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Plagued By Money Drama, NC Democrats Try A New Fundraising Tool

Photo: The Goodwin House
North Carolina Democratic Party

The new executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party is looking to revamp how the party raises money -- as it faces more than a year of leadership turnover, fundraising troubles and distancing from the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

Casey Mann, a long-time campaign strategist who was named executive director Sunday, says the party began losing major donors in 2009 and would now aggressively court small contributions from individuals. The party is planning to launch a website called the NC Victory Fund that will allow people to make recurring monthly donations, and had its biggest fundraising day of the past year on Monday with $25,000 in pledges, Mann says.

"There is no denying that the Democratic Party is in a place where we need to rebuild," Mann told reporters Monday afternoon. "That is not something that has suddenly occurred today. That's not even something that happened a year ago. The state is changing and the Democratic Party is changing."

Mann says the party took a major hit last year when the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated the check-off on individual tax returns, which sent money to political parties. She says the check-off yields covered three-fourths of Democratic operating costs.

But perhaps the party's most visible symptom of financial distress is its direct pleas for money to maintain the Goodwin House, its historic headquarters building Goodwin House, which was built on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh in 1903.

The party has been beleaguered by leadership disputes, the Raleigh News & Observer reported:

At the heart of the tempest is a battle for the direction of the Democratic Party, after it lost the governor’s mansion and legislature for the first time in more than a century in the 2012 election. Pushing back against the moderation that governed years past, the activist arm of the party took control with [Chairman Randy] Voller’s selection in 2013 and pushed for a more liberal stance.

Sen. Hagan’s re-election campaign managers appeared to distance themselves when they recently partnered with the Wake County Democratic Party for its get-out-the-vote operation, citing disorganization within the state party.

But Mann and Voller say they're working closely with the Hagan campaign. Voller says the party is coordinating its communication strategy with the campaign, including its message on the Affordable Care Act, which Hagan supported and opposition advertisements have criticized.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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