Nancy Worley, chairwoman of the Alabama Democratic Party, knows her party has an uphill battle in winning elections in one of the reddest states in the nation.
“We would love to see all of the Republicans replaced with Democrats,” Worley said. “Realistically, that won’t happen but, hopefully, we can turn this state from red, to purple, to blue.”
While most state and local elections see an influx of voters during presidential elections, Worley says the biggest boon for Democrats is Republicans.
“I think the Republican Party is helping us change people’s minds as much as we help ourselves through some of their terrible legislation,” Worley said. “Because their interests lie with the big money, corporate donors that give to the Republican Party. Their interests don’t lie with working people and families.”
Worley said Alabama voters will “eventually wake up and start voting with their heads, instead of their hearts,” contending that Republican voters often vote with their hearts, and support the fight against President Barack Obama, Washington, or “some really erroneous idea that you can build a wall around countries.”
Worley added that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ recent surge in the presidential race is inspiring young voters in much the same way Obama did in 2008.
Chief among Worley and her party’s concerns are the economy, health care and education.
“The economy is the No. 1 issue,” Worley said. “The economy is always the No. 1 issue because it drives people’s lives and how they function. Democrats have a really good record on that over the past eight years.”
As a result, Worley offers that the federal minimum wage should be increased incrementally over a number of years.
“When people make more money, they spend more money,” Worley said. “If you don’t follow that cycle, economic times get harder and harder.”
While Worley acknowledged that topics such as equal pay, abortion, and same-sex marriage top many Democrats’ agenda, she prefers to focus on more substantive issues.
“The Republicans try to make the election hinge on social issues,” Worley said. “We Democrats try to stick to ‘bread-and-butter’ issues. While the social issues are important to certain segments of each party, the entire election should revolve around the issues important to everyone.”
Worley added that “Karl Rove-style politics” have only further divided the electorate, as well as its political parties, by inciting anger via hot-button issues.
“Democrats are running a race that is more honest, open and relevant to the voters,” Worley said. “But sometimes that emotional outreach to get people angry has worked in Alabama.”
Although Worley concedes that state Democrats will never have the financial support that Republicans have in this decidedly conservative state, she believes the tide is slowly turning for her party.