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Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran to retire from the Senate next month

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, announced on Monday that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate effective April 1.

Cochran’s health issues have been an issue for some time now and ultimately led the 80-year-old Republican senator to retire.

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“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Cochran said in a statement. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, released a statement regarding Cochran’s retirement announcement.

“Senator Thad Cochran is a good friend and has been an excellent colleague of mine for over three decades,” Shelby said.  “I wish him and his wife, Kay, well and hope we are able to continue on the wise path he has paved for those governing this great country. History will reflect Senator Cochran’s legacy of strong leadership throughout an extraordinarily impactful tenure in public office. He has represented Mississippi with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Cochran chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and there is considerable speculation that Shelby could take over that powerful committee that largely determines what agencies and projects in the federal government get funded and which do not.

Cochran served three terms in the United States House of Representatives before winning election to the Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi. He is the tenth-longest serving senator in the nation’s history.

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, is already running for re-election meaning that Mississippi will have both Senate seats on the ballot this November.  Republican Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel almost unseated Cochran in 2014.  McDaniel finished first in the primary, but Cochran narrowly won the Republican primary runoff largely by encouraging Democrats to participate.

McDaniel is already running against Wicker.

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Phil Williams says GOP will defend Senate District 10

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday Etowah County Republican Party Chairman Phil Williams told the Etowah County Republicans that the Republican Party would make sure that Cherokee County cattle farmer Andrew Jones will have the resources needed to defend the Senate District ten seat that Williams is vacating.

On June 5, Jones defeated state Representative Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City. Most political observers expected Butler to win the Republican primary; but the general election against state Representative Craig Ford (I from Gadsden) was considered to be a challenge. Jones defeated Butler 53.43 percent to 46.57 percent 12,516 to 10,907. The Alabama Democratic Party is not fielding a candidate in District 10.

“It is painful not to see Mack Butler in an elected position,” Chairman Butler said. “I have had plenty of discussions with Andrew Jones and with upper level and state leaders to make sure that he has all the resources he needs to make sure that a Republican holds that seat.”

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Williams said that he is impressed with how hard Jones worked and how popular he was in Cherokee County and the inroads that he had made even in Etowah County.

“I feel comfortable that Andrew will have the resources,” Williams said. “This race will be high profile. It is one of the few deeply contested senate seats in the state I have talked with Del Marsh and Andrew has talked with Marsh.”

Williams said that Marsh has assured them that there will be resources to help Jones.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is heading the efforts to re-elect a Republican senate majority.

Following the primary win Jones said in a statement:

“I’M EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE MY VICTORY in the State Senate 10 Republican Primary. I’d like to thank my family for their support, and I’d also like to thank Mack Butler for running a spirited campaign. I humbly ask all of Mr. Butler’s supporters for their help in the General Election on November 6. All of the credit for our victory goes to our volunteers and supporters, without whom our victory today would not have been possible. Many of you may not realize that we were outspent somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 1 in this campaign. We just continued to focus on taking our message directly to the voters. With our victory today, I hope we have shown that hard work and a clear message still has the power to resonate with Alabama voters.”

While Ford is running for the Senate as an independent, he was formerly the House Minority Leader for the Democrats.

State Representative Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, told the group, “I have started putting up signs after the primary. We are in it to win it and help push the liberals back.”

Gil Isabel is running for the House seat that Craig Ford is vacating to run for the senate.

“This seat has been held by a Democrat for many many years,” Isabel said. “I don’t want to overpromise and under deliver.”

Isabel said that it takes a team effort to represent Etowah County and that he is a team player.

“It is time for a change,” Isabel said.

Both Isabel and Nordgren face Democrats in the general election on November 6.

Democrats had held Senate District ten for many years until Williams upset longtime incumbent Larry Means, D-Attalla, in the 2010 election and then defeated a challenge from Means again in 2014.  In 2014 Williams beat Means 17,967 (52 percent) to 16,530 (43.9 percent),

Senate District Ten was redrawn in 2017 after the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus sued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to have some districts redrawn to be more competitive for Democrats and provide more influence for minorities. A portion of staunchly Republican St. Clair County had been in the district. They no longer are and SD10 now includes more of Dekalb and Cherokee County in addition to Etowah County.

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Countryman refuses to endorse Maddox, will continue campaign as a write-in

Brandon Moseley

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Chris Countryman ran in the Democratic primary; where he finished in sixth place with just 4,973 votes (1.7 percent). On Friday, rather than support the Democratic nominee, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox, Countryman announced that he would continue his campaign as a write-in.

“I made a promise to the people of Alabama that I would stand, that I would fight, and that I would do whatever it takes to finally get our state back on track,” Countryman said in a statement. “Throughout my years of public service, I believe I’ve been preparing for something bigger than myself. I’ve made a career of putting others first. And I can’t stop that now.”

“Alabama needs someone who’ll finally fight for them,” Countryman continued, “We are all tired of politicians making promises they can’t keep. We Alabamians are tired of them taking money that’s not theirs. We are tired of politicians putting party before principle, and winning before justice. We are tired of seeing politicians who lie, cheat, steal and using their elected position for their own selfish gain.”

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“Alabama’s elected officials need to regain the trust of the citizens,” Countryman stated. “So I won’t walk away. I refuse to be someone who broke his promise to the people. When I said that I would stand, that I would fight. and that I would not give up, I meant it! I will continue to fight, and I will continue to stand with the people as a Progressive Democrat. I will be continuing my campaign for Governor as a write-in candidate on the November 6th election ballot. There are still a lot of concerns that need to be addressed prior to the November election. For this reason. I invite Walt Maddox and Kay Ivey to join me in discussing these important issues during a live, publicly broadcast, formal debate. It is my hope that Maddox and Ivey will take this opportunity seriously, and I look forward to meeting with them both very soon.”

“To respond to my invitation please contact my campaign assistant via email: [email protected] She will be happy to coordinate with everyone to find a date and venue that works with each candidate,” Countryman concluded,

If elected, Countryman would be the first openly homosexual person elected statewide in the history of Alabama. His husband, Bruce, would be the first male spouse of an Alabama Governor, since George Wallace, during his wife: Lurleen’s governorship.

Maddox won the Democratic primary without a runoff; but he won only 54.6 percent of the Democratic vote. 37.7 percent of his votes came from Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties and ominously twice as many voters were voting in the Republican primary. Ivey alone had more voters than all the Democratic candidates combined. To compete with Ivey, Maddox is going to have to improve his popularity statewide and figure out how to get record Democrat turnout.

Countryman organized the Wiregrass for marriage equality.

Countryman struggled to raise money as a Democratic party candidate. Raising money as a write-in will likely be even more challenging. Chad “Chig” Martin is also running a write-in campaign for governor.

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Craig Lipscomb speaks to Etowah County Republicans

Brandon Moseley

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House District 30 candidate B. Craig Lipscomb on Saturday addressed his fellow Etowah County Republicans. House District 30 is composed of parts of St. Clair and Etowah County. Lipscomb and former Ashville Mayor Robert McKay are in a Republican primary runoff election on July 17.

“I am a local registered architect, small businessman, and family man,” Lipscomb said.  I am married to my wife Angela. We have two children. We live on a small farm. I grew up in Gadsden. I have been here ever since I was a child.”

Lipscomb said that he graduated from Coosa Christian, went to Gadsden State Community College then transferred to Auburn University where he got his five-year architect’s degree. He then returned to Gadsden where he went to work for a Gadsden architecture firm for a three-year internship where he took his architecture exams to finally become a licensed architect. He practiced with them until 2010 when the economy took a nose dive and left the firm to help them stay afloat. Lipscomb then opened up his own architecture practice and a frozen yogurt shop. Eventually has sold the frozen yogurt business. He has been very active in his community including the Gadsden Kiwanis, the United Way board, the President of the Gadsden Symphony Orchestra.

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“We did not have anyone from Etowah County running for District 30,” Lipscomb said. “After about a month of prayers and consultation with my wife I entered the race. I have spent the last six months working hard. I am in the runoff with the man from Ashville. The numbers were very tight; but the other two candidates also got a number of votes.”

“I am leaning on my friends in the Etowah Republican Party to help keep this seat in Etowah County,” Lipscomb said.

Robert McKay lives in St. Clair County.

Lipscomb spoke about improving infrastructure in Alabama

“The roads and bridges were built for half the people that are currently on it,” Lipscomb said. Infrastructure also includes broad band internet. The infrastructure priority for District 30 is the Southside bridge. I-759 is not in the district; but completing it is also a priority.

Lipscomb said that District 30 includes: Walnut Grove, Altoona, Southside, Rainbow City, Glencoe, Ashville, Ragland, and Riverside.

The monthly Etowah Republican breakfast events are emceed by Yellowhammer News Anchor Jay Holland. Holland said that about the time Lipscomb was in high school. “I lost district 30 by one vote.”

Holland told the group that he is having heart surgery on June 26.

In the June 5 primary, Robert McKay had 34.28 percent of the vote with 3,122 votes. B. Craig Lipscomb had 25.32 percent with 2,306 votes. Riverside Mayor Rusty Jessup had 24.04 percent of the vote with 2,190 votes. Jessup missed the runoff by just 117 votes. Ryan Preston had 16.36 percent.

Incumbent state Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) vacated the seat to run for the open state senate district. Butler lost the GOP primary to Cherokee County cattle farmer Andrew Jones.

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Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran to retire from the Senate next month

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 2 min
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