Alabama Democrats divided over leadership, but ranks of Madison County Democratic Women keep growing

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- U.S. Senator Doug Jones urged Alabama Democrats to elect new leadership at a party gathering Saturday, but he was rebuffed.

Democrats reelected Chairwoman Nancy Worley by a 12-vote margin.

Jones wasn’t impressed, telling AL.com that under the current leadership there is no party, no social media, no outreach, no get-out-the-vote effort and no organization.

Jones said candidates will have to do it alone, as he did, in winning the U.S. Senate special election in December.

WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown said a strong state party can make a major difference. Brown said that includes helping shape and sharpen the party’s message, providing grassroots support and training for candidates and providing forums for candidates to raise their profile and attract publicity.

“A state party organization with muscle and means and energy can help your candidates – it can help your candidates,” Brown said.

But, some local Democrats aren’t waiting for help, like the Madison County Democratic Women.

Pam Miles, who became the organization’s president in January, said years of hard work paid off with Jones’ victory shortly before Christmas.

“December 12, 2017, Doug Jones’ election, that was our payday,” Miles said. Getting a Democratic Senator for the first time in 25 years for the State of Alabama. And Madison County going blue.

“And I give Madison County Democratic Women such credit for all the hard work that they did,” the organization's president noted.

The organization has seen significant growth over the past two-and-a-half years, according to Miles. Miles said when she became active with the group in January 2016 it had 30 active, dues-paying members. By Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign the figure grew to more than 100, and after Donald Trump was elected president, member exploded, she said.

Now, they are nearing 400 members, Miles said.

Miles said she agrees with Jones’ assessment of the state party, that it needs new leadership.

But she also sees hope. She believes Alabama has an especially strong field of Democratic candidates this year.

The Madison County Democratic Women have reached the point, she said, where they can provide contributions to selected candidates, bring organizing and volunteer muscle to a campaign and give candidates a platform to be heard.

Miles says there may be an energy deficit in Montgomery, but not among Democrats statewide.

“I believe we have a lot of active county committees,” she said. “I believe we have a lot of active Democratic clubs, I know our College Democrats are very active, our high school Democrats are extremely active, and so we’ve got to depend on the next generation to save us.”