North Carolina a political headache for Democrats

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Obama’s team has been hopeful about replicating that effort, while mindful of the new challenges confronting him here. They note that there are enough states in play that Obama can find a strategy to get the necessary 270 electoral votes to win a second term without the 15 North Carolina offers, while Republican Mitt Romney’s path to victory is more limited, meaning he’s more likely to need a victory here.

Criticism began immediately after Charlotte was announced.

Many labor leaders were upset that the convention would be held in a state that offers few protections for workers and in a city with no union hotels. While some unions plan to attend, more than a dozen trade unions are boycotting. Union protests also are planned for convention week.

But unions aren’t the only ones stirring trouble for Obama.

Politically, things are much different in the state.

State unemployment was 9.7 percent in March, well above the national average of 8.2 percent that month, and it’s much higher in some rural counties.

There’s also the fired-up Republican base that turned out Tuesday to approve the constitutional ban on gay marriage. The vote prompted more than 28,000 people to sign an online petition — by the New York-based Gay Marriage USA — to move the convention from Charlotte. Twitter also was flooded with similar sentiment from angry supporters of same-sex marriage. Obama stated his support for gay marriage a day after the vote.

Democrats want to include gay marriage in the platform to be adopted at the convention. That could create controversy at a gathering that’s intended to promote party unity by drawing attention to a divisive social issue when the economy remains the most pressing concern.

What’s more, the state Democratic Party is in disarray.

With sagging poll numbers, Perdue announced in January that she would not seek a second term. Her decision came on the heels of bruising budget battles with the GOP-controlled Legislature. Republicans in 2010 captured the Legislature for the first time in 140 years.

Then there’s the sex scandal roiling the state party.

State Party Chairman David Parker has refused to resign — although he has said he won’t seek re-election — despite pressure to step down from Perdue and other Democrats who say his presence leading the party has become a distraction. Sexual harassment allegations against executive director Jay Parmley by a former party employee have siphoned off all the political air in North Carolina.

The turmoil is churning just as Democrats accelerate preparations for the convention.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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