By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Jesse Smith ran as a democrat for Congress in the Third Congressional District in 2014 and 2016, losing both times to incumbent Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks). Smith has joined the democrats who think new leadership at the Alabama Democratic Party is needed to reverse the party’s struggling fortunes.
Smith said in a statement, “Nancy Worley and Joe Reed are nothing more than shills or decoys for the Alabama GOP. They must step aside and allow the party to grow into a functioning entity again.”
Smith continued, “It’s been almost 14 years since a Democrat held a major office in Alabama. In 2014, the Dems were able to field candidates in only 56 percent of the State representative races, a similar percent in State Senate races. Then we get to the much lower number of races democrats actually won.”
Smith said, “In 2018, most of these State offices will be up for election. With the continued lack of any support from our State party, how many men and women can you imagine will put themselves out there, on their own with no support?”
Smith claimed, “For many years now, there has been no effort by our State democratic party to find any candidates, groom candidates, fund candidates, raise funds for candidates, advocate for candidates, advocate for our democratic values, make the case against the State GOP when there are so many opportunities to show their lack of accountability to the people of Alabama. Under normal circumstances, with proper leadership, we should have been able to bury the State GOP. Yet here we stand with our hats in our hands, shaking our heads wondering how we got here. Nancy Worley and Joe Reed, You’re Fired!!”
For almost a hundred years following Reconstruction, democrats controlled all political offices in Alabama. In 1964, republicans began to take US House seats. In 1980 Admiral Jeremiah Denton was elected US Senator as a republican. In 1986, Republican Probate Judge from Cullman County Guy Hunt was elected governor. The Republican Party has lost only one governor’s race since then (to Don Siegelman in 1998). In 1994 Perry Hooper Sr. was elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Gradually, the Republican Party began to grow in strength in the conservative state. In 2010 the Republican Party won every statewide race on the ballot including control of both Houses of the Alabama Legislature and six of the seven Congressional seats. Mark Kennedy took over control of the Alabama Democratic Party following the 2010 disaster. Still Democrats continued to lose. Their last statewide officeholder, Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley, was defeated in 2012. Kennedy resigned after a power struggle with Joe Reed, who heads the powerful Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC). Nancy Worley was promoted to replace Kennedy. In 2016 the Democratic Party could only find one candidate, Ron Crumpton, willing to run statewide.
On election day, Donald J Trump (R) easily bested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) in the presidential race in Alabama with 1,280,080 votes. Incumbent Senator Richard Shelby (R) defeated Crumpton to hold the Senate seat for the GOP with 1,294,584 votes. The top vote getters were all republicans: Supreme Court Justice Kelli Wise with 1,318,207 votes, Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin with 1,324,885 votes, PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh with 1,328,233, and Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker with 1,330,775 votes. Parker, Cavanaugh, Bolin, and Wise did not even have general election opponents as the Democrats were unable to recruit any. Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) also had no Democratic Party Challengers. No democrat has won a statewide race in Alabama since 2008.
Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) has called for both Reed and Worley to resign. Worley and Reed have resisted calls for them to resign.