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!