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DNC rejects new Alabama Democratic Party bylaws

Josh Moon

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The Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee today rejected proposed changes to the Alabama Democratic Party’s bylaws, increasing the likelihood that the DNC will impose sweeping changes on the Alabama chapter. 

Tuesday’s rejection came after a tense few months between the ADP and various DNC officials, during which time the ADP missed several deadlines and ignored party directives. The rejection of the new bylaws also makes it nearly impossible for ADP officials to rework and resubmit a suitable plan, and all but ensure that the DNC will approve another plan written by national officials. 

The conflict between the DNC and ADP arose after complaints were filed following the re-election of ADP chairwoman Nancy Worley last August. The DNC credentials committee invalidated those elections, citing major issues with the ADP’s bylaws that allowed vice-chairman Joe Reed to essentially handpick more than 30 at-large executive committee members. Those at-large members were able to push Worley to victory. 

But the credentials committee determined that the ADP bylaws wrongly defined “minority” members as only black. It ordered ADP to rewrite the bylaws to be more inclusive, to define and require outreach programs and to ensure that the state’s executive committee better resemble the voting demographics of the state. 

After ADP officials failed to meet several deadlines to have the reworked bylaws submitted, DNC officials reworked the bylaws for them. Those proposed bylaws, which were not addressed on Tuesday, included a new diversity caucus for the party that would include LGBTQ individuals, young people, Asians, Hispanics and other ethnicities. It also would require that the State Executive Committee members vote on proposed at-large members. 

That plan would effectively even out the selection of at-large members, lessening the likelihood that Reed, or any one person, could handpick dozens of voting members in the hours before a leadership vote. 

The new bylaws are to be in place prior to the ADP’s new elections, which the DNC set for Aug. 17.

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Elections

Atlanta Mayor to campaign for Biden in Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden (D) announced that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will travel to Tennessee and Alabama to campaign on behalf of Joe Biden.

On Friday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Tennessee, where she will host a Women for Biden event with State Senator Brenda Gilmore, moderate a health care roundtable, and host a meet and greet with State Representative Harold Love in Nashville. She was supposed to have hosted a GOTV kickoff event with Mayor Lee Harris and State Senator Raumesh Akbari in Memphis, Tennessee; but that event has been reportedly cancelled.

On Saturday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Alabama, where she will host community events in Huntsville and Birmingham before speaking at the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

Biden has promised that his campaign will carry South Carolina, where he is leading in the polls. Biden hopes that he can win several southern states, including Alabama, on Super Tuesday to emerge as one of the leaders in the race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The Huntsville community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms in Huntsville will be 9:30 a.m. at the Huntsville Country Club 2601 Oakwood Ave NW, Huntsville, AL 35810. Doors open at 9:00 a.m.

The Birmingham community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms is somewhere in Birmingham at 12 noon; but the Biden campaign has not given us a location. We will update this story once the details are available.

Mayor Bottoms will address the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors in Selma at 3:00 p.m. pm Saturday. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. C.S.T. at Browns Chapel A.M.E., 410 Martin Luther King Street, Selma, AL, 36703.

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Biden has been endorsed by both Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) and U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama).

Biden is the favorite to win both the South Carolina and Alabama Democratic Primaries. Biden however is trailing in most of the Super Tuesday states to frontrunner U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Sanders carried 47 percent of the vote in the recent Nevada Caucus. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary and won the most votes in the Iowa Caucus; though South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most number of Caucuses, and thus the most delegates in Iowa.

Biden was the early front runner in the polls; but has been hurt by Republican charges of nepotism benefitting his son, Hunter Biden, while he was Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

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The Alabama Democratic Conference has endorsed former New York City Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was a late entry into the race, thus was not even on the ballot in Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire and won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina either. Bloomberg has spent over $350 million of his own money to buy TV and media ads. Bloomberg is a billionaire with a fortune estimated to be worth over $66 billion.

Moderate Democrats like James Carville have expressed fears that the Democratic Party will suffer tremendous losses in November if Sanders, a self-declared Socialist, wins the nomination.

The Alabama Democratic presidential primary will be on Tuesday.

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Elections

Bloomberg making final Alabama push

Josh Moon

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The Michael Bloomberg campaign is making Alabama one of its top Super Tuesday priorities — hoping that state Democratic voters will help catapult the former New York City mayor into the running for the party’s presidential nomination. 

Bloomberg has already spent more time in Alabama than most of the other candidates — including kicking off his presidential run by qualifying first on the Alabama ballot and speaking at an Alabama Democratic Conference meeting — and has flooded the state with workers and cash, buying advertising spots and building infrastructure the likes of which Alabama has rarely seen. 

With the primary less than a week away now, Bloomberg’s campaign is making a last push. 

That will be highlighted by the former mayor’s visit to the state over the weekend and a number of surrogates making their way around Alabama throughout the coming days. 

That starts in earnest on Thursday, when former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, one of the first mayors to endorse Bloomberg, travels to Miles College for a “community conversation” with students and others. 

The visit to a historically black college is no coincidence, as Bloomberg’s campaign looks to regain the support of black voters after his history as NYC mayor drew major fire from his Democratic primary opponents. Having the endorsement of the ADC, the state’s black caucus, will certainly help, but former Vice President Joe Biden maintains strong support among black voters and moderates in Alabama.  

Nutter will be joined at Miles by former Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who also has announced his support for Bloomberg. 

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Following the event at Miles, Nutter will travel to the Alabama State House in Montgomery for a meeting with the Alabama Baptist Association Leadership and then on to Selma, where he’ll attend a reception for the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

 

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Alabama, Oregon groups move to join legal fight over Equal Rights Amendment

Eddie Burkhalter

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Organizations in Alabama and Oregon have asked a federal judge to let them join in the legal fight over the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

Mia Raven, policy director for the grassroots Alabama reproductive rights group the Yellowhammer Fund, and founder of the People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment & Rights (P.O.W.E.R.) House in Montgomery, is joined by the Oregon-based nonprofit VoteERA.org and its president and founder, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, in the filing of a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit. 

Alabama’s attorney general Steve Marshall in December 2019 joined attorneys general for Louisiana and South Dakota as plaintiffs in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that argues that the deadline to ratify the amendment has expired. 

The Equal Rights Amendment, if ratified by a 38th state, would ban discrimination based on sex. Proponents of the amendment hope that Virginia’s new Democratic majority means a second chance for the protections for women. 

Congress passed the amendment in 1972 and five years later it was ratified by 35 states, but the deadline to gain the needed 38 states passed in 1979, so Congress extended the deadline to 1982. 

Nevada in 2017 became the 36th state to ratify it, and was followed by Illinois in 2018.

“We have worked for decades seeking to ensure the ratification of the federal ERA.  Our decision to seek to intervene in the states’ pending lawsuit is a reflection of our persistent devotion to guaranteeing equal rights under the law for all people.” said DiLorenzo and Raven in a joint statement. 

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Attempts to reach Raven for comment were unsuccessful. 

Since the lawsuit was filed, attorneys general in Tennessee and Nebraska have joined Alabama as plaintiffs fighting ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

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Shelby: Administration is “lowballing” the cost of the coronavirus

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, the Trump Administration asked the Congress for an additional $2.5 billion for planning for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the United States. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) accused the administration of “lowballing” the actual cost.

Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

“It seems to me at the outset that this request for the money, the supplemental, is lowballing it, possibly, and you can’t afford to do that,” Shelby told HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday during a hearing on the agency’s budget request. “If you lowball something like this, you’ll pay for it later.”

Shelby told reporters afterward he doesn’t have a new number in mind but that it will be “higher” than the $2.5 billion requested by HHS.

Azar said the administration would work with Congress if lawmakers think more money is needed.

“We’ll be of the mindset to fund this crisis, not to underfund it in any way, and I hope this administration would look at this as something they cannot afford to let get out of hand,” Azar said.

The Trump administration’s request includes $1.25 billion in new funding. The rest to be taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola. Coronaviruses are a normal occurrence throughout the animal kingdom. This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December. It is believed that the disease originally existed in bats, which are a food source in China. Since then over 80,000 people have contracted the illness in 37 countries and over 2,700 have died. Researchers are referring to this strain of the coronavirus as COVID-19.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that at that point it appears that it is inevitable that the virus will come to America.

“Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The U.S. currently has 57 cases of COVID-19. 40 of those are Americans who were former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. On Friday, the administration suggested that some of those infected Americans could be treated at a federal facility in Anniston. A plan that local officials and the Alabama Congressional delegation both urged the administration to reject.

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On Sunday, Shelby said, “I just got off the phone with the President. He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama. Thank you,
@POTUS, for working with us to ensure the safety of all Alabamians.”

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Messonnier said. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

Channel 42 TV is reporting that the UAB Health System is making preparations for the coronavirus by purchasing additional equipment and training staff in how to deal with the infectious disease which devastated medical professionals in Hubei Province.

(Original reporting by the Hill, Web MD, and Channel 42 News contributed to this report.)

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