MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Democratic Party moved forward with filling a committee vacancy Friday over the objections of national party officials.
The state executive board added a Hispanic at-large member of the larger executive committee, despite a warning from the Democratic National Committee to wait.
The DNC last month ordered the state party to improve diversity outreach efforts and hold new elections for state party chair and vice-chair. DNC officials sent a March 22 letter to Alabama Chairwoman Nancy Worley saying they should not elect at-large minority members until they have an affirmative action plan to recruit Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ persons and others.
“If the state party chooses to proceed, they will be violation of the DNC’s order and the election of the chair and vice-chair could be invalidated,” the letter stated.
Worley told the Associated Press that she received the DNC letter Thursday and scanned it while preparing for the meeting. She said she responded with an email saying she believed the party had complied with outreach requirements. Worley said they were filling a position that had been open for more than a year.
The Alabama executive board voted 10-5 Friday to proceed with filling one Hispanic at-large seat.
Worley said she believed there might a difference in the interpretation of the February findings of the DNC.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Joe Reed, the party’s vice-chair for minority affairs, urged the board to proceed.
“They don’t have the authority to approve it.” Reed said. “Our bylaws tell us what we do,” Reed said
Some members opposed the decision.
Julia Siergiey Juarez, who said she voted against proceeding and livestreamed the meeting on social media, said she was frustrated but not surprised by the action.
“Our party faces an uphill battle at the best of times, so being held back by a lack of vision and demonstrated incompetence in basic functions of a party are hamstringing us before we can even get on the field. Holding on to the remnants of power so jealously that you sink the ship you swear to be protecting is counterintuitive,” she said.
The state board then approved an affirmative action plan.
No date has been set for the meeting to elect a new chair and vice-chair.