Yes, the Democrats have a Southern Strategy, of sorts

Charlotte, North Carolina, on the eve of the 2012 Democratic National Convention
(Photo by PBG)

“We are thrilled to have the Democratic National Convention here, thrilled to have our party fighting for the South.” – Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx, in a statement welcoming the media to his hometown, September 3, 2012

Mayor Foxx called the Democrats’ mobilizing in North Carolina, “a ripple effect,” because, “we border Virginia, and some of the other states around us, that could be competitive in this race.”

“It gives us just as much of a boost in Virginia, the neighboring state, as it does in North Carolina,” agreed Obama campaign press secretary, Ben Labolt.

In choosing to hold the 2012 Democratic Convention in the Old South, the president’s party left many scratching their heads. After all, even though Obama won North Carolina and Virginia in the 2008 election, it was only by the slimmest of margins, especially in the Tar Heel State. The President won the state  by fewer than 14,000 votes, a number that would have easily been eclipsed, if former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate, had his 25,000 votes go to Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.

But, Foxx insists, “When you come into the South, everyone in the South is part of a convention like this,” and, he claims, his fellow North Carolinians are part of  “a progressive state, a state that continues to look forward.”

Certainly, the Research Triangle, that includes Raleigh-Durham, is evidence of that evolution. When the Raleigh area’s Wake County School board was usurped, in 2009, by members who were committed to reversing decades of school racial diversity policy, the community rose up and threw them out the next election, just this past November.

According to local news reports, Rev. William Barber, of the North Carolina NAACP, drew a progressive line against what he called “regressive public policy that leads to resegregation of our public schools.” His efforts, combined with the dissatisfaction of an influx of professionals from more progressive parts of the country – and an unusual influx of out-of-state money, on both sides, for a local school board race – helped restore some of those diversity programs, or at least mitigated their wholesale dismissal.

But even with a progressive wave, the polls in the presidential election show a dead heat in North Carolina. “Organization is going to be very important,” said LaBolt. “We’re not treating this like Tampa,” he said, referring to the Republicans’ Obama bashing fest last week, “We’re using it as an organizing opportunity,” for North Carolina, Virginia, and other southern states, to “become engaged in the campaign.”

Perhaps that is why Foxx said, Monday, that his state “is an excellent backdrop for this president to accept the re-nomination for our party.”


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