I've been involved in North Carolina politics more than 50 years as a reporter, columnist, campaign chairman and, over the past 21 years, as producer and moderator of a statewide political television talk show. Because I've been around for a while and am known, people often speak to me.
Early in their conversation they invariably tell me how disgusted they are with the state of politics in our state. They are tired of the hyper partisan, vindictive, name-calling, ugliness and falsehoods. Their angst is directed at both parties, which they believe are dominated by extreme factions. People who want to see our state working together and moving forward believe North Carolina is as stagnant and politically divided as the federal government. What can they do, they want to know?
They are right. The political climate in our state gets worse all the time. Clearly the parties and their leadership won't or can't change unless forced to do so. They need some new competition; since we are a "purple state," that competition should advocate more moderate positions. I believe it is time we form a third political party in North Carolina. I would suggest calling it the Moderate or Common-Sense Party but am certainly open to a better name.
The North Carolina statutes regarding political parties can be found in (G.S 163-96(2)). They define starting a new party as, "Any group of voters which shall have filed with the State Board of Elections petitions for the formulation of a new political party which are signed by registered and qualified voters in this State equal in number to one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent general election for Governor. Also the petition must be signed by at least 200 registered voters from each of three congressional districts in North Carolina. To be effective, the petitioners must file their petitions with the State Board of Elections before 12:00 noon on the first day of June preceding the day on which is to be held the first general State election in which the new political party desires to participate."
The petitions must be presented to the respective county board of elections so that the voter names can be examined, checked against registration records and found to be qualified, then sent to the State Board of Elections for certification.
The petitions should contain a heading in bold print or capital letters on each page saying:
"THE UNDERSIGNED REGISTERED VOTERS IN _______ COUNTY HEREBY PETITION FOR THE FORMATION OF A NEW POLITICAL PARTY TO BE NAMED ___________ AND WHOSE STATE CHAIRMAN IS ____________, RESIDING AT ________ AND WHO CAN BE REACHED BY TELEPHONE AT __________.
In the 2020 election for Governor there were a total of 5,545,848 votes cast. According to information provided by the State Board of Elections a total of 13,865 validly signed petitions would be required to form a new political party. At least 200 would be required from three of our 13 (current) congressional districts. A formal name would need adopting and a person named as chair of the party. In order to field candidates in the November 8, 2022 elections the requirements would need to be met by June 1, so there's time to accomplish the task.
The goal would be to offer qualified candidates in hopes of garnering unaffiliated voters, as well as those from both parties. There are 7,104,795 registered voters. 35 percent of them are registered Democrats, 30.48 percent are registered as Republicans, but 33.8 percent are registered as unaffiliated.
So how disenchanted are you? If you are fed up with the current two-party culture here's something positive you can do. It will be interesting to see whether enough people are willing to organize and begin petition drives in their city or county to make it happen. Who knows? This may be the start of a movement that changes North Carolina. At the least it would be a wake-up call that people are ready for a change.
Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina Broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the statewide half-hour TV program NC SPIN that aired 22 ˝ years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.