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GOP candidates speak to Huntsville Tea Party

Brandon Moseley

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Three of the four Republican candidates for governor were in Huntsville at the Huntsville Tea Party gubernatorial forum.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said that as Mayor he has brought 24,000 jobs to the City of Huntsville and that he wants to do the same thing, just bigger for the whole state. Battle said that he wans to see everyone of the young people coming out of the schools in Alabama to stay here and get a job and be successful here. “This is the sixteenth forum that we have done; and this is the sixteenth forum that Gov. Ivey has not been here,” Battle said.

State Senator Bill Hightower said, “I am from Mobile. I am a businessman. I worked for large manufacturing companies for most of my career.” After 9-11 my wife and I moved back to Alabama and ran several small businesses. My pastor and others came to me and said, why don’t you run for office. I ran against Montgomery’s preferred candidate and I was outspent ten to one.

“Mike Hubbard’s people did not want me there,” Hightower said. “When I came to Montgomery, I did not owe anyone there anything. I voted for what I wanted to vote for. I was one of the most conservative state Senators.” I voted for term limits and for a flat tax. Kay Ivey has no voting record. I am the only one running with a record of voting.

“We have had a dermatologist for governor,” Hightower said. “We have had a lawyer for governor. We have never really had a businessman as governor. I want to be your CEO.” Go to my website and read my plan: 12 steps to Changing Alabama.

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Scott Dawson said, “This is my first foray into politics. For thirty years I have been in ministry.” I tried to find someone to be part of a grassroots movement to run for governor eventually I ran myself.

Battle said of the prisons, that before we send someone to prison, “We need to make sure that these are the ones we need to be spending $39,000 a year on.” When they leave prison, they need to have earned a GED and received some job skills or they will be going back to prison. If they have a job they will pay taxes instead of costing us $39,000 a year.

Hightower said, “I was in the Senate when Governor Bentley brought his $900 million plan.” Prison should not be about locking someone up but instead be about bringing someone back to a purposeful life. We have to fix the prisons or the federal government will come and make us do it and it will cost a lot more.

Dawson said that he grew up in Ensley and there is not a mother in Ensley that is praying that her son gets to live in a bigger better prison. We need to do something about mental health. Right now, law enforcement has no option with the mentally ill other than to lock them up or turn them loose. We have to get a grip on drug abuse. “It is called a correctional facility it should not be a generational facility.”

Hightower said that the flat tax would makes it easier to do business in Alabama. Many times my wife has come home from her business and said that the state does not want her to make a profit.

Dawson said that he talked with one CEO in Birmingham who said that every week they joke about moving to Georgia so that Alabama will offer them the incentives that the state is offering out of state businesses to move here. Dawson said that we should cut the red tape and regulations and set Alabama businesses free.

Battle said, “85 percent of our people work for small businesses.”  “We are bringing in Toyota and Mazda and they are bringing in thousands of suppliers,” Battle said. Many of these suppliers will be customers of small businesses.

Dawson said that he read a book by former Governor Fob James. When James came into office he had to deal with prison overcrowding, education, and roads. The next governor will have to deal with prison overcrowding, education, and roads.

Dawson said that $63 million of money that is supposed to be earmarked for roads is taken away from ALDOT right off the top for other agencies. That does not  sound like a lot; but over twelve years that is almost a $billion. “A $billion will build a lot of roads.” If we get rid of all the legislative earmarks we can provide money for roads.

Battle said, “We have got to take our roads seriously. We have got too make a better system. We have got to improve that system.” I-65 is at over capacity. Not only are we not doing anything about it, we don’t have a plan to do anything about it.

Hightower said that he presented a plan to the legislature to use the BP oil spill settlement money for roads. It passed the Senate; but when it got to the House the special interests killed it. We need infrastructure improvements; but I want reform before we get more revenue.

Battle said forty percent of our prisoners have a mental health problem.

Hightower said that he is concerned about DHR. They are overworked. We have thrown the mentally ill in prisons. In Mobile County drugs for the prisoners is a bigger expense than anything else in the jails and the problem is growing. Autism is growing. We have to deal with mental health as a community.

Scott Dawson said, “Mental health is a crisis in our state.” A federal mandate could be coming if we don’t address it. “We have got to open up new beds and long term we have got to get a grasp on mental health.”

Hightower said that he is very Pro-Life and introduced the bill to ban the sale of baby body parts in Alabama.

Hightower said that he does not watch the violent video games and movies because it desensitizes me to violence. What we are doing to our kids through the culture is wrong.

Dawson said that in Alabama, “We dare defend our rights. I believe in the Second Amendment. The absolute right of our constitution for you to bear arms,” is guaranteed by the Constitution. “We should not waiver any of the rights that our founding fathers gave us.”

Battle said that when Remington came to Alabama they told them you are going to get some bad comments. Battle responded, “You do realize that you are coming to Alabama don’t you?” There was a poll and 97 percent were in favor of Remington coming and only 2.5 percent were opposed. “We support the right to bear arms here.” They are a great industry. We are proud to have them here.

Dawson said that he wants to, “Replace Common Core standards It is time to get rid of Common Core.” “I am not opposed to standards. I want Alabama standards from Alabama teachers that understand Alabama values.”

Battle said, “The state standards need to stay steady. We need to have a state set of standards that can move us forwards.”

Hightower said that he favors repealing Common Core and pledged to, “Work toward repealing that and creating our own Alabama standards.”

Governor Kay Ivey was unable to attend as she had an event in Etowah County that same night.
The major party primaries will be on June 5.

Hometown Mayor Tommy Battle overwhelmingly won the straw poll with 53 1st Choice votes.  Scott Dawson was second with 30 votes  Bill Hightower had 21 votes and Kay Ivey had 4.

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Elections

Alabama secretary of state releases updates on crossover voting

Brandon Moseley

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The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday that it has discovered 398 violations of Alabama’s new crossover voting rules in the 2018 election cycle.

At the conclusion of the 2017 United States Senate Special Election Run-off, the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office reviewed a formal, routine election report indicating that 140 individuals had been given credit for voting in the Democrat primary election on August 15th and then voting in the Republican run-off election on September 26. This action, termed crossover voting, is an action which would violate the State’s new crossover voting law (Act No. 2017-340).

After reviewing the report, Secretary of State John Merrill (R) identified the local chief election official – the Probate Judge, as the proper authority to determine whether those listed were willful in their intent, negligent, or whether these findings were listed in error in each county where the incident occurred. In each of the 41 counties, the probate judges determined it was not necessary to prosecute any of the 140 individuals found to have violated the crossover voting law.

Following the conclusion of the 2018 Run-Off Election, Secretary Merrill directed the Elections Division to review the list of 398 voters that were found to be in violation of the crossover voting law and compare that list with the list of 140 voters from the 2017 Senate Special Election. Once this review was completed, it was determined that only one voter was found to have potentially violated the law in both 2017 and 2018.
Secretary Merrill then personally visited with and interviewed the person found to have potentially violated the law. At the conclusion of that visit, it became clear to Secretary Merrill that either the poll workers or a county registrar improperly marked the wrong political party in processing the voters’ primary voter participation credit. Due to this information, Secretary Merrill determined further legal action was not necessary, at this time.

No one has been prosecuted for crossover voting, however, under Alabama law it is illegal to vote in both a party primary and then vote in another party’s primary runoff. In the general election, voters are allowed to vote for candidates from both parties and/or independent or minor party candidates. 66 percent of Alabamians straight party voted in the 2018 election. Alabama does not have party registration, so any voter is allowed to participate in the party primary of their choice.

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In the 2017 special election, former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) faced appointed U.S. Senator Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate. In 2018, there were Republican runoffs for Lt. Governor, Attorney General and other offices.

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Elections

Secretary of State initiates legal action to recover unpaid campaign finance fines

Chip Brownlee

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The Secretary of State’s Office has begun legal action to recover unpaid campaign finance fines incurred by political action committees and candidate committees during the 2018 election cycle, Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday.

The Secretary’s office has issued 1,180 penalties over the course of the election cycle for a total amount of $201,893.28. About $106,000 has been collected so far, the secretary’s office said. Fines that have not yet been paid have either been waived by the Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State is still trying to collect those fines from committees.

Of the penalties that haven’t been paid, 20 committees have exceeded the statutory period in which they can pay the fine, which allowed for Merrill to begin legal action to recover the funds. That process has begun, Merrill said.

Any fines paid by committees are deposited into the state’s General Fund budget.

The Secretary of State’s Office did not release specific political action committees and campaign committees that are facing legal action for fine recovery.

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Updates to Alabama’s campaign finance laws were passed in the state Legislature in 2015 and went into effect with the start of the 2018 Election Cycle.

Those changes require the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office to issue penalties to Political Action Committees and Principle Campaign Committees, the latter more commonly known as candidates, that do not file monthly, weekly or daily campaign finance reports on time.

Fines are issued when a committee doesn’t file campaign finance reports by midnight on the date the report is due.

Generally, reports are due on the second business day of each month, but some campaigns are required to file weekly or daily reports depending on the amount raised during those periods.

Committees are required to report all contributions and expenditures incurred by their campaign during the specified time period.

Penalty amounts increase as the number of late reports increase from the committee.

When a committee files a report late, but within 48 hours of the date the report is due, the committee is issued a warning. That first late report does not count against them or require a fine be paid, and the campaign finance laws state that those warnings are not a violation of the law.

 

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Elections

Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate race

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, appointed U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) easily won her own term in the U.S. Senate defeating Clinton era Secretary of Agriculture and former Congressman Mike Espy (D) 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent in the runoff for U.S. Senate there. The race results were not as close as some politicos had been predicting.

“I want everybody to know, no matter who you voted for today, I’m gonna always represent every Mississippian,” Hyde-Smith said at her victory party. “Being on that MAGA-wagon, the Make American Great Again bus, we have bonded, we have persevered.”

“She has my prayers as she goes to Washington to lead a very divided Mississippi,” Espy said in his speech to supporters conceding the race. “While this is not the result we were hoping for, I am proud of the historic campaign we ran and grateful for the support we received across Mississippi,” Espy said in a Tuesday night statement.”

Democrats went shockingly negative down the stretch of the campaign focusing on a comment by Hyde-Smith that she would attend public hangings if they were legal and footage of her wearing a Confederate hat while visiting a museum.

Hyde-Smith apologized for the comment.

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The attack strategy was similar to tactics used by Democrats to defeat Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election in 2017. Unlike the Alabama special election however where national Republicans distanced themselves from Moore, the Republican National Committee embraced Sen. Hyde-Smith and made a maximum effort sending over 100 political operatives and $3 million to the state to get out the Republic vote in the special election. Senator Roger Wicker (R) held rallies with Sen. Hyde Smith where Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said he would never vote for Judge Moore. Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham both held rallies with Hyde-Smith in the days before the election.

Mississippi Governor Phillip Bryant (R) appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith, age 59, to the seat after longtime incumbent Thad Cochran retired in April citing his deteriorating health. Hyde-Smith fills the remainder of Cochran’s term and will have to run again in 2020. Since it was a special election there were no party primaries. Instead there was an open ballot. Conservative Senator Chris McDaniel (R) also ran for the seat finishing third in the November six general election, but pulling enough votes that a runoff between Hyde-Smith and Espy was needed.

The win in the deep south for Republicans make the GOP even more confident about their prospects of retaking the Alabama seat in 2020. Jones is the only Democrat to win a statewide election since 2008.

The Republican in the House suffered tremendous defeats in the 2018 midterms; but Senate Republicans grew their majority from 51 Republican Senators to 53.

(Original reporting by the Hill and Fox News contributed to this report.)

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Elections

Zeigler: Kasich would lose every primary if he challenges Trump

Brandon Moseley

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Outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) announced that he was thinking seriously about running for President of the United States, challenging President Donald J. Trump in the Republican primary. Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler was critical of Kasich’s prospects of beating the President in 2020.

“If Gov. John Kasich runs against President Trump, I predict Kasich will lose every primary, including his own state of Ohio,” Zeigler said on social media. “Remember last time, the Alabama campaign head for Kasich was Gov Robert Bentley.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) did formally endorse Governor Kasich for President of the United States. Bentley knew Kasich through their work in the Republican Governor’s Association. Gov. Bentley also withdrew his later endorsement of Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. Neither action seemed to matter as Trump won the Alabama Presidential primary in a landslide and carried the state in the general election by a larger percentage margin than any Republican since Richard M. Nixon’s victory over George McGovern in 1972.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been a fierce critic of President Donald Trump. Kasich said that is thinking “very seriously” about another run for president in 2020.

Kasich said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that he is having “earnest conversations that go on virtually every day” with his friends and family about running in 2020.

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“We need different leadership, there isn’t a question about it,” Kasich said. “I’m not only just worried about the tone and the name-calling and the division in our country and the partisanship, but I also worry about the policies.”

Kasich said that he is concerned about: the rising national debt, the inability to find a solution to the immigration problem, isolationism, and the “rotten deal with the Saudis to look the other way” after the murder of Washington Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I’m worried about our country in the long term. So, the question for me is, ‘What do I do about this?'” he said. Kasich said that he would run only if he thought he could win or if it would be worth it to run to “send a message that can disrupt the political system in this country.”

Kasich is 66 and is a former member of Congress. Zeigler did not rule out running as a third party candidate and said that he was keeping all of his options open.

Zeigler was just re-elected as state Auditor with over a million votes. He is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate challenging incumbent Doug Jones (D). Jones is the only Democratic candidate to win a statewide race in Alabama since 2008, when he upset former Chief Justice Roy Moore a year ago.

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GOP candidates speak to Huntsville Tea Party

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 6 min
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