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Patricia Todd
reinstated as winner of Alabama primary

Patricia Todd
reinstated as winner of Alabama primary


Out lesbian candidate Patricia Todd was reinstated Saturday as the Democratic Party's nominee for a seat in the Alabama legislature, all but guaranteeing her victory in November.

Openly lesbian Alabama candidate Patricia Todd 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 on sexual orientation. The Alabama Democratic Party executive committee voted 95-87 to reject the ruling of a subcommittee that had voted to disqualify Todd, who is white, as well as her black opponent, Gaynell Hendricks, in the race for the house seat from Birmingham's district 54. Todd defeated Hendricks by 59 votes in the July 18 party runoff election.

The subcommittee had voted 5-0 that both candidates should be disqualified because they violated a party rule requiring candidates to file a campaign finance disclosure report with the party chairman. Party chairman Joe Turnham said Saturday that no candidate has filed a disclosure report with the party since 1988. "I am relieved this is over so I can get to work helping the people of my district," Todd said after the meeting. She said she was not discouraged by the opposition to her nomination. "This was a healthy democratic vote," Todd said.

"Finally, the voters have prevailed," said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which backed Todd in her primary race. "We are enormously proud of the courage and tenacity Patricia showed throughout this ordeal and equally proud of her supporters in Alabama and beyond who stood by her unfailingly. The Victory Fund and its network of donors have worked to ensure Patricia had a level playing field and a fair chance to show that a qualified, committed public servant can win the trust of the voters regardless of her sexual orientation. We have no doubt her career in the legislature will reflect the same determination and skill she showed in her campaign."

There is not a Republican candidate in the district 54 race, which means Todd will almost certainly become the state's first openly gay legislator. But one Hendricks supporter, Birmingham activist Frank Matthews, said he expects there will be a write-in candidate in the race in the November 7 general election.

The committee vote pitted vice chairman Joe Reed, a powerful black political leader, against other party officials. Reed had written a letter to black leaders in Jefferson County before the July 18 runoff asking them to support Hendricks so that a black would be elected from the district, which has a black majority. The vote fell mostly along racial lines. Committee members were asked to stand to show their vote, and no whites were seen standing to vote to uphold the subcommittee report, while a small number of blacks stood in support of Todd. (AP, with additional reporting by The Advocate)

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