Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Darren Staley Is a Democratic Hero

Way back at the beginning of last December, I wrote about Democrat Darren Staley, carrying the torch for working people in NC Senate Dist. 36 (Wilkes, Alexander, Yadkin, and Surry, about as red as it gets), and I praised his common roots and his struggle to overcome a hard life (interview with Darren Staley). He did overcome difficult circumstances with native smarts and determination. Wilkes Community College offered a belated education -- he had dropped out of high school to take factory work -- and now Staley has a master's degree and works full-time for a small business that provides services to people with disabilities. He sits on several committees that advocate for people across the behavioral health spectrum. But he's very much a part of the fabric of his Senate district: "I am literally just a guy in a mobile home typing this from my kitchen table."

Senate District 36 looks hopeless for a Democrat because it's rated R+26, but Staley has proven a doughty contender, raising enough small-dollar donations to make a showing on a stage where Democrats usually don't even show up. Daley points at what recently happened in a special election in a deep-red Ohio Congressional district that was rated R+30. The Democrat in the race, a first-time candidate with no experience, running against a veteran Republican office-holder, came within 10 points of beating the Republican in a race he should have lost by 30 points. Staley commented on Facebook:

Now, a special election in Ohio is not a general election in North Carolina. But I think it says something about where voters are. They may not change their political affiliation or suddenly decide to vote the other side this cycle up and down the ballot, but they are paying attention.

They are realizing that a totally "safe seat" for one party or the other means that the person in that seat doesn't really have to pay attention to their issues. That the person in that seat is best served by only agreeing with the most extreme side of their party so that they don't get a primary challenge.

People are fed up with that.

I think Darren Staley is right: People are fed up with the heavy hand of partisan politics that's used to suppress, to hold down, to silence, to maintain a status quo of one-sided power and control that benefits no one but the powerful.

Last night Staley published a thread on Twitter that's worth quoting at some length:

I'm a unique candidate, but my story is not unique. So many people in my district have been impacted by some part of my story. Single mothers. Single fathers. Factory workers. Laid off factory workers. People who live in starter homes or trailers. People who have no health insurance. People with disabilities. People without access to quality education or quality healthcare. People who pay their power bill two days before the cutoff notice. People with student loan debt. People who depend on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and SNAP benefits. People who can't afford child care.

I have also, more recently, seen the small business side too. I understand that we need regulation, but it can't be one-size-fits-all. I know about the small business bubble ... when you are successful enough that people like what you are selling, but you can't yet afford additional staff to grow. You can't afford an in-house IT person. You can't afford a good health care plan for your staff. Anytime you give an across the board raise to existing employees, your comp premiums increase because it is based solely on payroll. But your corporate competitors don't have that problem. 

...I spend a lot of time talking to the Republicans in this district. All of them who have been impacted by one aspect of my story or another. A lot of them don't vote often. But in the past two days, I have had a half dozen Republicans in the district reach out to me about my Facebook posts on gerrymandering. They don't like it once they see the facts. It strikes against their basic sense of fairness. Same thing when I talk about vouchers and public education funding....

My whole intention in making this run was to bring people out of their bubble. To show people in this district, regardless of party, you DO have a choice. You CAN change this bullshit. You MUST send a message. NO party owns a district. NO vote should be taken for granted....

I've had a hard life, some by circumstance and some of my own making. I want to make the struggles we all have a little bit easier. That message is resonating, because it is true. It is the only reason I am doing it. And if ya'll didn't know that you wouldn't even be reading this....

I have donated to the Darren Staley campaign, and so can you, here. We need him, and we need more Democratic candidates like him.

No comments: