Democrats elect Pittsboro mayor as state chair - WNCN: News, Weather

Democrats elect Pittsboro mayor as state chair

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DURHAM, N.C. -

North Carolina Democrats elected a new chairmanSaturday as the party tries to put a difficult year behind them.

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller eaked out a win over former Congressman Bob Etheridge by a vote of 309-298.

Democrats in attendance tell WNCN they hope having a small town mayor at the party's helm will help them broaden the party's appeal with rural voters.

The Democrats enter 2013 on the outskirts of power despite overwhelming numbers when it comes to party affiliation. There are 2.8 million North Carolinians registered as Democrats, 2.0 registered as Republicans and 1.7 million unaffiliated.

But the Democrats have faced crushing defeats in the polls.

In November, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton lost to Republican Pat McCrory by double-digits, and Republicans swept to dominant majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.

In Congress, the GOP holds nine of 13 seats in the House and one of the two Senate seats. A fierce fight is expected in 2014 when Democrat Kay Hagan seeks re-election.

Outgoing Democratic Party chairman David Parker accepted, then declined an interview with WNCN.  In 2012, Parker was criticized for his handling of a sex scandal involving a top party official and a party staffer.  The staffer, Adriadn Ortega accused party executive director Jay Parmley of sexual harassment.

Parker was sued for defamation and former Governor Bev Purdue called for his resignation. That defamation case continues to make its way through the courts.

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