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Sunday November 27th

New leader Patsy Keever chosen to revamp NC Democratic Party

<p>Patsy Keever is the new chairwoman of the North Carolina Democractic Party. Keever plans on addressing financial challenges, hiring new staff and installing a new executive director. Courtesy of the NC Democratic Party. </p>
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Patsy Keever is the new chairwoman of the North Carolina Democractic Party. Keever plans on addressing financial challenges, hiring new staff and installing a new executive director. Courtesy of the NC Democratic Party. 

Keever said she plans to address the organization’s structural and financial challenges and improve the party’s election fortunes in 2016.

“We are looking at trying to pay off some debt,” said Keever, formerly first vice chairwoman of the party. “We are looking to bring some people back into the flocks who have strayed and gotten discouraged. What I’m trying to do is change the attitude (outside of) and within the Democratic Party.”

Under its former leadership, the party amassed debt and began the year with only $42,700, according to a report filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

George Fisher, a liberal North Carolina politics blogger, said in an email that the party’s lack of financial savvy is among its biggest problems.

In addition to addressing financial challenges, Keever said she plans on hiring new staff and installing a new executive director — who she hopes will be chosen by Mother’s Day.

“We are rearranging things a bit to get more of a team flavor,” she said. “I’m very much a team player, and I’m very excited about my fellow officers. The administration before me was more controlling; it’s just a different style.”

But with several Democratic losses in the 2014 midterm elections, prominent members of the N.C. Democratic Party are concerned.

“Whether it’s fundraising or outreach, we’re going to have to fight to rebrand and reorganize so that we can effectively position ourselves,” said Louis Duke, president of the College Democrats of North Carolina.

Matt Hughes, chairman of Orange County Democrats, said the biggest challenge to the party’s success is establishing relationships with party leaders, elected officials and grassroots Democrats.

Fisher likewise said relationship-building should be among Keever’s top priorities.

“Keever needs to actually build relationships and not just talk about building relationships,” Fisher said. “She can’t rely on surrogates to do it either — she has to put the time in listening to caucus leaders, the county leaders and minorities.”

In addition, Fisher said Keever needs to address prior unpopular actions — a voter-shaming letter and misidentifying a transgendered woman in January — for the party to best move forward. Keever has apologized for both actions.

Hughes said he thinks there’s renewed energy in the party.

“I believe that voters will look to Democrats running next year, especially for governor, to turn our state around,” he said.

Keever, having just returned from Friday’s Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, said she thinks the party’s success relies heavily on voter turnout.

“That’s our biggest problem as Democrats is getting out that vote,” Keever said. “My challenge to each precinct is to get 16 more votes than they did in 2012.”

state@dailytarheel.com


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