State Sen. Don Vaughan became the first Democrat to make a bid for state party chairman. In an email sent to party activists Thursday, the Greensboro attorney said "it's time for a change in Raleigh."
The current chairman, David Parker, plans to step aside later this month after a sexual harassment scandal roiled the party, forcing the quick exit of Executive Director Jay Parmley and raising questions about a secret settlement agreement Parker authorized with a former staffer.
"Now more than ever we need to keep our eye on the ball and get to work," Vaughan wrote in the email. (Read full text below.)
Vaughan's name emerged soon after Parker said he would step down but in an interview with The News & Observer, he demurred to Gov. Bev Perdue and the Democratic nominee for governor to select a nominee. "If (they) would like me to serve, I would certainly consider it," he said at the time.
Perdue's political consultant did not return a message seeking comment on whether Vaughan is her pick.
In the new legislative district maps, Republicans put Vaughan, a minority party leader, into the same territory as Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican. Vaughan announced in February he wouldn't seek re-election.
The staffer accused Parmley of making inappropriate sexual advances, charges Parmley and Parker deny. Parker refused to resign but agreed to step aside under tremendous pressure from national and state party leaders.
The state party's executive committee, number roughly 700, will hold a special election for chairman on May 12.
Here's the full text of Vaughan's letter:
It's time for a change in Raleigh. The party of Jim Hunt, Terry Sanford, Henry Frye, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson is at critical place in North Carolina. My top priorities are winning back both houses of the General Assembly, keeping the Governor’s chair in Democratic hands, and electing Democrats at the local level. Now more than ever we need to keep our eye on the ball and get to work. That is why I am running for Chair of your Democratic Party.
I am currently Deputy Democratic Leader in the North Carolina State Senate. In the Senate I have served on the Senate Ethics, Judiciary and Commerce Committees. My goals in the Senate have been the same as your goals: protecting education, safe guarding our civil rights and standing against a Republican legislature that is trying to drag us back to the last century. Together we can achieve these goals.
We need to fight the Republicans in every county and in every city from Murphy to Manteo. After redistricting the Republicans are willing to claim victory before votes are even cast. I’ll make sure that we are a 100 county competitive force and remind them why voters in our state have time and time again chosen Democrats. We are the party that built North Carolina’s schools, North Carolina’s 21st century economy, and North Carolina’s reputation as the civil rights leader in the South. That’s why I voted against the Republican budget, stood against the Republicans when they tried to attack a woman’s right to choose and voted against Amendment One being placed on the ballot.
From the grassroots to the State Senate, my commitment to the Democratic Party spans more than thirty years. Before being elected to the State Senate, I have been a precinct chair, Guilford County Young Democrats President (3 terms), Young Democrats 12th District Chair (12 terms), and Guilford County Democratic Party Treasurer. I was Mayor Pro Tem and seven term member of the Greensboro City Council. I have continually served on the State Executive Committee since the 1970's. I grew up going to North Carolina's public schools, graduated with highest honors from UNC-Chapel Hill, hold a Master of Public Administration from American University and earned a law degree from Wake Forest University. Early on I served as legislative clerk to US Senator Robert Morgan and then in the office of Governor Hunt's Economic Advisor. Since that time, I have practiced law in Greensboro for over thirty years.
After the SEC Meeting the election will be only a few months away. I am ready to hit the ground running, but I can’t do it without you. I’m excited to be running for Chair and I hope to have your support at the May 12th SEC meeting in Greensboro. I look forward to the dialog that I will have with many of you in the upcoming days.