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MARC panel reviews primaries, looks ahead to general election

Brandon Moseley

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Saturday, June 9 a panel of political experts addressed the Mid-Alabama Republican Club (MARC) at the Vestavia Public Library.

Former State Rep. Steve Flowers said, “I think we are still a very red state. The election results showed that Doug Jones was an anomaly.”

Flowers is a noted political commentator, whose column appears weekly in the Alabama Political Reporter as well as other outlets.

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics and you can’t be outspent by $20 million and win,” Flowers said referring to Roy Moore who was abandoned by national Republican PACs after he defeated Luther Strange in the GOP primary for Senate.

“We have 29 state elected officials,” Flowers said, “And they are all Republican.”

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Flowers predicted that after the general election Alabama will still have 29 Republican elected officials.

“Walt Maddox was the best candidate the Democrats can put up,” Flowers predicted, but warned that “[Ivey] cannot debate, but she can win this race by doing nothing.”

Longtime Birmingham area radio and TV commentator Mike Royer said that the primary results proved that,

“Advertising does work whether it is a car or a candidate, but it has to be well done, well placed and well timed,” Royer said.

Political strategist Collier Tynes said, “Alabama is still a red state and young people are still red state voters. I am holding on to conservative values hoping that somebody will make us proud.  Kay Ivey provided stability. None of her opponents were talking about anything relevant as to why people should vote for them.”

“No more commercials about Confederate memorials,” Tynes said. “Walt Maddox is great competition. We are going to need young people more than ever before. We are going to need the minorities more than ever before. We are going to need women more than ever before. We are going to need the College Republicans.”

Royer said that, “When you start excluding you are headed for trouble.”

Flowers said that Will Ainsworth getting in the Lt Gov. runoff, “Was real surprising.”

“All politics is local,” Flowers said. “Where there was a local race there was high turnout. You can look at every race and television ads still work.”

“No disrespect to Collier but young people basically don’t vote,” Flowers said. “Kay’s age was helpful because she looked like most voters.” “A month earlier Twinkle would have won without a runoff.” And I think she will still win. “It does not matter who gets the nomination a Republican is going to win all of those races.  Nice guys finish last. Negative ads work. People like negative ads. They say that they don’t; but they work. If Battle had gone negative he would have been in the runoff. Ainsworth spent a $million of his own money or his dad’s money whatever it was.”

Tynes said that in the attorney general race, “Those who have not been watching the news voted for Steve Marshall.” If Marshall wins he will be vulnerable versus Joseph Seigelman. If he wins people will ask who he voted for in 2008. He was appointed by Joseph Seigelman’s father. “Why does the Mike Hubbard witness list match your donor list?”  Troy King will be asked: “Did you take gambling money and are the rumors in Montgomery about you are true?” Tynes added that King denies the rumors and has been married to his wife for twenty years. Both campaigns will go very negative in the runoff.

Flowers said of Marshall, “The Obama bumper sticker on his car three years ago is going to come back to haunt him. Marshall got a bump from Tommy battle in North Alabama. A month earlier Alice Martin would have been in the primary; but Marshall raised a lot of money. I don’t think the voters know who Marshall is yet.”

“People do not trust the media,” Tynes said. “They go to the people that they trust, like all of the people in this room.”

“Obviously she is in trouble,” Flowers said of Congresswoman Martha Roby. “She only got 39 percent of the vote. I was surprised that Barry Moore got 20 percent. The Republican base is mad at her. If (former Congressman Bobby) Bright can raise 50 cents for every dollar he will beat her. Unless Kay makes a mistake; she will win 58 to 42. The Moore thing was a unique situation where every liberal in America sent in money every gay person in San Francisco sent in money.”

On the Chief Justice race, Tynes said, “I do not think that race is a given for Tom Parker. Bob Vance has a very compelling story.” Tynes claimed that Lynn Stuart had done a lot to improve the state’s court system; but that her campaign manager did not tell that story; which is why she lost in the runoff.

Shelby County Republican Party Chair Joan Reynolds said that the bad news from Shelby County is that only 25 percent of registered voters came out to vote in the primaries. “The good news is that 80 percent of them voted Republican.”

Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Sallie Bryant said, “We have judicial candidates and a circuit clerk candidate,” running in the general election.

Republican National Committeeman Paul Reynolds said, “We have raised $146 million and have $48 million in cash on hand. There is no blue wave. There is a red wave developing.”

“We had 15 Republicans in the House that were challenged (in the primary),” state Representative Jim Carns (R-Vestavia) “All of them were victorious.” “In Jefferson County 15,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans. We are facing a serious challenge from a group that is being funded from out of state. Everybody (the state legislators) in Jefferson County except Danny Garrett has an opponent. I have an opponent. Jabo Wagoner has an opponent. Dickie Drake has an opponent. David Faulkner has an opponent. Currently the Jefferson County legislative delegation is nine Republican to eight Democrats. We can not lose a single seat or it will flip to Democrat control.”

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said that Amazon is going to build a facility in Bessemer that will bring 1,500 jobs. Carrington warned that Democrats have targeted incumbent Commissioner Joe Knight (R). “I am asking you now to consider donating to his campaign. If they flip that seat they flip the Jefferson County Commission.”

MARC President former state Representative Paul De Marco said that the July Meeting will feature Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose).

The hugely influential MARC meets every second Saturday at 8:30 am.

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Elections

More than $100,000 campaign finance penalties collected during 2018 election season

Chip Brownlee

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More than $100,000 in campaign finance fines and fees have been collected during the 2018 campaign season in Alabama.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office said Friday that $197,657.84 in Fair Campaign Practices Act penalties have been issued, and $102,249.05 of those fees have been paid by political action committees and principal campaign committees.

The Secretary of State is required to issue penalties to PACs and PCCs when they do not file their monthly, weekly or daily campaign finance reports on time or at all.

The office said money that hasn’t been paid of the $197,000 total have either been waived by the Alabama Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State’s Office is still waiting to collect the funds from the committees. There were a total 1,166 penalties or warnings this campaign season.

The requirements are part of act 2015-495, which was passed by the legislature in 2015, and went into effect with the start of the 2018 Election Cycle.

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Committees are required to file their campaign finance report by midnight on the date the report is due. Most reports are due by 12:00 p.m. on the second day of each month. Committees are required to report all contributions and expenditures incurred by their campaign during the previous month.

The first report a candidate files late — if it’s within 48 hours of the date the report is due — leads to a warning, which does not count against them or require a fine be paid. Further, the code specifically states that warnings are not violations of the law.

Penalties amounts increase as the number of late reports increases from the candidate.

Committees also have the ability to appeal their penalty to the Alabama Ethics Commission, which has been lenient in overturning violations for a number of reasons.

Of the 1,166 penalties and warnings, 166 have been overturned.

Fines paid by committees are deposited directly into the state general fund.

 

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Elections

Secretary Merrill orders election workers not to count write-in votes

Brandon Moseley

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The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday that no county needs to count the write-in ballots for the general election.

In a statement the Secretary of State’s office wrote: “State law requires the Secretary of State’s Office to review county vote totals and compare those totals to the number of write-in votes cast in each statewide race involving a Federal or State office. Following the completion of that review, the Secretary of State’s Office is tasked with determining whether the total number of write in votes is less than the difference in votes between the candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for that office.”

“Secretary Merrill and his team have completed a review of the offices and it has been determined that no county is required by law to count and report write-in votes for any State or Federal office as provided in Alabama Code Section 17-6-28.”

County election officials must still make this determination for any county offices not included in the Secretary of State’s review.

The final vote totals as certified by the County Canvassing Board are due to the Secretary of State’s Office by Friday, November 16, 2018.

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Chad “Chig” Martin and Chris Countryman both ran write-in campaigns for governor.

Allowing write-in votes slows the process of counting the votes down considerably as those ballots would have to be pulled out and counted manually.

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Elections

Ivey launches inaugural committee

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey officially launched the Inaugural Committee and announced Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane as the Co-Chairs who will oversee the festivities surrounding the inauguration along with committee staff.

“I am excited to officially launch the Inaugural Committee, which will be led by Dr. Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane,” said Governor Ivey. “Cathy and Jimmy have embodied a spirit of service, in both their professional and personal life, and they have played a major role in the fight to keep Alabama working. I am proud to call them both longtime friends, and I am grateful for their willingness to lend their expertise and support as we prepare to usher in a new era for Alabama.”

Cathy Randall is the Chairman of the Board of Tuscaloosa-based Pettus Randall Holdings LLC and the former Chairman of the Board of Randall Publishing Company. Dr. Randall currently serves on the Alabama Power Board of Directors. She is a former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama, where she earned two Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Randall also served as director of Alabama Girls State, where she first met Governor Ivey.

Jimmy Rane is best known as “the Yella Fella” from his TV commercials. Rane is the Cofounder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving and the wealthiest man in the state of Alabama. Since 1999, Rane has served as a Trustee at Auburn University, where he first met Governor Ivey while earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Rane also has a law degree from Samford Univesity’s Cumberland School of Law. Rane lives in Abbeville, Alabama and is well known for his charitable efforts to raise money to fund college scholarships through the Jimmy Rane Foundation.

Governor Ivey also announced several of her key campaign staffers will serve on the inaugural committee, including: Mike Lukach, Executive Director; Debbee Hancock, Communications Director; Anne-Allen Welden, Finance Director; Julia McNair, Deputy Finance Director; Julia Pickle, Director of Ticketing; Jonathan Hester, Director of Events and Production; Lenze Morris; Ryan Sanford; and Henry Thornton.

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The Governor added that more information about the inaugural theme and events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Kay Ivey became Governor in April 2017 when then Governor Robert Bentley (R) resigned. Ivey was easily elected as Alabama’s first Republican woman to serve as Governor. Lurleen Wallace (D) in 1966 was the only other female elected Alabama Governor. Ivey received more than a million votes, more than any governor since 1986.

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Elections

New Alabama House Republican Caucus meets to select leadership

Brandon Moseley

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The 77 members of the House Republican Caucus were sworn in by Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) during the group’s organizational meeting in Montgomery on Tuesday. This is the largest Republican supermajority in Alabama history.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Caucus selected McCutcheon as its candidate for House Speaker for the next four years and state Representative Victor Gaston (R – Mobile) as its choice for Speaker Pro Tem. State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) was elected as House Majority Leader, State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) was chosen as the Caucus Vice Chair, and State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) was elected to serve as secretary/treasurer.
The 77 members of the Caucus on Tuesday unanimously affirmed that McCutcheon will once again serve as the group’s nominee for Speaker of the House when lawmakers convene for the Legislature’s organizational session in January. Because Republicans currently hold such a commanding supermajority in the 105-member Alabama House, being selected as the GOP Caucus nominee means there is little likelihood of any other outcome when the full body meets in January.

“Serving as Speaker of the Alabama House has been the greatest professional honor of my life, and I’m humbled that my fellow Republicans have chosen me to continue serving in that role,” McCutcheon said. “If elected during the organizational session in January, I will continue presiding in a manner that gives all members of both parties a voice in the legislative process. Our state faces many challenges, and finding needed solutions will require all of us to work together.”

McCutcheon was first elected as House Speaker during an August 2016 special session after former Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted of twelve counts of violating Alabama’s ethics law.

Prior to retiring after a 25-year career, McCutcheon was a law enforcement officer in the Huntsville Police Department and worked in areas like hostage negotiation, major crimes investigation, probation oversight and others. He has also worked as a farmer and as associate pastor at the College Park Church of God.

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This will be Victor Gaston’s third term as Speaker Pro Tem.

“My thanks go out to both the new and returning members of the House Republican Caucus for re-nominating me as the body’s second-in-command,” Gaston said. “I am excited for the opportunities that Alabama’s future holds and will continue working to make our state an even better place for all of its citizens.

Gaston was elected to the House in 1982 as one of only eight Republicans in the entire Alabama Legislature at the time. He served as Acting Speaker of the House for a period of months in 2016 following the Hubbard conviction.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) will once again serve as House Majority Leader and State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) as its vice chair. The two leaders will hold their positions throughout the 2018 – 2022 quadrennium.

“I am deeply grateful for the trust and confidence that my Republican colleagues have continued to place in me, and I look forward to continuing my service as their leader for the next four years,” Ledbetter said. “Republicans added to our already impressive supermajority in the general election cycle, and I will work to ensure that the bills, measures, and resolutions passed by the House reflect the same conservative beliefs and traditional values that Alabama’s voters share.”

Ledbetter is a former mayor and city council member in Rainsville, who was elected to the Alabama House in 2014. Ledbetter was elected as House Majority Leader in 2017. he was the first freshman member to serve in that post in modern times.

Ledbetter and his wife, Teresa, are the owners of a small business and have two children and four grandchildren.

Prior to her election to the Alabama House in 2014, Rowe served as the police chief in Jasper, Alabama and was previously employed as an investigator for the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years.

“I look forward to being a part of the Republican leadership team as we work to enact the conservative agenda that voters overwhelmingly endorsed at the polls,” Rowe said. “By sticking together and offering a unified front, House Republicans have a tremendous opportunity to move Alabama forward over the next four years.”

State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) is a retired state trooper serving his second term in office. He was elected to serve as the secretary/treasurer for the Caucus.

Democrats will only have 28 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives, down from 33. Republicans will also have a 27 to 8 supermajority in the Alabama Senate.

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MARC panel reviews primaries, looks ahead to general election

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
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