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There Will Be No Special General Election in HD 31

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Probate Judge John Enslen has confirmed in a written statement that the upcoming January 28, 2014, run-off election between Mike Holmes and Jimmy Collier will determine the final winner for the vacant house seat created by the resignation of Barry Mask last October.

Probate Judge Enslen received word from the Secretary of State late on December 5th that no one legally qualified as a third party candidate. Enslen said,

“Due to the lack of a qualifying third-party candidate, there will be no general election on March 25. The winner of the January 25 run-off will be the representative for HD 31.”

Constitution Party Candidate Jeshua Screws had turned in enough signatures to force a general election between himself and the eventual Republican Primary winner, but too many of those signatures were later ruled invalid (for one reason or another), thus the necessary high bar for a third party candidate to qualify was not reached. Only registered voters who reside in District 31 can sign such a petition. This is complicated because most people don’t know with certainty where their home is districted and this was more complex this year because of redistricting.

Enslen said, “This is good news for Elmore County residents living in House District 31 in at least one respect. The people will now have a representative seated in the legislature for a majority of the 2014 session that begins in January. Had a general election been required, it would not have taken place until March 25, 2014—too late for effective representation in the 2014 regular session.”

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This also eliminates the possibility of a write in candidate. Enslen explained,

“The lack of a third party candidate effectively kills the hopes of any write-in candidate because write-in candidates are allowed only in general elections and not in primary elections. Amendment 97 to the Alabama Constitution dispenses with the need for a special general election in our current circumstances. Where the Secretary of State determines that a legally qualified candidate is unopposed when the last date for filing certificates of nomination has passed, the general election shall not be held. On January 28, 2014, either Mike Holmes or Jimmy Collier will be unopposed because the date for filing a third-party certificate of nomination will have passed without a qualifying third-party.”

The December 3rd Republican Primary turnout disappointed Judge Enslen. Enslen said, “Please go to the polls and vote on January 28th. Voting is a special privilege. When we conscientiously fulfill our obligations as concerned citizens, we honor those who have sacrificed so much for the special privileges we enjoy. The individual participation of each of us is vitally important if we are to maintain a government which is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson (who endorsed Mike Holmes) announced on Facebook, “NO other candidate qualified for AL HD 31 general election! The 3rd party candidate from the Constitution Party did NOT have enough signatures. So whoever wins the Jan 28thh run-off election between Mike Holmes and Jimmy Collier will fill the seat.”

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The Alabama Constitution Party reported that they had turned in enough petition signatures to place their candidate, Jeshua Screws, on the special general election ballot in Alabama House District 31 in Elmore and Coosa Counties.

Since no Democrat has qualified to run, it was believed that a special general election would not be necessary and that the winner of the special Republican Primary runoff election between Mike Holmes (71) and Jimmy Collier (68) would be the automatic winner of the election. However if Screws’ signatures had been validated by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, it would have forced a special general election on March 25th.

Jeshua Screws is a full time volunteer at a home for the children of incarcerated parents in Wetumpka Alabama. Before joining the army as a Chaplain Assistant, he received his B.S. in Christian Ministry. He finished his first Masters Degree in Political Science with AUM, and he is currently taking online classes to complete a second Masters Degree in Christian Studies with Grand Canyon University. Jeshua also is Chaplain for the Constitution Party of Alabama and on the Board for Personhood Alabama. In addition to this, he is a volunteer assistant chaplain at Frank Lee Work Release where he teaches bible classes and ministers one-on-one with inmates. He currently resides on site at the children’s home with his wife Stacy, and their baby girl, Haddassah.

The 2014 Alabama legislative session begins on January 15th so the winner of the special Republican Primary runoff will miss the opening three weeks of the session. If that election had been followed by a special general election on March 25th the eventual winner would have missed the entire 2014 regular legislative session, and would only have served if a special session is called in 2014.

The primary in House District 31 (Elmore and Coosa Counties) featured four Republicans: Frank Bertarelli, Jimmy Collier and Mike Holmes of Wetumpka and Michael Griggs of Tallassee. The January runoff will be between Mike Holmes and Jimmy Collier. Holmes received 41% of the votes cast (1370 votes), Jimmy Collier received 29% (979 votes), Frank Bertarelli received 19% (638 votes) and Michael Griggs received 10% (349 votes).

Tuesday’s primary was needed to fill a vacancy in the Alabama’s House of Representatives created by the resignation of Representative Barry Mask (R) from Wetumpka to accept a job as head of the Alabama Realtors Association. Since part of Mask’s job involves lobbying the state legislature on behalf of the realtors, being both a legislator and the head of the Realtors Association would create a potential conflict of interest.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead made a written statement following the results of the election. Chairman Armistead wrote, “”I also congratulate Mike Holmes and Jimmy Collier for their successful campaign in District 31 to face one another in the runoff election in January. We were fortunate to have four dedicated citizens offer themselves for this office.” “I encourage Republicans in Elmore and Coosa counties to come out one more time to vote in this runoff election. I am confident that the voters in District 31 will have another strong conservative Republican representing them in the House for the remainder of this term, which ends in next November.”

This special election will be for the District 31 boundaries as set following the 2000 Census. In June the winner will run for re-election under the new district boundaries set in redistricting following the 2010 Census. Screws can still qualify for the November 2014 election, but he likely will have to start the petition process all over again as those petitions were for the Special General Election rather than the November General Election.

The Alabama Constitution Party hopes to run other candidates to challenge the Republican super-majority from their right in 2014. The group wrote on their Facebook page, “Derrick Douglass is well on his way to becoming our first candidate for the 2014 General State Election. He is only a handful of signatures away from qualifying for Alabama House District 91. Congratulations Derrick and THANK YOU for taking a stand.”

An angry Derrick Douglas said on Facebook following the Screws disqualification announcement, “The Alabama Secretary of State office is corrupt and self serving.”

 

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Alabama’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Alabama’s ongoing increase in new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations is especially worrisome for public health experts as flu season arrives and several holidays are just around the corner.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama continues to rise, with 1,789 new cases reported Saturday, despite fewer tests being conducted, and cases are up 55 percent from two weeks ago, based on a 14-day average of daily case increases.

Alabama’s ongoing increase in new cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations is especially worrisome for public health experts as flu season arrives and several holidays are just around the corner.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 9 million on Thursday, and numerous states were seeing surges in cases and hospitalizations. Nearly 1,000 Americans died from COVID-19 on Wednesday, and the country has reported several days of record-high new cases.

“There’s going to be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus task force adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a CNBC interview Wednesday. “We are on a very difficult trajectory. We are going in the wrong direction.”

There were 960 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama on Friday, and the seven-day average of daily hospitalizations hit 976 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept. 2 and 29 percent higher than a month ago.

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More than 1,000 hospitalizations were reported in Alabama on Tuesday for the first time since August. Huntsville Hospital was caring for 163 coronavirus patients Friday, the largest number since Aug. 19. UAB on Friday had 58 COVID-19 patients and has been hovering between 60 and 70 patients for the last several weeks.

While the number of new cases is rising, the number of tests being performed has been declining. Over the last two weeks, Alabama reported, on average, 6,961 cases per day, 9 percent fewer cases than a month ago.

The rising cases and declining tests are also reflected in the percentage of tests that are positive, which on Saturday was well above public health experts’ target of 5 percent or below. 

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The state’s positivity rate on Saturday was 21 percent, according to APR‘s tracking of new cases and reported tests over the past two weeks. Many other COVID-19 tracking projects calculate the state’s percent positivity by dividing the 7- and 14-day averages of daily case increases by the 7- and 14-day averages of daily test increases.

The Alabama Department of Public Health calculates the positivity rate differently, instead dividing the number of daily cases by the number of individuals who have been tested, rather than the total number of tests done, as some people may have more than one test performed.

There are no federal standards on how states are to report COVID-19 testing data, and a myriad of state health departments calculate positivity rates differently. 

Even so, ADPH’s own calculations show Alabama’s percent positivity is nearly double where public health experts say it needs to be, or else cases are going undetected. According to ADPH’s calculations, the percent positivity on Oct. 24 was 9.6 percent, up 33 percent from the 7.2 percent positivity on Sept. 26. 

As of Saturday, there have been 2,967 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths reported in Alabama, with 427 reported this month, 19 percent more deaths than were reported in September.

On Saturday, ADPH reported 35 confirmed and probable deaths. 

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Alabama Democrats launch “biggest” turnout campaign in their history

“Our organizers and volunteers have been working relentlessly to turn out the vote,” the Alabama Democratic Party said.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Democratic Party said Friday that they have launched the biggest get-out-the-vote campaign in their history in a bid to re-elect U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

“We’ve made over 3.5 million voter contacts this election cycle,” the ADP wrote in an email to supporters. “Today, we’ve started the biggest GOTV campaign in our history. We will be contacting voters around the clock from now until Election Day. As it stands, we have enough money to reach about 91 percent of the voters in our GOTV universe.”

“Our organizers and volunteers have been working relentlessly to turn out the vote,” the ADP said. “They are contacting voters in all 67 Alabama counties, making sure every Democrat has a plan to vote on Nov. 3.”

On Saturday, Jones will make several campaign stops throughout the Birmingham area to encourage voters to turn out on Election Day. He will make stops in his hometown of Fairfield as well as in Bessemer, Pratt City and East Lake.

Jefferson County is the Alabama Democratic Party’s main stronghold in the conservative state of Alabama. Mobilizing Democratic voters to come out, especially in Jefferson County, is essential if they are to have any hope of re-electing Jones, who has been trailing in public polling.

Jones’s shocking upset of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in the 2017 special election is the only statewide race that the Alabama Democratic Party has won since 2008.

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Jones had a decided advantage in money in that contest to saturate the airwaves and fund a GOTV effort to reach Democratic voters in the special election.

The Jones campaign is trying to build upon that success, but it is an uphill battle and he’s widely viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for re-election in 2020.

This time, Jones’s Republican opponent is not hamstrung by allegations of sexual misconduct and Trump is at the top of this ticket. The president remains popular in Alabama even if his support has waned in some other states.

Jones needs both an unusually strong Democratic turnout and for a large number of Trump voters to split their ticket and vote for Jones instead of his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville.

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Roughly half of Alabamians are straight-ticket voters.

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Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh won’t seek re-election in 2022

Marsh said it would be up to the Republican caucus to decide whether he’ll remain pro tem for the last two years of his term.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, the top Republican member of Alabama’s upper chamber, will not seek re-election in 2022. 

Marsh told The Anniston Star, which first reported the story, that he will also not run for governor or the U.S. Senate in 2022 or in the future.

Marsh’s decision to not run again will bring an end to a 24-year career in state politics. Marsh, 64, made school choice a focus of his legislative work over the years, championing charter schools and wrote the Senate’s version of the 2014 Alabama Accountability Act, which allows for tax credits for those who make donations to scholarships for students at private schools. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Marsh found himself on the other side of public health experts’ understanding of the disease, suggesting to a reporter that he’d actually like to see more people become infected to build the state’s overall immunity to the virus, a theory that public health experts say would lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths and many more illnesses. 

Marsh also battled Gov. Kay Ivey over the expenditure of $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid over the summer, suggesting early on that the state should spend $200 million of that money on a new Statehouse, which drew widespread public condemnation.

The Alabama Legislature later approved Ivey’s plan to spend the federal aid, which does not include a new Statehouse. 

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Marsh explained to AL.com on Friday that during his tenure, the Republican-controlled Legislature has put Alabama’s fiscal well-being on solid ground. 

“Fiscally, I think we’re as strong as a state as we’ve ever been. I think this COVID has shown how financially secure the state is through our policies. I feel very good about our accomplishments,” he told the outlet. “But there comes a time for everything and I just want to make it clear that I do not intend to seek election in 2022.”

Marsh said it would be up to the Republican caucus to decide whether he’ll remain pro tem for the last two years of his term.

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Alabama Power reports progress on restoring power following Hurricane Zeta

Alabama Power said 131,000 outages remain and that the utility provider expects to have service restored to 95 percent of affected customers by Tuesday.

Brandon Moseley

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Crews work to restore power after Hurricane Zeta. (VIA ALABAMA POWER COMPANY)

Alabama Power said Saturday that its crews have restored power to 373,000 customers following Hurricane Zeta, which caused more than 504,000 outages at peak.

As of Saturday at 2:12 p.m., Alabama Power said 131,000 outages remain and that the utility provider expects to have service restored to 95 percent of affected customers by Tuesday.

 

 

Hurricane Zeta hit Louisiana as a category two hurricane on Wednesday before ripping through Mississippi and Alabama. There is an enormous amount of damage across the footprint of the Southern Company, the parent of Alabama Power.

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Alabama Power has said the impact of the storm is similar to what the company experienced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.

Because Zeta was so fast-moving, it did not lose much of its strength as it moved inland. Much of the state experienced tropical-storm-force winds. There is significant, widespread damage throughout the state.

Alabama Power is having to deal with downed poles and trees that knocked out wires. The company’s crews are working with more than 1,700 lineworkers and support personnel from 19 states and Canada.

Alabama Power said that its crews are working quickly and safely to restore power and will continue to work on restoring power over the weekend.

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Alabama Power storm team evaluators, line crews and support personnel worked throughout the day Thursday and Friday assessing damage and repairing poles and wires damaged in the storm.

Crews are working diligently and as quickly and safely as possible to restore service, the company said.

Remember that there are line crews working along roadways all across the state. Cities, counties and homeowners are still working on debris removal so drive slowly and give yourself more time to get where you are going while out.

Alabama Power warns everyone to stay away from downed power lines, as well as fallen trees and tree limbs that could be hiding downed lines. Always assume a downed line is still energized and poses a potentially deadly hazard.

If you spot a downed line, call Alabama Power at 1-800-888-2726 or local law enforcement and wait for trained crews to perform the potentially dangerous work of removing the line or any surrounding debris.

Hurricane season lasts until the end of November.

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