By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, almost 250 Cleburne County residents had dinner and a reception with state office holders and candidates in Heflin at the Cleburne County Republican Party Winter Meeting.
Cleburne County Republican Party Chairman Tim Sprayberry told the crowd, “In just 20 years we went from no Republican in office to just two Democrats in office and neither one of them are running for re-election.”
Republican strategist T. J. Maloney and former Executive Director of the Alabama Republican Party introduced Congressman Mike Rogers (R) from Saks and said the most important thing that Representative Rogers does is vote for the Speaker of the House and keep Nancy Pelosi (D) from California out of that office.
Congressman Rogers said that having been in the Alabama state legislature with Democratic majorities he was envious of the Republican legislators that get to be part of Alabama’s first Republican Super-majority. Rogers said that his strongest county each election is Cleburne County. Rep. Rogers told the enthusiastic crowd that he convinced the Republican Super-majority to redraw the Third Congressional District to be like it was when Congressman Riley (R) from Ashland had it and put St. Clair County (one of the most Republican Counties in the state) back in his district. In the 2012 election, Rogers received 84% of the vote in St. Clair County, but Cleburne County still beat them giving Mike 86% of the ballots cast. Rogers thanked the people of Cleburne County and the Cleburne County Republican Party for all of the support that they have given him over the years.
Rep. Rogers said the Republican Party needed to get control of the U.S. Senate in this year’s election and to take the Presidency in 2016. “I am real optimistic,” the five term Republican Congressman said. Rogers has already qualified with the Alabama Republican Party to run for a sixth term.
Chairman Sprayberry said, “Governor Robert Bentley (R) is committed to creating jobs for the people of Alabama. In 2010 he was elected as the 53rd Governor of the State of Alabama on his promise to put people back to work.” “Upon taking office, Governor Bentley made the creation of new jobs a top priority in his administration by instructing his Cabinet and state agencies to join him in his effort to lower the unemployment rate and grow the state economy.”
Tim Sprayberry said, “During his time in office, Governor Bentley has led legislative efforts to increase incentives for new businesses and industries, to protect consumers by controlling the rising cost of homeowners insurance in the state, to reform the state’s pension system, and to streamline government services and reduce spending.”
Gov. Bentley thanked Cleburne County for helping elect him in 2010. Governor Bentley warned that the country is doomed if the federal government does not get it’s spending under control. “Foreign powers can’t touch us, but the debt will kill us.” This nation is $17.2 trillion in debt and that is growing by $2 billion a day. “We are doomed.” “I am not going to be part of that. I will not put another 300,000 able bodied adults on a government dependency program,” referring to the proposed Medicaid expansion.
The conservative Governor said that the state is on a pace to pay off the $437 million which was borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund by the end of 2015. Gov. Bentley said that to improve graduation rates the state needs to get students involved in something that they love which will get them on a career path.
Bentley said that when he became Governor the Alabama economy was the worst it has been since the Great Depression. Unemployment was high, the state had spent all of the Obama stimulus and all of the rainy day funds, and all of the economic incentive funds to lure new jobs. The state was broke. Some people told Bentley that the answer was to raise taxes. Bentley stressed his opposition to raising taxes.
Gov. Bentley said that his number one goal has been to help Alabamians help their families by getting a job and acknowledged that there is still more work to do. The popular conservative Governor said that his administration has managed to cut over a $ billion a year from state spending by increasing government efficiency.
In addition to Governor Bentley and Congressman Rogers, numerous candidates were at the well- attended Cleburne County event. A partial list of candidates present included: Secretary of State candidate John Merrill, state auditor candidate Adam Thompson, Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden, PSC Candidate Jonathon Barbee, and Lieutenant Governor candidate Stan Cooke.
Chairman Tim Sprayberry himself is a candidate for the Alabama State Senate. Sprayberry is challenging Republican incumbent Gerald Dial in Senate District 11. Senator Dial was also at Saturday’s banquet.