Vote on new bylaws or don’t bother sending anyone from Alabama to Milwaukee next year.
Essentially, that’s what the Democratic National Committee said to Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley on Friday. A subcommittee of the DNC — the rules and bylaws committee — approved a new set of bylaws for the ADP and ordered Worley to hold elections within 10 days of receipt of those bylaws (no later than Oct. 5). New leadership elections are set for Oct. 19.
DNC officials made it clear during their hearing that if the ADP didn’t adopt new bylaws that complied with the national party’s rules, the DNC would consider blocking Alabama delegates from attending the national conference next July.
Worley indicated by text message to media members that she would likely call a meeting to consider new bylaws, but how that meeting would be conducted and which set of bylaws would be voted on by the ADP’s State Democratic Executive Committee isn’t clear. As chairperson, Worley has broad discretion to control what is brought for a vote at such meetings.
And she didn’t appear to be open to the DNC’s input.
“I am sure Alabama Democrats do not want the DNC telling us how to think or operate our Party,” Worley wrote. She also noted that two other sets of bylaws sent to the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee were rejected.
However, the bylaws approved by the DNC committee were locally produced. Members of the SDEC, including three black legislators, authored the bylaws and sent them to the DNC for approval. House Reps. Anthony Daniels, Chris England and Napoleon Bracy, three prominent members of the Alabama House’s Black Caucus, signed a letter accompanying the proposed bylaws — undercutting Worley’s claims that the current upheaval within the ADP is a racial issue.
Instead, it appears to be more about the viability of the party, and wrestling control of the ADP away from Joe Reed, ADP’s vice-chairman for minority affairs.
Under the current bylaws, the SDEC’s minority voters must be at least equal to the minority voters in the state of Alabama. Those bylaws also define “minority” as black. And it gives Reed the power to appoint SDEC members to fill at-large voting seats until the appropriate minority representation is attained.
At the 2018 meeting prior to the leadership vote, Reed appointed more than 30 at-large members, swinging the vote in Worley’s favor again.
The DNC has told Worley that those bylaws are outdated, and that new bylaws must be created that place an emphasis on a broader definition of “minority.” The state party must also recruit more LGBTQ members and young people, Hispanics and Asians. The new bylaws create a separate diversity council within ADP to address these issues.
Whether those new bylaws will see the light of day at an SDEC meeting is still unclear, though. Attorneys for both sides essentially say they’re not certain if Worley can be forced to bring the issue for a vote, or if SDEC members can conduct a legal meeting without her or vice-chairman Randy Kelly.
Party rules never envisioned such an issue and doesn’t present a solution for removing or usurping a state party chairman and vice-chairman. And it prevents only a handful of options for even punishing state chairs who fail to abide by the rules.
The DNC already has stripped Worley and Kelly of their party credentials. The remaining punishment is to prevent Alabama from being represented at the Democratic National Convention and having no voice in selecting the party’s nominee for president.