By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, August 27 the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) voted to endorse Alabama State Senator Harri Anne Smith (I) in the Senate District 29 race. SD 29 consists of Houston, Geneva and Dale Counties.
The group said that Senator Smith is a longtime supporter of agriculture and farmers in the Wiregrass.
Sen. Smith said in a written statement, “An important part of our economy in the Wiregrass is the hard work of our farmers and the food they produce that feeds not only America but the world. With the many market challenges our farmers face each day, I have strongly supported keeping taxes low and reducing regulation that hurt their ability to compete. I am deeply honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Farmers Federation and the farmers throughout the state.”
Smith has been an active member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Senator Smith has consistently opposed tax increases, including the $1.2 billion Amendment 1 package of across the board tax increases that a then Democratic controlled state legislature and then Governor Bob Riley (R) asked for from voters.
Alabama Farmers Federation Dale County board member Wayne Woodham said in a written statement, “Senator Smith has been a solid independent voice who has fought for conservative values and lower taxes in the Alabama Senate. Senator Smith has always supported and been a spokesperson for agriculture in Alabama, and I’m proud to stand by her side with the ALFA endorsement in her State Senate race for District 29.”
Alabama Farmers Federation Geneva County board member Gerald Aplin said, “Harri Anne is deserving of this endorsement because she has always been a trustworthy representative of farmers and conservative values in the Wiregrass. If there is ever a problem that needs fixing, Harri Anne will stand with you to make the calls and help get the job done.”
Houston County farmer Joe Carothers said, “I’ve worked side by side with Senator Smith on agriculture issues, and have always been proud of the way she has stood up to fight for farmers in the Wiregrass. Harri Anne realizes the importance of family farms, and has gone out of her way to protect these small businesses, which are often passed down through generations. Her efforts have helped preserve agriculture as a traditional way of life in Houston County.”
As an independent, Sen. Smith is required to accumulate nearly 2,000 signatures of registered District 29 voters to even be on the ballot, a number that she easily surpassed by over 11,000.
After receiving word from the Alabama Secretary of State’s office that she had been officially qualified for ballot access, Sen. Smith said, “Four years ago the effort was really about people in the Wiregrass taking back our vote. This time it is about keeping our vote. The people in our area are mad about Montgomery political bosses trying to dictate who our Senator will be.”
Sen. Smith said, “My philosophy is simple. The people of the Wiregrass elected me and not some special interest or political boss in Montgomery. My job is to take care of our area and our people. How I vote is how the people in my district want me to vote and that has never changed and it never will.”
Senator Smith was first elected to the state Senate as a Republican in 1998. Smith however was forced to run as an Independent for re-election in 2010 after her candidacy was removed from the ballot by Republican Party officials who ruled that Smith broke party rules by supporting a Democrat during the 2008 election.
In 2008, both Senator Smith and former state Representative Jay Love pursued the open Second District Congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Rep. Terry Everett (R). Rep. Love defeated Sen. Smith in a hard fought Republican Primary that got very negative.
An angry Sen. Smith endorsed the Democratic candidate; former Montgomery Mayor, Bobby Bright rather than her primary opponent: Rep. Love. Bright eventually won the seat with Smith’s support. The shocking Democratic Party victory was a blow to the Alabama Republican Party, then Chaired by state Rep. Mike Hubbard from Auburn, since the Second Congressional District seat had been in Republican hands since 1964. Republican Martha Roby took back the Second Congressional District in 2010, narrowly defeating Congressman Bright.
Smith’s actions in the 2008 election led to her being challenged in the 2010 Republican Party Primary. The Alabama Republican Party, then still chaired by Rep. Mike Hubbard, removed Sen. Smith from the Primary ballot so at that time she received the necessary signatures to run and won the race by 23,800 votes to 19,225 votes against a well-funded Republican opponent in George Flowers.
Smith is the former Mayor of Slocumb.
Smith’s Republican opponent in this election is Houston County Commissioner Melinda McClendon. Melinda McClendon has the endorsements of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the Alabama Forestry Association.
The General Election will be November 4.