Eric Leon Major (born April 6, 1968) is a business development consultant, director of the Alabama Minority Health Institute, and a politician who represented District 55 (Fairfield) in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006.
Major completed an associate's degree at Jefferson State Community College and earned his bachelor of arts in political science at UAB and served as a legislative assistant and district director for U.S. Representative Earl Hilliard from 1992 to 1994. His step-brother, Ray Jefferson Cromartie, was convicted in Georgia of murdering a store clerk that year, and was sentenced to death. Major credits that case for motivating him to enter politics himself.
Before running for the legislature in 1998, Major chaired the Jefferson County Chapter of Alabama Young Democrats and the Alabama Conference of Young Democrats. He founded the Fairfield Leadership Breakfast Club and coached in the Fairfield Police Athletic League.
On April 29, 2004 Shamanda "Mandi" Joseph, Major's ex-fiancee, flagged down a Birmingham Police officer and reported that he had assaulted her during an argument following that evening's Prince concert. Major was charged initially with assault, but the charge was later amended to misdemeanor domestic violence. He was acquitted on appeal to the Jefferson County Circuit Court in March 2006, and subsequently filed a civil suit against Officer Al Anger and the City of Birmingham, contending that the arrest was politically motivated. Major's brother, Wendell Major, gave testimony about the standards for investigation of domestic violence incidents. The jury found that police had violated Major's civil rights and awarded him $500,000 in compensatory damages. The city appealed the judgment to the Alabama Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court in November 2008 by finding that Anger did have probable cause for arrest and thus there was no basis for a civil rights claim.
Major lost his re-election bid to Rod Scott in a runoff during the 2006 primary elections, which were held shortly after his acquittal. That same year he was elected chairman of the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition (JCCC), which he hoped to restore to prominence. The group endorsed Patrick Cooper for Mayor of Birmingham. Former Mayor and JCCC co-founder Richard Arrington endorsed incumbent Bernard Kincaid in that race.
Major ran for the Jefferson County Commission seat vacated by Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford in the 2008 special election. He cited his experience working with other former legislators Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes, then on the Commission, as qualifications for the office. He said that the primary issues facing the Commission were accountability, economic development, and restoring public trust. He finished fourth with 10.4% of the vote.
Later that year he entered the race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate District 19 seat vacated by E. B. McClain, who had been convicted of bribery earlier that year. He finished fifth among the eight candidates in the May 12 primary. In the runup to the 2009 Birmingham City Council election that August, Major declined to join the "New Jefferson County Citizens Coalition", launched by Arrington and Earl Hilliard.
While running for Jefferson County Treasurer in the 2016 Democratic primary, Major and two other officers of the JCCC created a new "Jefferson County Citizen's Coalition" (with an apostrophe) as a community education nonprofit.
Before the March 1 primary, pre-marked blue sample ballots endorsing a slate of candidates were distributed, purporting to be from "Team 7, The Bessemer Voters League, and The Original Jefferson County Citizens Coalition". The ballots included a photograph Richard Arrington, captioned "Founder and Chairman Emeritus" and a photograph of Major, identifying him as "Chairman".
Shortly afterward, while Major and Mike Miles were campaigning for the April 12 primary run-off, Arrington filed a lawsuit, claiming that he did not endorse the slate of candidates appearing alongside his photograph and signature. Judge Joseph Boohaker issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Major from distributing materials that implied the endorsement of Arrington or the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition. Judge Jim Hughey extended the restraining order to April 21. Miles, who did have Arrington's endorsement, narrowly defeated Major in the primary runoff and won the post without opposition in the general election.
Major disputed Arrington's allegations, and claimed not to have been informed of the hearing in Boohaker's court. In the ongoing litigation of the lawsuit, Major argued that Arrington lacked standing to file suit on behalf of the Jefferson County Citizens Coalition, and that the ballots which caused injury to him were, in fact, the work of a third party. On June 7, 2017 Harvey Henley, president of Team 7 PAC, signed an affidavit affirming that his organization raised funds, published, printed and distributed the disputed "unity ballot", which reflected, "the unified endorsements of Team 7 Political Action Committee, Bessemer Voters League and Jefferson County Citizens Coalition."
|Alabama State Representative, District 55
- Velasco, Eric (November 10, 2007) "Major wins $500,000 in lawsuit." The Birmingham News
- Supreme Court of Alabama. (November 21, 2008) CITY OF BIRMINGHAM v. Eric L. MAJOR. 1070944 - accessed May 18, 2017 at Findlaw.com
- Wright, Barnett (January 31, 2008) "Major believes past association with commissioners would benefit county." The Birmingham News
- Faulk, Kent (March 31, 2016) "Richard Arrington lawsuit: Candidate "hijacked" his name and his coalition's good will" The Birmingham News
- Wright, Barnett (April 6, 2016) "Once allies, a legendary mayor and a former lawmaker are now in court as adversaries" The Birmingham Times
- Faulk, Kent (April 7, 2016) "Judge extends TRO against candidate Eric Major in fight with Richard Arrington." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (November 13, 2019) "Ex-Alabama lawmaker on stepbrother's execution: 'The system is broken'." The Birmingham News
- Eric Major on Linkedin.com