MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — House Minority Leader Craig Ford on Wednesday said his own state Democratic Party has dwindled to the point of almost being a non-entity and he called for current party leaders to step down.
In a letter to Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Vice-Chairman Joe Reed, he launched a blistering criticism of the state of the political party that once dominated Alabama before the slow slide to the GOP. Ford said the party has failed to serve state Democrats and missed opportunities to regain lost ground in the now deeply red state.
“To put it bluntly, the Alabama Democratic Party is on life support, and the only hope we have of turning our situation around is if we make immediate and significant changes, including changes in leadership,” Ford wrote.
Worley dismissed the criticism as a “desperate attempt to grab a headline.”
Over the last three decades, the Alabama Republican Party has grown to dominate the state’s political landscape. Democrats have not held a statewide office since Lucy Baxley lost her re-election bid for Public Service Commission president in 2012. A Democrat has not held the governor’s office since former Gov. Don Siegelman’s term ended in 2003.
Ford said Wednesday the state party has scant social media presence and has not been successful in recruiting candidates. He said it has also been too quiet on key political issues such as a lottery, the economy, teacher pay and Medicaid expansion, and also on GOP stumbles such as the ethics conviction of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard and the suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
“Democratic legislators and local elected leaders cannot carry the mantle for our party alone. And over the years, it has become abundantly clear that you are far more concerned with holding on to your own power within the party than you are with trying to win back the offices Democrats have lost,” Ford said.
Ford, 48, has served in the Alabama House since 2000. He holds the legislative seat previously held by his father, the late Rep. Joe Ford, a Democrat who served in the House for 26 years.
Ford is weighing a run for governor in 2018. He said he will not run for House minority leader again when his term ends in February.
Worley called the criticisms a bid for attention.
“A recent comment against my Democratic Party leadership is a desperate attempt to grab a headline when one’s job as minority leader is on the line. While Craig has never called me or sat down or talked with me about his concerns, he attacks for attention when he should be working for our Democratic ticket,” Worley said.