(Part of our “greatest hits of 2010” series while the admins are (mostly) on vacation. Our most popular YouTube video EVER. Thousands of people watched the Alabama SDEC in action. This is undoubtedly one of the services LIA provides that you literally can’t get anywhere else. We show up for an event, stay until it’s over (unlike the TV stations), and give you a 10 minute video, not 10 second sound bytes. – promoted by countrycat)
Vice Chair Nancy Worley presided over the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee Meeting yesterday. The room was crowded and hot, even though the air conditioning worked at this venue. Worley was presiding because Chairman Joe Turnham was out of town working with an important client.
The first order of business was to fill vacancies on the Committee. The filled one, then Vice Chair Joe Reed raised concerns that the list of vacancies was incorrect, that they had already put people in some of those seats. Further action on vacancies was postponed until the next meeting.
The Committee then moved on to two Judicial races on the November ballot; a vacancy for District Judge in Madison County and the possible replacement of a candidate for Circuit Court Judge, Place 17 in Jefferson County. The Madison County matter went smoothly. Annary Cheatham was nominated and approved by the Committee for that position. The Jefferson County matter was more complicated. Video of the high points of that matter is below the fold.
The subcommittee that originally recommended removing Kenya Lavender Marshall from the ballot because the State Bar had temporarily suspended her law license. Now she has voluntarily given up her license for four years. Read more about the politics of this judicial position here. The subcommittee stuck to their guns at this meeting, maintaining that the Committee should vacate the result of the primary election and remove Marshall from the ballot. Rep. John Rogers opposed this, saying the Committee was making a drastic mistake and would “drag the party down” to the doldrums. He said Jefferson County would be split apart and it will hurt the party in the general election.
Nevertheless the Committee members voted overwhelmingly (voice vote) to vacate the nomination and remove Marshall from the ballot.
There was a contentious discussion of the Agenda and Rules for voting on a replacement. Bob Harrison of Madison County proposed use of a written (signed) ballot instead of a standing vote. Someone else moved to substitute a roll call for the written ballot. In the end, they did not change the proposed rules and the vote on a replacement for Marshall was to be taken by standing vote.
A delegate from Mobile expressed concern that some people who plan to be nominated for this position have contributed to Republicans in the recent past. She said she didn't like “situational candidates” who might be a Democrat now, but have been Republicans in the past. That seems to have been aimed at incumbent Nikki Still. Although neither OpenSecrets.org or FollowtheMoney has a record of any political contributions to Republicans from Still, she was appointed by Bob Riley. Riley is a Republican, but Still told him up front she would be running as a Democrat.
Joe M. Reed nominated Liz French for the position. He started by stating, “I'm from the brass knuckles wing of the Democratic Party, the 3 guys that visit you after 12 o'clock at night wing of the Democratic Party.” He talked of Republican justice and Democratic justice and spoke for Ms. French, saying that she is “a Democrat,” and that “we will have a friend, we will have a loyal friend, we will have a family member … a sister,” if we nominate Liz French.
Ms. French said she would take “our core Democratic values each and every day to that bench and speak out for justice for you and for your families.”
Grover Dunn of the Jefferson County ADC and the Executive Committee nominated Nikki Still. He said they had backed her in the primary and were still behind her for this position.
When Still spoke, she asked for more time, but was limited to the original 3 minutes. She said she was not a Republican, noted that Liz French and her husband Courtney had supported her through the primary and called them “hypocritical” and “opportunistic” for suddenly opposing her. She also said race is a factor in this controversy — Kendra Marshall is black, Nikki Still is white and Liz French is black. Still said the Committee should not consider the race of the nominees, “Just like a judge should not consider a party's race or their religion or their political affiliation or anything else, just like I'm charged with doing when I apply the law, fairly …”
Rep. Alvin Holmes said, “This is not a race issue. This seat was won by a black person because a majority of people in Jefferson County chose a black person over a white person.”
Rep. John Rogers reiterated that the Committee is making a mistake and that on election night they should remember, “I told you so.” He then nominated Peter Johnson Davis, the other person who ran as a Democrat in the June primary.
Below the fold you will find video of the highlights of this proceeding. If you are an Alabama Democrat who has never seen your State Democratic Executive Committee in action, you really need to watch this video. Ditto if you're just interested in what went on at yesterday's meeting. I've cut out most of the tedious (and questionable) parliamentary manuevering, although that may be a topic for another day.
The vote was taken with supporters of each candidate standing in turn.
- Peter Johnson Davis – 1 vote
- Nikki Still – 41 votes
- Liz French – 70 votes
I tend to think there is something in what John Rogers said, that this action will have consequences in November. Not for Ms. French, who has no Republican opposition, but for other Democrats on the ballot who need a big turnout from the base. First, all the Democrats who voted for Ms. Marshall will likely be upset that she isn't on the ballot, although with her license suspended it doesn't seem the Committee had much choice about removing her name. Second, the next highest vote getter was rejected by the Committee even though she had broad support and the endorsement of the Jefferson County Democratic organizations, presumably the people closest to the controversy. Her supporters will be upset with the Party action. I saw some Labor folks, who had stood up for Nikki Still, walk out immediately after the vote count was announced. They didn't look happy and they probably aren't alone.
And all this was before what the Vice Chair and Presiding Officer did to further disrespect Democratic women, which will be the topic of another post and video.