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Candidates for Democratic Party Chair Face First Test on Saturday

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After all the choosing sides and back-room wheeling and dealing and parliamentary maneuvering and propagandizing, the race for chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party has come down to two contestants – lawyers Jay Bailey and Van Turner – and the turnouts of the two candidates' supporters at Saturday morning's party caucuses will the first crucial test of their relative strength.

The delegates and alternates qualified to represent their precincts at the caucuses at Airway Middle School will return three Saturdays later to the same venue to elect both a new executive committee and a new chairman.

The first actual skirmish between the two sides took place Thursday night at the monthly meeting of the party's executive committee when a proposed formula to enlarge the committee proportionate to last year's election results and Saturday's turnout was defeated after prolonged and strenuous debate. In general, the formula was supported by Bailey's supporters and opposed by Turner's.

Both candidates have significant support – Bailey's including such traditional power brokers as Sidney Chism and David Upton and Turner's including members of the several new activist groups that have been formed in recent years.

-- Jackson Baker

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