Groups calling for Gaza ceasefire urge NC primary voters to choose 'No Preference' as protest

Tom George Image
Saturday, March 2, 2024
Group calling for Gaza ceasefire urge 'No Preference' NC primary vote
On the Democratic ballot, it's a simple choice at the top of the ticket - President Joe Biden, or a "No Preference" options.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- With continued visits from both President Biden and Vice President Harris, it's clear just how crucial of a role North Carolina will play, but amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, there are questions over whether the administration's handling of the crisis might play a role in the Democratic Primary as well.

In 2020, Durham County was the bluest county in the state, with Joe Biden getting over 80 percent of the vote against Donald Trump. If the president wants to flip the state, Durham is full of core base voters he would need to turn out in large numbers. But some of those same voters, say they don't want to be taken for granted and want to send a message.

On the Democratic ballot, it's a simple choice at the top of the ticket - President Joe Biden, or a "No Preference" line.

For some loyal Democrats voting early at the Durham Public Library on Liberty Street, supporting the President was a no-brainer.

"I think Biden has done a great job, and I'm not going to sway from that," says Bobbie Dentzler from Durham.

"Definitely Biden is better than Donald Trump, I think anything is better than Donald Trump," says James Dentzler.

But from the streets to calling for a ceasefire resolution approved the Durham City Council, some who have criticized the Biden administration's handling of the situation in Gaza are now urging registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters to vote "No Preference" as a form of protest.

"The message I have is listening to your constituents and hold yourself accountable, otherwise there will be consequences," says Hadeel Hamoud from Durham.

They say they're encouraged by results in Michigan, home to a large Arab-American population, where the "uncommitted" line won more than 100,000 votes in the Democratic primary election against President Biden. In North Carolina, some are hoping for a similar result to send a message.

"We just can't stand by and let Biden continue to support Israel unconditionally," says Eli Longnecker from Durham.

"I would like Biden to come out for a ceasefire, the majority of the country supports a ceasefire, says Ruby Sinreich.

It's something Durham's Mayor Leonardo Williams says he understands...

"Carpet bombing in Gaza is uncategorically atrocious and the president has stated that," Mayor Williams says.

But he says when it comes to how he'll vote in the Democratic primary, he's casting his ballot for the President and urging his fellow Democrats to look at the big picture.

"A vote not for President Biden is a vote for Trump, those who are frustrated, choose your poison," he says.

Just like in those other primary states, Joe Biden is expected to win by a wide margin and most of the state's delegates with it. But if the "No Preference" line were to reach 15 percent, according to the North Carolina Democratic Party's delegate rules, they could be eligible for unpledged delegates to the national convention.

The bigger question is what those voters will do in the general election, especially in a battleground state. Some "no preference" supporters told ABC11 this was primarily a primary election protest for them and they would still vote for the President in November. Others said they wanted to wait and see if the administration responded to their concerns. But all "no preference" Democrats we spoke with also said they would not vote for former President Donald Trump.