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Lieutenant governor bill likely dead for this session

Chip Brownlee

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A bill that would place a referendum on November’s ballot to drastically redefine the role of the lieutenant governor and strip many of the position’s responsibilities is likely dead for this session.

The bill, proposed by Republican Sen. Gerald Dial, has been on and off of the Senate floor for the past several weeks as Dial has attempted to work out a deal with opposing senators, but it now appears those negotiations weren’t enough to save the bill.

The bill was one of three pieces of legislation on the Senate’s special order calendar Tuesday, but the legislation was quickly carried over again after senators indicated it had not received enough support for a vote — with no idea of if or when the bill might be brought up again.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said Tuesday that the bill was likely dead for the session.

“I thought it was a bill that has been agreed upon, but as many times as it’s been to the floor, I don’t anticipate seeing it again this year,” Marsh said.

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Dial’s bill would make the responsibilities of the position more akin to that of a vice governor with the role largely being determined by the governor. On the floor earlier this month, Dial said the governor could theoretically send the lieutenant governor to a foreign country to negotiate a deal or even run a state agency.

More specifically, the bill would remove the lieutenant governor’s responsibility to preside over the Alabama Senate and vote in the case of a tie, and it would transfer that responsibility to a Senate president elected by the body.

If the bill were passed and the voters approved the Constitutional amendment, the governor would no longer be elected separately from the governor. Instead, the governor and lieutenant governor would be elected jointly similarly to the way the president and vice president of the United States are elected.

“Early on, I thought there was a lot of support for the concept, but for whatever reason, that went south,” Marsh said. “It’s just, this late in the game, time in the session, I think we’ve got to focus on other things that we want to get done.”

The move to scrap the bill this session comes as the Legislature moves into what is expected to be its last two weeks of session. Even if the bill were to be passed out of the Senate, it would need to be approved by a House that has been bogged down with disputes over local Jefferson County legislation and several controversial gun bills.

 

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Elections

Attorney General Steve Marshall defeats Troy King for GOP nomination

Brandon Moseley

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Republican voters went to the polls and elected Steve Marshall as the Republican nominee for Alabama Attorney General.

Marshall was appointed as District Attorney by then Governor Don Siegelman (D).

Tuesday night Marshall thanked his supporters and his team and said that there would be a new vision for Alabama going forward.

“What reaffirms me is I’m not going to do this alone,” Marshall said. “I’m with amazing warriors that have a passion to help the people of this state. I can tell you tonight they are ready to go to work and I’m ready to let them go, let them at it.”

Marshall said in a statement, “Before almost every athletic event in which I competed, the last words from my father were always “don’t leave anything on the field.” I can say with certainty that, in this campaign, we have left it all on the field. I remain forever grateful for all the volunteers who have devoted countless hours over the course of the last 13 months and the dedicated staff who worked on the campaign. We have given Alabama a clear choice. And, I am steadfast in the belief that God is sovereign and He is good in the result.”

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The race pitted the current Attorney General Steve Marshall versus former Attorney General Troy King.
King was appointed Attorney General by former Governor Bob Riley (R) in 2004. He was elected to his own term in 2006; but was defeated in the 2010 Republican primary by lobbyist Luther Strange.

Steve Marshall was appointed as AG by then Gov. Robert Bentley (R) after appointing Strange to the U.S. Senate. Marshall was the District Attorney of Marshall County for many years. He switched to the Republican Party in 2011.

Troy King campaigned vowing, “We have got to take this state back from the grips of violent crime.” King described himself as the only Republican running in this Republican runoff and he had support from many prominent conservatives, most notably retired Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore who sent out 50,000 letters of endorsement to his most committed supporters across the seat. Trump advisor Roger Stone flew in Monday to endorse King and prominent Trump backer Perry Hooper Jr. also endorsed King.

None of it helped. Republicans voted to stick with Marshall. As of press with 100% of precints reporting: Marshall had 211,562 votes 62 percent. Troy King had just 129,409 votes 38 percent.

Marshall was supported by most of the business groups in Alabama and he was endorsed by 41 of the 42 district attorneys.

Steve Marshall raised $3,233,610 in contributions much of it from out of state plus $20,215 in in-kind contributions, outraising Troy King by over a million. King raised $2,225,663 plus $16,218 in in-kind contributions.

King has accused Marshall of using the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA) to skirt Alabama’s 2010 law banning PAC to PAC transfers. Marshall says that since RAGA is not Alabama based the PAC to PAC transfer ban law does not apply to them. King filed a lawsuit; but the Montgomery judges dismissed the lawsuit saying that he does not have jurisdiction over RAGA as it is out of state.

Marshall defended his campaign in an interview with WSFA TV Montgomery.

“We have followed the rules and done the right thing,” Marshall said. On King’s lawsuit Marshall said, “I think it was a desperate act for a candidate that was losing. Nothing that we have done is inconsistent with Alabama law.”

RAGA contributed over $700,000 to Marshall’s campaign.

“RAGA and those Republican attorney generals are fighting a very important fight in this country,” Marshall said. “I don’t have any regrets in this campaign.”

King conceded that Marshall won the election but did not drop his complaint with the Alabama Ethics Complaint over the RAGA money, which King claims may have come from Mississippi gaming interests and pharmaceutical companies regulated by the AG.

Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) Chair and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge congratulated Marshall in a statement:

“What a great night for Steve Marshall and the people of Alabama,” Rutledge said. “Steve is a dedicated conservative who has always stood for the rule of law and defended the Constitution. A fierce advocate for Alabama, Steve is also an incredibly decent man.”

“Steve Marshall is completely committed to serving his state and tomorrow he will wake-up and get right back to work. Steve will continue to combat opioids and violent crime,” Rutledge added. “He will continue to fight for Alabama families. RAGA is proud to stand with Steve Marshall – a big congratulations to my friend and colleague on his victory tonight.”

Marshall suffered the loss of his wife, Bridgette, just last month. When asked how her suicide affected the race Marshall said, “People see me more now as a person than as a political figure and know that we suffer too.”

Marshall will now face Joseph Siegelman (D) in the November 6 general election.

 

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Elections

Will Ainsworth captures GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, toppling Twinkle Cavanaugh

Chip Brownlee

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State Rep. Will Ainsworth, a first-term newcomer to Montgomery and rising voice within the Alabama Republican Party, has captured the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, outpacing longtime ALGOP official and Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh.

The Associated Press called the race for Ainsworth. At the time of publication, Ainsworth had 51.49 percent of the vote to Cavanaugh’s 48.51 percent.

Both candidates advanced to the runoff after neither received 50 percent of the vote in June’s primary.

Ainsworth’s victory comes after a contentious runoff race that included heated political ads and attacks from both camps. Ainsworth painted Cavanaugh as a Montgomery insider, zeroing in on her tenure on the PSC, while Cavanaugh hit Ainsworth on a petty theft conviction from his days in college.

Ainsworth spent the last few days ahead of Tuesday’s primary traveling around the state with a fake tiger and boat, countering Cavanaugh’s claims that he had been arrested for the theft of several tigers used for fundraising in Auburn in 2002 and for a boating incident in 2001.

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With the fake tiger and boat behind him, Ainsworth said Cavanaugh distorted the facts. He downplayed his 2002 felony theft arrest as a college prank gone wrong. He also disputed that he had ever been arrested for driving an unregistered boat.

While Cavanaugh’s campaign said Ainsworth had been arrested and jailed for the boating incident, Ainsworth released a note from Jackson County Sheriff Chuck Phillips that said Ainsworth had never been jailed for his boating violation. Instead, Ainsworth pleaded guilty to the charge and paid about $130 in fines and court costs.

And the felony theft charge — a class B felony — was later dismissed without prosecution after Ainsworth performed community service. He was 20 and in college at Auburn at the time of the arrest.

The battle for the lieutenant governor’s race focused in large part on South Alabama, where Ainsworth picked up numerous endorsements in the Mobile area. State Sen. Rusty Glover, who was also seeking the nomination, picked up a plurality of the vote in Baldwin and Mobile County in June’s runoff.

Ainsworth will face Democratic nominee Will Boyd, who ran unopposed in last month’s Democratic primary.

Ainsworth labeled Cavanaugh as a Montgomery insider throughout the campaign. She spent several years as ALGOP chairwoman after being elected to that position in 2005 and has been PSC president since 2012.

Cavanaugh initially planned to run for governor before Gov. Kay Ivey formally announced her intention to seek a full-term. Cavanaugh switched to the lieutenant governor’s race in August, APR first reported.

Elected in 2014, Ainsworth made a name for himself as a conservative bulwark, sponsoring legislation during the last legislative session that would have allowed teachers to be armed in Alabama public schools. He introduced the legislation after a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school took the lives of more than a dozen students.

The legislation was met with intense opposition by Democrats and a lukewarm reception from his Republican colleagues and leadership in both chambers.

Ainsworth has branded himself as a Montgomery outsider, promising to clean up ethical lapses among the state’s leadership and fight corruption. He backed Articles of Impeachment against former Gov. Robert Bentley and sponsored legislation that would allow for a public vote to recall state elected officials.

Ainsworth and Boyd will face off in the general election in November.

 

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Elections

Roby beats Bright again

Josh Moon

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It’s like 2010 all over again.

Rep. Martha Roby won the Republican runoff for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional district on Tuesday, knocking off Bobby Bright, a former Congressman and Montgomery mayor. Bright held the seat as a Democrat in 2010 when Roby pulled off a surprising upset.

On Tuesday, she was the incumbent, but the results were the same, if more lopsided.

Watched nationally as a possible referendum on President Trump and his influence in red state elections — Roby had stated publicly that she would not vote for Trump following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape prior to the 2016 presidential election — that angle was largely moot following an endorsement by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Not to mention, Bright, the longtime Democrat, wasn’t exactly a more conservative option who might attract voters swayed by criticism of Trump.

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Roby won easily, pulling in 68 percent of the vote.

“I’m deeply humbled by the confidence the people of the 2nd district have shown in me,” Roby said following her win, at times holding back tears. “It means so much to me.”

Roby also repeatedly thanked Trump and Mike Pence for their endorsements in recent weeks and said she was looking forward to continuing to work with the White House on several issues.

“The (2016) campaign is over and we’re governing,” Roby said of her criticism of the now-president. “Of course I want (Trump) to be successful. When he’s successful, we’re all successful. I look forward to continuing to work with them. We have a shared conservative agenda with the White House.”

For his part, Bright said during a TV interview with WSFA that the endorsements and special interest money were the deciding factors.

“It’s awfully hard to fight the president and vice president and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and all the other special interests out there,” Bright said. “We did our best. It wasn’t enough.”

Roby will now face Democratic challenger Tabitha Isner in the general election in November.

 

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Lieutenant governor bill likely dead for this session

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 2 min
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