NC Democratic Party Chair candidate live blog: Bill Faison

Tonight at 9, we will welcome Bill Faison to BlueNC. Bill is the first of two NC Democratic Party Chair candidates scheduled for a live blogging session. There have been a ton of questions posted on other threads over the past couple of weeks, and I hope Bill has a chance to read through them before we kick off tonight.

We have only an hour with Bill, which prompts the following request. If you've already asked a question elsewhere, and it has already been answered, please don't ask it again. As time permits, I will be digging up questions that may have gone unaddressed and post them here. That said, Bill is under no obligation to respond to any particular question, of course.

Thank you again for joining us, Bill. And thank you also for your long-standing commitment to public service. Please feel free to come by over the next few days to address any hanging issues as you see fit.

If for some reason (power outage?) I lose my connection to the Tubes, I hope someone else will take the reins to moderate and facilitate the conversation.


PS Mr. Parker, if you're online tonight, feel free to chime in with your own questions or comments. The same applies to you, Bill, on Wednesday night.


A question, prefaced by a comment

As a marketing professional, I find myself cringing every week at how the Democratic Party communicates, both online and through other channels. The number of opportunities squandered, either through neglect or poor framing, is truly disheartening. Which leads me to this question:

In thinking about tonight's blogging event, what specific intentions have you in mind in terms of public relations? Will you say anything tonight that is new and newsworthy in terms of interest by the so-called mainstream media?


Thanks for inviting me to participate.
I intend to appoint a public relations committee. Among its duties will be press releases for all elected officials across the State focusing on those that do not have PR staffs. Moreover, as we identify new candidates I would have the PR staff begin promoting the candidate and building name recognition right away.
I will look to the public relations committee to help build relationships with media personnel (news paper editors and staff, radio producers, and TV reporters) so that we can get our media message published. Moreover, I will appoint people to target new media, with an emphasis on social media from Facebook to BlueNC.
Sometimes the simplest ideas become newsworthy, while other good ideas are never picked up. Our party must have a relevant message. People want to know what we are doing to make their lives better. As a party, that must be our goal. We must be about Putting People First. Our Repub opponents are about putting business first. I hope our mainstream media is monitoring our discussions tonight and find our discussions news worthy.

Bill Faison

You're welcome

Thank you for joining us. Doesn't this beat driving to an in-person meeting on a night like this?

From Steve Harrison

1) Do you agree that the gap between the Party's Platform and the behavior of elected Democrats is wide?

2) If you agree, would you be willing to demand that Democratic Party candidates for (government) office answer a yes/no checklist on Platform positions, to be published for all to see, preferably before the deadline for candidate registration (In case somebody wants to Primary them)?


I looked at the Platform again tonight in anticipation of our discussions. The Platform and the legislation passed by the Legislature in the past two years matches up nicely. For example we passed the Racial Justice Act, the Comprehensive Sex Education Bill, and the Bullying Bill. All of these are solidly encompassed within the party Platform.
Not all Legislators are in full agreement with all aspects of the Platform while some are very dedicated to one plank or another. The Democratic party should be a Big Tent party accommodating the diversity within our State.
The role of the party is to elect Democrats to office. It is not the role of the Party, per the POO, to involve itself in primaries.

Bill Faison

I'd like to be in the tent

I appreciate your comment, and love the idea that the Democratic party might be a Very Big Tent. That said, many progressives I know feel little affinity for the party in North Carolina these days. Outside of a handful of legislators, the progressive agenda seems more or less irrelevant.

No response required or requested ... I'm just having a hard time coming to grips with this reality.

Money, money, money

A number of people have brought up the question of money. Gordon Smith, who is on the city council in Asheville, put it succinctly:

I am also interested in how much money they think they can raise. Estimates and methods. Can we compete with Mr. Pope? Messaging is important, of course, but without field operations and money the best message in the world won't help you.


James you ask a great question. One thing I have never been bashful or shy about is asking people for money. Would you be interested in making a donation to the party? The link is:
Moreover, I am having a fundraiser for the Party at the Goodwin House on Hillsborough Road in Raleigh on Thursday, January 20 from 5:30p to 7:00p. Many members of the Council of State will be present along with Legislators. You are invited. I hope you will bring a $1,000 donation made payable to the Party.
In politics you ask people for three things their vote, money and time. I intend to ask all Democrats for those three things. In order to succeed and meet our goals we must fundraise. We must educate the general public about the importance of the tax check-off. We must expand our low dollar donations and methods.
We have to start actively fundraising online, through the mail, through re-occurring donations, through personal relations, and through fun, well orchestrated, high dollar events. Fundraising ultimately requires time and hard work. I intend that we win at the polls. I am committed to put in the time and the work. I want you to join with me in this effort.

Bill Faison

The most important question I can ask

Pulled, shredded, chopped, or sliced? Vinegar sauce or thick sauce?

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Bar B Q

Pulled or shredded. Both.

Bill Faison


Many of the questions raised earlier deal with the potential for tension between your role as a legislator and your role as party chair. You've answered that, more or less, by saying the next two years won't be as demanding as they might be since R's will largely be cutting D's out of the action (my interpretation of your comments).

That said, what specific advantages would your dual roles bring to your work as chair?

Dual Role

Being in the Legislature affords me a number of advantages. First is the ability to know what the Republicans are doing before it happens, when we still have a hope of stopping it. Next is being always available to the press to give instant interviews on topics with credibility, insight and force. Another value is being in a position to push forward issues that speak to core Democratic values without begging and pleading for someone to run an amendment or file a bill. Put simply, if the Party Chair is a legislator, and the members of our party want to push forward an issue that will benefit the people of this State you have the perfect advocate.

Bill Faison

Conflict of Interest and Other Questions

Mr. Faison:

I have tried to find where you address the issue of conflict of interest between your job as legislator/perpetual candidate and your aspiration to be Chair of NCDP. I understand there are a lot of machinations to seek legal opinions, statements of grace and the like from SBOE and others. The question is simple, why is holding the job of Chair NOT in conflict with your role as legislator, and your need to run in 2012 and thence forward? Will this not give the Republicans and their craven friends more ammunition, something they seem not to need.

I also have worries that your Chairmanship will overly empower the Legislative Party relative to the State Party, something which still has not been put to rest, save possibly in your mind? After all, given that the NCDP gets and disperses money to executive and legislators both, does that not put you again in a conflict of interest?

And lastly, you now have two jobs, both demanding and time consuming--attorney and legislator. Other than simply asserting your high energy level, specifically how will you handle three jobs especially with the ambitious agenda you have outlined? The only way I can think you could survive and do justice to the Party is to hire a surrogate in form of an Executive Director with far more experience than the money we have paid for ED so far has garnered. And, how much would you allocate to that: $100K, $200K, $300K, etc. I am reacting here to the perceived amounts paid Tom Fetzer as full time Chair of the NC Republicans.




I already have cleared service as State Party Chair while serving as a legislator with the State Ethics Commission. I anticipate a letter from the SBOE before the end of the week confirming that I can raise money from everyone all the time with the exception of Lobbyist and PACs with Lobbyist while the Legislature is in Session. We do not raise much our money from these two sources but in that regard I have already scheduled a pre-Session fundraiser targeting these folks.
The goal of the Party is to elect Democrats. Legislators are always raising money not only to elect themselves but also to elect other Democrats (not just other Legislators), this is a principle job of every caucus leader and member. The President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House are always known for their fund raising prowess.
The NCDP to my knowledge has never disbursed money to a legislator. For that matter, the problem is that the NCDP is not even providing meaningful funding to the vast majority of county parties.
I want us to win. I want us to take back control of the legislative agenda. I want us to keep control of the Council of State. I am prepared to make the commitment and the sacrifices to get this done. I hope you will join me.

Bill Faison

The OFA and the Democratic Party

Here in Orange County, we have a lot of conflict with the OFA.

Our county party is a true grassroots organization, with power flowing from the precincts to the county. From there, we've got representation at the district and state levels (I'm a county representative to the SEC, for example).

OTOH, the OFA appears to have no local accountability and appears to be a top-down organization.

The OFA seems to have lots of money and to be very well coordinated. They tell people in our county whose doors to knock on, etc., and our data is entered into their database (I think) and then doled back to us.

I'd like to know what you know of this organization and how well-organized counties like ours are supposed to interact with them. Counties with little or no local organization can surely benefit from the OFA's top-down control, but what about ours?

What is the relation between the NCDP and the OFA? And do you have any thoughts about that?

Thank you.
-- zabouti

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo


You are correct that OFA does have resources that we may not always be able to provide in terms of knowledge and resources. However, that knowledge is often based in Washington DC and is irrelevant to the experiences on the ground. As a candidate for office, and in talking to members of the party across North Carolina one theme that I have heard over and over again is that local knowledge was ignored.
We will win elections when we take the local knowledge from grassroots leaders like you and combine that with a statewide plan. It is essential that in 2012 the North Carolina Democratic Party create its own plan that complements what OFA is doing. We cannot allow them to run our state without any local input from grassroots leaders.

Bill Faison

Governor Perdue

Not being a Democratic insider, I've long heard rumors that the Governor has a big hand in tilting the playing field for NCDP chair in this or that direction ... not that it always works out as planned.

Have you met with Governor Perdue regarding this position? If so, has she expressed her opinion about your candidacy?


I have spoken with Governor Perdue, Commissioner Goodwin, Education Secretary Atkinson, Minority Leader Elect Senator Nesbitt, Minority Leader Elect Representative Hackney, numerous Senators and Representatives, Former Governor Hunt, and SEC members across this State. They all want the same thing. They want Democrats to win. They want a Democratic agenda both legislatively and administratively. All of these elected officials know me and have worked with me in the Legislature. They all believe that I can do the better job leading the party and helping all democrats across our State win election.

Bill Faison

Two follow ups for whenever you are back

The NCDP to my knowledge has never disbursed money to a legislator.

I think this is right, however, they have provided funds to legislative candidates who are incumbents ...


All of these elected officials know me and have worked with me in the Legislature. They all believe that I can do the better job leading the party and helping all democrats.

So, am I correct in quoting that these folks are endorsing Bill Faison?


Durham Dem

From the Other Thread

how high a priority it will be to see every Republican facing a Democrat in every election instead of just giving seats away in so many races? Even in the deep red counties people need to hear the progressive voice so they know a choice must be made when they vote.

We have great Democrats across the state no matter how red the county is. As party chair, I will put in the resources to recruit, train and support candidates at all levels in all 100 counties.

As a candidate for office I have seen the value of having multiple Democratic candidates running together at all levels. Where one is strong the others are weak, and they are able to all garner more support than if just one of them was running. Our goal is to take back the Legislature, and keep the Council of State and Governor's office. The first step to wining statewide races is to have strong candidates at all levels in all elections.

Bill Faison

Very glad to see this

It has always blown my mind that Dems seem to be toiling away in isolation without the benefit of operating en masse. I couldn't agree more with you on this question.

Yeah, that's a big one

in my books. Aside from the fact that every Democrat needs someone to root for and engage with locally, it can't help but boost the numbers for statewide races, too.

From the Other Thread again

What are you and elected Democrats going to do to convince me to donate time and money?

I think you ask a question that a lot of Democratic activist find themselves asking. We must renew the faith in the party of our base. We do this by showing results. As State Party chair I will organize a new party, a modern party in NC that is the big tent party. We must connect the grassroots, the grasstops, the netroots and all party together if we are going to beat back the Republicans. A unified front will be the only path to success. Hard work is what will get this done not committees and talking. I will convince you by showing you that this effort is worthy of your time, and energy.

The Republicans are going to do everything in their power to tear apart down years of hard work of Democrats. Now is the time that we must come together and all work together to fight back the evils of the Republican party. If attempts to end a woman's right to choose, requiring government issued ID to vote whether you can afford it or not, and the repeal of so many things we worked to pass is not enough to get our party back to work, nothing will be enough.

Bill Faison

Lawyers, guns and money

There's been plenty of discussion today of both guns and money, so let's cover lawyers.

Comment: Pope and Fetzer turned frivolous complaints with the SBOE into an art form and got plenty of traction with the media and public. Even when they were thrown out summarily, the accusations still stuck.

I want an aggressive, ruthless Chair who will go after R's at every turn for any reason.

Which brings me to this question: Are you prepared to file a complaint (or whatever the right filing is) in order to revoke the non-profit status of Civitas and other sideshows in Art Pope's empire?

Thank you, Bill

You're a good man for spending time from your busy day with us, and you're a darn good keyboarder!

Please feel free to stick around or circle back at your convenience. Our conversation never ends.

Also, if you do have the opportunity to serve as Chair, I hope you will stay engaged with BlueNC as much as time permits. As I wrote earlier, many progressives feel very much on the periphery of NC politics, which is a crying shame since we are among the most active of the party base.

Thank you again for the visit. Very much appreciated.

To Jerimee

From the Other Thread, Jerimee asked a question about data.

You are absolutely correct that the failure to make data from past elections available has been a failure. As you point out, this is causing a waste of precious resources. If you knocked on the door of a registered Democrat in 2008 and they were not supporting the Democratic ticket there was no reason to knock on their door again in 2010 and waste our time.
I understand that in 2009 David Young promised a lot of this data from 2008 and from OFA would be part of the party database. I won’t promise what I can’t deliver. What I will promise to you is that from the minute I am elected data will become a long term resource of the party. Data will be gathered and shared from year to year and campaign to campaign to make sure that we are effectively using the limited resources that we have.

Bill Faison

Thanks for having me!

I have really enjoyed our session tonight. Over the next couple of days, I will be watching BlueNC for other questions, and will answer as I can. It is these kinds of discussions that we must not only continue to have, but to also insure they yield results. Feel free to join me on the phone tomorrow night in our E-Town hall as we continue the discussion. You can signup here:

I am asking for your vote on January 29th, because we cannot allow the discussion to end here. Let's take this discussion continue and produce results.

Bill Faison

Thanks for taking the time, Bill

Like James said, please stay hooked in here. Communication is the key to keeping people motivated.