The Pols Better Catch Up in North Carolina

You’ve probably heard of the Moral Mondays phenomenon in North Carolina, a remarkably broad-based protest movement aimed at dramatizing and resisting the sharp rightward turn taken by the Tar Heel State (once proud to be the South’s progressive exception-to-the-rule) since Republicans finally obtained consolidated control over state government last year. Moral Mondays kicked off its second year with a major weekend march in Raleigh last Saturday, and tens of thousands (one estimate was 100,000) people showed up.

It’s all very heartening, and given the explicit hopes of Moral Mondays organizers to make North Carolina Republicans pay a price for their actions in November, you’d like to think the North Carolina Democratic Party would be gearing up for a historic year.

But no: here’s the latest news from that state party, via the Raleigh News & Observer:

A day after ousting the executive director, the chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party appears poised to nominate former civil rights and Nation of Islam leader Benjamin Chavis to the post, a contentious pick that may not earn support from party leaders.

Democratic Chairman Randy Voller said Monday he would name an executive director Wednesday who is a “North Carolina native and national leader.” The party’s First Vice Chairwoman Patsy Keever said Voller intends to name Chavis, who also served as executive director of the NAACP before being ousted nearly two decades ago amid a sexual harassment scandal.

I’m not judging Chavis personally; for all I know, he may have been innocent of the sexual harassment allegations that led to settlements of claims by both the NAACP and the Nation of Islam. But for an organization that has just come out of its own crisis over sexual harassment charges, Chavis is a strange choice, to put it mildly. And I’m all for old folks getting chances to prove they are still young at heart, but your average state party ED is a young workaholic and ruthless administrator, not a 66-year-old man who was fired by the NAACP after a brief tenure characterized not only by sexual harassment claims but rampant debt.

All in all, the turmoil at the North Carolina Democratic Party is an unwholesome distraction from what’s happening on the streets of Raleigh. The pols need to catch up.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.