Rallying for funds, food

Published 6:52 am Thursday, July 29, 2010

Staff Writer

The Beaufort County Democratic Party needs to raise $6,000 to keep its election-year headquarters open through the last of the campaign season.
Toward that end, party stalwarts gathered for a fundraiser Tuesday evening at the Washington home of party Chairwoman Alice Mills Sadler.
Around 80 to 100 people were expected to pay $25 per head to feast on barbecued pig and all the trimmings, said Josie Hookway, office manager for the headquarters.
“The main thing is that people are still enthusiastic about (President Barack) Obama in the White House and about a Democratic administration, and we hope to keep it that way,” said Hookway.
Yet, recent polling indicates the president’s approval numbers are in the mid-40s, leading many Democrats to fear Obama could be a drag on the ticket this year, though his name’s not on the ballot.
Obama lost largely conservative Beaufort County in the 2008 presidential contest.
It’s against this backdrop that the Dems have set the goal of recapturing a majority of seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, which the party lost to the Republicans more than seven and a half years ago.
Keeping the headquarters open remains central to the party’s goals because it provides a base of operations from which to rally the party base and recruit volunteers, and it presents a counter to GOP headquarters, also located on Washington’s Market Street.
Sadler, who hovered over Tuesday’s proceedings while songs by singers ranging from the Temptations to Frank Sinatra played over loudspeakers, acknowledged that the fundraiser might fall short of its target.
“I’d certainly hope to get more,” she said, adding that the county party has applied for an additional $6,000 from the state Dems.
Sadler revealed that Tuesday’s contributors could count some heavy hitters in their ranks, including state Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, who gave $1,000; and Democratic Sheriff Alan Jordan, who was in the $500 category.
Asked in what areas the party could stand to improve, Sadler pointed to the hoped-for attraction of new voters to the Democratic banner.
“I haven’t seen the voter registration that I want to see,” she said.
Sadler said she’d been advised to concentrate less on how voters are registered than on how they vote, asserting that, in the May 4 primary, voters nominated Democratic commissioner candidates whose appeal crosses party and gender lines.
Among the officials present for the fundraiser were Williams plus the following Democrats: incumbent Commissioner Ed Booth; Commissioner Robert Cayton, who isn’t up for re-election this year; first-time commissioner candidate Jerry Evans; Tom Payne, chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Elections; Marty Paramore, Beaufort County’s clerk of court; District Attorney Seth Edwards; Johnny Rouse, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C.; and others.
It turns out the Democrats have competition at the fundraising table as well as the ballot box.
The Beaufort County Republican Party has scheduled a pig pickin’ and wine tasting for Sept. 11 at Bennett Vineyards in Edward.
Vineyards owner Buddy Harrell believes the GOP can attract more than 100 people to the event, said Larry Britt, party chairman.
“We’re looking at money to spend to advertise the Republican cause,” Britt commented. “We’re going to spend every penny we can raise.”
All local Republican candidates will be invited to the event, he said.