Democrats elect new state party chair, pass trans-inclusive language

Transgender candidate Janice Covington Allison bypassed by popular frontrunner Patsy Keever

Leaders of the North Carolina Democratic Party elected their new state chairman at a meeting in Pittsboro, N.C., today, bypassing a transgender candidate for the office while also approving transgender-inclusive language in the party’s governing documents.

Patsy Keever, a former state House member from Asheville, won overwhelmingly in the first round of voting for the state party chair position, gaining 367 votes to runner-up Marshall Adame’s 129 votes, according to a vote tally provided by a party member at the meeting.

Keever, who had been serving as the state’s first vice chair, had created controversy after calling transgender candidate Janice Covington Allison “a man” during a debate in Gaston County last month. The two later moved toward reconciliation, hugging at a Charlotte debate and agreeing to “cut the drama.”

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Allison, of Charlotte, entered the race in early January as the first transgender candidate to run for the statewide party position. She had been endorsed by a transgender member of the Democratic National Committee. Allison was also the first transgender person elected to represent North Carolina as a delegate to a Democratic National Convention when it was hosted in Charlotte in 2012.

Allison, nominated by Mecklenburg County’s Ty Turner, received just nine votes in the party election on Saturday, followed by Salisbury businesswoman Constance Johnson with  eight votes and Raleigh party activist Ron Sanyal with six votes.

In another move, the state party overwhelmingly passed a provision to add the term “gender identity” to the state party plan of organization’s preamble. The document already contained an extensive list of other enumerated categories, including sexual orientation. The state party was supposed to have added the transgender-inclusive language last year. The party said last month it would be taken up at its statewide meeting this month.

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Photos below courtesy Betsy Muse and BlueNC.com.

Janice Covington Allison speaks with a N.C. Democratic Party member before the statewide meeting and chair election in Pittsboro, N.C., on Feb. 7. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

Janice Covington Allison speaks with a N.C. Democratic Party member before the statewide meeting and chair election in Pittsboro, N.C., on Feb. 7. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

State party chair victor Patsy Keever, center, with Morehead City's Tina Willis Rodriguez, left, and  Marion's Beth Ebert Ostgaard, right. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

State party chair victor Patsy Keever, center, with Morehead City’s Tina Willis Rodriguez, left, and Marion’s Beth Ebert Ostgaard, right. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

State party chair runner-up Marshall Adame and wife, Becky. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

State party chair runner-up Marshall Adame and wife, Becky. Photo by Betsy Muse/BlueNC.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.