Over the weekend, I predicted that the scandal in the Democratic Party in North Carolina would prove more embarrassing than impactful. So far, I’m still right about the embarrassment quotient. After Governor Bev Perdue scolded a reporter for asking about the scandal, she reversed course yesterday and suddenly demanded the resignation of the state party chair:
The chairman of the state Democratic Party is expected to resign after an avalanche of top elected officials called for his ouster Tuesday amid revelations that he authorized a secret agreement to pay a former staffer to keep quiet after making sexual harassment allegations.
Gov. Bev Perdue, after refusing to comment on the issue for days, said she told Chairman David Parker that “he had lost the confidence of Democratic leaders, and I asked him to step aside for the good of the party.”
Her statement came hours after five statewide Democratic elected officials also asked him to step down in a controversy that cost the party’s executive director his job earlier this week.
Hey, it’s not as if Perdue knew about the scandal before the Daily Caller reported it a few days ago, right? Wrong:
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue admitted late Tuesday evening that she has known about the allegations of sexual harassment within her state’s Democratic Party for at least several months.
“My team first heard of the personnel matter at the State Party late last year,” Perdue said in a statement. “They promptly relayed these rumors to the party officials responsible for handling personnel matters — the Chairman and the party’s legal counsel, who were already aware of the issue.” …
Perdue’s admission came mere hours after she called for her state party chairman David Parker to resign over the scandal. Before that, Perdue had told a local reporter pressing her on the sexual harassment issue to “get over it,” while dismissing the case as just a “personnel matter.”
So … the matter was so minor that Perdue told a reporter to “get over it,” and then hours later it was so important that the state chair has to resign? Looks like an awful lot of people knew about these allegations for months, all the way up to the highest-ranking official in the state, and no one seemed interested in doing anything about it until it leaked to the media. That makes this a bit more than a mere “personnel issue,” as do the sudden demands for Parker’s exit. It’s now a political hot potato that Democrats want to pass off to anyone else.
A spokesman for the state GOP suggested that this scandal could be the reason Perdue decided to retire after one term. That’s possible, but Perdue didn’t announce her intention to retire until the end of January. Her decision probably had more to do with her own declining popularity, not altogether unconnected to Perdue’s idiotic suggestion last September to postpone Congressional elections in order to relieve politicians from accountability so that they could solve the nation’s problems, which her office unsuccessfully tried to pass off as a joke later. The problem for Democrats is that Perdue is showing the same kind of political incompetence and pouring a little more gasoline on this fire.
In the end, this probably won’t change very many votes in North Carolina next November, at least not in the presidential election. It might make organizing for the election more difficult for Democrats, but Barack Obama and the economy will have that effect anyway. Democrats fighting for state and local offices may end up paying a big price for this scandal, though.