Senator Jeanne Lucas, who so ably represented the 20th district and Durham County in the State Senate for nearly 14 years, passed away last month.
It falls upon members of the Executive Committee of the Durham County Democratic Party to nominate a replacement to finish her term of office. (I love sentences with so many capital letters. They exude importance.)
On Saturday 3/31, candidates for the seat met in a forum sponsored by Young Democrats of Durham County, and Durham Democratic Women, to answer questions about why they were seeking the seat, and what agenda they would carry out should they earn the nomination.
The big surprises, i guess, were Patrick Hannah withdrawing his name from consideration, and County party chair Floyd McKissick entering his. Patrick is a VP at the Durham Chamber of Commerce.
Other candidates included former County Commissioner Mary Ann Black, former City Councilwoman Brenda Burnette, current City Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden, community activist Le Harve Johnson, and County party vice-chair Brenda Pollard.
How do you get to be an elector?
If you're an elected official, a member of the Democratic Party, and you reside within the 20th District, you're an elector. If you're a member of the County Party Executive Committee, or an office holder in the party, and you reside in the 20th district, you're an elector. If you're a precinct chair or vice-chair, and your precinct is wholly within the 20th district, you're an elector. If you're a precinct chair or vice-chair, and your precinct is partially within the 20th district, and you yourself reside within the 20th district, you're an elector.
What it means is that there are 91 people who are able to cast a ballot in this election. Turns out i'm one of them.
When i let my arm be twisted in February to accept the nomination as precinct chair, i was thinking that 2007 was an off-year election, no partisan races in the county, i'd be able to spend some time getting up to speed on how this partisan politics thing works, build up a mailing list and get some communications flowing throughout the registered Democrats in the 19th precinct, so that in 2008, we'd have something resembling an organization that could raise money and get out the vote for our candidates at the local, state, and national levels.
I certainly wasn't anticipating this responsibility.
About the forum. I thought that one of the candidates (Brenda Pollard) was not at this time ready to assume the responsibility of representing Durham County in the state Senate. I thought a second candidate (Brenda Burnette) had positions on a couple of issues, namely gay rights and reproductive rights, that i could not support.
I thought the other four candidates were all worthy of the position, although none stood clearly head and shoulders above the others.
What i imagine will happen is that as the various endorsements come out (the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has endorsed Floyd McKissick) and as the candidates assess their support, at least one, and as many as three or four, will drop out of the race and throw their support to the perceived front-runner. So at this time, i don't see any reason to decide who i think is the best candidate. Let's see which names actually get placed in nomination during the meeting next week.
Finally, i'm curious how i've become a go-to guy for the local media. Reporters for the News and Observer, Herald-Sun, and Independent Weekly all called me over an 8 hour period to ask my opinion about the race. Is it just because there are actually so few of us who can vote that they were able to contact all of us? Am i that outspoken? Does my blog have a titillating name? Do i represent a certain demographic that they're trying to reach?
Curious minds want to know.
(cross-posted at my place)