Judge sets final hearing in Democratic Party dispute

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A judge on Tuesday set a final hearing in a lawsuit over control of the Alabama Democratic Party.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin scheduled the hearing for Jan. 30. The hearing could signal that an eventual resolution is on the way in the legal dispute over who is party chair. Longtime state party leader Nancy Worley had filed the lawsuit to block state Rep. Chris England from taking control as party chair.

A revamped governing board of the party elected England as chair this fall, but Worley and her supporters maintained his election was illegitimate.

The ongoing feud has pitted longtime party leaders, such as Worley and Joe Reed, against an upstart faction. The Democratic National Committee supports England and recognizes him as state chair.

Barry Ragsdale, a lawyer representing the defendants in Worley’s suit, said last month that England is functioning as party chair.

Ragsdale said the new state 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.