On Saturday, the members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) will meet at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC). One of the issues they will address is filling the Democratic Party Chair position, open because the current Alabama Democratic Party (ADP) Chairman, State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), is not running again. Josh Coleman is campaigning for this spot, and he spoke with 1819 News on Thursday.
“I am someone who can bring all folks to the table,” Coleman said. “I have been involved in Democratic Party politics for as long as I can remember.
“I have been down on the ground working. I am willing to do the hard work that it takes.”
Coleman, age 32, represents the Alabama Democratic Party on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In 2018, Coleman was appointed by Mayor Randall Woodfin as LGBTQ liaison for the city of Birmingham. He is also the director of the city’s Academy for Civic Engagement. He is a native of Cullman but moved to Birmingham in 2014.
“I am a young face but not a new face," said Coleman. "I have spent the last two years serving on the DNC. I have been head of the Young Democrats. I have been involved in campaigns at the local city council level, city-wide, for the State House, and statewide.”
Recently, 1819 News took a hard look at the Alabama Democratic Party’s finances.
Addressing this issue, Coleman said, “I think that finances will be a top priority from day one, whoever is elected as the chairman. It takes a multifaceted approach. First, we need to make sure that we get the transfer of leadership correct.”
Most of the ADP’s revenue comes from the DNC or from large out-of-state Democratic donors and political action committees (PACs).
“From my service on the DNC, I have a lot of national contacts, and that is important,” Coleman said. “I also have the pulse of Democrats across the state of Alabama, and that is important. National big donors and big in-state donors are all good, but we have got to get everyday folks involved and contributing to the party again.”
Coleman said that what he has learned from his work with campaigns and serving on the DNC would be beneficial to county Democratic parties including “best practice sharing.”
In 2010, Democrats filled the roles of Alabama Lieutenant Governor, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, Public Service Commission President and controlled both Houses of the Alabama legislature. The Democrats have won only one statewide race in Alabama since 2008, and Republicans have held supermajorities in both Houses of the Legislature since that election. In the approaching general election on Nov. 8, Democrats are contesting fewer than half of the seats in the Alabama Legislature, and there are several statewide positions where there is no Democrat represented on the ballot.
“In 2017, Doug Jones was elected [to the U.S. Senate], and members of the party were enthused and excited,” Coleman said. “In 2018, we ran a great slate of candidates, and they lost. Now people are understandably wondering if they can run and win as Democrats.
“They ran without any leadership, and they lost. We have to show leadership.”
Coleman acknowledged that there are diverse views even within the Alabama Democratic Party over issues like abortion, gun rights, and whether children should get transgender drugs, among others.
“I agree that the Democrat Party is a big tent,” Coleman said. “Candidates need to be true to their own beliefs. As long as [they] can stand up and explain why they believe what they believe, they will be respected.”
Coleman said that despite the lack of election success, there has been groundwork laid that will benefit the next chair.
“Nancy Worley focused on bringing down the debt that the party was facing,” Coleman said. “Chris England’s focus was on moving the party into the 21st century. They have a social media presence now."
If elected as the next chair, Coleman promised that he will “be getting out there and working and organizing and telling the story again about the Democratic Party.”
Alabama Democratic Party First Vice Chair Patricia Todd is not seeking another term. Coleman is running on a ticket with Kim Lewis for First Vice Chair.
“She is a business owner and a strategic thinker and is an excellent communicator,” Coleman said of Lewis.
Lewis is also the Democratic State Senate District 2 nominee challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Tom Butler.
Coleman has been endorsed by a number of Democratic leaders, including Woodfin.
"Let’s just be real, Josh knows how to win, and he will lead with the vigor and organizing skill that it will take to make progress and continue building our party," Woodfin said in a statement.
Coleman is also the president of Central Alabama Pride group that organizes the annual LGBTQ parade in Birmingham and he is the President of the Alabama Young Democrats.
The State Democratic Executive Committee represents Democrats from all 67 counties in the state. It is the group that sets the bylaws and elects the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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