There are two things that I wish to note before I proceed: I've known Nancy Denson for at least 15 years and I've never had a cross word with her, not one. I voted for Nancy. And the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee is a partisan committee. It's in the name.
Nancy, as mayor of Athens-Clarke County, held a fundraiser this past month for Houston Gaines, a Republican candidate. This is a direct violation of one of the bylaws of the ACCDC. That bylaw is: “12.1. The Committee is explicitly prohibited from supporting a Democratic candidate who has opposition in a primary or special election, nor shall a member use his/her office to support an opposed primary or special election candidate. No member shall publicly support another candidate other than the Democratic nominee in a partisan general election."
People have dissected this in numerous ways, and with many readings people have inflicted numerous interpretations on it.
Let's start with the first half of the first sentence. "The Committee is explicitly prohibited from supporting a Democratic candidate who has opposition in a primary or special election…" This was established by the committee to keep them impartial when they have numerous Democratic candidates running for one office. Not until one candidate is chosen by primary can the committee commit itself to that candidate. Note the word "Democratic." I've seen this interpreted to show that Nancy was not in violation because her candidate is Republican. More on that before I finish.
Now, the second half of the first sentence, "…nor shall a member use his/her office to support an opposed primary or special election candidate." In this case, she is in direct violation of the bylaw. On the invitation, she used her title of Mayor Nancy Denson. She clearly used her office to support her candidate.
And the last sentence, the one that seems to have everyone preoccupied, is, "No member shall publicly support another candidate other than the Democratic nominee in a partisan general election." This has been interpreted to mean that a non-partisan election does not have to follow these guidelines. That interpretation only applies to that sentence, not the whole of the bylaw.
Mayor Nancy Denson, a member of the ACCDC (a partisan committee) violated bylaw 12.1.
Nancy Denson could have avoided all of this. All she had to do was to resign from the committee before she chose her nominee. The committee gave her the opportunity to resign from her post before it took a vote to remove her. She declined. She was voted off of the committee with an overwhelming majority (34–4). This is what she wanted. She seems to think this will help her nominee.
It later came to my attention that she denied being asked to resign on the Tim Bryant show on Oct. 2. She said, "There were statements made that I was approached privately about quietly resigning. That did not happen," and, "If one of my friends or one of my acquaintances on the committee had come to me and said 'Nancy, this really looks kind of bad. You think maybe it's a good idea to resign?' I would have done it on the spot." I'm surprised that she wasn't asked to resign by more than one of her friends. She has friends and acquaintances on the committee, even now. There were many long debates involving people that consider her a friend. These people are not "extremist," as Gaines called us. And her resignation is not the responsibility of the committee. It was her responsibility. She knew she should have resigned. She made it quite clear on the Tim Bryant show that she has read the bylaws. It's only a couple of pages.
She has said she was going to resign from the ACCDC in 2018 so she could endorse Houston Gaines in the general election. It's odd that she didn't resign now. She has only been to one committee meeting in the past two years. She removed herself from being an active member of the ACCDC and was uninformed of their current direction by her own choice.
Now, we are seeing Houston Gaines trying to use this as political fodder for his campaign. It won't work, and it's a weak platform. Democratic voters are not going to turn against their candidate, Deborah Gonzalez, because of this. He is a Republican candidate. Of course a partisan Democratic committee is opposed to him. One of our members with a prominent title chose to go against the committee. It has to stand united against the action she took. She knew she would make it more difficult for our candidate, Deborah Gonzalez. This was not an innocent mistake. This was done with intent.
Nancy and her supporters have pointed out her Democratic credentials from years past. She does have a long history with the Democratic Party, but currently she is playing for the other team. You can have someone on your team for 30 years, and they've been a good member, but when that teammate starts playing for the opposition, you remove them from your team. They are no longer an ally.
Remember, this was her choice.
The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee has one nominee in District 117, Deborah Gonzalez, and it is fully behind her.
The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee has one nominee in District 119, Jonathan Wallace, and it is fully behind him.