Yesterday, in the jam-packed atrium of Birmingham's Harbert Center, former Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy welcomed a new organization, the Alabama Democratic Majority, onto the state's rough and tumble political scene. The large crowd was enthusiastic and hopeful — and diverse. Although a number of SDEC members were present, this crowd was much more diverse (and roughly a generation younger) than the State Democratic Executive Committee.
Below is the “highlights reel” of the event, featuring Alabama NOW President Shirley Ann Rawls, former First Lady Marsha Folsom and ADM Chairman Mark Kennedy who said, “we need a generation of enthusiastic Democrats to take our place.”
Rawls: I think what he [Kennedy] has done is bold, brilliant and necessary. So let's move forward in this Alabama Democratic Majority and take back our state in 2014.
Folsom: I am here proudly representing the Folsom Wing of the loyal, dedicated Alabama Democrats. This is a new day in our beloved state. A day we've all been crying out for in our own individual voices and now we have a leader who will bring our voices, our energy and our determination together to create a better future, not just for Democrats but for every citizen of the state of Alabama. Today is a day that represents a turning point, a reset moment … We must now reset our focus from the past toward the future, establishing a future where all are welcome into the fold — red, yellow, brown, black, white, male, female, gay, straight, young, old, new Democrats, old Democrats, Independents and even free-thinking Republicans. … This is about the future for all of us in Alabama. Today is not the day for Alabama Democrats to look to the accomplishments, or the failures, of the past. Those days are gone and a new day is here.
Kennedy: Today I stand before you as an Alabama Democrat who supports Democratic principles and the hope for a new and improved Alabama Democratic Party. … Today as the volunteer Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Majority Foundation, I remain committed to supporting progressive Democratic candidates who soon will begin to prepare for the journey to 2014.
Let me be clear, the Alabama Democratic Majority is not a political party. We do not stand in opposition to our state Democatic Party. We will stand with our party and ask them to support the pathway of inclusiveness, of fair representation, of working together, of creating opportunities for all of us to be involved, and for the notion that the number 'one' can never be a majority. We will fight to make the Alabama Democratic Party more representative of a broader spectrum of all Alabama Democrats and we will support progressive candidates and ask them to stand for election in 2014 to the State Democratic Executive Committee.
We stand here to give notice to all that the Alabama Democratic Party is ready. We are ready to take on the fight for public education, quality healthcare, rebuilding and creating jobs for Main Street Alabama, supporting teachers, state employees, law enforcement personnel and Alabama's working class families. We will keep fighting for our children, for women's rights and the elderly and defeating the Country Club attitude in Montgomery that protects big corporations and lays our state to waste.
Today, we stand to give notice to Bill Armistead and his Republican Party that the Alabama Democratic Majority is going to take to the streets and out-work, out-organize, out-talk, out-walk, out trick, out-think and out-fight for free and fair elections.
… We are citizens united. We are African-Americans, whites, hispanics, native Americans, college students, young professionals, working men and women, lawyers, doctors, bankers, steamfitters, plumbers, Wal-Mart workers, teachers, government employees, the elderly and infirm. We are single, and we are married, and we are straight, and we are gay. We are colorblind. We are people of faith. We love our country, we love our state. We are the fathers and mothers of soldiers. We are parents who dream that their children will have opportunities that we never had. We scream for our teams on crisp autumn Saturdays and we pray in church, temples and synagogues on our Sabbath. We have black hair, we have blond hair, we have gray hair and we have no hair. We are not quitters and we do not give up.
We all dream for the day when Alabama can reach for the top rather than sink to the bottom. We are Alabamians and we vote. We will seek out, support, and elect candidates that want to restore faith in government, protect the least of these, support policies that protect and promote public education and economic prosperity, who stand for the notion of fair share taxes, prison reform and constitutional reform. We are going to defeat the Legislative Supermajority in this state. We are going to run qualified candidates for state office, keep control of our courthouses and beat the Republicans at their own game.
Both Folsom and Kennedy strongly urged all concerned Democrats to contribute their time, talent — and yes, money — to help the ADM achieve the goal of overturning the GOP supermajority in 2014. The Donations table appeared to be doing a brisk business following the press conference.
The former staff of the ADP have resigned en masse, effective at noon yesterday and most of them will be working for the new organization. Former ADP Executive Director Bradley Davidson will be the Director of the ADM. Coincidentally, the ADM's Birmingham office will be located in what was the ADP's field office in that city, the very office the ADP's Executive Board recently directed Kennedy to close. Kennedy also said the ADM will have an office in Montgomery. He very pointedly said that the ADM is not a political party and “does not stand in opposition to our state Democratic Party”, but rather intends to augment and improve it. Interim ADP Chairman Nancy Worley was invited to yesterday's press conference, but did not attend. Worley told a reporter …
it was unfortunate that Kennedy decided to resign and “take his toys and go home.”
Given that attitude, it's no surprise that she wasn't among the enthusiastic crowd in Birmingham yesterday.
A number of elected officials attended the press conference, including Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham and Reps. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, Richard Lindsey, D-Centre and Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, along with Jefferson County Treasurer Mike Miles, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown, Birmingham Municipal Court Judge Cornella Green Norman and former Judge Deborah Bell Paseur of Lauderdale County.