Longtime local political activist Patsy Keever wants to lead the N.C. Democratic Party going into the important 2016 election cycle.
The former Buncombe County commissioner and N.C. House representative announced Nov. 12 that she is running for chair of the state Democratic Party. She currently serves in the party’s No. 2 leadership position as 1st vice chair.
In last week’s elections, Republicans maintained their supermajorities in the General Assembly and toppled Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. That’s leading some party leaders to call for rebuilding the party “from the ground up,” according to a recent report from WRAL in Raleigh. Ahead of the elections, Keever made headlines for lending her signature to letters that used the controversial political tactic of “voter shaming” to try to spur turnout across the state.
If Keever is elected chair, she would be responsible for recruiting candidates, raising money and overseeing the party apparatus during the 2016 elections. Democrats are hoping to retake the N.C. governorship that year; Republican Sen. Richard Burr faces re-election, and the state could play a key role in electing the next U.S. president.
“The next two years will be a critical election cycle for North Carolina. Everything is at stake,” Keever says in her written announcement. “We need to recruit strong candidates, organize a grassroots voter outreach program, and raise the funds necessary to communicate with voters. As a county commissioner, state representative and party leader, I know what it takes to win elections.”
The N.C. Democratic Party is currently headed by Randy Voller, who told WRAL earlier this week that he has not yet decided if he’ll seek another term. The chair is elected by the state party’s executive committee, which is made up of hundreds of party representatives from each county in the state. They will meet in February to select the chair.
Keever launched a campaign website for the chair position here.
UPDATE: Later in the day on Nov. 12 the North Carolina Democratic Party sent out an announcement stating the party “will hold its State Executive Committee meeting on Saturday, November 15. … Chairman Voller will be giving an important update to the Party and making an announcement regarding the February election for State Chair.”
UPDATE (Nov. 17): At the Nov. 15 meeting, Voller announced that he will not seek another term as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, according to WRAL in Raleigh. As of that that date, Keever was the only candidate for the position, according to WRAL.
Here’s Keever’s full announcement:
Asheville, NC — Former state representative and current North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) 1st Vice Chair Patsy Keever announced her candidacy for NCDP Chair in a statement issued today:
“The next two years will be a critical election cycle for North Carolina. Everything is at stake.
“From the White House and the Governor’s Mansion, to the General Assembly and all the way down the ballot to local races, North Carolina Democrats have an obligation to stem the tide against Republican assaults on our middle class, public education, and women.
“We need to recruit strong candidates, organize a grassroots voter outreach program, and raise the funds necessary to communicate with voters. As a county commissioner, state representative, and party leader, I know what it takes to win elections. I’m ready to put my experience to work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2016, and that’s why I’m running to be the next Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.
“Our state party is blessed with hard-working volunteers and grassroots supporters from Murphy to Manteo. It’s time they had a Chair working on their behalf to win races and fight for North Carolina’s working families. I look forward to listening to Democrats across the state to hear their ideas and hopes for our party.”
NCDP officers, including the chair, will be elected at the February meeting of the State Executive Committee (SEC) in 2015.
Patsy Keever taught in public schools for more than 25 years and served on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners for 12 years. In 2010, Keever was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives from NC District 115. Keever has served as the 1st Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party since 2013. She resides in Asheville.