‘Family feud’ continues within Ala. Democratic Party

Updated: Dec. 5, 2019 at 3:54 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Democratic Party’s “family feud” continues after a Montgomery County Circuit judge decided Thursday to let the Alabama Supreme Court decide whether the court has jurisdiction to resolve the dispute between the two state party factions.

The Alabama Democratic Party has been in disarray for months as two people claim to be the chair of the party. One faction of the party elected Rep. Chris England, who is backed by the Democratic National Committee, and ousted chair Nancy Worley. The other party faction elected Worley as the chair.

Worley and her backers filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Rep. Chris England’s faction of the party held party elections illegally and are misrepresenting the party.

Barry Ragsdale, who represents the defendants in the case, including England, asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

“This is a classic example of what happens when you have sore losers and that’s who files lawsuits. We just think it’s time for this sore loser to go away," Ragsdale said to reporters.

Ragsdale argued during the hearing Wednesday that the judge should make a decision determining whether he has jurisdiction in the case or not and not wait on the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision.

The judge did not decide in the defendant’s favor, but Ragsdale said the decision is not a setback for the new party.

“The party is taking control of the social media, of the building, of the finances. Of everything we need to do. Representative England is going to certify the candidates to the Secretary of State. It’s more of a nuisance,” said Ragsdale.

Joe Reed is with the Alabama Democratic Conference and backs Worley’s faction of the party.

“We have been arguing for over a year, so we’ve lost a lot of time and we’ve lost a lot of unity. I don’t know whether or not this party can be unified in time. I don’t know if anyone on the scene can really unify this party,” Reed said.

There is not a time frame as to when when the high court could decide in the case. This puts the state party in limbo. Ragsdale said the banks have frozen at least $200,000 in state party money until the matter is resolved.

Judge Griffin suggested during the hearing that the two parties work out the dispute just in case the supreme court takes an extended period of time come to a decision.

“I would strongly urge you to sit down and work it out. Anything can be worked out,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to wait.”

Both parties did not commit to mediation.

There has been a long-standing struggle between the two groups after the Democratic National Committee called for new bylaws and party elections.

The DNC did not approve Worley’s submitted bylaws. The national party said Worley’s submitted bylaws did not represent enough minorities in the party. This is when the separate faction of the party held new leadership elections and approved new bylaws pre-approved by the DNC.

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