Last week I was invited to attend a dinner with Western North Carolina Democratic leaders, elected officials and activists. I was included on the invitation list because of my pending move to Lincoln County where I will join the WNC crowd. What an amazing group of people. I had been dreading moving to an area that was so overwhelmingly populated with Republicans, but now I'm excited about being involved in a party that is so energized, organized and looking ahead with excitement to 2008.
Keep in mind, I'm describing Democrats who have been overwhelmingly outnumbered in almost every county. It's hard to believe. I compare that to the lethargic efforts made by the party here in Mecklenburg and I'm stunned. Many Dems in the field in Mecklenburg complain (and have complained for years) about the lack of support from the local party. One organizer who had requested precinct organization lists as she helped a candidate plan for a campaign, received a list scrubbed of all contact information so that she was unable to easily contact possible volunteers in each precinct.
More on the flip...
Back to my new WNC friends. Each county chair, elected official or their representative was given a short amount of time to offer up their thanks to those who helped with their campaigns and/or to talk about their county's successes. The two names I heard most often from organizers, candidates and elected officials alike were Jerry Meek and Mark Hufford. Jerry, as you know, is the chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Mark is the Western Political Director of the NCDP. Both worked tirelessly to help these heavily outnumbered Democrats achieve a higher level of success in getting Democrats elected than has been experienced in this area of the state in a long time.
Just like Democrats from the south have been written off by many in the national party, Democrats in the eastern and western portions of this state have long been ignored by more liberal Democrats from the center of the state. They were either too conservative or simply too outnumbered by Republicans to be worth the time and money to support.
Those days are over.
Thank you Howard Dean, Jerry Meek and Mark Hufford.
I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to that many people, but I plan on changing that and hope to get an invitation the next time they get together. Richard Carsner, the man who closed the gap on Patrick McHenry, was there and he isn't ruling out a run in two years. I wish I'd had time to chat with him. He seemed like a sincere, intelligent man and I plan on helping him out next time around.
While I didn't meet a lot of people, I did get to meet two rock stars of the WNC Democrats - Johnny Joe Rockslide and Sally Love. Their energy on screen doesn't come close to matching the energy you feel from them in person. Sally Love could put Duke Energy out of business if we could find a way to harness her energy and Johnny Joe....well....let's just say, I'm a fan. Pure animal magnetism.