State Democrats picking up pieces after director's resignation
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RALEIGH – State Democrats are picking up this pieces this week.
It started with news accounts late last week that led to party outrage over the weekend, ultimately ending with the state party executive director stepping down from his post.
In what is already expected to be a tough election year, some observers said this will make things even more difficult for the Democrats.
It was a quick turn of events for the state Democratic party. Emails surfaced on Friday, outrage built over the weekend, and by Sunday afternoon- the state executive director of the party had stepped down.
At issue is allegations of sexual harassment of a former employee, a possible financial settlement and an agreement to keep everything quiet.
In his letter of resignation, former executive director Jay Parmley stated: “Let me be clear: I have never harassed any employee at any time at the NCDP or in any other job."
But political observers said that is too little too late and the damage is done is for the Democratic Party.
“The candidates who are out on the campaign trail right now must be just sort of shaking their head going, 'You know this was going to be a difficult year to begin with,'” said David McLennan, political analyst with Williams Peace University. “Now it even is more difficult.”
Democrats have been fighting an image of corruption for years in North Carolina.With several very visible stumbles, including former House Speaker Jim Black, Gov. Mike Easley, and even current Gov. Bev Perdue's campaign team all facing legal trouble.
“It is a series of events that may not be connected, but in the average citizens mind they have to be wondering what the party is all about,” said McLennan.
Democrats themselves are trying to distance themselves from the troubles, but acknowledge it may be difficult for the public to separate party problems from local advocacy.
“The big problem the chairman faces is the resignation of Parmley is not going to be enough and it's not going to quell the calls from county chairman and from activists from all over the state for him to explain his actions in a settlement agreement and a non-disclosure agreement,” said Brad Crone, Democratic strategist.
The party chair accepted Parmley's resignation, but said there were no grounds for termination, and that this ordeal had become a political distraction for the party.