if we don’t have] some real direction where the state is going if we don’t change the General Assembly,” Blue insisted. “If we pick up four or five more [Democratic] senators, we will have an affect on what direction this state is going in. If we pick up our eight or nine, we will have control.”

The challenge for Democrats to retake the state House is no less daunting, said House Minority Leader Larry Hall (D-Durham). There are currently 45 Democrats in the house, compared to the 74-member Republican majority, so compared to the state Senate, the ground that must be made up to regain Democratic control is considerable. And given how the districts are drawn to protect Republican seats, it’s not likely Democrats will take 30 seats or more in the 2016 elections, observers say.

But Rep. Hall told AAC-NCDP members from across the state that even a few House gains can give Democrats more influence on what shape future public policy takes.

“We work, we win,” Hall had the audience repeat after him. “Don’t let anybody tell you there is no hope.” The Minority Leader reminded them that of all of the Republican-dominated state legislatures across the nation, the NC House was the only one in 2014 to pick up Democratic seats, in this case three.

“So we know what the formula is. We’ve got to pick up at least four more seats,” he said.

Rep. Hall stressed the importance of working at the precinct and county levels to strengthen local organizing to get out the vote. But he also made clear that House Democrats were committed to do their part to help “ … move North Carolina forward.”

“You’ve seen what’s been happening in the headlines. It’s much worse than you know, the graft and corruption happening in our General Assembly through our [Republican] leadership there …” Hall charged, adding that he believed that wrongdoing was also taking place in Gov. McCrory’s office was well.

“It’s beyond belief, it’s disrespectful to the people of North Carolina, and we will not stand for it,” Hall declared, noting that the FBI was already investigating allegations that the governor unduly influenced the extension of a contract a donor had with the prison system. McCrory has denied this.

“We’re going to continue to stand and make sure that North Carolinians get a fair shake from their leadership,” Rep. Hall vowed. “But everybody in your household should be registered to vote.”

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors