An overflow crowd came out for the HCDP August breakfast to hear Anderson Clayton, the 25-year-old state party chair who is making waves in national media, from the New York Times to the Washington Post to Teen Vogue.
The 100-plus people in attendance found out what the hype is all about when Anderson lit the room on fire with her personal story and vision, which largely emphasized having real conversations with people across the state, especially when the talk gets uncomfortable.
“I was back home visiting my family and we were sitting around the dinner table playing Rook,” she recalled. “That’s how I found out my father had voted for Donald Trump in 2016. You talk about difficult conversations! We had to work through some things.”
She said her father is no longer a Trump supporter, but she also learned a lot from listening to his experience. “In the past, it’s true that the state Democratic party didn’t think too much about rural North Carolina, about places that look like Henderson County. They tended to rely on the urban areas.”
That is changing. “Rural America is resilient. Rural America is revitalizing. Joe Biden and the Democrats have given money to communities via American Rescue funds because they believe in the people. The Republicans in the NC general assembly are doing nothing good for rural North Carolina. They are pushing the rural/urban divide. That’s why we’ve got to be set on GO. We’ve got to play the long game. We all get tired. Believe it or not, I get tired, too. But seeing all the people in this room makes me excited.”
Rachel Hunt, daughter of former governor James Hunt--the longest serving governor in NC history--also spoke passionately about having conversations with people from all backgrounds. Rachel is a state senator who is running for lieutenant governor.
“Tough races can be won by canvassing,” she said. “During my previous campaign, I knocked on all the doors, even if there was a Trump flag in the yard. You never know who is in a house. I know there are Republican women who value a woman’s right to choose. My race was razor thin. I won in a red district by 68 provisional ballots. In the last election, if we had increased the number of young people voting by five percent, we would have won every race we needed. That’s doable. We’re going to save our democracy.”
Hunt's and Clayton's messages were reiterated by several local leaders including HCDP second vice chair Bruce Sargent, Hendersonville City Council candidate Gina Baxter and NC District 11 chair Katie Dean.
“We’re working across the district to increase the number of precincts that are organized and to support all the precincts," Katie said. "It’s proven that organized precincts increase turnout. We’re going to have competitive races up and down the ballot.”