Thursday, November 9, 2023

Do Democratic victories in small towns, rural areas portend different statewide trends in North Carolina?

Screen shot of Anderson Clayton praising the work Democratic county
parties are doing in North Carolina.  Nov. 8, 2023

I've written a great deal here on Legal Ruralism about Anderson Clayton, the young chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party who has attracted national attention.  One thing Clayton has advocated is rebuilding her party from the ground up--with something of a focus on ensuring local elections are contested so that North Carolina is truly a two-party state.  She wants to ensure voters everywhere have choices and that the party is present everywhere.  

Now, Laura Leslie reports for WRAL out of Raleigh, North Carolina under the headline, "NC Rides National Wave of Democratic Victories."  Here's an excerpt.

In North Carolina, Democrats are celebrating mayoral races and town council seats in unlikely places. They’re smaller wins, to be sure, but they’re perhaps even more surprising than some of the bigger victories elsewhere.

Most North Carolina municipal elections are nonpartisan. But it’s not unusual for parties to recruit, train, endorse and support candidates.
Democrats swept the mayor’s race and council seats in Huntersville, in Republican-leaning northern Mecklenburg County — the first time that’s ever happened, according to Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer.
"This is an odd election,” Bitzer said, adding that the Huntersville area has been growing and becoming more politically competitive.

* * *  

Clayton re-posted this candidate recruitment post from a county party.
Democrats also won all the open seats in New Hanover County, which is politically nearly evenly divided. They won the mayor’s race in High Point, a seat that’s been held by a Republican for many years. They even swept the town councils in Cooleemee, a tiny town in Davie County, and in Mars Hill and Marshall in Madison County, all typically Republican areas.

Democrats have not engaged much in local races in recent cycles, but longtime Democratic strategist Gary Pearce says that’s changing under new party Chairwoman Anderson Clayton. He credits her for the wins.

Pearce is further quoted:

She had made a big thing when she came in about wanting to compete in municipal races. Some Democrats were afraid that would take the focus off the 2024 election, but she proved them wrong.

They recruited candidates, people organized, and that’s good practice for next year.  It’s also just a psychological boost. You can’t underestimate how much a boost like this means.

I'm seeing a similar focus on candidate recruitment by the Arkansas Democratic Party.  

Other important stories about organizing--about being present at the local level--are here and here (the latter more focused on North Carolina), this time with attention to how Republicans are going into places like Pembroke, North Carolina, and opening community centers.  Pembroke is home of the Lumbee tribe and "in the largely rural, poverty-addled county of Robeson, in the state’s southeast corner."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Professor Pruitt. My brother lives in Cary, NC (suburban area outside of Raleigh that is not rural) and he says a lot of the people in the state are tired of the chaos that is politics, and are starting to prefer more moderate candidates. He also mentioned how abortion is a motivating factor in urging folks to vote Democrat instead of Republican. We will see how this shapes out in 2024.