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Friday, November 12, 2010

Alabama Dems talk about future

The surviving Democratic members of the Alabama House of Representatives met in downtown Montgomery on Friday afternoon to regroup and look forward after a devastating loss on Nov. 2 that put them in the minority for the first time in more than a century.
They did not elect a minority leader or appoint people to other leadership positions.
They decided they needed to rewrite their charter and would meet on Nov. 30 to adopt a new charter and to vote on leadership.
The meeting, like that of the Republican House and Senate caucuses, was closed to the media. Rep. Marcel Black, a Tuscumbia Democrat who had expressed interest in being speaker of the House if the Democrats won, said the meeting was cleansing and candid.
Black said they agreed they need to be unified.
The former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said they have never had to operate as the minority party so their charter needs to be revamped. The current charter, he said, states that the speaker of the House can appoint to the caucus’ policy committee, which they obviously do not want since the next speaker is expected to be Republican state Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn, who is also chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Black said the charter was written for a caucus in the majority. Having to revamp their charter, not having an ally in the speaker’s chair, and not having Democrats as chairmen of committees are just some of the major adjustments that Democrats will have to make after losing the majority.
"It's a challenge, but we're resilient," said Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Jackson said this is an opportunity to find out who the leaders are.
"In this situation, all hope is not lost," he said.
Black admitted that Hubbard was effective as the vocal opposition to the Democratic majority and that he kept Republicans unified when they were in the minority.
"I certainly hope we would be critical and informative when we need to be," Black said.
He said he believes that role is easier when a party is in the minority.
"It's a brave new world," said freshman Rep. Joe Hubbard of Montgomery, who was one of only about a dozen Democrats nationwide to unseat a Republican legislator.
Joe Hubbard said there is now a great opportunity for bridge building and reaching across the aisle. He hopes legislators unify on issues that are important to Alabama residents.
Former House Majority Leader Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, presided over the first part of the meeting, which he said was required by the charter. Guin is one of several House Democrats who lost on Nov. 2.
Jackson, as vice chairman of the caucus, presided over the remainder of the meeting since Guin lost his reelection bid.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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