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Dems out in full force for fundraiser

By Staff
First event of its kind in almost 10 years
By NIKIE MAYO
News Editor
The guest list for the Beaufort County Democratic Party’s first fundraiser in nearly a decade read like a who’s who list of state and county Democrats.
At least 200 people came to the Washington Civic Center on Tuesday evening to glad-hand, talk politics and dine on barbecue and fried chicken. Among the notable figures were state House Speaker Joe Hackney, House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek and Beaufort County’s Rep. Arthur Williams. Enough folks came that by 6 p.m., the adhesive name tags for guests were gone.
Hackney, an Orange County Democrat, came at the behest of Williams. He said he felt right at home in a city with a Hackney Avenue.
Beaufort County Democratic Party Chairman Surry Everett said he was “overjoyed” at the fundraiser’s turnout. He planned the event to help raise money for a county party headquarters here in preparation for the 2008 elections.
A barbershop quartet, Men ’N A Chord, entertained guests as many of them swapped stories of being involved in politics for decades. Local favorites who garnered the most praise from the crowd included Williams, who received a standing ovation, and former Rep. Zeno Edwards, who sat not far from the stage.
Hackney and Holliman spoke about how the state’s Democrats have worked well together in the Legislature. Williams said that he and fellow legislators from this part of the state worked well together as “an eastern delegation, which is what you have to do when you have as few people representing you as our counties do.”
Near the end of the event, the crowd heard from three of the four candidates who are running for lieutenant governor. Dan Besse, Sen. Walter Dalton and Hampton Dellinger each spoke briefly and asked voters for their support in 2008. Candidate Pat Smathers was unable to attend.
Besse, who lived in New Bern for 10 years, said it’s nice to return to his coastal stomping grounds.
Dalton would later add that “it’s good to be not only in the original Washington, but in the best Washington.”
Dellinger told the audience he believed the state is making “great progress, but we need your help to do more.”
Meek said he attended Tuesday’s event “to make eastern North Carolina a priority.”