The Alabama House Democratic Caucus is weighing into the fight over who will lead the Alabama Democratic Party after Democratic National Committee-ordered elections later this month.
The caucus announced Wednesday that at least 19 House Democrats voted to endorse Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, for Alabama Democratic Party chair. Figures has served in the Alabama Senate since 1997.
The Democratic National Committee invalidated Chairwoman Nancy Worley’s 2018 re-election as party chair, ordering a new election earlier this year. That election was scheduled for May 4 but was delayed until later this month.
Among her endorsements in the House are State Rep. Barbara Drummond, Rep. Mary Moore, Rep. John Rogers and Rep. Christopher England. The election later this month is expected to be contentious.
“It’s going to take a team effort to unify the party,” Figures said when she announced her candidacy. “My leadership skills, experience in politics and, more importantly, my ability to bring people together around issues with my approach to fairness are needed to rebuild the party. The Alabama Democratic Party is the people’s party, and it is time to elect leadership to address the values and issues of the people.”
Many Democrats in Alabama have long been frustrated with Worley’s leadership of the party and her alliance with party boss Joe Reed, the chair of the Alabama Democratic Caucus, the state party’s black caucus.
The challenges to Worley’s election followed a meeting at the party’s summer meeting. The new election will be for chair and vice chair and must be held within 90 days. Worley and Vice Chair Randy Kelley will remain in their positions until the election.
The criticism from within the party itself went as high as Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who publicly backed Worley’s challenger at the summer meeting.
In 2013, Figures was chosen by her fellow Democratic senators as senate minority leader. She is the only woman to ever hold a Senate leadership position in Alabama and is the longest-serving woman in the Senate in state history.
Figures also ran for U.S. Senate, losing to incumbent Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008.
Four candidates are currently running for party chair including Figures, Worley, former congressional candidate Tabitha Isner and former candidate for lieutenant governor Will Boyd.
APR reported Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee has given the state party until May 17 to adopt new diversity caucus rules, pass new bylaws and hold new elections.