One of Many Strange Alabama Political Facts

Old Alabama Democratic Party Logo

The old Alabama Democratic Part logo, bearing a defiant rooter, as it appeared on Alabama ballots as late as the 1960s. The “white supremacy” tag was presumably removed after passage of federal voting rights legislation.

Who can answer this question related to Alabama political history? Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was the American Independent Party candidate for president in 1968, but he ran under a different party label in Alabama. What was that party?

As it turns out, the Democratic Party. The Alabama Democratic Executive Committee recognized Wallace instead of the duly nominated Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic nominee in Alabama, forcing Alabama Humphrey supporters to organize the Independent Democratic Party solely to ensure Humphrey a place on the Alabama ballot.

Actually, there were two parties on the 1968 Alabama election ballot pledged to Humphrey – the Independent Democratic Party and the largely African-American National Democratic Party.

Needless to say, the fact that there were two slates pledged to Humphrey on the 1968 Alabama ballot created a considerable degree of confusion among voters.

It also created a bit of confusion at the national level.  At one point late into the night, Humphrey actually lurched ahead of Nixon in the popular vote by about 4,000 votes when the ballots of these two slates were counted.

But this electoral confusion was by no means uncommon in Alabama.  As recently as the 1980s, all a party had to do to appear on the state ballot was to print a specified number of engraved cards bearing the party’s logo and to provide them to the Alabama Secretary of State by a specified deadline.  A number of parties functioned that way for years, including the Alabama Conservative Party and, believe it or not, the Alabama Whig Party.

At one point, it even appeared that one of these obscure parties, the Alabama Whig Party, which bore a collie as its logo, was primed to send one of its candidates to Congress.   Maverick Republican Congressman John Hall Buchanan, Jr., was invited to run as the party’s nominee after his unexpected primary defeat in the 1980 GOP primary.  However, Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., ultimately turned down the party’s emergency request to secure a place for Buchanan on the 1980 General Election ballot.

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About Jim Langcuster

A Southern late-Baby Boomer whose post-retirement focus is on building a post-racial, post-Confederate Southern regional identity. If the election of 2016 underscored one thing, it is that this country is intractably divided and that radical devolution of power to localities and states is the only way to save the American Union.
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