This Is Getting Ugly

I posted on Friday that losing candidate Gaynell Hendricks’ mother-in-law has filed a challenge to the runoff results in Alabama House District 54. Today, there are more details available, and they constitute a nasty attack on Patricia Todd, who won the runoff by 59 votes.

In the election challenge, [Mattie] Childress claimed that the release of a campaign finance report by Todd was timed to prevent voters from knowing that Todd received a $25,000 contribution from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Voters also didn’t know that Todd made payments of $12,750 to two primary opponents who endorsed her, according to the challenge.

The contest claims Todd received illegal votes, and it challenged the way Jefferson County elections officials handled the returns.

“I want this controversy settled,” Childress told The Birmingham News. “This is happening like when Bush and Gore were running for president. I don’t like it.”

The article doesn’t define “illegal” votes. There was a problem on election night with a memory card at one precinct, and it was resolved at the time. Unfortunately, given that it’s fodder for the conspiracy theorists among us, the precinct was in Crestwood, which has a high percentage of gay residents.

And The Gaytm seems to be the core of Ms. Childress’ objection. She thinks voters wouldn’t have supported Patricia if they had only known she was — * gasp * — a lesbian. There’s a tiny problem with that assumption — Patricia has been out for years. Every news story I saw on her runoff victory mentioned that she would be the first openly gay legislator in Alabama history. This wasn’t a big revelation to anyone who was paying attention. And if the majority of voters in District 54 don’t care that she’s gay, why would they care that she received money from the Victory Fund? The Victory Fund offered to match all contributions to her runoff campaign that came in within a set 3-day period. I expect many of those voters gave money themselves. (Full disclosure: Husband and I did, even though we don’t live in her district. So sue us. Or not.)

Gaynell got herself into trouble with some voters that I know with her last minute appeal to “family values”. Now her mother-in-law is challenging the election with yet more veiled appeals to homophobia. I have a message for both of them: GET OVER IT!

9 Responses to “This Is Getting Ugly”

  1. [...] Kathy has the down and dirty on Hose District 54 race. [...]

  2. Del says:

    Kathy – what does “Todd made payments of $12,750 to two primary opponents who endorsed her” mean, exactly? Not that I’m not thrilled about her sexual orientation, and all. But that part of the story doesn’t sound right. Or is it something that “everybody does”?

  3. Kathy says:

    I don’t know what that’s supposed to be about. And I don’t know where on earth she would have gotten that much money to just hand out. Gaynell has been saying for some time that Patricia recruited a couple of people to run in the primary just to split the black vote — I think that would be a pretty amazing feat for a first-time candidate — so it may be more conspiracy theory rambling. I’ll see what I can find out about it.

  4. Kathy says:

    Well, I stand corrected. A very quick perusal of Patricia’s last disclosure forms does show she paid at least one former candidate (I can’t remember all the names off the top of my head) for some consulting/polling services during the runoff campaign. I don’t know if that’s common, and I haven’t checked out Ms. Hendricks’ forms to see where her money went, but I’ll continue to check into it and get back to you.

  5. Kathy says:

    Here’s a link to Ms. Hendricks’ disclosure forms. I note that she and Patricia both filed their forms the day before the runoff, so I’m not sure why her mother-in-law is complaining about Patricia waiting till the last minute.

  6. alapolitics says:

    Actually Ms. Hendricks filed her report on July 12, the day before it was actually due. The link you posted actually shows it was filed on the 12th.

  7. alapolitics says:

    Todd filed her report on July 17th. It was due by July 13.

  8. Kathy says:

    Thanks, alapolitics. I was zipping through these reports very quickly this morning before driving children all over the place, and I looked at the wrong dates.

  9. I swear I remember seeing the contribution from the Victory Fund reported in the newspaper before the runoff date. Do I remember wrong?

    Also, in my opinion the whole Gay thing is a straw man on the Hendricks’ part. The real issue is race, and the failure of the traditional African-American coalitions to turn out “their” vote. The Citizens Coalition has lost most of its power, and none of the other organizations have the kind of pull that the Coalition did. The GOTV effort on the part of Arrington, Kincaid et al just didn’t work this time. They tried The Gay at the last minute in desperation and it didn’t work either. The black citizens of the district could see through Gaynell, and they knew that Pat Todd would be a better representative. Pat is much more a person of the people and Gaynell has a reputation as an elitist. Gaynell acted a lot like Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, like she should just be handed the job without working for it.

    Campaign committees can make contributions to other committees, for example to pay off their campaign debt, or to charities, or they can pay for professional services. I don’t know in this campaign if the endorsement of the other candidates was worth much, but it is certainly smart to do what you can within the law to get either their support or their neutrality.

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