Youth arm of NC Democrats raising money to help challenge party members who stray

The youth wing of the N.C. Democratic Party announced a fund Wednesday to support potential primary challengers against certain sitting Democratic lawmakers next year.

In a statement, the Young Democrats of North Carolina said their “Find Out Fund” would be used to “support Democratic candidates who want to represent the people of their districts and uphold the values that our Democratic coalition holds dear.”

Dorian Palmer, the YDNC president, said that the party’s youth leaders “want Democrats who don’t want to be in the superminority.”

“We want Democrats who want to fight for the people back home in their districts,” Palmer said.

The group didn’t name any specific lawmakers it planned to support primary challengers against, but in its statement, YDNC noted the statement youth leaders released in September, criticizing a handful of frequent swing-voting House Democrats who joined the GOP in voting for the Republican-written state budget.

Five House Democrats, out of the 48 members in the caucus, voted for the GOP budget: Reps. Cecil Brockman, Garland Pierce, Carla Cunningham, Michael Wray and Shelly Willingham.

Leaders of YDNC and two other youth groups, the College Democrats of North Carolina and the North Carolina Association of Teen Democrats, said at the time that they were “outraged” by the five Democrats breaking with the rest of their party.

They said they were “particularly sad to see several of our Black elected officials engage in the back-slapping game of closed-door politics that’s been ignoring communities of color across NC for decades.” (Brockman, Pierce, Cunningham and Willingham are Black.)

“Start acting like Democrats and stop helping NC Republicans pass some of the most brazenly anti-Black legislation we’ve seen in years in a direct affront to the communities you represent,” the youth leaders said to the five Democrats.

Referencing the date of next year’s Democratic primary, they added: “Let this be your notice — March 5th, 2024 comes sooner than you think.”

Asked about any specific targets or if they had set a fundraising goal, Palmer told The News & Observer that the group is “keeping a close eye on filing to determine how best we leverage our small-and-large dollar donors to bolster primary challengers.”

As of Wednesday, an online fundraising page for the fund had been set up through ActBlue, the party’s online fundraising platform, and was live.