NC Democratic Party out of the wilderness

After a century controlling the state (and most local) government via patronage, spoils systems, and a liberal amount of corruption, voters threw Democrats out of the state General Assembly in 2010. This was done in districts drawn by Democrats. Republicans won even more seats under GOP-drawn maps in 2012.

Before they were tossed out of power, Democrats had cultivated a pay-to-play culture so effective that nobody even mentions it today - just 6 years after it all came crashing down.

For folks who are new to North Carolina... former Governor Mike Easley had his law license suspended. Former Speaker of the House Jim Black went to prison. So did the former Agriculture Commissioner. And after losing the General Assembly, the party suffered several more years of scandal and financial problems.

So broken was the state Democratic Party, that in 2014, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan used the Wake County Democratic Party to help her manage her state campaign, rather than rely on the state operation.

With this hollowed out husk of an operation, the NC NAACP - along with the leftist cottage industry of influence peddlers - launched their "Moral Monday" campaign. It was obvious to honest political observers that the NC Democratic Party (what was left of it) was happy to essentially outsource its responsibilities to the Moral Monday protesters.

The party was so corrupt, they had no credibility. But the Moral Mondayers were pure and apolitical.

They were simply moral.

They were even willing to get arrested for promoting ethical policies!

This narrative was not questioned or explored by the NC political press corps, which mostly promoted the events, showed videos of the speakers and protesters, and sometimes offered a soundbite from a GOP leader.

The Moral Monday campaign worked as it was intended. (As part of the BluePrint NC architecture.)

State media swooning led to fawning national media coverage, which led to out-of-state money flowing into NC campaigns. First, against HB2. Then against Gov. Pat McCrory. And now for local, state, and Congressional races.

Roughly five years after party officials couldn't raise enough money to pay rent on their Raleigh headquarters, they just raked in tens of millions of dollars. I expect most of it came from outside North Carolina.

It gave the Democratic Party enough time get off the mat, catch its breath, and get back into the fight. It fought the GOP when the Democrats were ethically, financially, and mentally unprepared to do so.

It only took less than a decade, but the North Carolina Democratic Party is back from the wilderness. And they owe most of it to the Moral Monday campaign, who knew precisely how to motivate the most important constituency the Democrats needed for revival: the media.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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