04/13/18 — N.C. Democratic chair: Party is energized by wins in other states

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N.C. Democratic chair: Party is energized by wins in other states

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 13, 2018 5:50 AM

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N.C. Democratic Chairman Wayne Goodwin discusses the energy of the party at the News-Argus office Thursday morning.

Democratic election victories in other states are encouraging, N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said.

The wins have been based on well-organized candidates who ran on issues that weren't on a national agenda, but rather were part of whatever message mattered most to the communities in those districts, Goodwin said.

"That is indicative that people are not satisfied with the status quo," he said. "But we can't, as Democrats here in North Carolina, rest on the successes in these other states ... we have to fight tooth and nail every week about what the difference is between having Democrats in office versus Republicans.

"It is inspiring and motivating and satisfying to see these successes in other states, but we have a lot of work here to do in North Carolina and that is why Gov. (Roy) Cooper, and myself and our teams have been laboring since the day after the last election to fight for breaking the (General Assembly) super-majority and electing more Democrats."

Goodwin was at the B&G Grill Thursday morning for a breakfast and the latest stop on his statewide listening session.

Wayne County matters to the N.C. Democratic Party, and to the future of the state, he said.

"I think there is a palpable energy (because of the wins)," he said. "People can feel an excitement as well as frustration with what they have seen in Raleigh and in Washington. A lot of the Democratic base wants to do everything they can to ensure that the blue (Democratic) wave that has landed in other states will land here in North Carolina in 2018.

"That is why I am here in Goldsboro, here in Wayne County. For the Democratic candidates to succeed, and for what we believe will lead to North Carolina being put back on a forward track, it is vital that we have a 100-county strategy and that the Democratic Party and its candidates here in this state reach out to every community."

Some people feel neglected by both political parties, he said.

"It is important to me and it is important to Gov. Cooper that we reach out to rural North Carolina because so much that is happening now in Raleigh and Washington is damaging the pocketbooks and future of this part of our state."

One goal of his North Carolina listening tour is to share the Democratic message, but also more importantly to listen, he said.

Goodwin said one issue he is hearing about now is the Trump trade war in which Republicans on the state and national level are deferring to Trump's shoot-from-the-hip approach, he said.

Nobody, not even Trump's own staff, knew about the tariffs or what Trump based his decision on to plop tariffs or extra costs on goods coming into the country, Goodwin said.

Apparently Trump didn't play it out, nor did the Republicans care, that a situation like this leads to retaliation, he said.

Now the Chinese have slapped tariffs on 182 different American goods -- many of which are agricultural products that are raised in North Carolina, particularly eastern North Carolina, he said.

"If you grow soybeans, corn, tobacco and many products of the like, the cost will go up, and it will be so much harder for small farmers, or farmers in general, to earn a living," Goodwin said.

That impacts not just farmers, but everyone who puts food on the table, clothes on their backs and who have jobs dependent on the success of the agriculture community, he said.

That is the No. 1 issue at the moment that people in the area are talking about -- how out of touch Raleigh and Washington are and are damaging eastern North Carolina, Goodwin said.

Goodwin said he is excited about the party's success in fielding candidates for all of the General Assembly seats up for election this November.

It is the first time ever that has ever happened, he said.

"In our elections this year voters will have a true choice between the two political parties," Goodwin said. "But the fact that we have a candidate in every district is indicative of the fact that the N.C. Democratic Party is more organized than ever before, that people believe in the message of Gov. Cooper."

It is also an indication that people are frustrated and tired of having politicians choose their voters through the use of "hyper-partisan" gerrymandered districts, he said.

It is a history-making moment, and Goodwin said it is part of his job to make sure that the excitement that led to the record number of candidates does not dissipate.

"We want to make sure that they (voters) have a choice and at the same time that they hear the message that drove Democrats to file," he said.

But it is a long time between the May primary and November general election, and the party is working to maintain that level of excitement, he said.

"But I also recognize that in this 24/7 world where issues change by the day, if not by the hour, that it makes the job of getting a message out even more challenging," he said.

"So, what I have encouraged community leaders and Democratic Party officials to do is to do everything that you can to be engaged with your community and voters in these districts, not just immediately before the election, but every month, every week."

That includes doing things that keeps people excited while reminding them that elections have consequences, Goodwin said.

Some communities are holding rallies, some are registering voters while others are holding town hall meetings with candidates, he said.

There is another history-making component to the number of candidates, Goodwin said.

For decades the Democratic Party has had a more diverse slate of candidates compared to the Republican Party, he said.

However, this year it is the most diverse field of candidates the party has ever had, he said.

There is a record number of Democratic women running for the legislature, as well as persons of color and younger candidates, he said.

These metrics matter because the state has changed dramatically in both its rural and urban areas, Goodwin said.

"And the party that best reflects its citizens is the party that will prevail," he said.