Once again, WE WON!!!
We’ve been celebrating and rehashing a bit (no alcohol involved — at least not yet — I still have to drive back to Birmingham). Most of the meeting was just as exciting as you might expect when a bunch of people get together and use parliamentary procedure to communicate.
Of course, Patricia’s dispute was last on the agenda. Amy Burks, chair of the subcommittee that recommended disqualifying both Patricia and Gaynell Hendricks, read the recommendation. Chair Joe Turnham explained that a vote to uphold the recommendation would result in the disqualification of both candidates and a vacancy in District 54, while a vote to overturn it would end the contest and make Patricia the nominee.
Then Raymond Johnson spoke, supposedly on behalf of Gaynell, but primarily to insist that the committee hold Patricia to a standard no one else had to meet.
Bobby Segall was just as eloquent and impassioned on Patricia’s behalf today as he was on Thursday, and he dropped a minor bombshell — he had an affidavit from a former Democratic party chair stating that the portion of the bylaws used against both candidates had been repealed and replaced with a rule in line with the 1988 Fair Campaign Practices Act. He also continued to point out that no Democratic candidate had filed financial disclosure forms with the party this year, and that disqualifying Patricia on that basis would open the entire slate to challenge. In fact, he said that Gerald Dial (D-not really) was already planning to sue if the subcommittee decision was upheld. He said that real Democrats don’t discriminate against each other, they don’t selectively apply the rules, and they don’t consider elections to be preference polls for leaders to approve or disapprove.
Then we endured quite a few “points of order” that were primarily opportunities for individual committee members to express their opinions.
Finally, the chair called for a vote. He asked those who supported upholding the subcommittee’s recommendation to stand. They did, and at that point, I began to hope. Joe Reed prowled the aisles, glaring at those who remained seated, and succeeded in coercing a few more votes. Joe Turnham had to ask everyone to stand again because Reed’s machinations had screwed up the count. Then those opposed to the resolution stood. The counters counted, we sweated, my hands started shaking, and finally Joe Turnham announced the count:
87 votes to uphold the recommendation, 95 to overturn it. Those of us in the back of the room started cheering, and I ran for the lobby — and a wireless signal — so I could spread the word.
The meeting adjourned right after the vote, and I’m afraid there were some unhappy people leaving the room. One very angry black man came out yelling, “N*ggers and gays, n*ggers and gays, that’s all this party has.” He kept ranting about the Republicans winning in November until someone reminded him that Patricia is unopposed. Then he started carrying on about a write-in race. Unfortunately, the TV cameras were right there, and the reporters gave him a format to spew. Then he walked out, telling the Todd supporters that they’d better not touch him. I guess he was assuming that all her supporters are gay and that he might catch it. I could have reassured him that no one there had any desire to touch him.
Patricia was all smiles, and her supporters were ecstatic. I walked out with party Executive Director Jim Spearman, who told me that Howard Dean had called eight times during the meeting to find out what happened. He said he’d been on the phone with Dean all week, and that the DNC was frantic because of all the negative feedback. People were ticked off, and no funds were coming in.
So thanks to all of you who contacted the DNC, the Alabama Democratic Party, your local committee members, and anyone else who would listen to insist that justice be done.
Democracy prevailed today, folks. We have reason to be proud.
UPDATE: Here’s the Victory Fund statement. And the angry black man was apparently local radio talk show host and perennial candidate Frank Matthews. What a kook.
UPDATE 2: As Lisa pointed out in the comments, Rep. Alvin Holmes deserves thanks for standing up to defend Patricia against the kind of tactics that have been used against black candidates in the past. I also heard Glenn Allen, one of the subcommittee members, telling Patricia that he was very glad to have been overruled.