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Lesbian's primary
win challenged in Alabama

Lesbian's primary
win challenged in Alabama


The mother-in-law of the candidate defeated by Alabama lesbian Patricia Todd in the primary race for the state legislature has filed an election challenge, claiming that Todd failed to disclose she had been supported by a pro-gay group.

The mother-in-law of a defeated legislative candidate challenged the outcome of a Democratic runoff election, claiming that the winner timed the filing of a campaign finance report to keep voters from learning she was supported by a pro-gay campaign fund. Retired beautician Mattie Childress asked the Democratic Party to review Patricia Todd's slim victory over Gaynell Hendricks, who is married to Childress's son.

Todd, who would be the first openly gay member of the Alabama legislature if elected, did not immediately return a telephone message Monday seeking comment. The challenge was filed late Thursday.

Todd led Hendricks by 59 votes in the July 18 Democratic runoff for house district 54, which includes much of Birmingham. Winning the runoff was tantamount to election since no Republican ran for the seat.

In the election challenge, Childress claimed that the release of a campaign finance report by Todd was timed to prevent voters from knowing that Todd received a $25,000 contribution from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Voters also didn't know that Todd made payments of $12,750 to two primary opponents who endorsed her, according to the challenge.

The contest claims Todd received illegal votes, and it challenged the way Jefferson County elections officials handled the returns. "I want this controversy settled," Childress told The Birmingham News. "This is happening like when Bush and Gore were running for president. I don't like it."

Todd campaign manager Mark Kelly said the voters had spoken. "If someone wants to try to steal the election, it's up to them," he said. "But we don't feel like they will be successful in doing so."

Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said a contest hearing will be held within 20 days by a five-member committee appointed by party chairman Joe Turnham. The committee will investigate the allegations and make a decision, Spearman said. (AP)

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