The Alabama Political Reporter has obtained a letter from the Democratic National Committee to Alabama Democratic Party Chair Nancy Worley giving her and the State Democratic Executive Committee until May 17 to adopt a new diversity caucus, pass new bylaws, and hold new elections.
The DNC letter is signed by Yvette Lewis, Harold Ickes and Patrice Taylor of the DNC rules and bylaws committee, and is dated May 1.
“The order that was passed by the full DNC requires a new election be conducted for ADP Chair and Vice Chair no later than 90 days after February 17, 2019,” Lewis, Ickes, and Taylor wrote. “This deadline is May 17, 2019. Also, the order specifically stated that amendments to the Bylaws, including the Affirmative Action Plan, would need to be approved by the RBC prior to their being adopted. This indicates the need for two meetings of the SDEC, the first to adopt amendments to the Bylaws, including the Affirmative Action Plan and the second to hold a new election for the ADP Chair and Vice Chair, under the new bylaws that comply with the National Party’s Charter and Bylaws. Both meetings would be preceded by effective public affirmative action outreach.”
The DNC originally gave these orders to the Alabama Democratic Party in February and gave them 90 days to accomplish that. This deadline will pass on May 17 and it has become obvious to everyone that little, if any, or this is going to be accomplished by the 17th of this month.
In the May 1 letter, Lewis, Ickes, and Taylor wrote, “At this point, it does not appear that it will be possible to accomplish a) approval of proposed amendments and AA Plan by the RBC, b) adoption of the amendments by the SDEC, and c) and the holding of a separate meeting for the election of the Chair and Vice Chair within the 90-day period.”
The DNC is ordering the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) to reach an agreement with them and then the membership of the committee can adopt the changes by mail to avoid the cost and hassle of having two meetings in two weeks. We are one week into May and this has not happened.
Alabama Democratic Party rules create an executive committee with two representatives from each Alabama House legislative district for a total of 210; then things get complicated.
Attorney, noted television personality and Democratic strategist Beth Clayton told the Alabama Political Reporter, that by consent order the SDEC has to reflect the racial makeup of the Democratic electorate in the last presidential election.
In 2016, billionaire businessman Donald Trump got 62.9 percent of the vote in Alabama to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 34.6 percent.
To comply with the consent decree, the SDEC has to add black members to create an SDEC that is demographically proportional to voters in the 2016 presidential primary. Clayton said that means that essentially Joe Reed could appoint up to 200 more members of the SDEC.
But that rule is only in regard to black and non-black members. Under the current rules, there is nothing to protect Hispanic, LGBTQ, Asian or other minority group representation on the SDEC.
The DNC is requiring that the ADP put a diversity plan in place for all of these other groups as well before the vote can proceed on the chair and vice chair.
Under the DNC plan, the 210 elected SDEC members, would elect the diversity group. They would not be appointed by the Alabama Democratic Conference or Joe Reed.
Clayton said that Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, has influenced this process.
“For a sitting Senator to come speak to the DNC on this is unprecedented,” Clayton said.
Jones had backed Peck Fox’s unsuccessful challenge to Nancy Worley over the summer.
The DNC is requiring that the Alabama Democratic Party amend their bylaws and install the new diversity plan before voting can proceed and those changes have to be approved by the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee. No one seems to know where the negotiations are in the process.
Tabitha Isner is one of the three candidates challenging Worley for Alabama Democratic Party Chair.
Isner said that she thinks that June 8 is the earliest that the SDEC meeting can take place to elect the Alabama Democratic Party Chair and Vice Chair.
“These are the four steps that need to be taken, and they must be taken IN THIS ORDER,” Isner said. “Step 1 will happen behind the scenes. The ADP proposed draft Bylaw Amendments in early April, but the DNC rejected them as inadequate. Instead, the DNC is providing the ADP with draft amendments. Unless the current state leadership argues with the DNC about these amendments, this step should move quickly.”
“Step 2 will likely happen by mail,” Isner told supporters. “SDEC members will be sent the proposed amendments and asked to vote on them via a paper ballot that will be mailed back to the party. It seems safe to assume that this voting process will take at least a couple weeks. If you have not provided the ADP with an accurate and up-to-date mailing address, now is the time to do so!”
“Step 3 and Step 4 will both happen on the same day at an in-person meeting,” Isner said. “The 210 SDEC members that were elected to represent House Districts will vote to elect new Diversity Caucus members. This means that we will need to have candidates identified in advance and present for the in-person meeting. If you know someone who might be interested, please have them complete this form. Then all members of the SDEC – the 210 from House District plus the newly elected Diversity Caucus members plus the At-Large members that were already chosen by the Minority Caucus – will participate in the election of a Chair and Vice Chair. In light of all that, we are predicting that June 8th is the earliest that an in-person meeting could be held, but it is quite possible that it will be later. Note that the Bylaws require that SDEC members are notified at least 10 days before a meeting occurs, so you probably won’t get a lot of advance notice.”
There are four candidates runned for Alabama Democratic Party Chair: Worley, Isner, Dr. Will Boyd, and state Senator Vivian Figures.
At this point, we do not know when the actual election will be. APR will continue to keep its readers informed on this developing story.