By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, candidate for Lieutenant Governor Stan Cooke (R) spoke to the St. Clair County Republican Party at the Moody City Hall.
The Sumiton businessman, minister, and educator is running for the office currently held by Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R). Stan Cooke said, “It is a distinct honor to be here night.” “St. Clair County has it right. Thank you for being a shining light for Alabama.” Cooke said that the economic development work in St. Clair County is well known across the state.
Cooke said that the Second Amendment is uniquely tied to states rights. Cooke said that the vision of the signers of the Mayflower Compact in 1620 led to the Constitution and the nation that resulted. “So much for Separation from Church and State.”
Cooke said, “Alabama is expecting good government in Montgomery.” Cooke said that it is time for new productive leadership. Cooke said that he would be a better lieutenant governor than incumbent Kay Ivey.
Cooke described the current situation in the Senate as a “fiasco.” Cooke said that Lt. Gov. Ivey has violated the rules of the Senate and has gaveled the Senate into session without a quorum jeopardizing good legislation.
Cooke said that he is also concerned about the education program in Alabama. Cooke said that he is, “100% against common core.” 760,000 students in Alabama are already filling the impact of Common Core and text books are being written to comply with the federal mandates. Cooke predicted that the federal government will take power away from state, county, and local school boards. Cooke said that the federal government has no constitutional authority to federalize education. Cooke said that he disagreed with Superintendent Tommy Bice about Common Core.
Cooke also expressed concerns about the Alabama Accountability Act. Cooke said the Republican controlled state legislature passed the bill without one college president invited to give their opinion. Cooke said that the Christian schools were scared of it and the public schools did not want it. Only 52 students have benefited from the program.
Cooke said that Alabama’s poorest performing schools are like a house on fire. Cooke said that we let students leave but, “We failed to do anything about the burning school house.” Cooke said that he believed we need to call for a summit. Cooke said that we should invite education leaders from across the state to talk about what is wrong about education in Alabama. Cooke acknowledged that the legislature had good intentions when they passed the Alabama Accountability Act, but felt they should have passed it the right way and studied the issue more.
Cooke warned that Chairman Armistead has warned that we have a republican party that is about to be infiltrated with Democrats. Cooke said that we should be concerned about the Democrats that are already in the party.
Cooke was also concerned that state general fund workers have not received a raise in 6 or 8 years. “We are losing some good workers.”
Cooke said that the judicial system in Alabama has lost $30 million and half the judicial employees over the last ten years while the executive branch has gained tens of millions of dollars.
Cooke said that the judiciary is a co-equal branch of state government and should be given the resources that it needs.
Cooke said that economic development is a hallmark of St. Clair County. Auburn is another example; but there are many places in Alabama that is lacking economic development. Cooke said that the state needs to set up economic zones across Alabama. The Wiregrass, the Black Belt, and parts of the Birmingham metro area has lost thousands of jobs. Cooke said, We need production and manufacturing jobs and if elected Cooke promised to use the bully pulpit of the Lt. Governor so that everybody who wants a job should have a job. That will grow the without raising taxes.
Cooke said, “I thank God for our state. I thank God for a state that is free. I want it to stay that way.”
Alabama State Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville also addressed the Republican crowd. He said that he had returned from Montgomery that day where he was working on revamping the Medicaid pharmacy program similarly to how the Medicaid health program was just revamped in the 2013 regular session.
Rep. McClendon said that the state is facing a $125 million shortfall in 2015, but vowed, “You will not see any new taxes out of this legislature. It is not going to happen.”
McClendon said that he has been working on the Alabama Medicaid Pharmacy program for four months and spent spent 2.5 years working on Medicaid before the reform package was passed in the 2013 regular session.
Rep. McClendon said that he was ready to go to the Alabama Senate. “I have an opponent and it is the incumbent,” (Sen. Jerry Fielding (R) from Sylacauga). McClendon asked the gathered crowd of over 70 Republicans to support him in the June Republican Primary.
Rep. McClendon also spoke to defend the Accountability Act after Cooke was critical of it. McClendon said whatever the process. “The end was proper. I was definitely a supporter.”
McClendon said, “House Bill #1 is my tablet bill to provide digital devices and get rid of text books once and for all.”
Rep. McClendon then introduced Rep. Mack Butler (R) from Rainbow City as an, “Integral part of our caucus.”
Butler said, “It is far cheaper to educate a child than to incarcerate a child.” Butler said that he himself was a product of career tech education and that he was glad to see we are doing something about improving career tech education.
Butler said that the police consolidation bill passed in the last session saved the state $30 million by itself and that the legislature was doing several initiatives like that.
Rep. Butler said, “I love the accountability act.” As a longtime Etowah County School Board members the flexibility portion of the bill will make a big difference in Alabama education. “It will make a difference to those 52 students.”
Rep. Butler said that he loved his job in the legislature and, “I am passionate about it.”
Butler is being challenged in the June 2014 Republican Primary by Ashville Mayor Robert McKay. McKay was also present at the Moody event.
St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell told the crowd, “We got to recruit some young people.”
St. Clair County School Board member Marie Manning (R) from Ragland said that Common Core has caused a stir in the state. The State Board of Education has voted to rescind the original resolution tying the state’s standards to Common Core. The state will continue to have stringent academic standards but, “We are totally cut loose from the federal standards that have been implemented.”
Manning said that she hoped that this will help Republicans stay united.
The head of the St. Clair County Commission Stan Batemon (R) from Pell City said that he had just returned from Washington where he met with the entire Congressional delegation in DC.
Commissioner Batemon said that it is important to maintain good relationships with DC because the
money to run the county is not even here. It is in Washington DC or it is in Montgomery someplace. The new paving on U.S. Highway 411 in Moody for example was 80% funded with federal dollars. Batemon said that our representative has been very good about getting this money to us. “As long as that money is there we are going to fight to get it.” Batemon said that as a conservative he would like to see that money stay here.
Batemon said that he traveled with a delegation from the Birmingham Business Alliance. “Over the years we have allowed that money to be siphoned off, sent to Washington and then sent someplace else.” Batemon said we have got to stay engaged. We have to go after money and grants. We have to continue to get money from Washington. If we don’t get it somebody else will.
Batemon praised Congressman Rogers (R) for his hard work on behalf of the county.
Governor meets with VIP
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey invited a special guest to meet with her in the Governor’s office on Friday.
Fourth grade student Cate McGriff met with Governor Ivey Friday afternoon. The discussion was described as wide-ranging and productive. The governor and McGriff covered everything from school to their love of dogs.
Gov. Ivey asked Miss. McGriff what her favorite subject in school is.
McGriff replied that it was math. She also told the governor that she wanted to attend Auburn University just like Gov. Ivey did.
Ivey asked Cate what she wanted to be when she grows up, after she attends Auburn.
McGriff said that she wanted to be an engineer.
Ivey advised her to keep working hard on her math.
Ivey shared that when she was a young intern for Governor Lurleen Wallace, the only other woman to serve as Governor in Alabama history, she had the opportunity to sit behind the governor’s desk. Ivey then asked Cate if she wanted to sit behind the desk, and they recreated the governor’s own photo behind Governor Wallace’s desk.
Cate and Governor Ivey both were wearing their red power suits and Auburn masks.
McGriff was joined by her parents and two siblings, Claire and Sam.
The McGriff family frequently tune in to the governor’s regular COVID press conferences. Cate also was given the chance to stand behind the lectern in the Old House Chamber.
Governors frequently meet with very important people including: Presidents, CEOs, congressmen, Senators, scientists, University presidents, state legislators, county commissioners, economic developers, and fourth graders.
CDC issues Halloween guidance
Today is Halloween. Many people are celebrating this year’s holiday at home as a nuclear family due to the coronavirus global pandemic. If you are going to still trick or treat this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance on trick or treating.
“Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza,” the CDC warned. “Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.”
To make trick-or-treating safer: avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, give out treats outdoors, if possible, set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take, wash your hands before handling treats, wear a mask or cloth face covering.
The CDC has also issued guidance on proper mask wearing. Make your cloth mask part of your costume. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult. Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing.
Remember to always stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you. Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.
Don’t let excitement about the holiday distract you from proper COVID-19 procedures. Wash your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Parents should supervise young children using hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.
Other suggestions for enjoying Halloween activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic include: decorating and carving pumpkins, decorate your home for Halloween, and you can walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. You could also visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. You can also go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Whatever you do or wherever you go be sure to remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.
The CDC also suggested that you can hide Halloween treats in and around your house and hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members. The CDC suggested that you can hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes. Another suggestion is that you host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with just your household members.
Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump
The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.
“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.
Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.
Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.
Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.
“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”
Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.
Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.
President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.
Jones says Senate race a choice between “substance and leadership, and nothing”
“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said.
Speaking outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters in Anniston on Friday, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, told a group of supporters that Alabamians haven’t gotten a look at what his Republican opponent might do if he wins the Nov. 3 election.
“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said. “They’re getting a choice between substance and leadership, and nothing — nothing. We have not heard anything from Tommy Tuberville about what he really wants to do.”
While Jones has held numerous interviews with the media, and regular web briefings over the summer and in recent weeks, Tuberville’s campaign seems to prefer the safety of keeping Tuberville from making possible gaffs or damaging statements in interviews.
Tuberville hasn’t agreed to interviews with traditional media outlets, or to debate Jones, and instead has focused on conservative talk radio spots, speaking to smaller Republican groups and at private parties.
Tuberville’s campaign has ignored or denied our numerous attempts to interview Tuberville, including another request on Friday. He also declined to attend a student forum held at Auburn University on Wednesday, which Jones attended. The forum was sponsored by the Auburn College Republicans and College Democrats.
“If you ever hear something Tommy Tuberville says, it is just simply this: ‘Build a wall. No amnesty. Drain the swamp.’ That ain’t him. That’s Donald Trump,” Jones said. “He cannot think for himself. He doesn’t think for himself.”
Jones spoke of his record of working to help veterans through legislation. And he referred to Tuberville’s nonprofit for veterans and reporting that indicates, through tax records, that less than a third of the money raised for Tuberville’s charity went to help veterans.
“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said.
Jones also made a case for Alabamians to remember the contributions past Democrats made in the state. Jones said it was Democratic Sen. John Sparkman who helped build Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal.
“It was a Democrat, Lester Hill, who built the rural hospitals around here that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Tommy Tuberville are trying to destroy,” Jones said. “It was Howell Heflin who built up agriculture in this state. Those are the Democrats. It was Franklin Rosevelt that put electricity in this state. We’re going to do the same thing for broadband. People forget those things. They forget those things because we’ve let other people define us with lies.”
Jones plans to visit Jefferson County on Saturday, then on to the Black Belt and Mobile on Sunday with another stop in Birmingham on Monday afternoon.
“The goal is to get everybody out. That’s the thing if we want to continue to ensure Alabama moves forward — moves forward and not backwards, to continue to have somebody, if I do say so myself, somebody that’s just not going to damn embarrass us,” Jones said.
“We’ve had too much of that in Alabama,” Jones said, “and I bet you it won’t be a year that Tommy Tuberville would be an embarrassment to this state because he doesn’t know the issues. He doesn’t know what to do, and he’s dang sure not going to know what to do when Donald Trump is not president of the United States.”
Jones encouraged supporters to be skeptical of recent polling. One such recent poll, by Auburn University at Montgomery, puts Tuberville ahead of Jones by 12 percentage points, 54 to 42.1. An internal poll by Tuberville’s campaign puts Tuberville ahead by 15 percentage points, while an internal poll from the Jones camp put Jones ahead by one percentage point.
“Don’t listen to these polling folks that come in, and they don’t know Alabama, and they don’t know what they’re doing. We’re tracking this race, and I can tell you, everything has been moving in our direction the last two months,” Jones said.
People standing along roadsides holding his signs and showing support, Jones said, is “the energy we’ve got out there. That’s what you can’t poll.”
Ellen Bass of Anniston, standing outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters just after Jones spoke, told APR that she has numerous Republican friends who are voting for Jones.
“My hat’s off to them because they’re coming out,” Bass said. “They recognize that he is a better candidate.”
Ciara Smith, 21, newly elected to the Anniston City Council, told APR outside the headquarters building that Jones is the better candidate.
“I think that he’s educated. I think that he speaks with passion and heart,” Smith said. “And he knows what he’s talking about, which is important, and which is more than we can say about the other candidate.”
Speaking to APR after his speech to supporters, Jones said that he feels very good about the state of his campaign.
“Everything we’re seeing is moving in our direction,” Jones said. “And the more he stays hidden, the better it is for us.”