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MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Fair decision: Democrats stick with primary’s winner

State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, helped the

Democratic Party avoid an injustice Saturday by applying the Golden Rule.

Mr. Holmes' argument against taking the party's nomination away from Patricia Todd was essentially that we should hold everybody to the same standards, treating others as we would want them to treat us.

Ms. Todd, who is white, won the nomination in state House District 54 on July 18 by 59 votes over Gaynell Hendricks, who is black. Ruling on a challenge, a party subcommittee disqualified both candidates because neither had given the party chairman a financial disclosure required by party rules.

No other Democratic candidates had filed the disclosure, either, including Lucy Baxley and Jim Folsom Jr., nominees for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively. In fact, no candidate has filed such a disclosure since 1988 when the state enacted a law requiring its own disclosures, according to party chairman Joe Turnham.

Party heavyweight Joe Reed, a black activist, had urged voters in District 54, which has a majority black population, to elect a black representative. The voters had declined to follow his advice. Some people felt that Ms. Todd's being white, not the technical rule violation, was the reason the subcommittee wanted to undo the election.

Both Mr. Holmes and Mr. Reed have done much to achieve racial fairness in Alabama. But Mr. Holmes is the one who made the point, during Saturday's meeting of the party's state Executive Committee in Montgomery, that fairness runs both ways.

"There's such a thing as right and wrong," Mr. Holmes said. "You can't take an old law that's never enforced and selectively enforce it against one person. I've been the victim of that sort of thing before."

The committee voted to reinstate Ms. Todd as its nominee. Unfortunately, the 95-87 vote was far from unanimous, and it fell mostly along racial lines, with many black members supporting the subcommittee's ill-advised decision.

A subtext here is that if elected, Ms. Todd will be Alabama's first openly gay legislator. Her sexual orientation, like her race, is not relevant. She satisfied the same criteria other candidates did, the Democrats of her district elected her, and party officials were correct to honor their wishes.

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