The Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee met Saturday in Montgomery at the call of Chairwoman Nancy Worley and passed bylaws counter to instructions from the Democratic National Committee on a narrow 80 to 73 vote. U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, warned that Worley’s action have put the state party in danger of losing delegates to the national convention.
“Once again, Nancy Worley and the Alabama Democratic Party leadership have blatantly disregarded the DNC’s directives and put the state party in danger of losing delegates and representation at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee,” Jones said in a statement. “Not only have they caused a rift within the party, they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees, ran a meeting that was a parliamentary disaster and thwarted efforts to create a more inclusive, diverse and transparent state party. The DNC-approved bylaws that were passed on October 5th are the only legitimate operational bylaws and will bring new leadership and much-needed young and diverse membership into the party.”
Jones has been highly critical of Worley and the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party. He faces re-election for his Senate seat in 2020.
The SDEC had met one week earlier at the call of the members. At the October 5 meeting reform-minded SDEC members passed new bylaws as demanded by the DNC. Worley urged members to boycott that Oct. 5 meeting. Despite this, a quorum was achieved. At Saturday’s meeting, a second set of bylaws were passed not in agreement with the ones being forced on the ADP by the DNC. DNC Chairman Tom Perez warned Worley and the DNC not to reject the Oct. 5 bylaws changes, but they did it anyway.
The Worley led faction of the SDEC also filled vacancies on the SDEC, again in defiance of orders from Perez and the DNC.
The DNC is threatening not to recognize the Alabama delegation at the Democratic Presidential Nominating Convention next year if the SDEC did noes comply with the DNC’s orders.
“At this point, we can’t control whether we do or don’t get to send delegates to the national convention,” Tabitha Isner told APR. “The damage may be done. My focus is on ensuring the Alabama Democratic Party moves forward and does not split apart.”
Isner is challenging Worley for the position of chair of the ADP. Isner was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in 2018.
The reform faction of the SDEC is rejecting the bylaws passed at the Oct. 12 meeting.
“The ADP has one set of bylaws, as adopted on October 5. The meeting called today by Nancy Worley was a circus masquerading as parliamentary procedure, and ran afoul of clearly laid out instructions by the DNC and the Alabama Democratic Party’s own members,” Beth Clayton told APR. “The Chair was unable to provide consistent interpretation of the rules and offered little to no insight into her plans to move the Party forward. On the other hand, the majority of SDEC members who met on October 5 have a clear vision and a path to return ADP to relevance. I have no doubt this will ultimately result in judicial intervention, but I hope the Chairwoman has the good sense to bow out now for the sake of the Party—or at the least, that Dr. Reed has the clarity to realize he needs to cut her loose or risk losing everything he’s worked his career to build. Chairwoman Worley’s refusal to back down is putting our ability to participate in the DNC Convention in jeopardy—which would effectively deny a vote to the same Alabama Democrats she’s claiming to protect. Not to mention this fiasco has cost the Party approximately $200,000 in legal fees, which could have been spent helping elect Democrats up and down the ballot. This is not a time to divide the Party over petty power plays—this is a time to work together as one Alabama to re-elect Doug Jones and build a bench for the future of the Party. Nancy needs to step aside so the Party can elect an effective chair at the next meeting and begin cleaning up the mess she’s made.”
Beth Clayton is an attorney, a Democratic strategist, and a Voice of Alabama contributor.
State Representative Christopher John England (D-Tuscaloosa) argued against this course of action by the SDEC but was voted down by Worley and her supporters.
The DNC demanded bylaws passed on Oct. 5 would guarantee seats on the SDEC for young Democrats, Latinos, Asians, the LGBTQ community and other minorities that the DNC claims are under-represented now. Worley and Alabama Democratic Party Vice-Chair for Minority Affairs Joe Reed rejected the new bylaws arguing that they would under-represent Blacks, who are overwhelmingly the Alabama Democratic Party’s most loyal and reliable voting base.
In February the DNC invalidated the 2018 elections of Worley and Vice-Chair Randy Kelley. New elections and bylaws changes were ordered for April 18. The ADP leadership ignored that deadline and a second deadline set for July 2018. In August the DNC revoked Worley and Kelley’s credentials at the DNC. Worley told her critics at the DNC to “Go to Hell.”
At the Oct. 5 meeting, the reform faction of the SDEC set a date of November 2 for the SDEC to meet and vote on new leadership. The Worley faction of the SDEC also set a date for the SDEC to hold elections, but their date is Nov. 16.
Worley announced that she is running for another term as ADP Chair.
Isner and former Lt. Gov. candidate Dr. Will Boyd are also running for ADP Chair.
APR asked SDEC member Carl Carter of Moody if there will be two competing Alabama Democratic Parties by the end of November.
Carter replied: “In 1945, a farmer in Colorado cut off the head of a chicken, but the bird refused to die. For 18 months, Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken toured with his owner, earning thousands in admission. Sometimes, even when everybody knows how the story will end, it takes a while for the chicken to run down.”
(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group’s Mike Cason contributed to this report.)