WJTV News Channel 12 - UPDATE: NC Democratic Party to name new director

UPDATE: NC Democratic Party to name new director

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RALEIGH, N.C. - The North Carolina Democratic Party chairman says he'll name a new interim executive director later this week, and it appears former national NAACP leader Benjamin Chavis is his choice.

Chairman Randy Voller told fellow Democrats on Monday he'll announce a replacement for fired Robert Dempsey on Wednesday.

Party first vice chairwoman Patsy Keever says in an interview that Voller told her Sunday it was his plan to hire Chavis as the new executive director. Voller declined to comment earlier Monday when asked if Chavis is his pick.

He said any replacement would be an interim choice and need the approval of the party's executive council to become permanent.

Chavis is an Oxford native and member of a group wrongly convicted of firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store in 1971.

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The man running day-to-day operations at the North Carolina Democratic Party is out of his job after less than nine months at the position.

A state party attorney confirmed Robert Dempsey was no longer executive director as of Sunday. The lawyer, David Harris, would give no further explanation.

"It is a personnel matter and I cannot elaborate any further," Harris said Sunday evening in an interview.

Harris said the state party's organizational rules say the executive director "serves at the pleasure of the chair."

The party's chairman, Randy Voller, didn't return a phone and text messages. Harris said he was responding to those queries.

Reached by phone Sunday night, Dempsey said he had no comment.

Dempsey came to the state party in late May and was the choice of a search committee led by Voller. Dempsey previously worked for the Vermont Democratic Party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and most recently a successful California congressional campaign.

Dempsey was expected to lead the charge within the party's structure toward the 2014 elections.

The state party is trying to rebound after extensive losses during the 2010 and 2012 elections. With GOP Gov. Pat McCrory's victory in 2012, Republicans are now in charge of the General Assembly and the executive branch for the first time in more than 140 years.

Voller was narrowly elected chairman in early 2013. The party's first vice president resigned a few months later and complained about Voller's leadership. Voller also faced questions about some business-related debt and a party fundraising trip.

The state Democratic Party raised about $444,000 during the second half of 2013 compared to $651,000 by the state Republican Party, according to campaign finance reports. For all of 2013, the state GOP raised $1.2 million compared to $793,000 for the Democrats.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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