Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention News

Saturday I had the chance to attend the Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention. It was the second time in twenty years I have attended, though when I was younger I used to attend each year. I attended as a non-voting delegate. I'm glad I went. While I don't enjoy the politicking by the people who want to run the local party, I do enjoy meeting candidates for public office. The atmosphere was filled with the noise of enthusiastic candidates and Democrats excited about our chances in November.

First, thank you to those board members and volunteers who organized the meeting. It ran smoothly from an outsiders perspective. After meeting some candidates in the atrium of the Government Center the meeting began with an invocation (yes, we Democrats do seek council from a higher being), the singing of our national anthem and the recitation of the pledge of allegiance (yes, we Democrats did say "under God") Michael Evans, the current chair of the party, started with a pep talk. He gave a brief power point presentation and consistently drove home the theme of voting for Democrats in November. I would have been shocked if he had said otherwise.

While the crowd was smaller than I anticipated it was very spirited. One thing that stood out to me was the absence of so many of our candidates who either didn't have an opponent in November or who were elected this past November. I would think that attending the county convention would be required for these people who rely on the party and the core of volunteers gathered on Saturday. I understand busy schedules. I have one. The City Council members not in attendance were Warren Turner, Michael Barnes and James Mitchell - though he had a table and supporters there and he bought an ad in the program. From what I remember the only NC House candidates not in attendance were Becky Carney and Jim Black. I'll give Jim a pass since he has so much going on.

As I mentioned above, I don't get into the little party leadership type politics. It is kinda funny to sit back and watch them running around trying to line up votes as if the whole of the free world depended on it. I'm not making fun...I'm just saying...let's keep some perspective people. OK...maybe I am making just a little bit of fun.

Speaking of local party, I heard quite often people expressing surprise and dismay that other Democrats were calling for Jim Black to resign either his leadership as Speaker or his seat in the N.C. House. It was almost as if nothing existed outside Mecklenburg County politics. I'm surprised that so few have an understanding of state politics as a whole or a feeling for just how critical this election is going to be. Democrats have a very tenuous hold on our majority in the N.C. House and most areas of our state are very conservative. If you go east or west of Mecklenburg County you immediately see red and those people running for a House seat are getting hammered by their opponents to take a stand on this issue. Sometimes, you have to look at the health of the party as a whole to decide what is best, instead of keeping a local view. I believe in offering support for Speaker Black as a family of Democrats, but I see maintaining our majority in Raleigh as a little more critical than keeping power in Mecklenburg County.

All in all, I'm proud that my local party voted to support Speaker Jim Black, support our troops in Iraq and bring them home within the year, to appeal for climate protection, the need for a living wage and to support a woman's reproductive freedom. Most importantly, our local party voted to support Senator Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush. That is nothing to laugh about and I commend the voting delegates for taking the step that so many wait-and-see Democrats in the Senate have failed to take.

The highlight of the day was a rousing speech by my Representative in the U.S. House, Mel Watt. I'll be writing more about that later today. If you would like to see pictures from the convention, please go to the MCDP web site. If you do not live in Mecklenburg County, please consider attending the county convention in your area even if you aren't a voting delegate. You will get a chance to meet candidates for office and find some inspiration among the hard-working volunteers that run your local party. You will find a convention schedule at the NCDP web site.


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