|By Scott Nicholson, published in the Watauga Democrat, 5 Sept. 2008
The Watauga County Democratic Party got to work on Labor Day,
officially opening its new campaign headquarters in downtown Boone.
Local Democrats passed out bumper stickers and literature and began
scheduling volunteers to make phone calls and to staff the office in
preparation for a busy election season. The group was excited about its
candidates’ prospects in November.
Party chairwoman Diane Tilson said the enthusiasm had soared after the
recent Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.
“It’s a good turnout,” she said. “Everyone is
energized. We’re ready to take back the country.”
Candidates N.C. Rep. Cullie Tarleton (D-93), N.C. Sen. Steve Goss,
(D-45), U.S. Fifth District Congressional candidate Roy Carter, county
commissioner Winston Kinsey and school board candidates Joni Horine and
Marsha Walpole were in attendance, along with Boone mayor Loretta
Clawson and Boone Town Council member Lynne Mason. Though there were no
formal speeches, the group held a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the
Democrats in attendance expressed optimism and excitement about the
country’s mood, and much of the lunch-table speculation centered
on Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s selection
of newcomer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate.
“We’re celebrating McCain’s choice for vice
president,” said local sculptor Wayne Trapp. “We’ve
got the momentum and people are really donating now. It’s in
overdrive, and I expect it will accelerate. There are no more unknowns
Trapp said the opening of campaign headquarters was an act being
mirrored all over the state. “This gets rid of [former Republican
senator] Jesse Helms’s legacy once and for all,” he said.
“What is a mystery to us is how McCain can even be considered an
option after what we’ve been through.”
Steve Payne said he was a long-time Democratic supporter who often
worked as a volunteer. He is excited about the election and said
he’d been disappointed in President George Bush’s
“I’m here to be with fellow Democrats and volunteer for the
Democratic Party and get people out to vote,” Payne said.
“This is a very important election and if I don’t
participate somehow, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I
think [Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack] Obama is the hope
and the lifeblood we need to get this country back on track. He’s
the closest thing we’ve had to JFK [President John F. Kennedy] in
a long time.”
Payne criticized the Palin selection as a “political
gimmick,” though she was a recurring topic in conversation at the
headquarters. Payne said Palin wouldn’t appeal to the
“die-hard Hillary Clinton” supporters he said the
Republicans were seeking.
“There’s a dark cloud over this country,” Payne said.
“People are walking around like zombies because of the economy
and the war.”
The Appalachian State University chapter of College Democrats of
America and Obama for President are coordinating events together,
Tilson said, and have already held two organizational meetings.
“We are all working together,” she said. “We’re
going to unite the country to make sure we elect our candidates.”
The campaign headquarters will be open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and Tilson said
volunteers are welcome. People are also invited to come by and pick up
campaign literature and learn more about the candidates.
The office is located at 920 West King St. in Boone, and the phone number is (828) 265-5061.