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Judge delays decision on suit over Alabama Democratic chair

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by the longtime chair of the Alabama Democratic Party challenging a newly elected leader can continue, at least for now, a judge said Thursday.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin said he will wait for a decision from the Alabama Supreme Court in an earlier appeal before deciding whether to dismiss the lawsuit filed by longtime party chair Nancy Worley.

“I’m going to let them rule,” Griffin told lawyers during a hearing.

State Rep. Chris England and longtime party leader Nancy Worley each claim to be the properly elected party chair.

The Democratic National Committee recognizes England as the state party leader after members of the state executive committee elected him this fall. Worley maintains the election was illegitimate and filed a lawsuit to try to block England from taking control.

Griffin ruled that the DNC can intervene in the lawsuit.

Barry Ragsdale, a lawyer representing the defendants in Worley’s suit, said, while they would prefer to have the lawsuit dismissed, England is functioning as party chair.

Ragsdale said the new Democratic Party leaders have access to the state party’s social media accounts and the party headquarters in Montgomery. “The only people in the world that think that Chris England is not the chair of the Democratic Party were sitting at that table in there,” he said in reference to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Ragsdale called the lawsuit Worley’s “last thread of trying to hang onto power.”

Attorney Bobby Segall, who represents Worley and other plaintiffs, said it made sense to wait for the Supreme Court since the cases involved similar issues.

Joe Reed, the party’s longtime vice chair for minority affairs and a supporter of Worley, attended the court hearing.

Reed said a “party divided cannot win.”

Reed predicted the legal fight will end up in federal court, arguing that new additions to the State Democratic Executive Committee violate a consent decree from the 1990s involving how committee members are selected.

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