More On the SDEC Meeting

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from a former Democratic party chair stating that the portion of the bylaws used against both candidates had been repealed and replaced with a rule in line with the 1988 Fair Campaign Practices Act.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. 

36 Responses to “More On the SDEC Meeting”

  1. Congratulations, Kathy, you were magnificent in keeping us all well informed and thus better activists. I bet all those emails scared the crap out of Dean, no wonder he was calling! Way to go! We all have to something to be proud of today. I am now off to work for my gay candidate.

  2. Kathy says:

    misswildthing, let us know what we can do to help.

  3. Melinda says:

    Thank you for all the information you gave us!

  4. Don says:

    Kathy, I’ve been following this as well as I could with interruptions from a grandson with vehicular problems, but from what I have seen believe you scooped this story over the AP newswire from Montgomery by more that just a few minutes. If I knew how to take up an internet collection to reimburse you for at least your fuel expenses I would.

  5. Shawn says:

    good job and congratulations to you all. way to keep us on our toes!!

  6. Bill says:

    I believe that Matthews was the man who, when the Birmingham Barons, offerred to build a nice ball park for inner city kids in honor of what Michael Jordan did for the team, raised a stink about Jordan. No ball park was built.

  7. Don says:

    Bloggers led the way on this story throughout, both in speed and thouroughness. And Kathy at this blog was head and shoulders above the rest. Rob Johnson, the AP reporter, also did a great job, but if you really wanted to know the latest you logged on here. Way to go, Kathy!

  8. I’m glad to hear the national party was working to make sure we did the right thing. I hope one thing that comes out of this is that we will pay really close attention to who is running for the executive committee next time – it’s important! That’s what grass-roots activism is really about.

    And Mr. Dean – could you see about doing the right thing in Connecticut too?

  9. BREAKING: Patricia Todd to Represent HD 54…

    Hendricks’ supporter and Birmingham activist Frank Matthews (aka God’s Gangster, aka The Mayor of the Airwaves) “expects there will be a write-in candidate in the race in the Nov. 7 general election.”

    Update (4:50 pm): Kathy at Birmingham Blues …

  10. Frank Mathews is a loudmouth with absolutely no street cred. I wouldn’t pay any attention to him at all. He knows how to get in the paper, that’s it.

    We should also thank Rep. Alvin Holmes, who was against disqualifying the candidates. According to the news report, he said that technicalities had been used against blacks in the past, that he had experienced it himself, and that it was wrong. Also Reed pledged to abide by the decision of the committee.

  11. Grendl says:

    Matthews is a complicated public personality. He’s fiscally conservative, homophobic and anti-immigrant but does not cut off callers who differ with him (beating Hate Radio folks). He often frames racial issues well. He has run for office several times–most recently for Council Seat 2. Mayor Kincaid cut funding to his youth programs, questioning use of the funds.

    Remember the ugly ad he ‘fronted’ for anonymous developers during the Super Sewer fight?

    In his own words:

  12. Grendl says:

    Sorry Here’s the link:  In his own words.

  13. [...] The executive committee rejected the ridiculous finding of the sub-committe and affirmed Patricia Todd as the nominee in district 54. So here are my questions. [...]

  14. TeddySanFran says:

    Thanks, Alabama Executive Committee Democrats, from sparing us the need to challenge your delegates’ credentials at the 2008 Democratic National Convention! I wrote to Chairman Dean twice this week, promising to cut off my Democracy Bond and lead a credentials challenge if this lunacy was allowed to stand.

    And thanks to you, BB, for your excellent coverage of this issue from start to finish. We all owe you a big glass of THANKS when we see run into you at the National Convention in 2008. Thanks so much!

    Now, on to VICTORY in November!

  15. SI Reasoning says:

    87 votes to affirm and 95 to overturn. Stunning
    This whole thing was so insane that the whole idea that it was so close baffles me to no end. I have lived in Alabama for most of my life and I know its history, but my experiences here led me to believe that it WAS history….


  16. Zach says:

    Oh dear, I really have created a monster. Kathy, thanks for keeping me sane today (and awake). You’re famous gurl! now dont crash the server.

  17. I am thoroughly elated and overjoyed to be a Democrat in 2006!! The Committee did a splendid job and I am so very proud that justice prevailed for Patricia Todd! I am also very glad to see that the DNC is as interested in what is going on in Alabama, as we are.
    Jim Spearman is a very thorough man, in what he does, and he has certainly helped us in Autauga County, along with Chris, Zac and Jerome Gray, to see that we are getting justice here and getting our party rebuilt to the standards of the party. I congratulate all of the party members who attended the meeting yesterday and stood up for whatever they believed in, no matter which side it was.
    It is a shame that some individuals are so narrow minded (Joe Reed), that the party gets split, and divided, when it should be UNITED! No election should be about race, or sexual orientation issues, but rather the good of the people, and I believe that Patricia Todd will serve us with dignity and respect, no matter what her sexual orientation is. I’M PROUD TO BE A DEMOCRAT!!!!!!

  18. Husband says:


    You know, it’s probably one of the worst kept secrets between us that I sometimes get frustrated with all the time you spend “saving the world.” But right now, I understand why you do it. You really made a difference here. You and Pam and Joe in D.C. and all the people who worked with you to help get a fine woman elected. I am proud the we were able to support Patricia financially and that you did such a great job through the Blues. Anyone who can handle what she’s been through the last couple of weeks with the kind of grace and class she has shown is going to do a great job for ALL the citizens of District 54. And you keep up the great work on your end. I have never been prouder of you. I love you!

  19. George Freeman says:

    I like the hypocrisy of the Democratics – nowhere else but, say, the Democratic National Committee! “Real Democrats don’t discriminate against each other” yet Larry Darby was admonished for exercising free inquiry and free expression concerning the greatest hoax of the 20th century! A Perry County Democratic executive committee member pulled a knife on a White lawyer last week and said “I’ll kill you you motherfucker” and yet no one with the state executive committee has said a word about that? And what about criminal or unethical actions by Don Siegelman, Bryant Melton, Paul Hubbert, Hank Sanders, and so on? Do all Democrats hate Free Speech? There is something wrong in this country. Maybe it began when women got the right to vote or when the Jews begin getting strategic jobs in the federal government during WW2, but whenever, there is something wrong in this country when fundamental principles of liberty cannot be exercised by a Democratic candidate for public office, and many other Democratics support usurpaton of those principles.

  20. Kathy says:

    Hey, “George”, I mean “Jane”, oh no, it’s actually Larry, go spew at your own blog. You have the right to free speech; exercise it there.

  21. Kathy says:

    Thanks, all. This has been an exciting time and a fun story to cover, particularly given the good outcome.

  22. Dan says:

    To George (or whatever you call yourself today): Kathy is right. First Amendment Rights limit the powers of government, not a blog owner and not a political party. The Democrats have historically been biggest national party for supporting different opinions, but they can draw the line wherever they want.

    Congrats, Kathy. I think your coverage and activism (and the subsequent notice taken by other bloggers and everyone else) really helped to shape the outcome of this story.

  23. Thank you Kathy for always being there to cover the real story. Your support and the support of your readers means the world to me. When we all work together, we can and WILL make a difference!

    Feel free to send me an email at patriciatodd205 at

  24. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Dan and Patricia. I really enjoyed being part of this wild ride.

  25. Jeremy says:

    Cool. Nice to DNC realizes what bad publicity this is. I was just waiting to get mocked next week on the Daily Show, etc because Alabama acted, like, well, Alabama.

  26. Wow. Now I hope that Patricia and the local black community — which apparently was played against her by certain pols who felt entitled to what they saw as a historically “black” seat — can and will work together. From what I’ve seen of Patricia, I think that this is very likely.

  27. Does the “no funds were coming in” comment mean than Dean got tough and held up funding until they did the right thing? That’s how I’ve seen it interpreted, but I haven’t seen anything to verify this.

  28. Kathy says:

    I got the impression that no funds were coming in to the DNC, which is one reason Gov. Dean was paying such close attention to the outcome.

  29. Fred Fnord says:

    > We’ve been celebrating and rehashing a bit (no alcohol involved — at least not
    > yet — I still have to drive back to Birmingham).

    Watch the rehashing, hash is even worse to drive on than alcohol. ;)

    > 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.

    Are you kidding? If I were there, I’d’ve walked right up and licked the man. *sluuuuurp*. Hypocrisy is delicious.


  30. [...] Thankfully while I was out of town the Alabama Democratic Party (or what’s left of it) Did The Right Thing© and upheld Patricia Todd’s election to the House District 54 seat. Read more about the near debacle here and here. [...]

  31. [...] Update (4:50 pm): Kathy at Birmingham Blues has more. [...]

  32. [...] Today, a source (not Valerie Abbott) showed me an email Ms. Abbott received this week from Frank Matthews.  Mr. Matthews is a local talk radio personality and perpetual candidate who, you may recall, made a complete ass of himself after last summer’s State Democratic Executive Committee meeting.  He was unhappy because the delegates confirmed Patricia Todd’s election victory in Birmingham’s District 54 and stormed out of the meeting room — shoving, swearing, and yelling at the top of his lungs about “n*ggers and gays”.  He vowed to mount a write-in campaign against Patricia, but for some reason it just never happened. [...]

  33. [...] story, Langford enforcer, radio talker, and payoff recipient Frank Matthews (he of the famed “n*ggers and gays” tirade) went ballistic on local radio host Matt Murphy when Murphy asked him about said payoff. [...]

  34. [...] won’t give anything away here, except to say that a certain exceedingly homophobic staffer will not be [...]

  35. [...] know he’s easily provoked and has no problem whatsoever showing his fanny in public, even in front of television cameras.  And there’s no heat-of-the-moment defense for going on the radio this [...]

  36. [...] Matthews.  Yep, “n*ggers and gays!” Frank Matthews is at it again, concern trolling Patrick Cooper’s support for Howard Bayless’ 2007 [...]

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