As Alabama Democrats head into what they hope will be a period of rebuilding, some are seeking new party leadership.
The Alabama Democratic Party executive committee meets Saturday in Montgomery to elect a chairperson. Longtime chairwoman Nancy Worley will face a challenge from Montgomery attorney Peck Fox.
Once dominant throughout the Deep South, Democrats had been obliterated from statewide office in Alabama until last year’s election of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. Buoyed by Jones’ victory, Democrats are looking to the 2018 elections with newfound optimism.
“I think it’s important that we have a party that has a functional infrastructure, the ability to raise funds, the ability to organize field operations to provide help and support to our candidates and county committees,” Fox said. “If we miss this window of opportunity, I don’t know when the next one will be.”
Worley has served as the party’s chairwoman since 2013 and is seeking another term at the helm.
“During the time I have served as chair of the Democratic Party, we have substantially reduced the party’s debt, fielded more candidates than we have had in decades, elected a Democratic U.S. Senator, held regular board meetings with financial reports at each, and reorganized some county parties,” Worley said in a statement.
Both Worley and Fox are political veterans.
Fox worked for the late Sen. Howell Heflin in Washington and for Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom.
Worley is a former Alabama secretary of state and served as the party’s vice-chairwoman.
Fox likely faces an uphill battle. Worley has been supported by Joe Reed, the longtime leader of the influential Alabama Democratic Conference. Reed also controls a substantial number of committee votes.
Reed did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
However, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said Friday that, “now is the perfect time for a transition.”
“On the heels of Doug Jones’ election and with the number of candidates running for office, more than any time before these candidates need a strong party, a stronger party,” Daniels said.
The Democratic Party has been roiled by tension and criticism about its direction and finances in recent years.
A reform group has sought to strengthen and diversify the party. In 2016, then-House Minority Leader Craig Ford penned a letter saying the party was on” life support” and urged Worley and Reed to step down. The party’s previous party chairman resigned in 2013 to create a new group to assist Democratic candidates.