In the past two years, one state party chairman was investigated by the local bar association. Elsewhere, an about-to-be-ousted party leader changed the locks at the headquarters. Two more state parties were threatened with eviction.

Traditionally, state parties have been the meeting point between the national political organizations and the local ground game. But in recent cycles, many of them have become so dysfunctional that they are now irrelevant — or even worse, detrimental, to the national party’s efforts.

The reasons behind their ineptitude vary: Some parties struggle with finances, others with competing personalities. For Republicans, many of the problems stem from power struggles between tea party activists and old guard operatives.

Does it matter if the state party is dysfunctional, especially in the age of shadow campaigns and ubiquitous third-party spending? It depends whom you ask.

Of the dozens of operatives CQ Roll Call interviewed, most had such low regard for state parties that they shrugged off the incompetence. They described the evolution of a state party’s role in federal politics as a glorified bank account for cheaper television and postage rates.

Still, some operatives stress that a functional state party is crucial to a national party’s interests in some states. One hired hand argued that a strong state party infrastructure is particularly important in fast-paced special elections.

Here’s a look at the seven most dysfunctional state parties. Their selection was based on interviews with national and local operatives, elected officials, former and current staff, plus local news reports. The selection aimed to mostly include states that could affect the midterm elections, as well as the extent of their dysfunction.

CQ Roll Call sought comment from these organizations, and their responses are noted only if the inquiry was returned.

Alabama Democratic Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesYellowhammer State Democrats struggle to keep the lights on — literally.

Earlier this year, Mark Kennedy bolted from the state party’s top job to form a group called the Alabama Democratic Majority.

Soon after, interim chairwoman Nancy Worley announced the committee was in dire financial straits: It had been threatened with eviction, was unable to pay utility bills, had its credit cards maxed out and was missing equipment from the party’s headquarters, according to The Birmingham News.

The party is now saddled with $500,000 in debt and is tasked with finding a permanent chairman and recruiting statewide candidates for 2014. Meanwhile, Kennedy took to the Alabama Democratic Majority’s Facebook page to defend his tenure and maintained his new group would support — not sabotage — the state party.

The state of Alabama Democrats might not matter much in 2014, given that there are no competitive House races in the state. But the party’s situation is indicative of Democrats’ dire organizational situation throughout the Deep South.

Alaska Republican Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesTwice this spring, Republicans gave their state party leaders the pink slip.

Just before she was ousted as chairwoman, Debbie Brown changed the locks at the party headquarters. Then she headed to a Republican National Committee meeting in California, where she claimed to be the current head of the party. Talk about awkward: The newly elected chairman, retired Army Col. Peter Goldberg, also attended.

Normally this sort of drama is inconsequential in a state as solidly Republican as Alaska. But the GOP will play offense as it attempts to defeat Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, in 2014. What’s more, local Republicans will have to contend with a primary for the nomination — most likely without a strong party leadership to guide that battle.

Goldberg said that since he took over, he has righted the fundraising woes that plagued the party under the previous regimes.

“When I’m done we’re going to have two Republican senators,” Goldberg added.

Georgia Democratic Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesAs in much of the South, the Peach State’s Democratic Party has decayed for years. But Georgia’s problems are more consequential than in other states.

After 2010, the party fell on tough times — Democrats no longer held any statewide offices. In June, Chairman Mike Berlon stepped down from leading the cash-strapped party after the state bar association temporarily suspended his law license and the Georgia Supreme Court reprimanded him for work with a private client.

None of this bodes well for Democrats: Georgia is one of only two feasible states where the party could pick up a Senate seat in 2014. And Democrats hope to use this contest —and their much-touted candidate, nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn — as a test case in a state where changing demographics could shift votes in their favor by 2016.

Still, Peach State Democrats remain hopeful about Nunn, who announced this week she will seek retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat. Georgia Democratic Party spokeswoman Liz Flowers praised the interim chairwoman’s efforts and called Nunn’s newfound national relevance “icing on the cake.”

Iowa Republican Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesOver the past few years, supporters of former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, infiltrated local party ranks in targeted states across the country. But nowhere has the effort been more effective or consequential than in this battleground state.

Paul backers now make up a working majority of the state central committee and occupy the offices of chairman, co-chairman and finance chairman. Their ranks are in constant conflict with Gov. Terry E. Branstad, the state’s most established Republican, and many GOP state lawmakers.

“You’re always going to have bickering and infighting. The idea that somehow we’re a troubled state party is a little bit ridiculous and if you talked to Chairman [Reince] Priebus, he would be happy to agree with that,” Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker said. He brushed off the notion of ongoing trouble with Branstad and touted his committee’s financial position.

The local discord scares the national GOP — its most immediate concern is the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. National Republicans fear the state’s antiquated convention process could help the Paul supporters nominate an unelectable candidate for the general.

But these troubles come at a pivotal time for Iowa on the national scale, too. The state is fighting for relevance in the presidential primary calendar after the past two caucus winners failed to get the national nod.

Minnesota Republican Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesJust a few years ago, the Minnesota GOP held a Senate seat, hosted the Republican National Convention in St. Paul and its governor, Tim Pawlenty, was laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign.

Since then, the party posted $2 million in debt, according to local reports, with former Chairman Tony Sutton shouldering the blame. He was forced out in late 2011. By the next spring, the state was nearly evicted from its building.

Local party officers credit former state GOP Chairman Pat Shortridge with staunching the party’s financial bleeding. But the GOP still has a long way to recover.

And for Gopher State Republicans, the timing could not be worse. The party has incredible opportunities in 2014, with a gubernatorial race, a Senate race and two competitive House seats up for grabs. But it’s unlikely the party can help its candidates, given its current condition.

Nevada Republican Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesIn May 2012, Paul’s supporters took over the state party at the local convention in what sources describe as a “Robert’s Rules of Order” war of attrition. Within a few weeks, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee unveiled a shadow party structure for their operations called “Team Nevada.”

A few months later, the two camps came to a head at the national party convention, when the national party refused to count the state GOP delegate votes for Paul.

More established party operatives won back several consequential county chairmanships in recent weeks, but there is little evidence that the gaps between the two factions have been bridged.

New Jersey Democratic Party

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State PartiesThis party’s problems can be boiled down to two words: Chris Christie.

New Jersey’s governor is one of the most powerful executives in the country. The Garden State is otherwise a Democratic stronghold, but not having the top office hurts the party immensely.

Local Democrats are frustrated they could only find a second-tier candidate to challenge Christie later this year. But the party’s troubles stem from another Christie contest.

In 2009, Christie defeated then-Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who propped up the state party infrastructure with his personal fortune. After Corzine left office, local organizations found themselves financially “flatfooted,” described one state source.

The good news for Democrats? The Christie era must end: He will either run for president or reach his term limit in 2017. After him, the local GOP bench remains weak, and Democrats hope the natural order of blue state politics will return.


Original article on Roll Call

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States - Alabama

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Alabama inmates stage protest over free labor system

Alabama inmates stage protest over free labor system

For the second time this year, prisoners in Alabama are planning a nonviolent demonstration and work stoppage to protest conditions inside the state’s prisons. Melvin Ray, an inmate at the St. Clair correctional facility in Springville and founder of prison-based group Free Alabama Movement (FAM) says this weekend’s strike is an effort to improve education programs and end overcrowding, harsh sentencing, and what he calls “the free labor system” in which prisoners work for little-to-no monetary compensation. In an interview with Salon, Ray said, “There is not even a pretense of doing...

Nick Ramsey | MSNBC 20 Apr 2014 Hits:282 Alabama

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Rep. Terri's Sewell's Press Release on Medicaid/Gov Bentley

Rep. Terri's Sewell's Press Release on Medicaid/Gov Bentley

Alabama's 7th District Congresswoman Terri Sewell just released this press release a few moments ago. We are delighted that she has joined with Progressive Democrats of America, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and the Birmingham Metro Chapter of the NAACP to urge Governor Bentley to accept federal Medicaid funds and has herewith shown her convictions on this issue. From Rep. Sewell... Statement from Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Urging the State of Alabama to Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act December 10, 2013 “Beginning in January, millions of Americans will begin receiving health coverage under...

Edward Savela 10 Dec 2013 Hits:465 Alabama

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Alabama group rallies for medicaid expansion

Alabama group rallies for medicaid expansion

  BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Frigid temperatures Saturday afternoon didn't keep a group from rallying in protest of Governor Robert Bentley's decision not to expand the state's Medicaid Programs. For months, Alabama has stood firm behind its decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion set to go into effect next year as part of the Affordable Care Act. Among the diverse group was recent Samford University graduate Elizabeth Milne. Milne is currently working two jobs, neither provide options for healthcare. She's also a foster child, and cannot get insurance through her parents. "When the...

Tiffany Westry | cbs42 08 Dec 2013 Hits:459 Alabama

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Alabama progressives urge Gov. Bentley to end 'government malpractice,' expand Medicaid in…

Alabama progressives urge Gov. Bentley to end 'government malpractice,' expand Medicaid in Alabama for economic, health reasons (video)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Representatives of Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Birmingham chapter of the NAACP and the Progressive Democrats of America gathered Monday in Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park to urge Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to expand Medicaid coverage in Alabama under the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare. "Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do now," Scott Douglas, the executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, said. "Now is the right time to do it, and Alabama's working families need it, and that should be reason enough. If the governor refuses...

Madison Underwood | 28 Oct 2013 Hits:491 Alabama

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Former Alabama Governor Is a Political Prisoner; President Obama, Pardon Him NOW!

Former Alabama Governor Is a Political Prisoner;  President Obama, Pardon Him NOW!

Listen to our show with Dana and Joseph Siegelman Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, now in federal prison, is coming up on his one-year anniversary of unjust incarceration. Don is not a criminal. He is an American political prisoner—targeted, prosecuted, and jailed unjustly. We need your help. Please join us in asking President Obama to pardon Don and set him free now! One hundred and thirteen former and current Attorneys General (Republicans and Democrats) signed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court stating that Don's "crime" was no crime at all. So what...

Mimi Kennedy 30 Aug 2013 Hits:659 Alabama

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The 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties

In the past two years, one state party chairman was investigated by the local bar association. Elsewhere, an about-to-be-ousted party leader changed the locks at the headquarters. Two more state parties were threatened with eviction. Traditionally, state parties have been the meeting point between the national political organizations and the local ground game. But in recent cycles, many of them have become so dysfunctional that they are now irrelevant — or even worse, detrimental, to the national party’s efforts. The reasons behind their ineptitude vary: Some parties struggle with finances, others with...

Abby Livingston | Roll Call 24 Jul 2013 Hits:740 Alabama

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The Federation of Southern Cooperatives to honor C.T. Vivian

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives to honor C.T. Vivian

On Thursday, August 15, 2013 at the Birmingham Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund (Federation) will honor the legendary C.T. Vivian at its Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner. William Nelson, President of the CHS Foundation, will serve as honorary chair of the event. The Annual Meeting will be held on August 16 & 17 at the Federation's Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama; however, some events and workshops will also take place in Birmingham on August 15 (please see the agenda for...

Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund 23 Jul 2013 Hits:627 Alabama

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Hundreds march at 'Justice for Trayvon' rally in downtown Birmingham

Hundreds march at 'Justice for Trayvon' rally in downtown Birmingham

Exactly one week after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, hundreds gathered for another march and rally in Birmingham, part of a nationwide effort spearheaded by the Rev. Al Sharpton. More than 500 people marched, chanted and sang this afternoon outside Birmingham City Hall and in Kelly Ingram Park to speak out against Zimmerman's acquittal. Sharpton's National Action Network organized "Justice for Trayvon" rallies in at least 101 cities Saturday, Birmingham's rally among them. Sharpton called for the rallies to be in front...

Kelsey Stein | 21 Jul 2013 Hits:567 Alabama

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State announces plan for free IDs under new photo voter ID law

State announces plan for free IDs under new photo voter ID law

MONTGOMERY, Alabama  --  Voters without photo identification will have two options for getting a free ID from the state before the state's new photo voter ID law kicks in next year, Secretary of State Beth Chapman announced today. Alabama’s new law requiring people to show a government-issued photo ID to vote is scheduled to go into effect with the party primaries in June of 2014. The law -- to get around accusations that it's a modern poll tax to make people buy ID --   also requires that the state  have...

Kim Chandler | 30 Jun 2013 Hits:570 Alabama

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Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act

In case you haven’t heard…   The Robert's Court just dealt a hostile and destructive blow to democracy. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has stood as perhaps the greatest triumph for democracy in modern times. Prior to the passage of the VRA of 1965, many states routinely, and blatantly discriminated against voting registration of African Americans. As just one example, in Dallas Country Alabama--home to Selma and where the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights began--of 15,000 eligible black voters in 1965, only 338 were registered. Devious methods were employed throughout the South, and some...

Edward Savela | PDA Alabama 25 Jun 2013 Hits:1672 Alabama

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Police set up roadblocks to 'voluntarily' collect DNA, blood samples from innocent America…

Police set up roadblocks to 'voluntarily' collect DNA, blood samples from innocent Americans

(NaturalNews) When a group of uniformed men wearing guns sets up a road block then ask you to "volunteer" a DNA sample and blood sample, it stretches the definition of "volunteer." But that's what happened in Alabama yesterday as off-duty cops in two counties set up DNA collection roadblocks and stopped cars to ask if drivers wanted to "volunteer" DNA swabs and blood samples. It was all part of a study being conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which is probably studying what percentage of the sheeple population...

Mike Adams | Natural 12 Jun 2013 Hits:1604 Alabama

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Nuns on the Bus Visit Birmingham

Nuns on the Bus Visit Birmingham

The Nuns on the Bus, led by Sr. Simone, is on a 6,500 mile journey through predominantly Republican states to encourage our Senate to pass immigration reform. Sr. Simone and others gave inspirational talks calling us to action and reminding us that Christian doctrine commands us to welcome strangers. She and the others reminded us that we first discriminated against the Native Americans, the Irish, the Jews, the Catholic immigrants. This is in our history. It is time to extend the welcome mat to the Hispanic community too through responsible...

Edward Savela | PDA Alabama 05 Jun 2013 Hits:581 Alabama

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Nuns on the Bus

Nuns on the Bus

As some of you might know already, Nuns on the Bus will be making a pass through the south in June. Below are the dates in our states: 6/3 - Orlando, FL, 3pm - Daniel Webster - lobby visit 6/4 - Tallahassee, FL, 10 am - Marco Rubio - lobby visit 6/5 - Birmingham, AL - civil rights rally 6/5 - Atlanta, GA - Chambliss - lobby visit To give you some background: Sister Simone, who runs NETWORK (a Catholic social justice lobby in DC), and other nuns will be taking a bus tour along...

Edward Savela 14 May 2013 Hits:652 Alabama

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Labor Council and Plumbers’ Local in Gadsden, Alabama, Endorse HR 676

On April 15, 2013, the Northeast Alabama Labor Council in Gadsden endorsed HR 676, national single payer health care legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers. President Garry "Gabby" Frost brought the resolution before the council in response to an appeal from the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care--HR 676 and from Pippa Abston, MD, Ph D, a board member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a Huntsville, Alabama, pediatrician. "Health care is a necessity not a privilege," said President Frost after the adoption of the resolution for HR...

Kay Tillow 22 Apr 2013 Hits:691 Alabama

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Anniversary, significance of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" observed on House floor

Anniversary, significance of King's

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was observed with events throughout the city and extended to Washington D.C. where Rep. Terri Sewell marked today by reading an excerpt of the famous treatise. Sewell, D-Birmingham, used her time on the House of Representatives floor to read a portion of the letter. "The letter became one of the most preeminent documents of the civil rights era," Sewell told her colleagues. "Letter from a Birmingham Jail stands as a reminder of how far we have come in our nation in...

Jseoph D. Bryant | 21 Apr 2013 Hits:828 Alabama

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Alabama gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

Alabama gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators were locked in a standoff Wednesday with a gunman authorities say intercepted a school bus, killed the driver, snatched a 6-year-old boy and retreated into a bunker at his home. The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was known as “the crazy man” of the neighborhood, a paranoid and menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children...

Phillip Rawls | Associated Press 30 Jan 2013 Hits:659 Alabama

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Alabama Abortion Clinic Struggles; Mississippi’s Forges On

Alabama Abortion Clinic Struggles; Mississippi’s Forges On

When Diane Derzis shut the doors of the New Woman All Women Health Care clinic in Birmingham, Ala., last May, she did not expect the clinic to be shut for good. Derzis, known as the “Abortion Queen” by both her opponents and her supporters in the Deep South, was under investigation by the Alabama Department of Public Health after two of her patients were given an improper dosage of medication. Though Derzis self-reported the incident, which resulted in transporting the two women to a hospital via ambulance but no...

by Lauren Barbato | Ms Blog 22 Sep 2012 Hits:973 Alabama

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Former governor Don Siegelman lobbies for presidential pardon at DNC

Former governor Don Siegelman lobbies for presidential pardon at DNC

The former Alabama governor was perhaps the highest profile victim of Karl Rove's political machine, sentenced to six years for bribery. Now his last hope for freedom is a presidential pardon Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, has a particular reason to be lobbying for Barack Obama's re-election at this week's Democratic national convention. Siegelman is in Charlotte at the pleasure of a federal judge, and is just days away from resuming a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence, following a widely publicised conviction on bribery charges stemming from...

Andrew Gumbel | The Guardian UK 10 Sep 2012 Hits:1396 Alabama

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Alabama immigration law protestors picket on Federal Courthouse steps in Tuscaloosa

Alabama immigration law protestors picket on Federal Courthouse steps in Tuscaloosa

Protestors from Tuscaloosa and as far as California gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse Building on University Boulevard to sound off over the Alabama anti-immigration law on Monday afternoon. The demonstrators included several undocumented Hispanic immigrants, who said so via megaphone on the courthouse steps as they called the Alabama law an injustice to immigrants living in the state. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today ordered a lower court to block enforcement of a section of Alabama's immigration law that required ...

Ben Flanagan | Blog 21 Aug 2012 Hits:833 Alabama

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NEWSFLASH: A federal appeals court struck down key sections of Alabama’s immigration law in a ruling released today, including a provision mandating that school officials check the immigration status of newly enrolled students. And the 11th Circuit ruled that Alabama and Georgia cannot punish people for harboring or transporting an undocumented immigrant. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed a somewhat narrowed version of Arizona’s “Show-Me-Your-Papers” provision to go into effect, the appeals court letAlabama and Georgia to begin enforcing a law allowing state and local police to investigate the...

Amanda Peterson Beadle | Think Progress 20 Aug 2012 Hits:760 Alabama

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Don Siegelman, Persecution not Prosecution

Don Siegelman, Persecution not Prosecution

I guess most people know that I have been working with Governor Siegelman for over seven years. I'm very proud that we have a very close friendship. I was with him when he was being investigated. I was there when he was indicted. I attended every hearing, every day of the trial, and was an eye witness to everything that has happened since. This phase of Don's long battle ended Friday, so I think this is a good time to correct a few things people...

Chip Hill 05 Aug 2012 Hits:1231 Alabama

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AL Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives


  • Sen. Steve French (R-15)[20]
  • Sen. Cam Ward (R-14)[21]
  • Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-16)[22]
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