I admit I'm guilty – or at least I was. Add me to the list of the disgruntled who saw the Alabama Democratic Party as supine, maladroit, and bumbling – and those were the compliments. But in January 2011, things changed. Yes pardners… a new sheriff strolled into town: Judge Mark Kennedy.
Judge Kennedy has spent a year trying to pay down a huge debt, raise money for daily operating expenses, recruit candidates, and manage primary qualifying & elections. All with a tiny paid staff and no communications director (for the simply reason that there's no money to hire one). And yet, in many ways, he's helped bring order out of chaos – beginning with the notoriously chaotic and confusing SDEC meetings. The first meeting chaired by Judge Kennedy was far different than previous affairs.
A healthy, functional state committee is critical to the party's success, but we can't stop there.
Judge Kennedy said in Huntsville earlier this year that he's done apologizing for the mistakes of the past and it's time to move forward.
I do not have time any more to sit down and beg people to stand up an be a Democrat. You want to be with me? That's great.
And he's sticking with that. Just this morning, Kennedy posted this Facebook status:
After the fact: You can't live in Alabama and not at some point in your life be a Monday morning quarterback. It is in our blood.
Since Tuesday I have heard from a lot of democrats from across the state. Some, but far from all, have started the conversation with “Why didn't the Alabama Democratic Party ……?” This morning, take the time to look in the mirror and ask the person that is staring back at you, “Why didn't you ……….?”
All of us are in the same boat, and like our Party and its Chairman, we all could stand a little improvement. So, today go back to the mirror and ask the man or woman in the mirror, “what can I do NOW to support my county and State Party?” All of us have a supply (though limited and unique to each individual) of time, labor and money. The important election is yet to come!
We are a diverse and strong family of freedom loving Alabamians and “ain't nobody gonna turn us around!” Hang tough, our cause is just.
The ADP staff has been working days, nights, and weekends – getting low pay and a lot of grief from both the GOP and many Alabama Democrats.
As an Alabama Democrat, there's a lot I'm not happy about:
- WAY too many seats went uncontested. But given the dismal showing in 2010 and the state party's history of sucking money from candidates instead of helping them win, recruitment was tough. County parties also need to be nurturing a “bench” of up and coming state leaders.
- One statewide candidate appears to be a nut. As our (bad) luck would have it, Harry Lyon is running against Roy Moore. At least the race will be entertaining… but really. The failure to offer a full slate of qualified judicial candidates is a major blunder, but see above….
- Too often, GOP talking points drive the narrative in both the media and ADP rank & file. See the manufactured Bill Maher flap for details.
Why doesn't the ADP snap back and immediately toss GOP smears right back in their faces? Mark Kennedy did a good job of that with his account of Hugh McInnish's tinfoil hat press conference.
He and the ADP have been vocal on a host of other issues as well. For the first time that I can remember, an ADP chair is actually speaking out against GOP excesses and the party is issuing bang up press releases that do the same. I'm not happy at all with some of the legislative leadership in the party right now, but Kennedy – a man who speaks on camera and on the record – has earned my admiration and support.
You want so see more of that fire and spirit? Help the party get financially stable enough to hire a communications director. Time spent begging for cash to pay the rent is time wasted when we could be building the party and getting our message out. With the GOP legislature running wild in Montgomery, our message is more important than ever.
So here's my pitch for the party and for Judge Kennedy. Daddycat and I “put our money where our whine was” & became monthly donors to the party and I know that a number of LIA folks have as well. Have you?
C'mon Democrats! We have a chance here. Let's please not waste it.