By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Alabama Democratic Party Chair Woman Nancy Worley responded strongly to calls from House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) that she and Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed both step down for the good of the Democratic Party in Alabama.
Democratic Party Chair Woman Worley said in a statement, “While I am working hard each day as Democratic Party Chair to elect the most qualified, well-prepared, working family-focused president of the United States, some individuals seem to be spending their time studying the sexist, racist tactics of the Republican nominee.”
Worley concluded. “Based on my experience in the classroom and in numerous volunteer leadership roles, I recognize people who are losing power, trying to blame anyone but themselves for losses, making excuses, grasping for headlines, etc. A recent comment against my Democratic Party leadership is a desperate attempt to grab a headline when one’s job as minority leader is on the line. While Craig has never called me or sat down or talked with me about his concerns, he attacks for attention when he should be working for our Democratic ticket.”
Rep. Ford wrote in his letter: “While I am grateful to you for your many years of service to our State and the Alabama Democratic Party, I have become increasingly concerned about the state of our party and the direction in which we are heading. To put it bluntly, the Alabama Democratic Party is on life support, and the only hope we have of turning our situation around is if we make immediate and significant changes, including changes in leadership.”
Ford continued, “When voters across Alabama go to vote on November 8th, in most counties they will find few competitive elections on their ballots. While it is unrealistic to expect the Party to recruit candidates in every race, it is astonishing that the Party could not recruit a single candidate to run for any of the statewide offices other than US Senate. Even most local races this year will be uncontested. How can Democrats offer an alternative to Republican leadership – let alone win any elections – if we don’t have candidates on the ballot?”
Minority Leader Ford warned, “It is also discouraging to see the declining State of so many of our local county Democratic Parties. There are certainly some counties where the local party is strong, but in many more the local Party is non-existent and maintains no public presence. As far as I can tell, it looks like some counties may not even have a local party.”
Ford went on, “The inability to recruit candidates and the decline of local parties is a sign of a failing party infrastructure – one that is failing because of neglect and mismanagement.
Ford said that, “The Democratic Party cannot afford to have leaders who continue to neglect the local parties, miss opportunities to present voters with our alternative to the Republican establishment and refuse to adapt to the changing world around them. Democratic legislators and local elected leaders cannot carry the mantle for our party alone. And over the years, it has become abundantly clear that you are far more concerned with holding on to your own power within the party than you are with trying to win back the offices Democrats have lost.”
Many people have suggested that Ford could be the most viable Democratic candidate for Governor in the 2018 election, but that could be awkward if he and the party’s leadership remain so bitterly divided.
Ford continued, “As I weigh my options for 2018 and beyond, I have chosen not to serve as House Minority Leader for the next two years. My focus will be on the future of our State, and I will let new leaders step forward to focus on the future of our party. With that said, both of you have served our party for many years, and I am grateful to you for your service. But now it is time for you to step aside, and I respectfully ask that you resign your leadership positions in the Alabama Democratic Party.”
By stepping down as Minority Leader that protects Democratic legislators from having to take sides and it protects Ford from the embarrassment of being dumped as Minority Leader if his House colleagues sided with Worley and the powerful head of the Alabama Democratic Caucus, Joe Reed.
The Democratic House Caucus will now have to pick a new House Minority Leader.
Ford was the first Democratic Party House Minority Leader in over a hundred years as Democrats controlled the Alabama House of Representatives from the end of Reconstruction until suffering disastrous losses in the election of 2010.