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Election of Alabama lesbian overturned by committee

by PageOneQ

UPDATE: This article is no longer current... The Alabama Democratic party executive committee has reversed the lower committee's ruling. Patricia Todd will be on the ballot. For the new story, click here.

The Democratic primary victory of Alabama lesbian Patricia Todd for a seat in the statehouse was overturned by a party committee tonight. The committee vote was 5-0. Had the committee not reversed the election, which Todd won by 59 votes, she would have become the first openly gay elected official in the state's history. No Republican has entered the race in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. Todd's race was to determine who would represent District 54 in Birmingham in the statehouse.

Todd is the associated director of AIDS Alabama, a social service and AIDS education agency.

The committee disqualified Todd and her opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, because they had not filed a required campaign finance report on time. The same rule has been ignored by all candidates since 1988 and the Associated Press has reported that this year's party nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor have not filed the reports as well.

The hearing was held following the filing of a complaint by Mattie Childress, the mother-in-law of Todd's opponent. In the complaint, Childress claimed that Todd purposefully turned her form in late to hide from voters the fact that she had received a contribution from a gay political group based in Washington DC. Todd did turn in the finance report prior to the election. In a previous election, the state's highest court ruled that an election could not be overturned if the forms were turned in prior to election day, even if they were late.

Following the committee vote, Victory Fund executive director Chuck Wolf said "Patricia got the most votes in two separate elections - the primary and the runoff - but party bosses didn't like the results, so now they plan to handpick their own candidate. What happened today in Montgomery was unfair, undemocratic, unAmerican and unwise." Wolfe's statement was part of a press release obtained by PageOneQ.

Tonight's committee vote does not mark the end of the matter. The Alabama state party chairman, Joe Turnham, told the AP he was "very surprised" at the committee's decision and a party spokesperson said the vote may be reversed by the executive committee when it meets Saturday to pick a new candidate for the seat.


Originally published on Thursday August 24, 2006.

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