The People’s Alliance political action committee voted Thursday night to back a political newcomer in the Durham County district attorney’s race and a previous challenger in the sheriff's race.
On Thursday night the PA membership voted to endorse Satana Deberry over incumbent Roger Echols in the district attorney's race. The membership also voted to endorse Clarence Birkhead over incumbent Mike Andrews in the sheriff’s race.
The PA endorsed Echols and Andrews in the 2014 election. Birkhead also challenged Andrews in 2014.
Daniel Meier is also running for district attorney.
"The debate, especially in the Congress 4, sheriff and DA contests, was very spirited with many speakers," said PA PAC leader Tom Miller in an email.
"Sometimes the choice between candidates was a choice between genuinely progressive people each with strong support among PA members," Miller wrote. "In these contests, our speakers debated different viewpoints on what progressive leadership on the issues in Durham would look like if one or the other candidate were to win."
Between 200 to 300 people attended Thursday's meeting, including many new members attending their first endorsement meeting, Miller wrote.
For decades, the city’s three main political action committees’ endorsements — the PA, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and the Friends of Durham — and their efforts to turn out their constituencies have helped determine elections. No candidates have been elected in recent memory in Durham without the backing from one of those three PACs.
In general, the PA endorsement process starts with candidates completing a questionnaire and being interviewed by the PA’s PAC.
The PAC's interview committee presents a report of it finding to the general body at the PAC's endorsement meeting. The report may or may not include a recommendation of candidates.
The membership then votes on the endorsements, which goes to the candidates with majority votes. New members who want to participate must join 30 days before the endorsement meeting.
The Durham People’s Alliance PAC's complete list of endorsements:
U. S. House of Representatives District 1: G. K. Butterfield
U. S. House of Representatives District 4: David Price
N.C. House of Representatives District 29: MaryAnn Black
N.C. House of Representatives District 30: Marcia Morey
N.C. House of Representatives District 31: Zack Anthony Forde-Hawkins
N.C. House of Representatives District 54: Robert Reives, II
N.C. Senate District 20: Floyd B. McKissick, Jr.
N.C. Senate District 22: James Michael Woodard
Durham County Board of Education District 1: Michael Darnell Lee
Durham County Board of Education District 2: Bettina Hope Umstead
Durham County Board of Education District 3: Matthew Sears
Durham County Board of Education District 4: Natalie Jones Beyer
Durham County Sheriff: Clarence Franklin Birkhead
Durham County District Attorney: Satana Tia DeBerry
Durham County Clerk of Superior Court: Archie Smith