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Worley beats Burks
Ex-Decatur teacher ousts city resident from Democrat post

From AP Reports

MONTGOMERY — Former Decatur teacher Nancy Worley unseated Amy Burks of Decatur, 16-year vice chairman of the state Democratic Party, in a race where Alabama’s first openly gay legislator became an issue for some.

Worley lost her job as secretary of state in the Nov. 7 general election, defeated by Republican Beth Chapman. But Worley used endorsements from Joe Reed and Paul Hubbert to make a political comeback Saturday at a State Democratic Executive Committee meeting.

She defeated Burks 131-106 and immediately moved into the party’s No. 2 position.

A third candidate, Pat Edington of Mobile, withdrew.

Burks said her support of state Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, was a major issue in her defeat, but Reed said the race turned on who could do the best job of building the party.

State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham of Auburn, who has led the party since 2005, was re-elected without opposition.

The party has six vice chairmen, but Burks had spent 16 years in the party’s first vice chairmanship, which brings with it a seat on the Democratic National Committee.

Family fight

The election resembled a family fight. Burks is a retired Alabama Education Association employee. Worley is a retired teacher from Decatur High School and a former AEA president.

Hubbert, who nominated Worley for vice chairman, is executive secretary of AEA. Reed is associate executive secretary of AEA and chairman of the Democratic Party’s black wing, the Alabama Democratic Conference. Both Hubbert and Reed hold Democratic Party leadership posts.

In August, the State Democratic Executive Committee voted, over Reed’s objections, to give its nomination to Todd, whose Democratic primary victory had been challenged.

For Reed, the issue was not her sexual orientation, but the fact that she is a white politician who won in a majority black district and she decreased the number of black legislators in Montgomery.

Burks initially opposed giving Todd the party’s nomination, but then switched sides in August.

‘Joe Reed was angry’

“There is no doubt Joe Reed was angry. I had voted with him for probably 30 years on things — first in education and then in the political arena. The vote in August was the only vote I had cast different from Reed,” Burks said.

Hubbert, who supported Todd in August, said he did not consider her an issue.

Hubbert and Reed said they supported Worley because she’s a persuasive speaker who will travel the state to help build the Democratic Party at the county level and because she knows election laws well.

But Reed added, “Amy did not help herself this week when she tried to demonize me. The blacks didn’t like that.”

In the vote, Worley’s support was majority black while Burks’ support was majority white.

Worley sized up the race like Reed. “I don’t think it was a race about Patricia Todd and Joe Reed,” she said.

For Worley, the vote hinged on her willingness to work hard over the next four years to develop the party and energize Democrats.

In other votes Saturday, the State Democratic Executive Committee re-elected five officers without opposition: Reed as vice chairman for minority affairs, Hubbert as vice chairman for public sector labor affairs, Jim Spearman as vice chairman for county affairs, Stewart Burkhalter as vice chairman for private sector labor affairs, and Cleo Thomas as secretary.

Percy Gill defeated Adam Bourne for vice chairman for youth affairs.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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