RALEIGH — Before Wayne Goodwin walked out of the office Friday for the last time as the state insurance commissioner, he had already planned his next political step.
The Hamlet native last week announced his intent to lead the North Carolina Democratic Party, unveiling his plan on a new campaign Facebook page.
Current chairwoman Patsy Keever said last year that she would not seek another term in office.
“I’m a North Carolina Democrat,” Goodwin said in an announcement. “Like for so many folks, a good strong public education and programs created by Democrats helped me succeed in life. My public school teachers, my church and my family raised me in rural Richmond County and made me who I am today.”
Goodwin said his experience and passion for politics, which he described as “the art of the possible,” make him a strong candidate to lead the state Democratic Party.
He served as N.C. Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshall from 2009 until last week, after being defeated by Republican Mike Causey in November’s election. Goodwin also served four terms as a state representative in the N.C. General Assembly
Goodwin, who said he has been politically active since at least 4th grade, went on to become president of Richmond County’s Teen Dems, president of the University of North Carolina Young Democrats, vice president of the N.C. Federation of College Democrats, precinct chair for Marks Creek 2, a three-term chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party and participated in several more “grass roots” activities.
“Through my service as an elected official, I’m someone who has not only fought to implement policies we Democrats believe in but someone who has done the challenging work of organizing and campaigning precinct by precinct, county by county, and across North Carolina,” he said in a statement.
Goodwin added that while the party’s gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper was elected in 2016, being surrounded and outnumbered by Republicans will be a challenge.
“Meantime,” he continued. “In their infinite wisdom, the federal courts themselves have recognized the unconstitutional nature of the Republicans’ racially gerrymandered legislative maps, ordering new maps and elections in 2017. This presents an unforeseen opportunity for us Democrats to reclaim some of those seats in the legislature in less than a year, and we need to take advantage of that opportunity and hit the ground running.”
Goodwin said state Democrats “are in a unique time,” and that the election of a chairman of his experience is crucial.
“Now is the time for us to elect a chairman who can – and will – unify our State Executive Committee and help us address vital structural, fundraising, and messaging needs,” he said. “Now is the time for us to implement a 100-county strategy, helping us win and organize from the grassroots up and using every modern technological tool we can to keep our message and our mission united.
“Now is the time for us to elect a chairman who has a long-standing working relationship with our auxiliary organizations,” Goodwin continued. “Now is the time for us to elect a chairman who understands the needs of our Democratic legislators, justices, judges, and local officials. Now is the time for us to elect a chairman who can – and will – go toe to toe with Republican Party counterparts, and be a strong, respected voice for our party. Now is the time for us to elect a chairman who Governor Roy Cooper can count on every day to have his back, to have your back and to represent our party.”
Goodwin said if he is elected party chair, the state’s Democrats will have a warrior battling for them daily.
“I am running for NCDP chairman because of my pledge to do ‘all the above’ and focus on our mission: supporting our Democratic Governor and electing Democrats up and down the ticket, all across our state,” he explained. “For if we do not do these things and more, then we cannot shape public policy and help move our fellow citizens, our families and our State forward. The North Carolina we know and love needs us to succeed. Every county party counts on a strong state chair and a solid state party organization.”
He will face off against challenger Janice Covington Allison, a transgender activist from Charlotte, in the February 11 election.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.