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Democratic lawmakers testify in redistricting trial

From AP: Current and former Democratic state legislators are testifying at a trial where judges are weighing arguments whether the redistricting maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans in 2011 are legal or should be thrown out.

State Sen. Dan Blue of Raleigh and former Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville told a three-judge panel Tuesday there was no need for Republicans to increase the black voting age population in their districts to make them majority-black to ensure black voters can elect their favored candidates.

Mansfield and Blue testified white voters are willing to elect black candidates due to changing voting patterns and views on race. Republican legislative leaders and the state argue racially polarized voting still exists in North Carolina and majority-black districts can be drawn to avoid federal voting rights challenges. R

Randy Voller praises Mansfield's bid for chairman

Randy Voller, the lone remaining candidate in the race for N.C. Democratic Party chairman, sent a statement praising Sen. Eric Mansfield, who left the race Thursday.

"Over the past five weeks, Senator Eric Mansfield and I became brothers in the Democratic family," said Voller, the Pittsboro mayor.

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.

Mansfield exits N.C. Democratic Party chairman race

UPDATED: Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield quit the race for N.C. Democratic Party chairman Thursday, citing family reasons.

Mansfield, a Fayetteville surgeon who lost a primary bid for lieutenant governor, said his mother's declining health led to the decision, though he faced significant opposition from allies of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which helped crush his previous campaign. "It brings my family and I great sadness to announce that I must end my campaign for North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman effective immediately," Mansfield said in an email sent to supporters Thursday morning. "As many of you know my mother has developed a rapidly deteriorating disease which requires my full attention."

The move comes nine days before the Democratic Executive Committee is scheduled to meet to pick its new leader and opens a candidate vacuum. The only remaining candidate in the race is Randy Voller, the Pittsboro mayor and Chatham County Democratic Party chairman.

Democratic chairmen candidates to debate Saturday

The two candidates for state Democratic Party chairman will Saturday in Raleigh to discuss their plans for leading the party.

Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville and Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller will meet at a forum at 1:30 at Mount Peace Baptist Church, located at 1601 Martin Luther King Drive. The event will be live streamed at and will be available on Youtube after the debate.

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.

Pittsboro mayor to run for Democratic state chair

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller said Thursday he plans to seek the Democratic Party chairmanship next year when David Parker steps down.

Voller, a 43-year old real estate executive, plans to hold a news conference Friday morning at state Democratic headquarters to announce his candidacy. He will likely face state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville is expected to seek the party post.

A contest, said Voller, “will be good the party and everyone should emerge a winner.”

Voller, who is Chatham County Democratic chairman, said he would focus on party building if he was elected chairman. He said Chatham County had the highest turnout at 76.5 percent of any county in the state in November. He said the county raised $75,000 during the past year – a large figure for a modest sized county.

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.

SEANC plans more Coleman advertising

Update: Pricetag for this round of pro-Coleman ads: $130,000.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina is following through on its pledge to help elect Democratic candidate Linda Coleman to the office of lieutenant governor. Today it announced it’s launching a major offense of TV ads.

“This ad campaign is only the tip of the iceberg,” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope said in a news release about the ad buy. “We’re going ‘all in’ for Linda Coleman in this election.”

What’s described as an initial purchase, ads will soon begin airing on cable and broadcast networks in Raleigh, Greensboro and the eastern part of the state. Another wave of ads is planned before the May 8 primary election.

The association represents 55,000 members. Coleman is running against state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville in the Democratic primary.

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