CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

June 3, 2013

Ala Democratic Party delays election of new chair

BY JAY REEVES
Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —

Alabama Democrats delayed a planned vote for a new party chairman, a move the interim chair said Sunday meant the struggling organization could go several more months without a permanent leader.

Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley said she will continue as interim party chairman following the postponement by members of the state executive committee, which met Saturday in Montgomery.

Birmingham attorney Ed Gentle had sought the chairmanship, but Worley said Gentle decided not to take the post on a judge's advice because of his work as a special master in a couple of cases involving politics.

Worley said no one else had campaigned as actively as Gentle for the chairmanship, so party leaders decided to delay a vote to allow for additional time. No new meeting date was set.

"I would assume the next meeting will be called at least by fall. Summer is just a hard time to get people together," said Worley.

Worley will remain interim chairwoman indefinitely, but she previously said she had no interest in remaining in the slot.

Gentle, who has extensive experience handling settlement in mass tort cases, declined comment.

Former Democratic chairman Mark Kennedy resigned in April and organized a new foundation, the AlabamaDemocratic Majority, to recruit and help fund candidates. Several Democratic Party staffers joined him with the new organization.

Worley has said Kennedy left the party broke, facing both eviction from its offices and utility shutoffs, with his departure in April, but the organization's financial picture has improved in recent days.

"We have since some very nice donations and we have applied that money to paying off some debts," said Worley.

The party still has a long-term loan debt of about $500,000, she said, but members of the executive committee passed new rules to bar anyone taking out new loans without the approval of the party's executive board.

"I think that will prevent what we've seen in the past," said Worley.

Most of the debt stemmed from elections before Kennedy's tenure and from former Gov. Don Siegelman's failed drive for a state lottery in 1999.