Vote Locally, Think Globally

With the state redistricting in limbo, the NC Dem Party has posted a contingency plan just in case the primaries can't be held on time Everyone needs to check out this plan and comment before the public review process is over. If the primaries don't happen (likely at this point) then caucuses would be held by county. Since the caucuses are county caucuses and the final delegate selection is by senate district (I think), then Orange and Durham votes will be added to create a grand total for the 4th district. This makes it important that Dems (registered independents won't be able to vote) show up for the caucuses if they are held. Whichever candidate -Dean- turns out the people -Dean- will win the nomi-Dean-nation.

Any thoughts on the contingency plan and its effects on our local input into the process?



I just got word from the County Commissioners office that as far back as they have records (1969 unbelievably enough) on party affiliation, all commissioners have been Democrats. I am reasonably certain that the commissioners before that were Democrats also, because in NC & most of the south the Democratic Party was dominant. Plus in '92 when I first inquired, that's what I was told, that's what the papers reported, there were no opinions or facts presented to the contrary. I actually ran into one county commissioner from the early 60's, a Democrat, who had evidently heard that I was a Green and accused me of going out into the ocean and sinking boats.


Sinking boats? How very French of you.

One step toward cleaner elections (i.e. avoiding the skewing of straight-party ticket voting by those who don't even know about the commissioners) would be to have candidates run as individuals as the towns & school boards do.

One incident during my run in 1992 which symbolizes the situation for me is a phone call I got from a Democratic Party activist urging me to vote the staright Democratic Party ticket. I replied that I would vote for many of the Democrats but was intrigued by the independent candidate for county commissioner. When I realized the caller did not even know there was such a candidate, I asked him who the Democratic Party county commissioner candidates were & he didn't even know their names.


Some reading Mark Marcoplos' comments may not be aware that he ran for County Commissioner as an independent in 1992. He received around 10,000 votes, a tremendous showing, but 20,000 were needed for victory.

I worked at one of the polls for Mark on that election day. It was Clinton against Bush and there were long lines waiting to vote. Thus, it was easy to talk to people. It was astounding how many voters didn't know there was a commissioners race on the ballot and even had no idea what a county commissioner was. They were there to vote for president and were planning to check the straigh party box.

I've always been amazed that two of the four levels

of government (state and county) are almost invisible.

We continually hear about the feds and the towns, yet the

counties control a much larger budget than the

towns, collect almost twice the taxes from each of us

that the towns do, and have a huge

impact on our daily lives. Except for the school

merger issue, the Orange County commissioners would

not be on anyone's radar screen. The legislature, way back when,

decided (correctly, I think) that Health Education and

Welfare should be county functions because even today,

about half of the people in NC live only in counties but not in

towns, and that HEW are needs of everyone, urban and rural


The Orange County web-site lists County Commissioners from 1932 to the present, but does not list party affiliation. At this point, it is not safe to say that I am "obviously" wrong in contending that they are all Democrats. More later.

"After 1898, African Americans did not hold any congressional seats in North Carolina until 1992 when Eva Clayton and Mel Watt were elected to the House of Representatives. Ironically they are Democrats and the Republicans are now the ones trying to pull tricks to rig the elections against them."

-- M. Chilton

Odd that you would mention Mel Watt's House seat and pulling tricks and rigging elections at the same time. Wasn't his seat the one based on that bizarre piece of gerrymandering that linked parts of Charlotte and Durham by 100+ miles of I-85? I recall there was a joke that suggested if you drove along I-85 with your car doors open, you would knock over most of the district's constituents.

I guess my point is that almost all levels of government were under Republican control to some degree and at some point in the 1870's in North Carolina. So I am going to stick with my theory that there were Republican Orange County Commissioners at that time. Also it is possible that there might well have been Whig Commissioners before the Civil War, but that is much more speculative.

-Mark Chilton

While we wait for the final answer, I think it is notable - and possibly indicative of a problem - that in order to be elected county commmissioner in the last 50 or 60 years, you had to run as a registered Democrat.


The 12th CD (I hope that is the correct #) and similarly designed CDs presented an interesting dilemma for both Dems and Reps. It ensures the election of African-American Dems. At the same time, it packs Democrats into one district and lowers the competitiveness in adjacent districts. In some cases, these districts have been supported by both Republicans (who are being disingenuous) and African-American Democrats.

am i still in the doghouse?

Depends on if you act like a dog, D.

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. Proverbs 26

woof woof


Thanks for the interesting research. I see that a Republican was elected to the Chapel Hill Board of Commissioners, but do not see any citing of a Republican being elected as County Commissioner (which was the original question). I got my info from the Board of Elections in 1992 and assumed they knew.


I don't think it matters much. By the time this goes down the nominee will be known. This is really just a formality. The cool thing is that it determines who gets to go to the national convention.

Anyone who lives in the 5th district is invited to vote for me.

I guess I was under the impression that the delegates to the convention were hand-picked by the Dem party establishment. What is the process for picking delegates to the national convention? Anyoone know?

You can find the delegate selection plan on the NC Democratic Party Website:

Elros writes:

>I don't think it matters much. By the time this

>goes down the nominee will be known. This is

>really just a formality. The cool thing is that

>it determines who gets to go to the national


On the other hand, if you're a Dean supporter, as I am for the moment, the primaries/caucuses are the only chance we'll have to do something that matters. This is because W will probably win the general election, so our votes certainly won't count then.

However, it turns out that primaries/caucuses are not winner-take-all, so any Dean delegates to the nat'l convention could make some difference if the primaries have been close.

On a related note, I recommend downloading the petition to get Dean on the NC ballot ( Dean is not automatically on the ballot because he is not taking public funding. Anyone know what happens if we go to caucuses? Maybe caucuses can send delegates supporting anyone we want, whether they're on the ballot or not??

-- ge

Blast. There are times being registered as "unafiliated" (which is how we ARE registered--not "independant") bites one in the behind--and this is one of those times. Ah well. I don't think Howard Dean has a chance against Bush. Wesley Clark, maybe....


anyone know what happens to the rest of the primaries besides the presidential ones????

I would assume there would have to be something for the other offices e.g. county commissioner before Novermber???

answers anyone?

The other primaries will be at a different time but shouldn't be so affected by the redistricting battle... unless the courts take too much time.

Primaries in North Carolina are usually held in the beginning of May. This includes the Orange County Commissioner race, in which the primary is much more important than the general election (see below). In 2002, the primaries were delayed by the redistricting battle which also held up statewide races like US Senate.

Trivia question: when was the last time someone was elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners who was not on the Democratic Party ballot?

Mmmmm.... trivia... Was it Joyce Brown?

Never happened. The commissioners are always chosen in the Democratic primary by a relatively small number of voters. All the candidates are quite aware of this, yet no Democratic Party candidate has ever acknowledged this reality, much less done anything to address this undemocratic situation.


Never EVER? I find that hard to believe.

(Rickie, I don't think Joyce ever served on the BOCC.)

Ahem! Let me say that I don't know, but I will research the matter. Mark Marcoplos is obviously wrong that it has NEVER happened. There were many Republican elected officials in Orange County in the 1870's and I think even in the 1880's and 1890's. The Chapel Hill Board of Commissioners (as the governing board of Chapel Hill was then known) was entirely republican in the early 1870's.

The Mayor at that time was actually UNC President Solomon Poole - a much vilified Republican of that day. He and his associates were actually run out of UNC by the Democratic State Legislature at the urging of many Orange County Democrats including prominently Cornelia Phillips Spencer. She and other Dems successfully advocated to get UNC shut down completely for several years. Later she heroically got it reopened and stocked with Democrats. In recognition of her marvelous contribution to UNC history, Spencer dormitory was named for her.

Another Republican elected official in Orange County was Greene Brewer. Brewer is notable because he was the first African-American elected official in Orange County (in 1869!!) His family lived in the vicinity that is now near Brewer Lane (near Crook's Corner). Brewer was one of the so-called Black and Tan Republicans - a biracial coalition that controlled many aspects of state government during Reconstruction.

North Carolina was even represented by African Americans in Congress in the latter part of the 19th century. Eventually Democrats reclaimed control of state government in the wake of the `Wilmington race riot of 1898 (? is that the right year?) and passed literacy tests/poll taxes etc to separate African Americans from their political freedom. After 1898, African Americans did not hold any congressional seats in North Carolina until 1992 when Eva Clayton and Mel Watt were elected to the House of Representatives. Ironically they are Democrats and the Republicans are now the ones trying to pull tricks to rig the elections against them.


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