Hunt Endorsement Splits Democrats

African American Democrats Shunned Again

Hunt petition on fb

This past Saturday, the African American caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party met in Greensboro to elect new officers, but the buzz was about former governor Jim Hunt and his endorsement of an independent in Raleigh’s mayoral race over a black progressive democratic attorney.

Images calling for Hunt’s named to be removed from the Sanford-Hunt Frye dinner, like the one displayed at the top of this article, began to appear on Facebook over the weekend.

Hunt, a democrat and four term governor, endorsed independent incumbent mayor Nancy McFarlane over local Democrat Charles Francis. McFarlane is a white female; Francis is African American.

Political Sharecroppers

On November 4, the African American caucus posted a scathing rebuke of Hunt on Facebook:

“Jim Hunt’s endorsement of Nancy McFarlane is a resounding smack across the face of every African American (AA) Democratic voter that shows up faithfully to support Democratic candidates endorsed by the Party. It is also an excruciating reminder of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s treatment of qualified African American (AA) Democratic candidates such as Charles Francis even when the opposition is Nancy McFarlane, an unaffiliate.

Election after election, Democratic establishment politicians, confirm what many AA voters are thinking – AAs are considered political sharecroppers for the Democratic Party.”

Establishment v. Progressive

Hunt’s move drew fire not only from the state party’s black community, but from local Democratic progressives.

Chris Telesca, a Raleigh Democrat and admin of the Wake County Progressive Democrats, wrote:

“There are no such things as non-partisan seats when it comes to the mission of the party: which is to elect Democrats. If those party officers/committee members who endorsed an UNA candidate and not a Democratic candidate, they should resign and let their seats be filed with people who do want to elect Dems. Because lately their track record has been pretty bad. So maybe doing without them and the donations with strings attached will do the party some good? If we paid real attention to grassroots organizing and small-dollar recurring fundraising, we could get along fine without the rich pukes and their minions.”

Related: The NC Democratic Party and the Minority Vote

Cause for Removal

Many prominent democrats supported McFarlane and openly endorsed her, including NC Attorney General Josh Stein.

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s Plan of Organization is specific in that the Democratic Party’s primary function is to “elect Democrats.”

The Plan of Organization further codifies the ramifications when elected democratic officials fail to support a democratic candidate, including removal from the party apparatus:


Exclusive to American Lens

Saturday’s African-American conference drew more than just the rebuke of Jim Hunt. American Lens has obtained a petition unanimously adopted by the North Carolina Democratic Party African-American caucus.

The petition calls for the removal of Jim Hunt’s name associated with the fundraising gala named the Hunt-Sanford-Frye dinner.

Petition - NCDP - Jim Hunt

The Democratic Party is scheduled to meet in January, but it is unclear if this petition can (or will) be brought to the floor for consideration.

Economic Issues Surrounding the Race

Progressive democrats and the NC African American caucus have somewhat different perspectives, but local economic policy galvanized the excitement over the Raleigh mayoral race.

Raleigh’s expansive economic development created a vacuum of affordable housing in Wake County leaving the elderly and poor vulnerable.  Francis was considered a progressive democrat who would address the socioeconomic disenfranchisement of affordable housing.

Francis - Macfarlane - Raleigh Mayoral
Charles Francis (D) and Mayor Nancy MacFarlane (I)

His loss and the establishment endorsement of an independent over a grassroots democrat, further fuels the notion and outrage by some in the party of rigged primaries and elections.

McFarlane won 58-42 over Charles Francis. McFarlane was also endorsed by media outlets such as the News & Observer and Capitol Broadcasting (WRAL), as well as identity politics organizations such as Equality NC.

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