EDITOR’S NOTE: The candidate filing period is from noon Feb. 12 to noon Feb. 28 for Wilkes County sheriff, Wilkes clerk of Superior Court, district attorney, two Wilkes County commissioner seats, two Wilkes school board seats, all state House and Senate seats and all U.S. House seats.

N.C. Democratic Chairman Wayne Goodwin said Democratic Party candidates are needed in every state House and Senate race this fall when he spoke at the Wilkesboro Civic Center Saturday night.

“With the blue wave coming, we could win some districts that we might never thought we could win. But if we don’t have a Democrat on the ballot, we won’t win it,” said Goodwin to a crowd of about 75 at the Wilkes Democratic Party’s annual Century Club Dinner fundraiser.

Goodwin said Gov. Roy Cooper challenged him and county Democratic chairs to make sure there are Democrats running for every state House and Senate seat this November. Goodwin was elected state insurance commissioner in 2008 and 2012, but was defeated by Republican Mike Causey in the GOP sweep of 2016.

With Cooper partnering with his party, said Goodwin, “we’re going to break the legislative super majority. (A party with the super majority holds at least three-fifths of state House and Senate seats so it can override the governor when he vetoes legislation.)

Goodwin said the Democratic Party’s goal is to break the GOP super majority with House and Senate wins this November and then win enough additional legislative seats in the election cycle after that to control one or both chambers. “We need to make sure that when Gov. Cooper vetoes something, that the veto can be upheld by Democrats. And make sure that good government is in charge, which we’re not seeing now with the Republican legislators.”

He said some North Carolinians haven’t had a Democrat to vote for because Democrats said “it’s a Republican district and I’m not going to run. That’s just not good enough.” He encouraged urging others to run or suggesting candidates to party officials so they can contact them.

“When we get to the final days of the (candidate) filing period and there is no Democrat running for a seat in the legislature, I’m asking somebody to step up to the plate. “If you let any Republican go unchallenged, that’s a community, county or district that is not hearing the other side of the story… not hearing what we believe as Democrats.... It’s about opportunity and equality for all and justice and education, clean water, clean air and the list goes on and on of the things we fight for to help our fellow citizens.”

Goodwin also emphasized organizing precincts to get the party message out and get people to vote. He praised the Wilkes Democratic Party for holding Century Club dinners for several years and said these party fundraisers aren’t held in every county.

Goodwin said the party that is out of power historically does well in mid-term elections. “Historically that is true, but we cannot rely on history. Every one of us has to do everything we can to make history happen.”

He said he hoped Democrats learned their lesson after going through “the darkest times we’ve seen. Otherwise, it’s going to be dark for a long time.” After Democrats swept elected offices in 2008 in North Carolina and across the nation, some Democrats “decided to just rest on their laurels. In 2010, we had a smaller turnout and we lost the legislature” for the first time since Reconstruction.

Republicans earned veto-proof majorities in 2012 using districts they drew in 2011. Republicans keep this control through the 2014 and 2016 elections. These have been challenged in court as discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Goodwin said consequences of the 2016 election are being felt from the state legislature to the White House. Republicans in the N.C. legislature and particularly in Congress “sold their souls…. The very foundation of our country is at stake because of what the other party is doing to us…. It bothers me when we have people who have professed to be persons of faith who decide that their faith waffles or completely disappears when it comes to party,” he said.

“I don’t understand how they (Republicans) can say the person in the White House was sent there by God…. that (President Trump) reflects the values they have always sought in leaders.” Goodwin said the word for this is hypocrisy. He said it’s wrong to “flip your values because of your lust for power” instead of doing what’s best for a community, state or nation.

“Democrat because of my faith”

Also speaking Saturday night was the Rev. Ray McKinnon of Charlotte, a state representative on the Democratic National Committee. Members are elected by the governing body of the N.C. Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee to represent the state on the national party committee.

“I come to you tonight as a proud Democrat,” said McKinnon, also a United Methodist minister. He said some members of a church he served in Çatawba County asked how he could be a Democrat and preacher.

“I say I am not a Democrat in spite of my faith. I am a Democrat because of my faith,” said McKinnon.

He quoted Proverbs 31:8-9, Scripture, which encourages speaking up and defending the rights of the poor and destitute. McKinnon said the Democratic Party speaks up for the poor and for justice, but added that he doesn’t believe in mixing politics and preaching.

McKinnon said it’s especially important to step up for justice now. “It’s time for us to stand up and say that as a country, we were built on the backs of immigrants…. Immigrants still today build this country.”

McKinnon said he was a benefactor of the welfare his family received when his mother was single and working three jobs. I’m a benefactor of an incredible public school education in east Greensboro…. I benefitted from incredible educators. We need Democrats to speak up for that” and encourage people to support strong public education.

“We need people to stand up and say that it is not okay for a person to work 40 hours a week and not be able to provide for their family…. Historically, we (Democrats) are the people who stand up for worker’s rights…. We’re not the people who say pull yourself up by your own bootstraps to people who never had boots to begin with.”

McKinnon emphasized the importance of rural North Carolina to the Democratic Party and said it takes more courage to stand up and be known as a Democrat in a “red” county like Wilkes than in a “blue” county like Mecklenburg.

Other speakers

Drew Christy, director of the governor’s western regional office, spoke on behalf of Cooper and said Cooper directed his cabinet members to communicate with town and county managers and others in the state’s 80 rural counties for ideas on what can be done to help them thrive.

Wilkes Democratic Brandon Anderson introduced Goodwin, McKinnon and Christy. He recognized Ann Willardson and Sandy Forrest for organizing the Century Club Dinner. Anderson has announced his candidacy for state senator for the 45th District.

Anderson noted that the Wilkes Democratic Party headquarters are at 313 Ninth Street, North Wilkesboro.

Also speaking was Charlie Wallin of Boone, chairman of the state’s Fifth Congressional District Democrats.

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