Ala. Democrats Reinstate Gay Candidate

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 26, 2006; 6:49 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- An openly gay candidate was reinstated Saturday as the Democratic Party's nominee for a seat in the Alabama Legislature in a vote that turned more on the race of the candidates than sexual orientation.

Patricia Todd is likely to become Alabama's first openly gay legislator because there is no Republican candidate in the district, although a write-in campaign is possible.

Todd, who is white, had defeated her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, by 59 votes in a July 18 party runoff in the majority-black district.

But a party subcommittee had voted to disqualify both Todd and Hendricks because they violated a party rule requiring candidates to file a campaign finance disclosure report.

The Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee voted 95-87 on Saturday to reject that decision. Party chairman Joe Turnham said no candidate has filed a disclosure report with the party since 1988.

The vote _ which pitted vice chairman Joe Reed, a powerful black political leader, against other party officials _ fell mostly along racial lines.

"I am relieved this is over so I can get to work helping the people of my district," Todd said. She said she was not discouraged by opposition to her nomination.

One Hendricks supporter, Birmingham activist Frank Matthews, said he expects there will be a write-in candidate in the race in the Nov. 7 general election.

© 2006 The Associated Press