Local Democrats tell DCCC to butt out of the 13th Congressional primary

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Adam Coker (left) and Kathy Manning are seeking the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District.

Democratic Party delegates for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District passed a resolution today requesting that the DCCC, the House Democrats’ fundraising arm, stay out of the primary election as voters select a nominee to challenge Republican incumbent Ted Budd in the state’s most heavily contested congressional race.

The resolution approved today by the NC 13th District Democrats during their annual convention at GTCC’s Jamestown campus called support by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “a disruptive and undemocratic force,” while calling on the state party to “demand that the DCCC support of candidates during  the primary election process be forbidden.”

The DCCC named Kathy Manning, a Greensboro philanthropist and heir to the Kay Chemical fortune who is running in the 13th district, to its “Red to Blue” list shortly after she announced her campaign in December 2017. The committee describes “Red to Blue” as “a highly competitive and battle-tested program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns.” Manning’s fundraising totals — $530,000 before filing had even begun — prompted two prospective African-American candidates, Bruce Davis and Beniah McMiller, to bow out of the race. Manning faces one opponent in the Democratic primary — Adam Coker, a long-haul truck driver who has been campaigning almost continuously since early 2017. To date, Manning has raised $1.3 million, compared to $54,475 by Coker.

The vote by a show of hands by delegates at the 13th Congressional District convention demonstrated “extremely strong support” for the resolution,” said Josh Brown, a delegate who is also Guilford County vice chair for High Point. A video of the vote provided by Coker shows that the delegates overwhelmingly supported the resolution, with the possible exception one person. Brown said about 100 delegates attended the convention.

“To even bring it up, we had to get two thirds,” Brown said. “We had to suspend the rules. This was a big deal.”

Brown said the motivation behind the resolution was to encourage a long-term course correction in the Democratic Party in response to a perception among voters that the party is rigged to the benefit of favored candidates and unresponsive to the will of the people.

“We’ve gone through so much heck since 2016 in the fight between Hillary [Clinton] and Bernie [Sanders],” Brown said. “We are encouraging our officers to stay neutral. It hurts when what I call an auxiliary gets involved. We end up having to explain, apologizing, cleaning up after their mess. As we ask ourselves to stay neutral at least publicly, we feel like it’s unfair to have to explain when people are upset. They don’t call the DCCC; they call the county party. That vote represents frustration among local party officers about always having to explain or apologize for something we haven’t done.”

The resolution also said that DCCC’s intervention in the 13th district primary “subverts the democratic process by undermining the purpose and function of primaries” and causes “division within the district… as visibly evidenced by animosity on social media in arguments about the US House race in Guilford County.”

The resolution added that the DCCC’s involvement arguably usurps “the protection afforded under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the one-person, one-vote rule,” and that “the Democratic Party needs to claim the high moral ground by supporting free and fair elections, free from DCCC influence and other outside influences in our primaries.”

Neither the DCCC nor officers with the North Carolina Democratic Party could be reached for comment for this story.

Coker expressed satisfaction in the passage of the resolution.

“The intent for the Democratic Party is to have a true democratic process as well as to reach unity for a blue-wave election in November,” the candidate told Triad City Beat. “Today’s actions will lead to tangible real unity for an actual blue wave. Most Democrats are in the Democratic Party for the long haul. We have to proceed as one. We can’t have unity in the 13th district with so many people frustrated with what the DCCC has done.”

Correction: The original story omitted part of candidate Adam Coker’s quote. The story has been corrected to reflect his actual quote.

 

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