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Suit against David Parker and Democratic Party dismissed

A defamation suit brought against former state Democratic Chairman David Parker and the state Democratic Party has been dismissed.

The suit had been brought by Adriadn Ortega, a former Democratic Party staffer, in June 2012, who claimed he had been defamed by public comments regarding his allegations that he had been sexually harassed. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning dismissed Ortega's defamation claims against all defendants on June 5 and give Ortega 30 days to appeal. Instead, Ortega's counsel filed a voluntary notice of dismissal on July 2. The dismissal was filed "without prejudice" which means that Ortega an re-filed the suit within a year.

The dismissal is the latest development in case that drew negative national attention to the state Democratic Party at a time when North Carolina was a battleground state.

Gary Pearce: On Democratic dysfunction

"Someone asked the obvious question: “Why do Democrats elect fools like David Parker and Randy Voller chairman?” writes veteran Democratic consultant Gary Pearce in his blog Talking about Politics.

"It’s a “governance crisis,” said one thoughtful Democrat and former statewide candidate. “The chairman is selected by 600 people on the executive committee, most of whom know nothing about getting elected statewide.”

"There always has been tension between Democratic activists and Democratic elected officials. Party people blasted Governor Hunt for his “keys” organization, built around people who were leaders in their cities and communities, but not necessarily party activists."

Voller blasts Republicans for not focusing on jobs

In his first press conference since taking the helm of the state Democratic Party, Chairman Randy Voller took aim at Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature, saying they are not fulfilling their campaign promise to focus on the economy.

"All I hear up here is cut, cut, cut and I don't see a lot of things that are creating jobs," he said at party headquarters in Raleigh. "North Carolinians need to have jobs. They need to have jobs that pay. They need to have health insurance. They need to have livable wages."

Voller said the "radical, reactionary" legislature should stop "monkeying around with removing people from commissions and other things that are not focused on creating opportunities in our communities."

Parker and Etheridge may enter Democratic Party chairmanship race

With former Sen. Eric Mansfield's withdrawal from the Democratic Party chairmanship race, party figures have begun to scramble.

Embattled current chairman David Parker, who had announced he would not seek another term, has begun making calls about possibly serving another term.

Meanwhile, former Rep. Bob Etheridge, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor last year, is being recruited by some party leaders, to run for party chairman.

Etheridge's name was floated last spring, but was apparently torpedoed by then Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton who thought Etheridge's entrance in the race made an already difficult Democratic run that much more problematic.

Meanwhile, Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller may be in the strongest position, having campaigned aggressively for the post since late last year. This week he picked up the endorsement of Ben Chavis, the former national chairman of the NAACP.

UPDATE: Parker said he is not running for Democratic Party chair. He said he preside at the state Executive Committee meeting in Durham on Feb. 2 and hand over the gavel to the new chair.

Democratic Party chairman candidates meet in forum

The two leading candidates for the N.C. Democratic Party chairmanship will face off at a forum Wednesday in Chapel Hill.

Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield and Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller will lay out their plan to revive the crippled state party, burdened by controversial Chairman David Parker and big losses in the November election. At the town hall, Democratic activists can ask questions. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at Extraordinary Ventures at 200 S. Elliott Road. It is free and open to the public.

Mansfield recently debuted a new website that lays out his vision, what he identifies as the four Ms: mobilize, message, mending and money. See his plan here.

Morning Roundup: New Supreme Court pick, worker comp fix, Dem Party chair bows out

The governor has selected an appellate court judge for the opening on the state Supreme Court. Judge Cheri Beasley has a lot in common with the justice she will replace.

A panel of lawmakers tackled an unanticipated loophole that prevented employees from finding out if their employer carries the right worker compensation insurance.

Embattled Democratic Party chairman David Parker announces he'll step down.

Parker will not seek another term as Democratic chair

David Parker said Wednesday he will not seek re-election to a second term as state Democratic Party chairman.

"I have enjoyed my two years of service to our state and to the Democratic Party," Parker, a Statesville attorney, said in an email to Democrats.

"There is much work to be done on the vital issues of good government, publkic education and job creation in North Carolina and I look forward to contiuning to work to better our state in the coming years to come.''

Parker's tenure had been marked by turmoil, especially surrounding his handling of allegations of sexual harrasment involving two Democratic Party staffers. At one point last spring, party leaders thought they had negotiated Parker's exit only to have Parker retain his job after winning the backing of the State Executive Committee.

State Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville is expected to declare his candidacy for the chairmanship. The State Executive Committee will meet in Durham on Feb. 2nd.

Eric Mansfield is considering bid for state Democratic chairman

State Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville is considering running for state Democratic Party chairman next year, according to the word on the street.

Mansfield has been encouraged to run by a number of party activists and elected officials.

It is not clear whether the current state Chairman David Parker of Statesville will seek a second term when the state Democratic Executive Committee meets early next year. Parker's tenure has been rocky because of his handling of a sexual harassment complaint involving two staffers that embarrassed the party.

Mansfield is regarded as someone with potential in the state Democratic Party even though he lost the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor last May to Linda Coleman by a 56 to 44 percent margin. He is a physician, Baptist minister, and retired Army officer.

He did not seek re-election to his Senate seat.

Personnel file: Robinson leaves Democratic Party, more expected

UPDATED: Walton Robinson, the spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, announced his resignation this week.

His statement sent Wednesday offered no explanation for his immediate departure after 15 months on the job. In an email Friday, Robinson said he is "leaving to pursue other professional opportunities. That's all." 

Executive Director Tammy Brunner said Friday that other staff reductions are expected, as is typical "in an election year such as this." Asked if the party's struggling financial situation affected the decision, Brunner said "as always finances play a role in the reduction of employees."

Morning Roundup: N.C. Democrats lost in wilderness, Parker may seek to stay

For the first time in more than a century, the once-proud party of Jim Hunt and Terry Sanford, Luther Hodges and O. Max Gardner has been banished to the back benches of North Carolina state government.

The state Democratic Party also has been in turmoil since last spring, after allegations of sexual harassment. State Party chairman David Parker was criticized for his handling of the affair, but ignored pressure to resign. As a result, he became a liability as a spokesman and fundraiser.

Still, Parker has privately told some he may seek another term, and party leaders fear he may have the committee votes to keep the job. Read more here.

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