Officer candidates had volunteers work the crowd for 90 minutes prior to opening the floor for official start of the event. Many hands got shook, signs were waved, and campaign stickers got stuck on the lapels, hats and shirts of practically all of the over 1,000 attending delegates.
And after a series of nominations and endorsements of the three candidates for party chair, delegates cast their votes on paper ballots, even despite formal objection to that procedure from one attendee.
Dick Harpootlian, who previously served as party chair from 1998 to 2003, was elected with 61 percent of the vote.
Phil Noble, the candidate with whom Harpootlian traded jabs through media for the past two weeks, took 32 percent, while Marion County’s party chair Lee Jenkins received 7 percent of the vote.
Frank Holleman, chair of the convention, announced the winner before opening the floor to further contests, and Noble later took the podium to congratulate Harpootlian on his victory.
The race for 1st Vice Chair was decided days before the convention when candidate Mike Evatt announced a suspension to his campaign. Jaime Harrison, an African-American delegate originally from Orangeburg, was sole eligible candidate for the office due to requirement that its holder be of different racial ethnicity from the party chair.
Harrison’s victory, even by default, was widely celebrated at the convention, and due to the impressive credentials he brings to the party.
While follow-up runoff elections were anticipated for the 2nd Vice Chair position, it only took one round to elect Melissa Watson to the seat. Plurality wins are not allowed, only majority, but Watson took over 50 percent of the 849 votes in the first round even though she had three opponents.
Carol Fowler, who did not seek reelection for her then-position of party chair, took 28 percent of the vote. Other candidates Sheila Gallagher and Kathy Hensley came in third and fourth, respectively.
A runoff was required to select a 3rd Vice Chair, however. A widely-endorsed Will Maxey took about 45 percent of the vote in the first round, while D.C. Swinton took 35 percent and Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines scored 20.
Frazier-Gaines’ following endorsement didn’t help Swinton in the second round, though, which went to Maxey 56-44.
Following officer elections, the delegation voted to approve proposed party resolutions, which included: recommendation for independent commission to review proposed new districts across the state; call for practice of auditing all voting machines following elections; and resolution to improve new voter representation and registration.
Additional resolutions were also introduced and approved, and were formal opposition to the photo ID requirement of voters that was forcibly introduced by state Republicans, and a formal statement of appreciation of outgoing party chair Carol Fowler.
Dorchester County delegates Nancy and Clayton Seufert introduced a third additional resolution from the floor, calling for proposal to support a “moral budget,” a theme that has been widely promoted across the state, including a formal demonstration at the steps of the capitol building in February. The Seufert’s resolution was approved by delegates.
At a luncheon immediately following the convention, Georgetown delegate Susan Smith called for a round of appreciation for outgoing SCDP executive director Jay Parmley, and presented Parmley with a parting gift from many state party activists. He served SCDP since 2007.
Parmley recently accepted the same position with the North Carolina Democratic Party, which is to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.