Connect with us

In Case You Missed It

Bobby Bright to defend his GOP candidacy after challenges

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, now a Republican candidate for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, plans to defend his candidacy at an ALGOP meeting on Saturday after facing ballot access challenges accusing him of opportunistically switching parties.

Two complaints were recently filed against him, Bright says.

Advertisement

One of those complaints was filed by Houston County Commissioner Brandon Shoupe, alleging that Bright only wanted to run as a Republican because “he knows difficulty first-hand the difficulty of getting elected to Congress as a Democrat in the Second Congressional District,” according to a copy of the complaint Shoupe posted on Twitter last week.

Shoupe asked the ALGOP Candidate Committee to deny ballot access to Bright based on his previous membership in the Democratic Party.

“It essentially said I wasn’t Republican enough,” Bright said in an interview. “My question would be: ‘what’s the definition of being Republican enough?'”

Bright represented Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District for two years from 2008 to 2010 as a Democrat. During that time, though, he was one of the caucus’ most conservative members, according to GovTrack.us. After he lost his seat in the House to a Republican wave in 2010, Bright said he promised himself he would never run as a Democrat for a public office again, deciding the party had moved too far to the left, leaving Middle America behind.

On Thursday, Shoupe posted again on Twitter, this time saying that he had withdrawn the complaint.

“We have a lot of issues within the party in our 2nd district and have been convinced the best way forward is to allow the people to decide which direction we go, vs a small group of party insiders,” he wrote.

Another complaint remains, Bright said, from a woman who is also challenging Bright’s ballot access based on his previous membership in the Democratic Party.

“Everything she says is not correct,” Bright said, declining to name the complainant. “It’s full of misstatements. It’s even untruths, quite frankly. It’s full of assumptions. I’ve learned over the years that you never assume anything. You need to verify.”

The Alabama Political Reporter has not independently reviewed the second complaint.

“I’m willing to sit down with her and the committee to try to answer all of their questions,” Bright said. “Many of the concerns are just not legitimate, but I take all of the complaints and challenges as seriously as I need to.”


GovTrack.us ranks members of Congress based on their leadership, ideology and party membership.


Shoupe’s complaint said Bright “believes he can simply choose his party based on political expediency and not based on his political beliefs.” One point noted that Bright voted with the Democrats 75 percent of the time, citing OPenCongress.org, which is now GovTrack.us, a website that tracks elected officials voting records and policy viewpoints.

Bright was no liberal during his time in the U.S. Congress, going against his party several times on numerous key votes during his two-year tenure, one of the most active times for Congress in recent years when Democrats held majorities in both chambers and the presidency. During that time, Bright was the definition of a “Blue Dog” or conservative Democrat.

From voting no on the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, the 2009 stimulus package, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and no on the 2010 effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Bright often angered his Democratic colleagues and drew the ire of Democratic activist groups, prompting many of them to take out ads against him.

Bright, a popular former Montgomery mayor, said he “thought he was doing something right” because he was being attacked from both sides during the 2010 election.

“You want to make the party better, you want to make the party stronger, and you hope you will have the influence to lead and guide them in the right direction,” Bright said. “But the national Democratic Party left us down here in the South and pushed too many extremely liberal positions I don’t agree with.”

And Bright wouldn’t be the first Democrat to jump ship and become a Republican in Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey and Sen. Richard Shelby were once both Democrats, albeit they swapped parties decades ago. Attorney General Steve Marshall didn’t switch parties to become a Republican until 2011.

In the last few election cycles, Bright said he’s voted Republican.

After he left Washington, he turned to his wife on the trip home and said he’d never run for office again, especially as a Democrat. But after seeing the dysfunction in Washington, he said he’s ready to try again but with the GOP.

“I don’t need a job. I’m a farmer. God’s blessed me. I’ve had some good investments in my life, my wife and I both, and we’re happy,” Bright said. “But I need to be back in to try to correct some of the mess that we’ve gotten in to.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby won his seat in 2010 and has represented the 2nd Congressional District since then. Bright is now challenging Roby to a rematch, but this time in a hotly contested Republican primary. In 2016, nearly 11 percent of the votes cast were right-ins after many in the GOP wouldn’t vote for her because of her refusal to support then-candidate Donald Trump when the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.

Trump carried her district 65-33 while she won by a 49-42 margin.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Thursday that Roby’s campaign denied filing the complaint. Rich Hobson, another candidate for the nomination who was a top aide to former Chief Justice Roy Moore, state Rep. Barry Moore and Prattville businessman Tommy Amason all denied filing it, as well.

While Moore denied to the Advertiser that he filed the complaint, he said in an email sent to supporters last week that both Roby and Bright should be disqualified. The header of the email: “ALERT: DEMOCRATS RUNNING AS REPUBLICANS IN DISTRICT 2.” He said he wouldn’t personally challenge their ballot access, though.

Bright said he’s running against Roby because he wants to be a more effective representative, criticizing Roby for giving up her seat on the Armed Services and Agriculture Committees given the 2nd Congressional District’s reliance on its military bases and farming country.

Roby now serves on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, assignments which have less of an impact on her district, Bright said.

“I think Martha is a good person. I think each one of the guys that are running are good guys. They all intend to do good,” Bright said. “We don’t need just representation in Washington, though, we need strong, maximum representation. That’s not what we’re getting in District 2.”

The challenge will be considered at a meeting on Saturday in Montgomery. The Republican primary is June 5.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Advertisement

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

Published

on

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Advertisement

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

Published

on

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Advertisement

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Bobby Bright to defend his GOP candidacy after challenges

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 6 min
0