Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eighth District Convention Rocks, Rolls Onward to Fall Victory

Eighth District Democrats parachuted (an apropos verb for the district that’s home to Fort Bragg) into Cabarrus County for the district’s annual convention this past weekend.

What heralded this convention – which historically is exciting and well-attended anyway – was the extra-palpable infusion of energy and zest: Delegates from ten counties applauded every word emanating from local and statewide candidates, underscoring their enthusiasm for what should be – by every measure – a victorious year for Democrats.

To get things started, District First Vice Chair June Mabry welcomed everyone. We also received words of encouragement from the Mayor of Concord, Scott Padgett.

I extend my particular appreciation to June Mabry heading into this convention because she helped lead the executive committee in my absence. As folks may recall, at the time I was thrust into the race for NC Insurance Commissioner on February 29th I was serving as Chairman of the 8th District. In keeping with the Plan of Organization, I temporarily stepped aside from the chairmanship during the pendency of the primary challenge I had. By action of the convention on May 17, the district voted to allow my resumption of and completion of my term as chairman.

Meanwhile, most certainly due a tremendous round of applause are the district hosts: the Cabarrus County Democratic Party. County chair Wendy Wood, Dr. Grace Liem, and their many colleagues helped turn Troutman’s BBQ Restaurant into a terrific convention hall. (The convention continues my theory that any successful political event in North Carolina merely needs a tincture of BBQ, chicken, hushpuppies, banana pudding and sweet tea to be successful.)

We also received inspiring words from a number of candidates. Among them were: State Sen. Kay Hagan, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate against Liddy Dole; Agriculture Commissioner candidate Ronnie Ansley; Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand; District Court Judge Kristin Ruth and Utilities Commissioner Jimmy Ervin, candidates for NC Court of Appeals; and the Eighth District’s next U.S. Congressman, Larry Kissell.

As the Democratic Party’s nominee for NC Insurance Commissioner I also offered some insights. Everyone agreed that North Carolinians cannot afford a Republican Insurance Commissioner, particularly when that Republican candidate is someone who has pledged to change Jim Long’s Department of Insurance and its focus on consumer protection. Receiving the most applause from my remarks was acknowledgement of my wife, State Representative Melanie Wade Goodwin, and our newborn son, Jackson.

State Representatives Doug Yongue, Pryor Gibson, and Rick Glazier joined Sen. William Purcell in attendance as well.

I also commend the dedication, sincerity, enthusiasm, and politeness of all the folks seeking to become delegates for both the Obama and Clinton camps. In all my years as a Democratic activist never have I seen such explosion of interest for a presidential race. This all bodes very well for us in November, not to mention the tidal wave of newly-registered voters in all categories, most particularly in the under-30 age bracket. (Also of note: When asked to self-identify at the district convention, approximately 5-10% of those district delegates in attendance were completely NEW to the political process!)

After concluding the other business of the district, Democrats spent the next two hours winnowing the large array of national convention delegate candidates down to our selections. Kudos to Rand, Rep. Rick Glazier, Wendy Wood, and June Mabry for helping the crowd of 300 folks navigate through the maze of delegate selection rules.

With the plan of re-uniting for the State Convention on June 21 in New Bern and with the intent of rotating around the district in the years to come, the assembled Democrats wisely decided to hold its 2009 district gathering in Cumberland County.

All in all, the Eighth Congressional District Convention held steadfast to its theme for 2008: Teamwork to Make the Dream Work.


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