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Judge Mark Kennedy Reminds Alabama Democrats That He Doesn't Have Superpowers

by: countrycat

Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:56:26 AM CDT

I admit I'm guilty - or at least I was.  Add me to the list of the disgruntled who saw the Alabama Democratic Party as supine, maladroit, and bumbling - and those were the compliments.  But in January 2011, things changed.  Yes pardners... a new sheriff strolled into town: Judge Mark Kennedy.super kennedy

Judge Kennedy has spent a year trying to pay down a huge debt, raise money for daily operating expenses, recruit candidates, and manage primary qualifying & elections.  All with a tiny paid staff and no communications director (for the simply reason that there's no money to hire one).  And yet, in many ways, he's helped bring order out of chaos - beginning with the notoriously chaotic and confusing SDEC meetings.  The first meeting chaired by Judge Kennedy was far different than previous affairs

A healthy, functional state committee is critical to the party's success, but we can't stop there.

Judge Kennedy said in Huntsville earlier this year that he's done apologizing for the mistakes of the past and it's time to move forward.

I do not have time any more to sit down and beg people to stand up an be a Democrat.  You want to be with me?  That's great.

And he's sticking with that.  Just this morning, Kennedy posted this Facebook status:

After the fact: You can't live in Alabama and not at some point in your life be a Monday morning quarterback. It is in our blood.

Since Tuesday I have heard from a lot of democrats from across the state. Some, but far from all, have started the conversation with "Why didn't the Alabama Democratic Party ......?" This morning, take the time to look in the mirror and ask the person that is staring back at you, "Why didn't you ..........?"

All of us are in the same boat, and like our Party and its Chairman, we all could stand a little improvement. So, today go back to the mirror and ask the man or woman in the mirror, "what can I do NOW to support my county and State Party?" All of us have a supply (though limited and unique to each individual) of time, labor and money. The important election is yet to come!

We are a diverse and strong family of freedom loving Alabamians and "ain't nobody gonna turn us around!" Hang tough, our cause is just.

The ADP staff has been working days, nights, and weekends - getting low pay and a lot of grief from both the GOP and many Alabama Democrats

As an Alabama Democrat, there's a lot I'm not happy about:

  • WAY too many seats went uncontested.  But given the dismal showing in 2010 and the state party's history of sucking money from candidates instead of helping them win, recruitment was tough.  County parties also need to be nurturing a "bench" of up and coming state leaders. 
  • One statewide candidate appears to be a nut.  As our (bad) luck would have it, Harry Lyon is running against Roy Moore.  At least the race will be entertaining... but really. The failure to offer a full slate of qualified judicial candidates is a major blunder, but see above....
  • Too often, GOP talking points drive the narrative in both the media and ADP rank & file. See the manufactured Bill Maher flap for details.

Why doesn't the ADP snap back and immediately toss GOP smears right back in their faces?  Mark Kennedy did a good job of that with his account of Hugh McInnish's tinfoil hat press conference

He and the ADP have been vocal on a host of other issues as well. For the first time that I can remember, an ADP chair is actually speaking out against GOP excesses and the party is issuing bang up press releases that do the same. I'm not happy at all with some of the legislative leadership in the party right now, but Kennedy - a man who speaks on camera and on the record - has earned my admiration and support. 

You want so see more of that fire and spirit?  Help the party get financially stable enough to hire a communications director.  Time spent begging for cash to pay the rent is time wasted when we could be building the party and getting our message out.  With the GOP legislature running wild in Montgomery, our message is more important than ever.  

So here's my pitch for the party and for Judge Kennedy.  Daddycat and I "put our money where our whine was" & became monthly donors to the party and I know that a number of LIA folks have as well.   Have you? 

C'mon Democrats!  We have a chance here.  Let's please not waste it.

Donate online to the Alabama Democratic Party!


countrycat :: Judge Mark Kennedy Reminds Alabama Democrats That He Doesn't Have Superpowers
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With apologies to Judge Kennedy (4.00 / 2)
for my rudimentary Photoshop skills.  But I couldn't resist trying!  :-)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

Accomplishments (4.00 / 2)

Aside from running a good SDEC meeting and issuing some solid press releases, can you give us some specific accomplishments of the 1 year + that he's been in charge?

As someone who doesn't follow the party's operations too closely, it's easy to focus on the negatives that you outlined (esp when we field a worse, less qualified nominee for CJ than Roy Moore), but I would def like to hear more details about the good news. 

With Respect (4.00 / 3)
Where were the other candidates? The list of qualified candidates was posted on the website, so folks who were worried about the Chief Justice race could see that no one else had qualified - at that point we could have fielded another candidate.

running a good SDEC meeting and issuing some solid press releases

is head and shoulders above former management, who ran the SDEC as the Democratic version of a boy's club and ran it into near bankruptcy. Keeping the doors open in Montgomery, the fact that we still HAVE a functioning state party, are Judge Kennedy's accomplishments.

I've got three tools in my arsenal: my voice, my wallet, and my vote.

[ Parent ]
I have to agree (4.00 / 3)

Given what they inherited, staying out of bankruptcy has been a major accomplishment of the new AL Democrats' administration.  Also fielding candidates for nearly all the congressional races, in a couple of cases enough candidates to require a Democratic primary.

And they're clean (in every sense) and aboveboard.  Don't forget that.  

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
If you haven't been following things closely (4.00 / 4)

as most people don't because they actually have real lives....  ;-)

You are SO right.  It is easy to see only the negatives without realizing how positive some the changes are - and how long in coming they were!

The SDEC changes are a big deal because to many committed, rank and file Democrats (those of us who work the HQ, go door to door, make the phone calls, etc -- the worker bees) it had become emblematic of everything that was wrong with the state party & the people who ran it.

  • The change to Roberts Rules of Order is HUGE because previously, the chair could - and would - shut down debate and discussion by citing the rules that nobody understood.   SDEC members would try to challenge the chair based on their knowledge of Robert's Rules, only to be told they were out of order.

    Members would attend the meeting ready to continue discussing an issue that was held over from the previous meeting & again be told they were out of order.

    As a result, some of the most hardworking people in the party felt disrespected and disenfranchised in their own state party.  People with this attitude are not going to help the state party with much of anything - particularly fundraising.

  • The basic fairness of making sure only members vote on issues and that people actually live in the districts they represent is also huge for the same reason.

It's hard to believe that these changes were even remotely controversial.  But the state party leadership had operated that way for a long time.  It worked just fine for them - if not the rest of the committee & who gives up power voluntarily?  

How could we ever attract new people in the party and encourage them to become leaders when they had to contend with a state committee that gave the appearance of being a closed club immune to new ideas and new leadership? 

Second, don't dismiss the willingness of the party chair to publicly take the GOP to task & kick them around in press releases.  This hasn't happened in years!  Previous chairs had this bizarre idea that if the ADP just kept quiet and didn't criticize the AL GOP then they parties had some sort of "gentlemen's agreement" not to go head to head.

Obviously, the GOP didn't sign on to that, but the ADP spent a decade crouched in a bunker hoping that nobody would notice it actually existed.

Former Chairman Joe Turnham told use that the party wasn't willing to seriously challenge Richard Shelby in an election becuase then he "would use his huge war chest" against other Democrats in the state.  How did that work out?  Not well.

I'd like to see the party do more, obviously.  This Chief Justice race is a disaster for the state.  But it's the "chicken or the egg" discussion here, I think.

It takes money to run the party, to publicize our issues, and recruit good candidates.  Mark Kennedy, Bradley Davidson, and the rest of the staff have done a great job on a shoestring.  I too was suspicious for quite a while and didn't contribute but now that I see things changing for real, I'm on board and willing to help.

It takes a devilish amount of $$ to run statewide - especially for a judicial race.  Alabama has the most expensive judicial elections in the whole country.  After 2010, the party had no money and little credibility.  Candidate recruitment is tough under the best of circumstances, but those..... yikes.

Judge Kennedy is trying to fix both problems.  It took us a long time to get into this situation and it's going to take longer than a year to climb out.  But, IMO, by supporting the party now instead of waiting until they have everything running perfectly and humming right along, we can make that change happen more quickly.

That's what I'm asking LIA folks to do.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
Wishing there was a rating above 4! n/t (4.00 / 2)

I've got three tools in my arsenal: my voice, my wallet, and my vote.

[ Parent ]
We're both monthly donors (4.00 / 2)

It's a good investment in our future.  And every time an Alabama Republican does something stupid (Shadrack McGill, Clay Scofield, Roy Moore??) I think, oh what Judge Kennedy could do with that if he could afford a full time person whose only job was communications and message.

Kennedy probably needs 60 donors at $10 a month to afford any kind of a full time communications person.  Please be one of them -- and give more if you can afford it.  What you're building is a Democratic party that will advocate for you, not for some special interest group with unlimited funds.

Work harder and work smarter!

Math? (0.00 / 0)

Sixty donors at $10 per month?  For a full time communications director?

This is way, way below even minimum wage.  It works out to about $140 per week.

[ Parent ]
Party debt (4.00 / 1)

Do we know the figures on the party's debt? Maybe it's a private thing the party doesn't want out, but I'd imagine it's public information somewhere on the FEC or Sec of State website. Knowing that figure and Kennedy's progress on paying it off would certainly be a way to chart progress.

I remember Turnham&co saying they paid down the debt, but people here seem to dispute that. Now Kennedy is talking about the debt, but unless we know what it is and chart the progress, it's hard to measure the success.

It was almost $600k when Kennedy took over (4.00 / 1)

.... not sure what it is now, but I'm sure it's not a secret. 

That's the other good thing about Kennedy... he doesn't beat around the bush.  :-)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
pro kennedy (4.00 / 1)
count me among the tithers and supporters of what judge kennedy is trying to do. but what did the reference to maher and "manufactured" controversy or issue mean? what was that all about? 

follow the links, grasshopper! :-) (0.00 / 0)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
A vote of support from FB (4.00 / 3)

Someone on Mark Kennedy's FB page asked what he's really done to help the party.

And this response popped up:

Ladies and Gentlemen. I can only speak for Cleburne County Democrats, but we have been blessed to have Judge K and his staff. Our committee was as weak as one can be and still have a pulse.

But out of nowhere, "here come da judge". The Democratic Party offered us a helping hand. Since last summer we have turned our committee around with the help of Mark, Bradley, and their staff. Every call has been taken. Every message has been answered. Every letter and e-mail got a response. We have received much great advice, many kind words of encouragement, and never have I felt like these guys didn't care or wouldn't help. In fact they've gone overboard.

It is 2012 and Cleburne County Democrats are stronger than ever, thanks to this team. We know that Judge Kennedy and his staff have little money and work for little or no pay. We also know that we can not function without their guidance and support. It is a great feeling knowing that they are there. I for one remember the old days, and frankly, I like the new days better.

Emphasis mine!

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith



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