Cam Ward, Quinton Ross trade heated words after ‘racist’ comment

Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Republican Alabaster state Senator Cam Ward got into a heated conversation with one of his counterparts from Montgomery June 1 after Ward said the Montgomery senator insinuated Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey was “racist.”

The incident happened during the June 1 session of the Alabama Legislature, during which state Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, expressed displeasure with Ivey’s process of selecting which senator can speak on a matter.

The lieutenant governor is the presiding officer of the Alabama Senate, and is charged with choosing which senators can speak on the body’s issues.

Ross called Ivey’s selection process “almost racist,” and said he believed she was acting unfairly.

“I just discussed an issue in regards to fairness,” Ross said as he recalled the incident. “It’s been apparent time after time that she (Ivey) has a major issue of bipartisanship.”

Ross said he believed Ivey, a Republican, has shown favor in recognizing Republican senators over the Democratic senators during this year’s session.”

After Ross’ comments to Ivey, Ward said he stepped in to “defend” Ivey, and said Ross was violating the Senate’s rules.

“He made the insinuation that the lieutenant governor was racist because he was not getting favorable treatment by the presiding officer,” Ward said. “We do have to have a certain decorum in the Senate, and you can’t say that about the lieutenant governor.”

Ward said the action was preventing the body from addressing its business, and said a legislative rule prohibits Senate members from making personal attacks on other members.

“For years, we acted like an unruly bunch, and had a lot of really personal attacks,” Ward said. “That kind of thing is what is wrong with this body today.

“I was defending the lieutenant governor, because I thought (Ross’ comments were) out of line and uncalled for.”

But Ross said Ward was “misquoting the rule,” and said the rule only covered senators, not the lieutenant governor.

“Nothing about (what I said) was derogatory. It was just a matter of fact and my own perception. It was a matter of the lieutenant governor and the way she conducts things,” Ross said. “If you go back and listen to the recording, I never called her a racist. I called her actions racist.”