Democrats missed filing deadline for special congressional election, says Secretary of State

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Secretary of State Jim Bennett

Secretary of State Jim Bennett

The Alabama Democratic Party missed a filing deadline for candidates for a special election in Alabama’s First Congressional District, but the Secretary of State’s office says those candidates who met a qualifying deadline will appear on the ballot in September.

In a statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Jim Bennett said the Democratic Party was an hour late in submitting the names of two candidates to run in the south Alabama district, which comprises Mobile and Baldwin counties and areas north. Bennett said they would “err on the side of caution” and allow the qualified candidates — Lula Albert-Kaigler and Burton Leflore — on the ballot.

“It would have been a bit heavy handed to play politics with the election schedule,” Bennett wrote. “We try to make non-partisan decisions.”

The deadline for qualifying was 5 p.m. Monday; the parties had to submit their lists of candidates to the Secretary of State by noon Tuesday.

Nancy Worley, the acting chairwoman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said Wednesday she did not receive notification of the deadline, and that she was contacted by a legislator and staff at the Secretary of State’s office about it.

“No one ever sent it to me, or if they did, I didn’t get it,” she said.

Worley said that she has been conducting party business via a personal e-mail account, and that she would not receive notifications sent to the Democrats’ e-mail. That, she said, was turned off after former chairman Mark Kennedy and other staffers left to form Alabama Democratic Majority, an organization dedicated to supporting Democratic candidates.

“There were a lot of things turned off, and we don’t have all that back up and running yet,” she said.

Bradley Davidson, the former executive director of the party and current executive director of Alabama Democratic Majority, said Wednesday he shut off individual staffers’ accounts upon departure, but that there was no single party one.

“I didn’t shut off any official line to the party,” he said.

Nine Republicans have qualified to run in the race.

Bennett said in his statement that the office began printing overseas ballots on Tuesday afternoon to get them ready in time for the primary in the election, set for Sept. 24. A general election will take place on Nov. 5 if no primary runoff is required; if one is required, the general election will take place Dec. 17.

“Our main interest is to protect the right to vote by our soldiers overseas,” he wrote.

The candidates are vying to replace Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, who resigned from the seat last week to take a $350,000 a year job as vice chancellor of economic development and government relations for the University of Alabama. Bonner’s sister, Judy, is president of the University of Alabama.

The 1st Congressional District has been represented by a Republican since 1964.

– posted by Brian Lyman (updated at 5:46 p.m.)

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