The race for Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair is shaping up, with Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell and Lindsey Simerly, director of field and outreach for Rep. Heath Shuler‘s campaign, both throwing their hats in the proverbial ring.
Charles Carter, former state senator and owner of Mountain Java, who’s occupied the job for two years, has announced that he won’t run for another term. This morning, announcements from both Bothwell and Simerly emerged on Scrutiny Hooligans, a progressive political blog.
“I was drafted to run,” Bothwell tells Xpress, claiming that six precinct chairs approached him about taking the position. “I’m probably less centrist than Charles Carter and I believe a party needs to stand for something.”
Bothwell says his main priority is “to give people a reason to believe in parties again.”
“One of the problems with partisan politics in recent years is that both national parties have become very corporatist and I don’t think people see much difference between the two parties. There are differences, but there aren’t significant ones. Particularly here at the local level, it seems that we endorse progressive platform planks that disappear completely. I would like to see the local party embrace those platform planks that are brought up at the local level and run candidates on those platforms.”
While there are prohibitions on partisan elected officials serving as party chairs, Council members are officially non-partisan.
Simerly, meanwhile, praises Carter’s leadership and states her top priority in one word.
“Winning,” she tells Xpress. “We have a really hard race coming up here in 2012. We’ve got big fights from everything from President down to county commission races. I think we can do really well as long as all of us, as the Democratic Party, are working together.”
As far as setting platforms, “I definitely don’t see that as the role of the party chair,” Simerly says. “I think the role of the party chair is to help ensure victory. As far as the issue stuff goes, that’s something I’m going to stay away from.”
“We see the need right now to win back our state house,” Simerly adds. “Since the Republicans have taken control, they’ve done everything from attempt to make huge cuts to education to change the way we elect county commissioners to reversing the plastic bag ban. It’s just ridiculous stuff that doesn’t do the things they promised to do when they got elected. It’s going to be really important for us as a party to get Democrats back in there. Because Democrats are going to put the state in a better place.”
Buncombe’s Democratic officials will decide the party chair at their annual convention on April 9.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter