04/05/14 — Wayne County Democrats gather

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Wayne County Democrats gather

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 5, 2014 11:08 PM

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Wayne County Commissioner Ed Cromartie speaks during the county Democratic convention Saturday as party Chairman Gene Britt listens.

The pending November showdown between U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and her eventual GOP challenger, while important, is overshadowing another vital election, Wayne County Democratic Party Chairman Gene Britt told the party faithful Saturday.

"There is one primary going on that most people do not realize the importance of that involves Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson who is running for re-election," Britt told the nearly 50 people who had gathered for the party's convention at the Wayne County Courthouse. "Judicial elections in North Carolina are non-partisan in name only.

"Because public financing was done away with by the Republican Legislature, the financial constraints on judicial candidates are gone. Outside groups and parties have come in like have never been seen before trying to influence judicial elections."

In 2012, a candidate for the state Supreme Court received more than $2 million from the insurance industry, Britt said. He won re-election because of that, he added.

"We have to be vigilant because of the fact that millions of dollars from outside groups, people who don't even live in this state largely, are funneling money through this state trying to influence judicial elections so that they can benefit themselves at the expense of the citizens of this state," he said.

There are three candidates in the race, Ms. Hudson is a Democrat and the other two are Republicans, he said. In a judicial primary only the top two candidates advance to the general election in November.

"So if Robin Hudson is not one of the top two vote-getters, guess what?" he said. "She does not advance and we are going to have another Republican on the Supreme Court. Republicans already dominate the Supreme Court by a 5-4 majority with one being somewhat moderate swing vote."

Candidates for county, state and national offices spoke about their respective campaigns during the convention.

"It was real exciting to have the candidates here -- to have Phil Baddour speaking for Sen. Kay Hagan," Britt said after the convention. "He did an excellent job. All of our candidates offered wonderful insight into their races and showed us why we should vote for them this year. We are very fortunate to have the candidates that we have. We are very fortunate to have someone like Kay Hagan in the Senate. We are going to do all that we can here in Wayne County to have her go back to Washington, D.C. and fight for us and fight for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"Without her experience, without her influence, her connections, this county is in trouble. We are doing everything that we can to project our biggest economic asset and that is Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. We need to do everything that we can to protect that asset, and that is why we are so focused on that race and we are very lucky to have someone like Terry Light running for district attorney -- another race that we care about as we care about all of our races here. She has done a lot for community, not just in her office, but as a member of this community who cares about others."

The biggest challenge that Democrats face is getting out the vote, he said.

"Any election you win is by getting out the vote," Britt said. "We have to get our base out, and we have to get our message out. Today we have people who are dedicated to those tasks. We have got to do all that we can, that we vote, that our voices are heard."