Todd v. Hendricks, Vel Sim
The hearing has been rescheduled, but I am predicting that no matter who wins, the District 54 battle is going to end up in court.
Why am I saying this? Because, based on what I’ve heard so far, the only way Patricia Todd loses the hearing is if the hearing is rigged against her. That means two things.
First, if Todd loses, she ought to sue. She – and more importantly the voters – would be the victim of dirty dealings.
Second, if Hendricks’s side is so hell bent on victory that they would break the party’s procedural rules, and also try to stack the committee with her supporters, then I am sure they would not just accept defeat. Her actions so far provide no reason to think she will quietly accept an adverse decision by the party.
Why the refusal to abide by the decision of the voters? Kyle Whitmire argues that Joe Reed and the rest of Hedricks’s supporters see this as a fight for control of the entire Democratic party:
For more than 25 years, Joe Reed has been one of the most active members of the Alabama Democratic Party and has controlled one of two Alabama black political organizations, the Alabama Democratic Conference. As associate executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, Reed has had more clout than all but a handful of Montgomery political operatives.
However, in recent years there have been signs that Reed’s influence has been slipping. Most notably, ADC’s past opposition to Artur Davis ultimately amounted to a fart in the wind. While Reed can still use his AEA position to influence legislation, his ability to swing elections has waned as black voters have become more independent of block-voting organizations, such as ADC.
Compared to Reed, Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham is a relative neophyte to Alabama politics. An unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2002 gave him the statewide visibility he needed to be taken seriously as a political player. The son of an Alabama legislator, he has risen over the last decade from chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party to the top party position in the state.
Turnham inherited a party in need of political triage. Alabama Democrats had been badly bruised by a 20-year realignment, driven by defections to the GOP. The days of the Yellow Dogs were over, and it was — and still is — Turnham’s job to craft a new identity for the Democrats.
However, his authority as the party leader has remained untested. Like most of the party chairman before him, Turnham has had a volatile relationship Reed. It was only a matter of time before a wedge issue pitted the new party leader against the old.
For Reed, losing this election is losing yet another bit of his empire. As he and Hendricks have proven thus far, they are not going to surrender without a fight.
For the sake of the people in District 54, and Alabama, I am glad Todd is up to the fight.