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Lieutenant governor candidates speak at Vestavia forum

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Mid-Alabama Republican Club held a forum Saturday for Republican lieutenant governor candidates in Vestavia Hills.

State Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, said, “I moved to Boaz when I was one. My father started a business just him. Today they manufacture locomotives and have thousands of employees. My mom founded the crisis pregnancy center in Marshall County.”

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“I have introduced an adoption tax credit,” Ainsworth said. “It expands the adoption credit at to any other state or country.”

“I love Donald Trump and what he has done for the country,” Ainsworth added.

Ainsworth said that people outside the stat know about Nick Saban, but they also know about the Luv Guv and the corruption.

Ainsworth said that his first bill he passed in the legislature eliminated double voting.

“The second bill I passed eliminated something called the revolving door,” Ainsworth said. “People were going straight from government to lobbying. That is a big difference between me and Twinkle. She went straight from the governor’s cabinet to lobbying.”

Ainsworth said that he has an education plan.

“We have got to make sure that all kids have access to technology,” Ainsworth said. “Some parents aren’t doing their job any more. Children are arriving in school that have never read a book before and don’t know their colors. The biggest crisis facing our state is workforce development. I talk to businesses across the state. They say we can’t find people qualified to fill the roles that we have open and when we do they can’t pass a drug test. We forgot the trades. When I went to high school, it was all about where are you going to college. We have got to give parents choice through charter schools.”

“The future of the next 5 to 10 years in Alabama is very bright,” Ainsworth said.

Ainsworth said that he comes from the private sector, is a Christian, is endorsed by the Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

“I support term limits,” Ainsworth said. “I fought against tax increases. I stood up to Mike Hubband and Governor Bentley and killed a billion in new taxes.”

“It is an honor to serve in the House and would be a privilege to be your lieutenant governor,” Ainsworth said.

Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said, “I am running for Lt. Gov. for three reasons: to cut the government fat; we have strong Christian conservative values and they are under attack. It is important to have someone strong in this office and the third is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“When I was elected to the Public Service Commission they wanted to know what kind of new car I wanted, offered to purchase new furniture for my office and asked how many new cell phones I needed,” Cavanaugh said. “I refused a state car, we didn’t redecorate my office, we did not get a slew of new phones.”

Cavanaugh said that she has cut the number of PSC employees from 119 to 72.

“We had 59 state cars. We changed that,” Cavanaugh said. “Today, you only have a state car if you are going to an audit or you are doing inspections on things like pipelines. I have cut my personal office space by two thirds. We are now sending $13 million back to the state in savings. Thats what we need to do as a state.”

Cavanaugh said she was the first woman chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

“President Trump has given us a reprieve,” Cavanaugh said. “Now we need to take this chance to reclaim our country.”

“In three years we will have a shortage of 100,000 skilled jobs in our state,” Cavanaugh said. “We have got to improve our workforce. Not every child is going to college; but we need to make sure that every child reaches their potential.”

“I want Alabama to be a beacon for the rest of the country,” Cavanaugh said.

State Senator Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, said we have three good candidates running for this office.

He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2002 and has been in the Senate since 2006.

“I come from a very conservative district and they are very happy with my vote,” Glover said.

“The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, assigns bills to the Senate Committees and approves travel,” Glover said. “He makes the determination if these trips worthy of your money.”

Glover said that he opposed the tax increases in Amendment one.

“I voted against every one of those taxes,” Glover said. “There was a shortage of state troopers on the roads and the Speaker of the House, both pro-tems, and the majority leader all had state troopers driving them back and forth to work. In 2010, the Republicans took control of the legislature and those Trooper drivers were done away with. If I am lieutenant governor, I won’t have a state trooper driving me around.”

“I pledge to be a full-time lieutenant governor,” Glover said. “I am not going to have any other jobs or businesses. I pledge to work with the governor on economic development and workforce development.”

The Mid-Alabama Republican Club meets on the second Saturday of each month in Vestavia.

The major party primaries will be on June 5, 2018.

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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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Elections

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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Lieutenant governor candidates speak at Vestavia forum

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