Within weeks of being elected N.C. Democratic Party chair, Patsy Keever has ousted the party’s executive director and communications director and installed a new “transition team.”
Casey Mann, who’d served as director since last March, had announced Feb. 7 that she’d step down after a 30-day transition period. She was a close ally of outgoing chairman Randy Voller. But this week, Keever said she and Mann “came to a mutual agreement regarding her early departure.”
Keever has appointed two former party staffers to lead the organization until a new director is hired. Doug Wilson worked on Sen. Kay Hagan’s campaign last year and was previously the state party’s political director. Tiffany Reynolds Richardson worked as a fundraiser for the party before resigning last February shortly after Voller fired then-director Robert Dempsey. She has also managed campaigns for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
“It’s a new beginning, and we’re starting with new people,” Keever said, adding that she hopes to have a new director in place by May. A posting for the job went out this week.
Mann didn’t address the earlier-than-planned departure in an email Tuesday. “As a team player, I felt that it was important to afford the incoming leadership the opportunity to assemble its own team, including executive director,” she wrote. “I provided 30-day notice to provide adequate time for all transitions of information and services.”
In adding to negotiating Mann’s exit, Keever canceled a contract with Gina Wright and New Frame LLC. Wright served as the party’s communications director for the past year. “Their contract was up soon, so it was just a few weeks earlier than their contract was up,” Keever said.
Wright said she was unable to say much about the sudden change. “I wish Patsy Keever a lot of success,” she said.
Others in the party were upset by the abrupt changes involving the two women. Democratic blogger George Fisher – who’s been critical of Keever – posted about it on Facebook: “Let’s not forget that one of the first things the new leader of the North Carolina Democratic Party did in her official capacity was to fire a single mother with two children and a pregnant woman.”
Keever defeated challengers for the party leadership post on Feb. 7 by a wide margin. She takes over a financially strained organization that ended 2014 with just $42,700 in the bank. She said she’s spending February meeting with donors and setting up a recurring donation program for supporters.
“Things are looking up,” she said. “We’re making the changes that need to be made.”