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Analysis | The Alabama Democratic Party’s troubles are a long way from over

Josh Moon

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The Alabama Democratic Party is still a mess. 

Last Thursday, following a vote by the Democratic National Committee’s credentials committee that stripped ADP chairwoman Nancy Worley and vice-chairman Randy Kelly of their credentials, there was widespread joy among Alabama Democrats. A feeling that finally something was being done about the leadership — or lack thereof — at the top of the party. 

Not so fast. 

In reality, Worley and Kelly are still very much in control of the party, and in those positions, they have the ability to stall, if not outright block, almost all efforts to remove them or rewrite the party’s bylaws in a manner that would limit the power of vice-chairman for minority affairs Joe Reed. 

“The party wasn’t really setup at the national level to tell state parties what to do,” said Richard Roucco, a Birmingham attorney who is representing several State Democratic Executive Committee members who challenged last August’s re-election of Worley and Kelly. “They are very hesitant to do that, but they also recognize that Alabama is a unique circumstance. So they have to act.”

The first real action occurred on Thursday, following a contentious meeting in San Francisco, at which Worley essentially told the DNC’s credentials committee that any vote against her was a vote to disenfranchise black voters in Alabama and that the voters who did so would burn in hell. Not exactly the best way to win friends. 

Prior to that outburst from Worley, most assumed that the committee still wouldn’t strip her of her credentials, despite months of delays and stall tactics meant to avoid bringing the ADP’s bylaws — specifically in the area of minority outreach — into compliance with DNC bylaws. 

The issues with ADP’s bylaws, and the manner in which minority outreach was handled — with Reed essentially handpicking 30-plus at-large members to fill the required minority memberships on the day of leadership elections — led to the invalidating of the elections. That setup, not surprisingly, led to serious allegations of fraud.

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The DNC ordered that Worley and her team draft new bylaws that better reflected the goals of the DNC. That would include an outreach to Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ and youth voters — to the extent that the membership of those groups among the SDEC would be equal to or greater than the percentage of those individuals in the state of Alabama. 

That action occurred in February, and the DNC gave Worley until March to act. By June, there had still been little significant effort, because making such changes would inevitably limit the power Reed currently has — which allows him to fill the necessary at-large minority spots — and would wind up with Worley voted out. 

That lack of action led to DNC officials sending Worley a lengthy list of suggested changes to the bylaws. She ignored those, as well, and in August, she submitted her own plan. It was soundly rejected by the DNC. 

Along the way, DNC officials found themselves in a mind-boggling ordeal, with Worley and the rest of the ADP leadership avoiding their calls and emails and then pretending in ADP meetings that they never received correspondence that every other SDEC member received. 

But still, the DNC doesn’t like the idea of the national organization telling state parties how to operate, so DNC officials considered themselves offering guidance and help, not intervening to eradicate a cancer. 

All the way up until last Thursday, when six months of stalling and lies, along with a nasty speech, pushed the credentials committee — and later, the full DNC — to punish Worley and Kelly with the only real tools available: pulling credentials. 

But that doesn’t really help ADP. 

At this point, the state party still must approve the bylaws changes mandated by the DNC. That can’t occur unless Worley distributes proposed changes to voting members for approval, allows for a 30-day comment period and then sets an SDEC meeting to vote on the changes. 

So, Worley controls both the changes that will be submitted to the SDEC and whether a meeting is called to vote. 

Unless, that is, SDEC members get together and call their own meeting. If 51 percent agree to meet and vote on a set of proposed changes, that’s allowed under party bylaws. But even if that occurs, Worley would preside as the chairman of any called meeting and could control any items brought for a vote. 

“The (DNC) party system just wasn’t set up to handle a chairperson who refuses to do anything to help the state party succeed,” said an SDEC member who asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that the (DNC) didn’t envision a scenario in which a state party chairman would work against the party.”

But things are not hopeless. A number of SDEC members, DNC officials and interested parties told me on Monday that tremendous pressure is being placed on ADP leaders, including Worley, to do the right things and stop standing in the way of the proper changes being made. Worley has privately agreed to cooperate with most actions, but it’s unclear how far her cooperation will extend, specifically when it comes to the rewrite of the bylaws. 

At a minimum, most can’t imagine new elections being held for two months. Others are less optimistic. 

One thing is absolutely clear: The ADP’s troubles are a long way from over.

 

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Elections

Secretary of State to evaluate all county registrars

Staff

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This week, Secretary of State John H. Merrill notified all 204 Registrars in the State of Alabama that their performances would be evaluated following the November 3, 2020 General Election.

“Every agent of the state should be held accountable for their actions – especially those who are tasked with protecting the opportunity for Alabamians to exercise their constitutional right to vote. These evaluations will ensure that Registrars are completing their duties in serving the people of their respective county,” stated Secretary Merrill.

Beginning December 1, 2020, the Office of the Secretary of State will be traveling to all 67 counties to meet with and confirm whether or not each registrar is completing his or her assigned duties.

Section 17-4-35 of the Code of Alabama requires the Supervisor of Voter Registration to evaluate Registrars on the performance of their lawful functions. Section 17-3-2 requires the Secretary of State to prescribe guidelines to assist the State Board of Appointment to determine the qualifications of the members of the Boards of Registrars.

The qualifications are as follows:

  • Capable of following Alabama’s Ethics Laws
  • Self-motivated, reliable, responsible, accountable
  • Resident of county
  • Qualified elector of county (registered to vote)
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Computer skills (Microsoft Office competency including Word, Excel, Outlook)
  • Proficient in utilizing an email account
  • Proficient in typing (word and data processing)
  • Ability to utilize a computer, scanner, printer, label-maker, and camera
  • Map reading skills (understanding of local, county, and state district lines, precincts, and polling places)
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills, including customer service skills to assist citizens, voters, election officials, and other offices in-person, by email, and via telephone
  • Understanding and willingness to express office etiquette
  • Ability to work Monday through Friday and some weekends during intervals of the year in preparation of local, county, and state elections
  • Reliable and responsible for working assigned days as agreed upon by the Board of Registrars
  • Must be willing to consider the registrar position as the primary occupation, and must be available for working the normal business hours of the office
  • Must have reliable transportation to and from the office location
  • Understanding of confidentiality and security of private information
  • Willing to retain and protect private information not available to the public
  • Ability to travel to mandatory training sessions one or more times a year throughout the state
  • Required to be a team player and work alongside two other board members in close proximity in the office setting
  • Understanding of Title 17 of the Code of Alabama, the Alabama Administrative Code, and Alabama Attorney General Opinions that apply to the position
  • Willingness to study and learn daily functions of the office using the Alabama Boards of Registrars Handbook and other guidance from the Alabama Secretary of State
  • Proficient in managing, filing, and storing extremely important and permanent documents received in the office, including voter registration applications and voter file maintenance records
  • Capable of learning to utilize multiple systems of software related to voter registration and the Alabama free Photo Voter ID
  • Must be unbiased and completely non-partisan during office hours and during any point in which representing the office
  • Ability to form positive working relationships with local, county, and state election officials and be cooperative and professional when working with other offices

Evaluations will be made public, following completion.

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Elections

Alabama House District 49 major party candidate qualifying is closed

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, the Alabama Republican Party closed its candidate qualifying period for the Alabama House of Representatives District 49 special primary election.

The following individuals have qualified to run as Republicans for the District 49 seat: Russell Bedsole, James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely, Mimi Penhale, and Donna Strong.

The Alabama Political Reporter talked Wednesday to the Alabama Democratic Party and they have also closed qualifying. Cheryl Patton has qualified to run as a Democrat for the seat.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Representative April Weaver (R-Briarfield) announced her resignation to accept an appointment with the Trump administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term which ends in late 2022.

The special Republican primary election for House District 49 will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Since only Patton qualified as a Democrat there will be no need for a Democratic Party primary. If a Republican runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The winner of the Republican nomination will face Ms. Patton in the special general election to be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, two weeks after the general election on November 3.

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Elections

Coastal 150 endorses Jerry Carl for Congress

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, Coastal 150 announces their endorsement of Republican Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl for Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Wiley Blankenship is the Executive Director of Coastal 150.

“Our members believe that Jerry Carl is the right person to serve our region in Congress.” Blankenship said. “He understands our unique needs and supports our shared vision for coastal Alabama. We expect that Mr. Carl will represent Coastal Alabama well and look forward to working with him in Washington. “The experience, character and leadership that he brings to the office is what we believe is necessary to solve the challenges facing our region and our nation. “

“In case you missed it, our campaign has picked up some huge endorsements recently,” Carl said. “t’s an honor to be endorsed by these well-respected conservative leaders who know that I will fight for south Alabama in Congress.”

Carl has also been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation, former State Representative Chris Pringle, and Wes Lambert.

Jerry Carl was born in Mobile, started his first company at the age of 25 and grew that small business into numerous other companies throughout the region. In all, Jerry has started over ten different companies ranging from real estate to healthcare and timber, to even the manufacturing of church furniture. Carl and his wife Tina have been married for over 37 years. They have children and grandchildren.

When Jerry was frustrated with the direction of Mobile’s local government, he ran for County Commission where he still serves today. On the county commission he has been a vocal fiscal hawk and advocate for pro-growth, job-creating policies, and is laser‑focused on creating economic opportunities so good-paying jobs can be created.

Carl is an avid hunter, a lifelong supporter of Second Amendment rights, and believes all human life should be protected from the moment of conception.

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Carl is promising to build the wall along our southern border, “stop the liberals from imposing a 90% tax rate on hard-working Alabamians,” and “stand with Trump to do what’s right and fight for us.”

Coastal 150 is a comprehensive group of community leaders who work from a grassroots level to the highest levels of government to further the mission of Coastal Alabama Partnership to make coastal Alabama the place to live, work and play along the Gulf Coast. Coastal 150 gives all regional leaders an opportunity to be involved in the development of our coastal region’s bright future.

Carl faces former State Senator Bill Hightower in the July Republican primary runoff. The eventual Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff. between James Averhart and Kiani Gardner, in the November general election.

First Congressional District incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) is not seeking re-election.

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Elections

Alabama Republicans will hold summer meeting August 1

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Republican Party announced Tuesday that the state executive committee will meet on Saturday, August 1.

The Alabama Republican Party Summer Meeting is scheduled to be at the Trussville Civic Center, 5381 Trussville Clay Road, Trussville, AL 35173.

“We will be meeting in person and will be following all social distancing guidelines as applicable at the meeting time,” wrote Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “As the guidelines change, the ALGOP will plan accordingly for a safe, in person business meeting. The civic center can accommodate the social distancing guidelines with some alternations. However, as of today, special event buildings are closed. We will look for a backup place in case we need one. For now, our meeting is booked at the Trussville Civic Center.”

“Because of the guidelines that require distancing and not knowing what the future brings, the luncheon fundraiser we had scheduled prior to our meeting will be postponed,” Lathan explained. “Seating for 8-10 people at a table is not conducive for now- hopefully this will change sooner than later. It takes us months to prepare for 500 at our dinners, luncheons and meetings. The virus situation has hijacked many of our choices. Stay tuned for information about an exciting event later in the fall.”

Lathan said that, “The guidelines are fluid and our plan will need to adjust accordingly.”

“Please be assured that our team will be focused on having a safe and efficient Summer Meeting on August 1.”

Re-electing Donald Trump and defeating Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones are the focuses of the Alabama Republican Party. Tommy Tuberville and Jeff Sessions are in the July 14 Republican Primary runoff seeking that nomination.

The Alabama Republican Party holds six of the state’s seven congressional seats. They are not challenging incumbent Terri Sewell, D-Selma.

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Republican incumbents Mo Brooks of Huntsville and Gary Palmer of Hoover do not have Democratic challengers.

Republicans are hoping to re-elect incumbent Congressmen Robert Aderholt and Mike Rogers who face Democratic challengers. The 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts are both vacant.

In CD1 Bill Hightower faces Jerry Carl in the Republican Party primary runoff. In CD2 Barry Moore and Jeff Coleman are seeking the GOP nomination. Both eventual nominees will face Democratic opponents in the fall.

The Alabama Republican Party holds every statewide office. The highest-profile state office on the November ballot is Public Service Commission President where the Alabama Republican Party hopes to re-elect incumbent Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh.

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