I come in from a week in Nirvana and discover that the world did not stop spinning while I was gone. I had planned to bore you with details of our trip to New Mexico, but then I looked at the newspapers that had collected while I was gone.
Something happened that makes me lose all faith in the state Democratic Party. Maybe the Party can do something to reverse this, but I don't know what it might be.
The Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee met and handed down an unbelievable, race based decision to replace Kenya Lavender Marshall with Elisabeth French (who did not run in the primary during which Marshall defeated Nicole Still, who came in second both in the primary and in the runoff) as the party nominee for Jefferson County Circuit Judge place 17. Still had gobs of endorsements, including Stonewall Democrats and Bessemer Progressives.
Still also had the support of French during her campaign.
I don't know Elisabeth French (and neither do a majority of the Jefferson County voters) but I understand she considers herself qualified. But Nicole Still was determined to be the most qualified of the candidates who ran for this office by the Birmingham Bar Association, plus she has a few month's experience, having been appointed to the position by Bob Riley.
I understand the voting among the committee members did not fall along racial lines, with both white and black members voting for both Still and French, and French winning 90 - 41 - 1 (Peter Johnson Davis got 1 vote). Still is white. French is black.
While French herself did not campaign for this position along racial lines, her supporters sure did. Joe M. Reed (not the Joe Reed you are thinking of) said by voting for French "we (blacks)will have a friend, we will have a loyal friend, we will have a family member ... a sister."
Alvin Holmes said "This is not a race issue." Then he kept talking and proved that it was. "This seat was won by a black person because a majority of people in Jefferson County chose a black person over a white person."
Watch the video of the proceedings, recorded and uploaded by Left in Alabama.
But even if it wasn't a race issue, they also claimed Nikki Still was a Republican, and had supported Republicans, something she denies.
But even if she did, since when does the SDEC regard prior support of Republicans a reason not to support a candidate? Two words. Charlie Grimsley. He was chief of staff for Republican Lt. Governor Steve Windom and contributed at least $25,000 to Republicans and their special interest groups, including the Bush-Cheney campaign and Roy Moore.
When this was brought before the SDEC earlier this year, they rejected a motion to keep him off the ticket, and allowed him to run for treasurer. He is now your nominee for treasurer, having won the primary (over a much more progressive candidate Jeremy Sherer), because the SDEC did not care that he supported Roy Moore and George Bush and Dick Cheney.
And do the Democratic voters of Jefferson County care that Nikki Still was appointed by Bob Riley? Would they rather he appoint a Republican?
Did they not prove they don't mind a Riley appointment when they elected George Bowman as county commissioner?
And this race for Circuit Court was to be only voted on by Jefferson County voters.
Jefferson county voters made Nikki Still their second choice.
The Jefferson County Democratic Party Executive Committee recommended Still to the SDEC over French. The Jefferson County chapter of the New South Coalition voted to support Still. Grover Dunn, chairman of the Jefferson County ADC, was selected by their executive committee to nominate Still to the SDEC, and he did.
Rep. John Rogers warned the SDEC about what this result in come November. Democrats in Jefferson County will not be as excited about the election. This will greatly reduce Ron Sparks chances of being elected governor, and some are saying Jim Folsom may even lose his bid for Lt. Governor if the race is close, if Jefferson County voters are not inspired.
And there is nothing inspirational about a race based, demonizing campaign within the bowels of the party.
Update: The Jefferson County chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition has called on Elisabeth French to reject her appointment as the nominee. They say that Nikki Still is a victim of racism.
James Laster, their president, made the case in an opinion article in today's Birmingham News (the column is not posted online yet).
"Now, Democratic leaders Joe Reed, Joe Turnham and John Rogers no longer need to concern themselves with how many people will show up to the polls, but with retaining Democrats thinking of fleeing the Democratic Party after such a blatant show of racism."
Rejecting her appointment would be a radical thing for French to do. But it might also save the Democratic Party from this self inflicted wound, suicide, if you will. An online poll on al.com currently has 88% of respondants saying the SDEC made the wrong choice.