Webster hopeful for county Democrats

Thirty-year-old Billy Webster IV says the long-range future of the Greenville County Democratic Party is more promising than ever.

“I think the turnout at our county convention showed that,” said Webster, who was elected without opposition as the party’s new chairman.

Webster, president of Carabo, which owns Bojangles restaurants in South Carolina, has always taken an interest in politics, but this is his first venture as a party leader.

“It’ll be a challenge, but it is a challenge I accept,” he said.

Webster said the main challenge for him as chairman is to attract younger people into the party.

He said the fact that more than half of Monday night’s convention turnout included people who had never before been to a county convention showed Democrats are getting their message across.

“We represent whites, blacks, men, women, blue-collar, and some white-collar voters,” Webster said. “In the future we also want to build our base to include more white-collar workers.”

Webster said with names such as Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, former Gov. Dick Riley, 4th District U.S. Rep. Liz Patterson, state Sen. Theo Mitchell and Lt. Gov. Nick Theodore, “the Democratic Party has a lot of impressive credentials … it’s people like these that show what a strong diversity we have in the Democratic Party, and they symbolize its strength.”

Webster said it’s too early to say who Democrats will nominate as their presidential candidate in the November general elections, but he is looking forward to working against Vice President George Bush.

“The jury is still out on who we’ll nominate for president, but I think George Bush is the weakest candidate the Republicans can put up,” Webster said.

Webster said Bush has a lot of money for a presidential campaign, “but it’s already obvious a vote for George Bush is a vote for Ronald Reagan.”

Bush will have to deal with one of the highest deficits in the nation’s history, Webster said, and that is going to be tough to do.

On the local front, Democrats need to build a stronger ongoing party structure, Webster said.

Democrats, he said, also need to promote more fund-raisers, and he plans to create a financial advisory committee.

“The party is in the black, but we need to have more fund-raising events,” Webster said.

Webster said the party also needs to conduct more extensive candidate recruitment programs and assist candidates in their campaigns for local, state and national offices.

Webster is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and the son of prominent Democrat William Webster III.