Party leader slams letter claiming AL Democrats on 'life support - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Party leader slams letter claiming AL Democrats on 'life support'

House Minority Leader Craig Ford says he's shifting his focus from the future of the Democratic Party to the future of the state. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) House Minority Leader Craig Ford says he's shifting his focus from the future of the Democratic Party to the future of the state. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Joe Reed is head of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the minority caucus in the Democratic Party of Alabama. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) Joe Reed is head of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the minority caucus in the Democratic Party of Alabama. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley responded to an open letter released Wednesday by House Minority Leader Craig Ford in which he said the party is on "life support" and urged both she and fellow party leader Joe Reed to resign.

Worley slammed Ford's letter as "a desperate attempt to grab a headline when one's job as minority leader is on the line." She added that Ford has never contacted her to discuss his concerns, instead, "attack[ing] for attention when he should be working for our Democratic ticket."

Ford has announced that he will step down as house minority leader. "My focus will be on the future of our state, and I will let new leaders step forward to focus on the future of our party," he wrote. It's widely speculated Ford will make a run at the governor's office in 2018.

The Alabama Democratic Party, once so dominant in state politics that it held every statewide office, now finds itself on the outside looking in. Republicans have flipped the state, taking every constitutional office and creating supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature.

Rep. Ford's letter said the party needs "immediate and specific changes", lamenting its decline in many of the state's 67 counties. "As far as I can tell, it looks like some counties may not even have a local party,' he said.

Ford asked both Worley and Reed to resign saying, "it has become abundantly clear that you are far more concerned with holding on to your own power within the party than you are with trying to win back the offices Democrats have lost."

"I recognize people who are losing power, trying to blame anyone but themselves for losses, making excuses, grasping for headlines, etc." Worley responded. "While I am working hard each day as Democratic Party Chair to elect the most qualified, well-prepared, working family-focused president of the United States, some individuals seem to be spending their time studying the sexist, racist tactics of the Republican nominee," Worley said.

Ford letter criticizes state party leadership for staying silent on issues including House Speaker Mike Hubbard's conviction, Chief Justice Roy Moore's suspension, and Donald Trump's presidential campaign controversies.

Craig Ford's entire letter reads:

Dear Nancy and Joe,

While I am grateful to you for your many years of service to our state and the Alabama
Democratic Party, I have become increasingly concerned about the state of our party and
the direction in which we are heading. To put it bluntly, the Alabama Democratic Party is
on life support, and the only hope we have of turning our situation around is if we make
immediate and significant changes, including changes in leadership.

When voters across Alabama go to vote on November 8th, in most counties they will find
few competitive elections on their ballots. While it is unrealistic to expect the Party to
recruit candidates in every race, it is astonishing that the Party could not recruit a single
candidate to run for any of the statewide offices other than U.S. Senate. Even most local
races this year will be uncontested. How can Democrats offer an alternative to
Republican leadership – let alone win any elections – if we don’t have candidates on the
ballot?

It is also discouraging to see the declining state of so many of our local county
Democratic Parties. There are certainly some counties where the local party is strong, but
in many more the local Party is non-existent and maintains no public presence. As far as I
can tell, it looks like some counties may not even have a local party.

The inability to recruit candidates and the decline of local parties is a sign of a failing
party infrastructure – one that is failing because of neglect and mismanagement.

Nearly a half-a-million voters in Alabama cast their ballots for a Democrat for statewide
office in 2014, but because our Party’s leaders have failed to maintain a public presence,
many Democrats still feel alienated and alone.

When the former Speaker of the House in the Alabama House of Representatives was
convicted on 12 counts of felony corruption, you stayed silent.

When the highest-ranking judge in Alabama was removed from office – for the second
time – for refusing to uphold his oath of office and abide by a federal court’s ruling, you
said nothing.

The Republican Party’s presidential nominee has mocked a disabled person for his
disability, insulted a gold star family, admitted he hasn’t paid income taxes in nearly
twenty years, refereed to women as “dogs” and “fat pigs” and even suggested he can get
away with sexually assaulting women because of his celebrity status, and I have still
heard nothing from you.

It is a sad state of affairs when Republicans are more willing to publicly condemn the
Republican presidential nominee than the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Where has our party’s leadership been while Republican leaders in Alabama were cutting
educators,’ state employees’ and retirees’ pay?

Where was our party leadership while Democrats in the Legislature were fighting to pass
a lottery in the special legislative session earlier this summer?

Why has our party leadership stayed silent while Republican leaders waste millions of tax
dollars defending unconstitutional legislation they forced into law?

Where has our party leadership been while Republican leaders not only refused to expand
Medicaid, but cut reimbursements for doctors and services for patients? Or when Republican
leaders tried to close down state parks and drivers license offices?

The Democratic Party cannot afford to have leaders who continue to neglect the local
parties, miss opportunities to present voters with our alternative to the Republican
establishment and refuse to adapt to the changing world around them.

Democratic legislators and local elected leaders cannot carry the mantle for our party
alone. And over the years, it has become abundantly clear that you are far more
concerned with holding on to your own power within the party than you are with trying to
win back the offices Democrats have lost.

As I weigh my options for 2018 and beyond, I have chosen not to serve as House
Minority Leader for the next two years. My focus will be on the future of our state, and I
will let new leaders step forward to focus on the future of our party.

With that said, both of you have served our party for many years, and I am grateful to you
for your service. But now it is time for you to step aside, and I respectfully ask that you
resign your leadership positions in the Alabama Democratic Party.

Respectfully,
Rep. Craig Ford
House Minority Leader
House District 28

Nancy Worley's entire statement reads: 

"While I am working hard each day as Democratic Party Chair to elect the most qualified, well-prepared, working family-focused president of the United States, some individuals seem to be spending their time studying the sexist, racist tactics of the Republican nominee. Based on my experience in the classroom and in numerous volunteer leadership roles, I recognize people who are losing power, trying to blame anyone but themselves for losses, making excuses, grasping for headlines, etc. A recent comment against my Democratic Party leadership is a desperate attempt to grab a headline when one's job as minority leader is on the line. While Craig has never called me or sat down or talked with me about his concerns, he attacks for attention when he should be working for our Democratic ticket."

Joe Ree has not reacted to the public letter. 

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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