Friendly fire: the fight For Alabama’s Democratic party -- An APR News Feature
The 2020 primaries are underway with the Iowa caucus kicking things off for the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. While candidates campaign for position to face President Donald Trump in November, the Democratic Party in Alabama is facing a fight of its own.
Democrats nationwide are looking to Iowa to see who will come out on top in the first primary race for the Democratic nomination for president. However, in Alabama, Democrats are looking to the courts to put an end to a fight that has been going on for some time now. The lawsuit was filed by someone familiar to state Democrats.
Nancy Worley was elected chair of the party in 2013. However, new elections were held in November and Representative Chris England was elected as the new chair. England said there were good reasons he got the job.
"With irregularities in the election that occurred in 2018, and also the fact that the party, through the bylaws were out of compliance, the DNC required us to hold new elections and amend our bylaws,” he said.
Those new bylaws would increase minority representation on the Senior Democratic Executive Committee. The list includes Hispanics members, as well as Asians, Native Americans, youth, LGBTQ+ individuals and those with disabilities. England said changes were made and then new leadership came about.
“I, along with Patricia Todd were elected chair and vice chair respectively, and that is how we got here,” England said.
“Here” is a fight over who is leading the party. Worley and her supporters call the election illegitimate and contend that she is still the party chair.
“It appears right now that we have a splintered party," she said. "We have two groups in existence that calls themselves the official Democratic Party.”
Worley said party infighting is nothing new for Alabama Democrats.
“This is not the first time the Alabama Democratic Party has had a difference with another group within the party," sje said. “So it’s never good to have two groups representing what should be one.”
Worley believes the DNC is trying to move on despite the fact her lawsuit is still in the courts.
“There continues to be motions that go on in private with the DNC. My understanding is that the DNC wants to move onto something else and wash their hands of this," she said.
She said all of this is happening even though she followed the committee’s instructions.
“We believe we did everything the DNC asked us, including having a new election for Chair and Vice Chair," Worley said.
The DNC accused Worley of missing deadlines or not properly answering their questions. For that reason, the national party stripped her and vice chair Randy Kelly of their national credentials. England said change was needed for the party to succeed.
“There hadn’t been any fundraising going on for the last few years," he said. "There really wasn’t any infrastructure whether it be employees working for the party or the county infrastructure slowly, but surely falling apart.”
Worley challenged her removal shortly before England was elected as the new chair. She said she plans to see it through.
“I was elected by the SDEC in 2018 to this position, I was reelected to this position in 2019. We see no other pathway," she said.
England hopes the party can heal once the case gets through the courts.
“I do recognize that there are some people and some raw emotions and hurt feelings out there and I hope as the court case resolves itself and the case works itself out that we can mend those differences," he said.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin has set a final hearing on the lawsuit for Feb. 20. Alabama’s Democratic Primary is scheduled for March third.