BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Randy Kelley was elected chair of the Alabama Democratic Party on Saturday in a victory for longtime powerbroker Joe Reed, who lost a battle over control three years ago.
Kelley won with 104 votes out of the 202 cast by members of the state Democratic Executive Committee. Kelley is a former vice-chair of the party but lost the position during the 2019 power struggle when the Democratic National Committee ordered new elections.
“I personally know we are more in line with what Jesus stood for. He was for the least of these, and our opposition is for the most wealthy of these,” Kelley, a minister from Huntsville, told the gathered Democrats after winning the election.
Kelley narrowly escaped a runoff that would have been required if no candidate captured more than 50% of the vote.
Kelley defeated former congressional candidate Tabitha Isner and Josh Coleman, the president of Alabama Young Democrats. Coleman received 56 votes. Isner received 42 votes. Isner was later elected vice-chair of the party.
State Rep. Chris England, who had served as party chair since the 2019 power struggle, did not seek another term as chair.
Kelley’s election was a victory for Reed, who had supported former chair Nancy Worley and Kelley in the 2019 power struggle. Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference — the state’s oldest Black political organization —-, had backed lawsuits that challenged bylaw changes that led to England’s election.
Both of the state’s two major political parties met over the weekend. The governing body of the Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution urging the Alabama Legislature to approve closed primaries that require voters to register with a political party in order to vote in that party’s primary. Currently, Alabama has open primaries.
The GOP also passed a resolution condemning the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s residence as harassment and a federal overreach. The FBI recovered “top secret” and even more sensitive documents from Trump’s home, according to court papers released Friday.