Alabama Democrats Under New Leadership As Legal Battles Loom

Barry Ragsdale

Rep. Chris England, new chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

The Alabama Democratic Party is under new leadership. This past weekend, members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) removed party chair Nancy Worley and elected state Rep. Chris England chair instead. Worley sued to stop the meeting from happening, but ultimately the Alabama Supreme Court allowed it to go on. Worley appears ready to continue the fight. Attorney Barry Ragsdale represents the faction that organized Saturday’s meeting where the group elected new leaders. He tells WBHM’s Janae Pierre the legal battles aren’t a major cause of concern.

Interview Highlights:

How likely is it for this legal fight to continue?

“At this point, we don’t know whether or not they’re going to continue to try to fight. It would be ill advised. The courts at this point are clearly on our side. The law is clearly on our side. The National Democratic Party is clearly on our side. And so we hope that this marks an end to the litigation and the fight and the bitterness. But to some degree, that’s up to them.”

Will Nancy Worley’s November 16th meeting go on as planned?

“We don’t believe so, the November 16th meeting was called by Ms. Worley at a meeting that itself was illegal, the October 12th meeting that she attempted to call in violation of the rules and the orders of the Democratic National Committee. But at our meeting that was held Saturday, we unanimously canceled that meeting. There’s no need for it. We have new leadership. We complied with the deadlines that the Democratic National Committee had given us, which means we’re finally in a position where we can actually participate in the National Party as well as the national conventions. So the meeting that she previously called on the 16th in violation of the rules and orders of the DNC has been canceled. And in addition to that, she has been directed not to spend any party funds to hold a meeting or to do anything to try to further her personal effort to hang on to power.”

Where does the Alabama Democratic Party go from here?

“Well, no place but up. You know, Saturday was historic in a number of ways. But I think the most important was for the first time in our history, we elected a black chairman. You know, our party for a long time has been majority African-American, but we’ve never had an African-American at the top of the party. There is nobody better suited to take that mantle for the first time than Representative Chris England. In addition to that, we expanded the state (Democratic) Executive Committee to include folks who had long been excluded by the former leadership of the Party and never had a place at the table. There were tears shed around the room when the openness and the inclusiveness and the diversity of the Party reached a historic level. And so I think at this point we recognize we have a big hill to climb in Alabama. But it is a lot easier to climb with the kind of leadership that we elected on Saturday. And the fact that we have, I think, finally broken the stranglehold of the old guard and the Party. And so we look forward to fielding a full slate of candidates and being competitive and gradually returning Alabama to the status of having two political parties that can compete and give voters a choice.”

How does this move affect Alabama having a Democratic presidential candidate on the ballot next year?

“Well, the good news is because we complied with the conditions and the orders that we received from the Democratic National Committee, we’re back on track to be able to have a presidential primary, to have Alabama Democrats have an opportunity to participate in the primary and send delegates to the national convention. You know, one of the great tragedies, I think, of the way that Nancy Worley and Dr. Reed approached this fight, they literally put at risk the ability of Alabama Democrats to have any role in selecting our party’s nominee to run against President Trump in 2020. And they did that for selfish reasons. Fortunately, other leadership stepped up and we will be in a position to vote on and elect the next nominee and I believe the next president of the United States.”


Note: Several attempts to reach Nancy Worley for comment were unsuccessful.

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