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Jerry Meek was elected as North Carolina Democratic State Party Chairman Saturday by a vote of 271 - 242. The contest between Meek and Ed Turlington, Sen. John Kerry's campaign director, was billed as Meek representing progressive "grass roots" Democrats and Turlington representing "establishment" Democrats.

Gov. Easley recommended Turlington as Party Chairman.  Almost every elected state wide elected Democrat supported Turlington.  Most significantly, former Gov. Jim Hunt, a sixteen year Governor and political icon, nominated Turlington.  

The initial media response is to frame Meek's election as a slap at Gov. Easley:

"North Carolina Democrats delivered a blow to Gov. Mike Easley on Saturday, choosing a favorite of local party activists over Easley's choice as state party chairman. - Independent Tribune

"Jerry Meek rode an insurgency to the state Democratic Party chairmanship Saturday, handing a startling rebuff to Gov. Mike Easley and the party establishment." - News & Observer

Meek's election represents his strong credentials of service within the Party and years of mounting frustration by rank and file Democrats that the Party has been neglected and relegated to a position of obscurity.  

For example, the NCDP State Convention in 2004 was adjourned without adopting a Party Platform when progressive Democrats attempted to insert a plank favoring commercial hemp.  Democrats went into the 2004 General Election without a Platform, perhaps for the first time in the history of the Party.

Progressives are now clearly in control of the NCDP.  Two of the top three positions in the Party are held by progressives; Delmas Parker being elected 2nd Vice Chairman.  They will be responsible for the conduct of Party over the next two years.  The ability of the progressives to advance the rebuilding of the Democratic Party will be the gauge of their success or failure.

For more on the story, read this: -- Chairman Meek

Originally posted to Gheen on Sun Feb 20, 2005 at 11:33 AM PST.

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