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Obama organizers hoping for low turnout in Alabama to influence GOP primaries

Empower Alabama staffers registering voters (Photo: Facebook)
Empower Alabama staffers registering voters (Photo: Facebook)

The Democratic Party is all but defunct in Alabama. That has left traditionally Democrat-aligned groups like the Alabama Education Association (AEA) to concoct elaborate schemes to funnel money into Republican primaries to influence elections without voters realizing. This election cycle, deceptively-named groups like The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government and Stop Common Core PAC, which conservatives would probably be inclined to agree with at first blush, in reality appear to be little more than a money laundering operation.

RELATED: Deceptively-named Alabama Foundation for Limited Govt. working with Obama allies

But in spite of all the action in Alabama being in the Republican primary, it would be foolish to think that the left’s “community organizing” machine is just sitting back and letting it happen.

In 2013, Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy and his Executive Director, Bradley Davidson, broke away from the deeply-indebted State Party and launched a new group called the Alabama Democratic Majority. Their goal was to break the stranglehold Republicans now have on Alabama. The group was only able to raise a little over $18,000 and hasn’t given a penny to any candidates.

Several weeks ago Davidson told the Anniston Star that the Alabama Democratic Majority was essentially disbanding. In it’s place, Davidson announced that he and Kennedy were re-launching a group called Empower Alabama, which had been founded in 2006 by former Democratic U.S. Senator Donald Stewart, but had been dormant since spending a little over $100,000 during the 2008 election cycle.

Unlike the short-lived Alabama Democratic Majority, Empower Alabama clearly has significant funding and has tapped into Organizing for Action, the non-profit entity formed by President Obama’s political advisors that consists of the grassroots infrastructure built during his Presidential campaigns.

Empower Alabama has staffed up quickly with several former Obama campaign staffers and veterans of other well-known liberal activist groups. Here are just a few examples:

  • Lestian McNeal was a Field Organizer for Obama for America, then became a National Volunteer Trainer for Organizing for Action. He’s now a north Alabama field organizer for Empower Alabama.
  • Kenneth Rebella was a field organizer in Iowa for Obama’s 2012 campaign. He is now Empower Alabama’s Regional Field Director for East Alabama.
  • Micah Morris worked for Planned Parenthood for three years where she “organized for reproductive rights… [That’s the] cornerstone of how I view my work and how I view the potential of what we can do here in Alabama,” she said during a recent speech in north Alabama. “We can win here.”
  • Jenna Patterson struggled with the decision “to leave a place where I could marry my wife legally,” Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Obama Administration’s Justice Department. She ended up deciding to move to Alabama to run Empower Alabama’s Calhoun County field operation.

A quick look at Empower Alabama’s Facebook page shows them already active across the state registering voters ahead of the upcoming June 3rd elections.

Alabama has open primaries, meaning that voters don’t have to officially register with one party or the other and can decide to vote in either primary at the ballot box. So left-leaning groups are undoubtedly excited about the prospect of Empower Alabama getting traditionally Democratic voting blocs to the polls on June 3rd to influence the GOP primaries.

Whether they are ultimately successful in swaying any races will come down to voter turnout. If Republicans turn out in strong numbers, Empower Alabama and their allies won’t be able to overcome it. But without a hotly-contested governor’s race at the top of the ballot and no competitive congressional races anywhere outside of central Alabama, they’re banking on Republicans sitting at home on election day thinking their vote won’t matter.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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