Lillian’s List, a North Carolina group that financially supports progressive female candidates, held its campaign kickoff luncheon Monday in the Carolina Club of the Alumni Center.
UNC senior Sharlese Hall, who was a summer intern for Lillian’s List and volunteered at the luncheon, said the display was another reason why the state needs female-driven organizations.
“There are a lot of political action committees, but this is the only in North Carolina that focus on electing progressive women,” she said. “I think it’s actually what North Carolina and probably many other states need right now.”
Lillian’s List named 15 featured candidates who are running for the N.C. General Assembly, including Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange.
Betty Craven, board chairwoman for Lillian’s List, said the group donated $5,000 — the maximum amount allowed under campaign finance law — to each of the featured candidates. Tickets to the luncheon were a minimum of $150.
“(There’s a saying), ‘Don’t get mad, get elected.’ Forget that,” Craven said. “Now it’s, ‘Get mad, get really mad and get elected in sufficient numbers to reverse the negative course the Republicans have put this state on.’”
N.C. Democratic candidates, including Clay Aiken, Laura Fjeld and Attorney General Roy Cooper, mingled among the crowd.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was the keynote speaker. She said Lillian’s List provides support for female candidates, which is essential for encouraging more women to run and hasn’t always been in place.
“Our foremothers were so focused on getting themselves there,” she said. “They had to pave the way and maybe weren’t able to (provide support to other women) as much as they would have liked.”
North Carolina, she said, has a tradition of electing strong women — like former Gov. Bev Perdue and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
But now, N.C. Democratic women must fight against conservative policies enacted by the GOP-led legislature, she said.
“It’s 2014. Republicans in North Carolina are debating issues from 1914,” she said. “I didn’t think there was a clock that existed that went that far back.”
Wasserman Schultz encouraged the crowd to donate and mobilize other voters.
“Winning campaigns is hard work, but we all know something about working hard because we’re women.”