It's been a week since I attended the full meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Austin, Texas. It was a great time as I met Democrats from across the country, whether they were fellow DNC members, staff, various caucus members, or just Texas Democrats.
For those who don't know me, I am one of your five elected members from North Carolina to the Democratic National Committee (not counting our elected state party chair and first vice chair). I was elected in 2008 and took my seat for a four-year term the day after the 2008 Democratic National Convention. As such, this was my first "real" meeting I've attended as a National Committeeman from North Carolina.
This Fall Meeting was mostly an organizational meeting. The body elected 75 At-Large DNC members, who were recommended by the DNC Chair Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia. As a result, North Carolina now has two At-Large DNC Members, which brings our delegation to a grand total of nine (5 elected DNC members, NCDP chair and vice chair, and two At-Large DNC members), not counting the NCDP Executive Director, who is involved as well. During our General Session, we elected members to the various standing committees, also based on the chair's recommendation. This resulted in one of our own, National Committeeman Everett Ward, becoming co-chair of the DNC Credentials Committee (and, by virtue of that position, a member of the DNC Executive Committee).
During the General Session, a member from Florida took to the floor to point out that the Democratic strength and population from the South is not properly reflected in the number of At-Large and committee appointments in the DNC. He also pointed out that this was not the only region to not have proper representation. As a result, I think all members in the Southern caucus (which elected new officers) will be working very strongly to ensure that the South is no longer viewed as the mythical "red state" bastion of the GOP and has their voice heard.
Also during the General Session, we viewed a tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy, which was originally shown at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:
We also heard from the mayor of Austin (a Navy veteran of the Vietnam war) and the White House political director. Your North Carolina delegation also made it widely known that we wish to submit the Queen City of Charlotte as the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. I strongly encourage all North Carolinians who wish to see this come to fruition to write/contact the DNC:
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
At my new member briefing, DNC Chair Kaine reiterated his vision for the DNC: 1) Support for the President's agenda 2) Grassroots organization through Organizing for America (OFA) and 3) Assisting the state parties (through the State Partnership Program aka 50-State Strategy). He also told us about projects involving voter protection, reform of the primary/caucus system, health care reform, and countering the GOP.
I attended meetings of the Southern Caucus, the Youth Council, and the Veterans & Military Families Council. At the Southern Caucus, we elected state Rep. Gilda Cobbs-Hunter of South Carolina as our chair. She is an energetic and outspoken woman who will be able to get things done, and who will keep pressure on our Southern DNC chair to help our region. One of our DNC members, National Committeeman David Parker, was elected Treasurer of the Southern Caucus. The Veterans & Military Families Council is currently reorganizing to work more with closely with the DNC and OFA, so hopefully I'll have more to tell about them in the future. As a former Army captain and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I want to ensure outreach and representation of my generation of vets who are not all card-carrying members of the Republican Party. (And just to throw it in, here's a commercial I was featured in that aired on CNN both before and after the President's health care speech, and has been featured on CNN, Fox News, and NC channels since then):
Perhaps not surprisingly, I spent most of my time with members of the Youth Council which is comprised of all DNC members 35 and under, as well as At-Large members from the various regions in the country. There is so much going on with this group, but I'll just briefly say that we are working on issues concerning teaching young folks about how to get involved with their state parties, creating a new generation of donors, increasing youth minority outreach, candidate and activist training/recruitment, and creating virtual town meetings with the DNC. As you could guess, this is a very energetic and ambitious group, but I think we will be very successful in the future. I'll be sure to update y'all on their activities.
I have to admit that most of the "work" went on after-hours at our many receptions/after-parties/watering holes, as I got to meet and speak with various folks. As a freshman of the DNC, I'm just getting to know the players. But I think there's a lot that can be done within the DNC to help promote Democrats and our message, especially given the situation North Carolina will be in, come 2010 (U.S. Senate race, re-electing Rep. Kissell, and maintaining a Democratic General Assembly).
For those who want to hear more about what went on, I'll be at the Gant-Watt reception this weekend in Charlotte and will be more than happy to share my thoughts and experiences, and answer any questions and get some feedback.