NC Rep Duane Hall claims endorsement by Democrats, Democrats ask him to resign

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Duane Hall
North Carolina State Representative Duane Hall (D) of Wade County

Democratic North Carolina State Representative Duane Hall has been caught out distributing mailers for his upcoming primary which appear to wrongly imply he has been endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Officials across several levels of the party have not only denied any endorsement, but have now (for a second time) called on the scandal-plagued State Representative to resign.

Ouch.

Democrats to Duane Hall: we did not endorse you

The State House District 11 representative from Wake County is up for re-election this November, but first he has to defeat Allison Dahle in the Democratic primary on May 8th. As a matter of policy, none of the various levels of the Democratic party organization endorse particular candidates for primary elections. Instead they wait until the campaign for the general election, when the Democratic candidate has been chosen.

But that distinction did not prevent Duane Hall from including the official Democratic National Committee (DNC) logo on his mailers without permission, in a section headed “endorsed by.”

Duane Hall mailer
Duane Hall mailer, photo The News & Observer

Both the Wake County Democratic Party and the North Carolina Democratic Party have supported Duane Hall in previous general elections, but past support does translate to automatic endorsement in a head-to-head against another local Democrat.

And then there is the issue of the multiple sexual harassment allegations that have been made against Hall in the wake of the #MeToo movement….

Democrats demand Duane Hall resign (first attempt)

On February 28th North Carolina Policy Watch reported allegations of repeated inappropriate sexual comments by Hall’s former staffer Jessie White.

“He said he wouldn’t hire me unless I gained 100 pounds because I was too pretty,” White told Policy Watch. White also alleges that after once telling Hall she was having some trouble with men, he said, “If you give me two hours, you’ll forget about all those other guys.”

Although White was the only one willing to be publicly named, Policy Watch spoke to several other women with similar stories:

“Including White, five sources—some of whom requested not to be named for fear of repercussions in their current jobs—detailed persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures. Policy Watch knows the identity of the alleged victims, but has not published their names without their consent.”

Hall has repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, but after the Policy Watch story broke top North Carolina Democrats were calling for him to resign almost immediately.

Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party said, “Sexual harassment is never acceptable – no matter the party or politics. These are serious allegations and Representative Hall should step down. The North Carolina Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment and we continue to encourage women to speak out against inappropriate behavior of any kind.”

The Democratic minority leader of the North Carolina House, Darren Jackson, said, “The allegations surrounding Representative Duane Hall are serious and the women involved deserve to be heard and supported. He has made unacceptable mistakes in harassing women. Yesterday, I spoke with him and asked him to resign. I think it is right that he step back from public service, work to make amends, and learn from his past mistakes.”

Democrats demand Duane Hall resign (second attempt)

When Hall’s overreaching mailer was shown to PolitiFact North Carolina,  they contacted county, state, and national Democratic groups for comment.

Virginia Reed of the Wake County Democrats told PolitiFact, “We have not endorsed any 2018 candidates and will not until after May 8th.”

North Carolina Democratic Party spokesperson Robert Howard told PolitiFact that it would be unusual for them to endorse Hall at any point in his campaign, saying, “The state party supports Democratic candidates in the general election but does not typically endorse legislative candidates in the traditional sense, leaving that to local and county parties.”

But most damning of all was the statement from the DNC itself. Francisco Pelayo of the DNC emailed PolitiFact to say:

The DNC does not endorse candidates running in contested primaries and we have not endorsed Duane Hall in North Carolina. We were not informed, nor did we approve the use of our logo in his mailer.

“We take sexual harassment very seriously and we are very concerned by the allegations against Hall. We stand with Governor Cooper’s and NCDP’s calls for him to step down.”

And as if to drive the point home, Pelayo’s email to PolitiFact ended with the familiar blue-D-in-a-circle DNC logo that has refocused attention on Hall’s troubles in the first place.

Speaking to the News & Observer, Hall’s opponent Allison Dahle declined to criticize Hall directly, saying she did, “not have a comment on my opponent’s latest controversy involving his mailers and non-endorsements and I would suggest asking Mr. Hall about that issue.”

Which makes sense. When your opponent is self-destructing, stay out of his way.

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