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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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Activist calls for Attorney General Steve Marshall to be decertified or impeached

Bill Britt

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Across the state, lawyers, politicos and candidates are questioning how to deal with the dark money that flowed into the Republican Attorney General’s primary race.

North Alabama Republican activist Thomas J. Scovill is calling for Speaker Mac McCutcheon and the ALGOP steering committee to deny Republican primary winner—appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall—certification because of funds he received from the Republican Attorney Generals Association.

“As Steve Marshall’s campaign finance issue drags on, the embarrassment to Alabama government and the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) is growing,” Scovill wrote, McCutcheon. “Just as the Alabama Republican Party acted quickly and decisively on the issue of PSC candidate James Bonner’s decorum, now is the time to act decisively on the much more serious issue of lawbreaking by our attorney general.”

At issue is Marshall’s acceptance of $735,000 from RAGA’s 527 nonprofit organizations which Scovill and many others believe is a clear violation of Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practice Act. The state’s Republican legislative supermajority outlawed PAC-to-PAC transfers as part of its reform measures in 2010.

Marshall claims the donations are legal because of a loophole in state law. He also argues that federal law trumps state law in this instance.

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Scovill in his letter to Mac McCutcheon and a partition to ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan says Marshall’s claim is not only misleading but wrong.

“The question of federal jurisdiction raised by Marshall is a red herring,” says Scovill. “When it comes to campaign finance, those who play in federal elections have to comply with federal law, and those who play in Alabama elections have to comply with Alabama law. Those who play in both have to comply with both.”

A thorny advocate for campaign finance transparency, Scovill has fought and won several battles against those who tried to skirt the state’s FCPA.

During the primary election, Scovill backed outsider Chess Bedsole in the Republican Attorney General’s contest. In the runoff, he supported Marshall until he discovered the RAGA contributions.

“My choice for attorney general was Chess Bedsole,” said Scovill. “And just after the primary, I endorsed Steve Marshall, but then when I got back from a two week trip to Colorado on the Thursday before the runoff, I got caught up in all this PAC to PAC and 527 stuff and said, ‘Oh gee, I should have put some time into this back in February.’”

Marshall won the Republican nomination for Attorney General against Troy King who made the same accusation as Scovill. Montgomery County Judge James Anderson dismissed King’s partition to force Marshall to stop using RAGA funds, but that doesn’t mean the matter is settled.

Several legal minds say that Judge Anderson was wrong in his ruling. There are also those who want the issue decided before Marshall’s exception becomes a rule that opens the floodgates for out-of-state PACs to flood the state with dark money from hidden sources.

“Even with a preliminary review by the Alabama Ethics Commission, this controversy cannot be adjudicated through the office of the Alabama Attorney General for obvious reasons – Marshall is the incumbent attorney general,” writes Scovill. “With his nomination by the ALGOP pending, we are out of time for legal quibbles, alibis, and antics.”

In both his letter to Speaker McCutcheon and ALGOP, Scovill references PSC candidate James “Jim” Bonner who the Republican Party disqualified shortly before the primary.

As APR‘s Brandon Moseley reported in June, “Numerous voices in the party have expressed their concerns that Bonner being on the ticket could be an embarrassment that could turn out Democrats jeopardizing and drag down other races up and down the ticket.” The Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee voted not to certify election results for Bonner even though he was already on the printed ballots. At the time, ALGOP Chair Lathan said, “When our state party chooses to take these steps, it is a serious and rare occurrence. We strongly believe that this is one of those solemn moments. This vote was carefully considered and was not taken lightly.”

Alabama Republican Party will not certify Bonner

Scovill contends the Republican committee must do the same with Marshall. “Marshall is embarrassing the Alabama Republican Party by violating both the spirit and letter of Alabama law,” wrote Scovill. “Republicans are responsible for pressing for enforcement of the law, enforcement which includes impeaching Attorney General Marshall if necessary. Ignoring the issue will create a major controversy Democrats will exploit in the coming general election to the detriment of every Republican on the ballot.”

In August, the State’s Ethics Commission will likely weigh-in on Scovill’s question — finding that RAGA’s actions were unlawful, but it’s the Republican Party that will ultimately have final say on if the PAC-to-PAC transfer ban applies to Democrats and Republicans alike.

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Secretary of State’s Office begins voter fraud investigation in Wilcox and Perry Counties

Brandon Moseley

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Turnout in Tuesday’s primary runoff was just 12.7 percent across the state. That percentage, however, varied wildly across the state.

Many Democrats did not vote as there were not any statewide Democratic runoffs. Understandably then, the counties with the worst voter participation rates were Democratic dominated Black Belt Counties. Choctaw County was the worst in the state with an incredibly low .59 percent. It was followed by Hale with 1.53 percent. Third worst was Sumter with 1.6 percent followed by Bullock with 2.8 percent.

The Blackbelt had the worst voter turnout; but it also recorded by far the highest turnouts in Tuesday’s runoff election.

The Wilcox County probate judge’s race was apparently so exciting that 44.1 percent of voters turned out despite the heat and no statewide Democratic races.

Wilcox County has 11,058 people. 1,631 of those are under 18. There are only 9,423 voting age persons in the county, but an impressive 9,383 of them are registered voters. That is almost an impossible 99.59 percent voter registration rate. An incredible 4,167 of those voters made time in their day to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s runoff. 4,061 of those voted in the Wilcox County probate judge race, between Democrats Chris Stone and Britney Jones-Alexander. Alexander won the contest. The 44.41 percent voter turnout for the poor Black Belt county was three and a half times the state average.

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Perry County had a 36.35 percent turnout and they were followed by Dallas at 35.43 percent and Greene at 34.08 percent.

The Secretary of State’s office has some suspicions about the success of some of these rural community organizers ability to turn out their votes. Secretary of State John Merrill has launched an investigation into Wilcox and Perry Counties because the number of absentee ballots appears to be unbelievably high.

Sec. Merrill told the Alabama Media Group’s John Sharp that his office is “looking into to prospects of absentee broker operations, in which campaign workers or people with an unknown organization, exchange gifts or cash for absentee ballots.”

Secretary Merrill has said that he wants to make it easy to vote; but hard to cheat.

Below are voter participation rates for all 67 counties:
Wilcox – 44.41%
Perry – 36.35%
Dallas – 35.43%
Greene – 34.08%
Covington – 31.32%
Marion – 27.85%
Fayette – 27.71%
Lamar – 26.19%
Lowndes – 25.47%
Walker – 25.01%
Clay – 24.12%
Coosa – 23.8%
Macon – 21.95%
Crenshaw – 21.09%
Blount – 20.77%
Elmore – 18.92%
Geneva – 18.73%
Marshall – 18.72%
Chilton – 18.08%
Coffee – 18.07%
Autauga – 17.39%
Montgomery – 17.34%
Bibb – 17.02%
Pike – 16.61%
Tallapoosa – 16.42%
Henry – 16.4%
Dale – 15.67%
Baldwin – 15.57%
Houston – 15.03%
Jackson – 14.33%
Limestone – 13.16%
Jefferson – 12.6%
Winston – 12.27%
De Kalb – 11.68%
Chambers – 11.23%
Pickens – 11.18%
Cullman – 11.03%
Shelby – 10.99%
Colbert – 10.79%
Etowah – 10.77%
Franklin – 10.73%
Talladega – 10.3%
Calhoun – 10.22%
St. Clair – 10.08%
Butler – 9.97%
Cleburne – 9.72%
Mobile – 9.49%
Randolph – 9.44%
Lee – 9.41%
Morgan – 9.07%
Barbour – 8.45%
Cherokee – 8.45%
Marengo – 8.01%
Clarke – 7.79%
Madison – 7.66%
Lawrence – 7.43%
Escambia – 7.24%
Lauderdale – 6.88%
Washington – 6.7%
Monroe – 6.46%
Tuscaloosa – 5.94%
Russell – 4.95%
Conecuh – 3.68%
Bullock – 2.8%
Sumter – 1.6%
Hale – 1.53%
Choctaw – 0.59%

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Walt Maddox, statewide candidates host forum in Gardendale

Brandon Moseley

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Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will headline a forum for Democratic candidates at the Gardendale Civic Center on July 30 at 6 p.m. Maddox will be joined by a host of other statewide legislative and local candidates.

Maddox claims that he offers voters a path forward out of the state’s corruption and funding crisis.

“It’s the same crisis we’ve been facing for the last seven years,” says gubernatorial candidate Maddox. “If we don’t do something today, there will be no tomorrow; we need safe infrastructure, access to healthcare and good paying jobs.”

The organizers say they “put people before party” so they can bring about change in Alabama.

“As taxpayers, we have been shortchanged for too long,” says former Gardendale City Councilman Blake Guinn, who is working for the Maddox campaign and is one of the forum’s organizers. “I’m tired of being last in everything but football. I’m looking for candidates who have the energy, intelligence, and vision to move this state forward.”

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Most Alabama politicians are just “rubberstamp” what their national party says, says Jennifer L. Greer, a retired university assistant professor who lives in Gardendale and is also organizing the forum. “I don’t care about Washington. I care about Alabama and getting services for my tax dollars, like Alabama’s First-Class Pre-K in every community.”

Maddox will be joined at the Gardendale forum by:

  • Danner Kline, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 6th Congressional District.
  • Judge Robert “Bob” Vance, Democratic candidate for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • Dr. Will Boyd, Democratic candidate for Alabama Lieutenant Governor.
  • Joseph Siegelman, Democratic candidate for Alabama Attorney General.
  • Heather Milam, Democratic candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.
  • Donna Smalley, Democratic candidate for Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4.
  • Cara McClure, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission, Place 1.
  • Kari Powell, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission, Place 2.
  • Veronica R. Johnson, Democratic candidate Alabama House District 51.
  • Danny Carr, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County District Attorney.

The event is free and open to the public.

Democrats have renewed enthusiasm after Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore for U.S. Senate. Prior to that win, the last Democrat to win a statewide office in Alabama was Lucy Baxley, who was elected to president of the Alabama Public Service Commission in 2008. The last time a Democrat won a gubernatorial election was 1998, when Don Siegelman defeated incumbent Republican Fob James.

The general election will be November 6.

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MARC panel reviews primaries, looks ahead to general election

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 5 min
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