Connect with us

Elections

Opinion | Will a final display of arrogance be Worley and Reed’s undoing?

Josh Moon

Published

on

Nancy and Joe messed up. 

A few days before a breakaway group of Alabama Democrats held their “official meeting” of the State Democratic Executive Committee on Saturday in Montgomery, Nancy Worley and Joe Reed dismissed the whole affair. 

They called it an illegitimate meeting. Said it didn’t mean anything. Chuckled at the silliness of the people trying to pull this coup. 

Basically, they said, “pfft,” and shooed away an imaginary fly with their hands. 

And that was probably a mistake. 

Now, to be clear here, I am not an attorney. I have talked to lots of attorneys. And I know how to read. But still, not an attorney, so consider that when you weigh what I’m about to say. 

That decision to dismiss Saturday’s meeting so casually might end up being Worley’s and Reed’s undoing. 

Public Service Announcement

The reason for that is because their power lies with the positions they currently hold in the Alabama Democratic Party. And they willingly relinquished those powers without a fight. 

Before we get too deep into this, let’s briefly recap where we are. 

At Saturday’s meeting, a breakaway group of Dems, led by Rep. Chris England, voted to approve new bylaws — the same bylaws that the Democratic National Committee approved a couple of weeks ago. Those bylaws create a new diversity caucus and put in place other rules about approving at-large members. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Those new rules and the new caucus would seriously weaken Reed’s power within the party, since, as ADP vice-chair for minority affairs, he has the power to appoint numerous at-large members under the old bylaws. 

These new bylaws would likely cut his appointed members by at least half, and would force the SDEC members to approve any at-large members nominated. 

Since Worley won re-election in 2018 thanks largely to those at-large members appointed by Reed, that’s bad news for her. And for him. 

That power Worley holds as chairwoman is significant — perhaps the single most significant piece to her maintaining power throughout this year-long fight. The DNC rules never envisioned a scenario in which a state party chair would fight against the national party and a large chunk of the state party. So, there are no rules to move Worley out of the way. 

That’s why the last year has taken so long and been such a spectacle. They had to come up with a means to remove Worley and lessen Reed’s power on the fly. 

And quite a few attorneys doubted that they could. 

Then Worley and Reed opened the door on Saturday. By never walking through it. 

Oh, I get why they didn’t go to the member-called meeting organized by Sen. Doug Jones: They were setting up their later legal argument that the meeting was so illegitimate that they, and a majority of SDEC members, didn’t even bother attending. 

And that might be a good strategy, except for one thing: The DNC is a private entity that can set its own rules and bylaws, elects its own leadership and controls how those elections work. 

That’s why Nancy Worley isn’t subject to the authority of the Alabama Secretary of State’s office over the fact that she doesn’t reside in the district that she represents in the SDEC. John Merrill has no authority, because the ADP and the DNC aren’t subject to state election laws. 

Likewise, courts are particularly leary of matters involving political parties, and they tend to take a hands-off approach to internal fights and any matter that don’t involve criminal allegations.  

I can’t imagine any court in America taking a look at Saturday’s ADP meeting, where several DNC officials were present and all of the national leadership seemed satisfied that all rules were followed, and disallowing the results. It’s just not what they do. 

That was, according to the DNC and ADP bylaws, a properly called meeting that was approved by the signatures of more than half of the SDEC membership. 

The one thing that could have stopped it all, that could have blocked the new bylaws and sent the disgruntled SDEC members home disappointed was Worley showing up to the meeting and serving as chair. Because that was her right. 

The moment she walked through the door at any SDEC meeting, she is the chair. She decides what gets to the floor for a vote. She determines how the meetings will be conducted, or if there will be any votes at all. 

Worley could have shut it all down. 

Instead, she and Reed laughed at them and sat at home, perhaps one final display of the I-know-better-than-you arrogance that has rubbed so many people the wrong way the last few years. 

Wouldn’t it be ironic if that hubris was ultimately their undoing.

 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

Advertisement

Courts

Plaintiffs ask for panel of judges to reconsider ruling on Alabama voter ID law

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

Plaintiffs suing Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill alleging the state’s voter ID law discriminates against minorities on Monday asked a panel of judges to reconsider an appeals court decision that affirmed the law. 

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Monday filed a petition Monday asking that all of the judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reconsider the July 21 decision by a panel of three judges that fell 2-1 in favor of the state’s voter ID law. 

The 2011 law requires voters in Alabama to show a valid, government-issued photo ID to vote. The NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and several minority voters sued, arguing that lawmakers knowingly crafted the law to prevent Black people and other minorities, who are less likely to have such photo IDs, from voting. 

The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in its July 21 opinion found that the burden of Alabama’s voter ID law is minimal, and does not“violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, nor does it violate the Voting Rights Act.”

Merrill has argued that the state’s voter ID law is meant to deter in-person voting fraud and that the state makes available mobile photo ID units able to provide voters with the necessary IDs.

District Judge Darrin Gayles in his dissenting opinion wrote that voter fraud in Alabama is rare, and that “while there have been some limited cases of absentee voter fraud, in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent.”

Gayles wrote that Merrill presented evidence of just two instances of in-person voter fraud in Alabama’s history.

Public Service Announcement

“Despite the lack of in-person voter fraud, Secretary Merrill claims Alabama enacted the Photo ID Law to combat voter fraud and to restore confidence in elections — a dubious position in light of the facts,” Gayles wrote.

Gayles noted that former State Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, before his retirement in 2010, sponsored similar voter ID bills.

“During this time, Senator Dixon made repeated comments linking photo identification legislation to race, including ‘the fact you don’t have to show an ID is very beneficial to the Black power structure and the rest of the Democrats’ and that voting without photo identification ‘benefits Black elected leaders, and that’s why they’re opposed to it,'” Gayles wrote in his dissenting opinion.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is clear from the statements of the legislators who enacted Alabama’s photo ID law that they passed it for the unconstitutional purpose of discriminating against voters of color,” said LDF senior counsel Natasha Merle in a statement Monday. “As long as this law is intact, Black and Latinx Alabamians will continue to be disproportionately excluded from the state’s electoral process.”

Attorneys in the filing Monday told the court that “roughly 118,000 Alabamians lack qualifying photo ID, and Black and Latinx voters are twice as likely to lack qualifying ID as compared to white voters. Given this evidence, a trial was required to determine whether HB19 violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.”

Continue Reading

Congress

Voting rights activist calls for federal Department of Democracy

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

Micah Danney

Published

on

(VIA BLACK VOTERS MATTER)

The co-founder of an organization that is working to mobilize Black voters in Alabama and elsewhere used the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to call for a new federal agency to protect voting rights nationwide.

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

“The Voting Rights Act should be reinstated, but only as a temporary measure. I want and deserve better, as do more than 300 million of my fellow Americans,” Brown said.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the law in a 5-4 ruling in 2013, eliminating federal oversight that required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get approval before they changed voting rules.

“To ensure that the Voter’s Bill of Rights is enforced, we need a federal agency at the cabinet level, just like the Department of Defense,” Brown said. “A Department of Democracy would actively look at the patchwork of election systems across the 50 states and territories. With federal oversight, our nation can finally fix the lack of state accountability that currently prevails for failure to ensure our democratic right to vote.”

She cited excessively long lines, poll site closings and voter ID laws in the recent primaries in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas as voter suppression techniques that disproportionately affect Black and other communities of color.

Brown said that the July 17 passing of Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma in 1965, has amplified calls for the Voting Rights Act to be strengthened. That’s the right direction, she said, but it isn’t enough.

Public Service Announcement

“History happens in cycles, and we are in a particularly intense one. We have been fighting for the soul of democracy, kicking and screaming and marching and protesting its erosion for decades,” Brown said.

Continue Reading

Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Congressional candidate Jerry Carl.

The Alabama Forestry Association on Thursday announced its endorsement of Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Jerry Carl.

“Jerry Carl has experience working closely with the forest products industry in his role as County Commissioner and will carry that knowledge to Washington,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for limited government and free markets and will continue to promote those same values in Congress. We are proud to endorse him.”

Carl is a small businessman who has started more than 10 small businesses in South Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs. He is currently serving on the Mobile County Commission.

“I am thrilled to earn the endorsement of ForestPAC,” Carl said. “Alabama has a thriving network of hard-working men and women in all aspects of the forestry community, and I look forward to being a strong, pro-business voice for them in Congress. As a lifelong businessman and an owner of timberland, I understand firsthand the needs and concerns of the forestry community, and I will be a tireless advocate in Washington for Alabama’s forest industry.”

Carl said that he was inspired to run for the Mobile County Commission when he became frustrated with the local government.

He and his wife, Tina, have been married for 39 years. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Carl faces Democratic nominee James Averhart in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who currently represents the 1st Congressional District, did not run for another term and has endorsed Carl.

Public Service Announcement

Continue Reading

Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.

Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

Public Service Announcement

Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement