Alabama’s Democratic Party is getting a long overdue shake-up.
The Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Committee decided on Thursday that Alabama’s Democratic Party has to redo elections for the state party chapter’s chair and vice-chair. The rulings were set down in an hourlong hearing, which can be viewed in full here; the state party will now have 90 days to hold a new election under DNC supervision.
Last August, a committee of Alabama’s top Democrats voted 101-89 to elect Nancy Worley as chair of the state party over Peck Fox, who was supported by Sen. Doug Jones. According to AL.com, the voting process was done in a theater that was open to the general public. When the time came to vote, the party simply asked committee members to stand in the middle section of the seating area, but did nothing to verify that all those counted in the vote were committee members.
The DNC’s call for a new election was triggered by a bevy of complaints after the election. According to an official that spoke with the DNC’s Credentialing Committee, the investigation turned up “a number of procedural irregularities in the vote,” per AL.com, including the finding that the DNC could not verify that all of the 190 voters were members of the state committee. According to the Associated Press, only 142 committee members signed in prior to the vote.
Past the makeshift election process, another strain of criticism that permeated the discussions about the elections concerned the king-making nature of state politics.
Joe Reed is the vice chairman of the state party’s minority committee; in that role, Reed is allowed to handpick delegates, which tend to vote his way. Ahead of the August 2018 election, Reed picked 35 delegates. In Thursday’s hearing, the DNC criticized the fact that the Alabama Democratic Party bylaws allowed Reed to essentially stuff the box for Worley, the former Alabama Secretary of State, by picking 35 delegates that voted with him.
As an Alabama Political Reporter column pointed out, Reed’s picks have also limited the scope of minority representatives in the Democratic Party leadership. According to APR, all 35 delegates selected by Reed were black residents. While that’s progress relative to the GOP, the DNC ruled on Thursday that Reed’s selections overlooked other minority groups, specifically Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ community members. The DNC requested the bylaws be reviewed to ensure all citizens are adequately represented.
As Worley and Reed have been in power for some time now, it’s worth noting that the Alabama Democratic Party’s performance in the 2018 midterms was among the most dismal in the nation—the Democrats lost every single statewide race available, and concerns of money being left in the bank hounded the leadership through the November elections.
It’s not yet clear when the new election will be held, but the candidates emerged by the end of Thursday. Fox told AL.com he will not be running for election again; instead, he supported the candidacy of Myron Penn, a lawyer and former state senator. Worley, who’s held the post of chair of the Alabama Democratic Party since 2013, said after the hearing that she didn’t agree with the DNC’s decision but looked forward to putting the matter to rest.