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Alabama Democratic Party Committee Tosses Lesbian Candidate & Opponent

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Alabama Democratic Party Committee Tosses Lesbian Candidate & Opponent

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

August 24, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(Montgomery, Alabama) Patricia Todd, who only a few days ago was set to become the first lesbian to sit in the Alabama legislature has had her primary victory pulled by a party committee. And, her challenger has been disqualified by the same committee.

The committee said that both women had violated a party campaign rule - a rule no candidate has followed since 1988.

The chair of the committee, Amy Burks, said that it will now to be up to the party's executive committee to determine whether the committee decision will be upheld and select a new nominee. The executive committee is scheduled to meet on Saturday in Montgomery.

Todd (pictured) defeated Gaynell Hendricks in the primary. There is no Republican challenger.

But Hendricks' mother-in-law filed an appeal filed with the Democratic Party claiming that Todd timed the filing of her campaign finance report with the Secretary of State's office shortly before the deadline to keep voters from learning she was supported by the Victory Fund, a Washington DC-based organization that helps the campaigns LGBT candidates.

Todd received $25,000 contribution from the Victory Fund.

The complaint also alleged that Todd made payment of nearly $13,000 to two primary opponents who later endorsed her in the runoff against Hendricks.

The committee discounted the original complaint - instead ruling in a 5 - 0 decision that she had violated a party regulation that finance reports be filed five days before a primary with the party chair five days before the primary election.

The committee, however, also found that Hendricks also had failed to file with the chair in time.

In fact, no candidate in the state has followed the rule, the Associated Press reports. The difference in this case is that no challenge had been made in any of the other races.

Although Hendricks has maintained that the outcome of the primary likely would have been different if Todd had openly disclosed her campaign money had come from a national gay group Todd believes sexuality was not the reason behind the challenge.

Todd, who is white, believes the challenge was mounted because Hendricks, who is African American, has the backing of powerful Blacks in the party.

Todd has never made a secret of the fact she is a lesbian. She is associate director of AIDS Alabama.

The winner of the primary does not face a Republican challenger and is assured a seat in the legislature.

The Victory Fund Thursday night issued a statement saying it will continue to fight for Todd before the executive committee on Saturday.

“Patricia got the most votes in two separate elections—the primary and the runoff—but party bosses didn’t like the outcome, so now they want to simply handpick a candidate," said president Chuck Wolfe.

"What happened today in Montgomery was unfair, undemocratic, un-American and unwise. Democrats in Alabama have been through this before, and they have suffered for it. When party power brokers insist they know better than the voters, the voters stay home. Alabamans who care about democracy should be outraged, and Democrats everywhere should tell party leaders to reject the tired politics of yesterday and listen to the will of the people, especially those who have already spoken—twice,” said Wolfe.

The Victory Fund has endorsed 77 candidates nationwide this election cycle - more than it has ever endorsed in any previous election.

©365Gay.com 2006

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Alabama Democrats Reinstate Lesbian Candidate's Win

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

August 26, 2006 - 4:00 pm ET

(Montgomery, Alabama) Patricia Todd was reinstated Saturday as the Democratic Party's nominee for a seat in the Alabama Legislature. The Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee voted 95-87 to reject the ruling of a subcommittee two days ago that had voted to disqualify Todd. (story)

Todd beat Gaynell Hendricks in the primary. But Hendricks' mother-in-law filed an appeal filed with the Democratic Party claiming that Todd timed the filing of her campaign finance report with the Secretary of State's office shortly before the deadline to keep voters from learning she was supported by the Victory Fund, a Washington DC-based organization that helps the campaigns LGBT candidates.

Todd received $25,000 contribution from the Victory Fund.

The complaint also alleged that Todd made payment of nearly $13,000 to two primary opponents who later endorsed her in the runoff against Hendricks.

On Thursday a party committee discounted the original complaint against Todd - instead ruling in a 5 - 0 decision that she had violated a party regulation that finance reports be filed five days before a primary with the party chair five days before the primary election.

The committee, however, also found that Hendricks also had failed to file with the chair in time and counted her out of the race too. In fact, no candidate in the state has followed the rule since 1988.

Observers said the dispute between the two Democrats had more to do with race than sexuality. Todd is lesbian and white. Hendricks is straight and black. Some key Democrats in Alabama were alleged to have wanted Todd out because of her color.

Party chairman Joe Turnham said that the key factor in Saturday's decision to overturn the committee ruling was that no candidate had followed the disclosure rule for nearly 20 years.

"I am relieved this is over so I can get to work helping the people of my district," Todd said after the meeting.

There is no Republican running for the seat which means Todd will become the first lesbian to sit in the Alabama legislature.

"Finally, the voters have prevailed," said Victory Fund president Chuck Wolfe. " We are enormously proud of the courage and tenacity Patricia showed throughout this ordeal, and equally proud of her supporters in Alabama and beyond who stood by her unfailingly."

The executive committee was under considerable pressure to reinstate Todd.

The Birmingham News editorialized Saturday that the state Democratic Party seemed to have a "death wish," calling the effort to strip Todd of her nomination, "the dumbest thing Alabama Democrats have done since 1986." That year the party nullified the primary win of its gubernatorial nominee and installed another candidate. It subsequently lost the governor's mansion to the Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

©365Gay.com 2006

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