By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Over the weekend, members of the ALGOP hierarchy met to consider challenges to potential candidates who are seeking election under the party’s banner.
Most petitions to deny ballot access have been made against individuals who have accepted money from AVOTE.
AVOTE is the Political Action Committee that receives its funding from the State’s educators and support staff who are members of the AEA.
Of the challenges presented to the committee, 18 have been passed along to be voted on at the ALGOP Winter Meeting by the Candidate Committee.
The Candidate Committee is comprised of members from the Steering Committee of the Alabama Republican and the State Executive Committee, according to an email distributed by ALGOP Chief of Staff, Harold Sachs.
Several candidates have been challenged by Republican activist Thomas Scovill from Huntsville. Scovill has mainly targeted those candidates who have taken contributions from AVOTE. However, Scovill has sent a petition of denial for candidate Ritchie Whorton from Owens Crossroads, who is running for State House, District 22. Scovill told the ALGOP that Whorton should not be allowed the privilege of running as a Republican, because he supported a Democrat candidate in 2012.
June 16, 2007: An amendment to the Bylaws of the Alabama Republican Party permits a challenge when, within the last six years, a candidate participated in a primary of another party or publicly supported a nominee of another political party.
Oddly, Scovill nor anyone else has placed a challenge against Sen. Jerry Fielding who served as a Democrat for the last 25 plus years, and only last year switched to the Republican Party.
Jack Campbell did put forth a challenge to Tom Whatley, who ran as a Republican in 2010, after giving campaign contributions to John Edwards, Parker Griffith and Barack Obama (Campbell is a 30-year veteran GOP political consultant, who earned his stripes working for Jack Kemp).
However, the Republican committee ignored Campbell’s challenge to Whatley. According to Campbell’s petition to deny ballot access, he shows where Whatley gave $17,750 to a Democrat candidate during a six year period. He also points out there in no record of Whatley donating to Republican Congressional or Presidential candidates, before or after he ran for office as a Republican. “He gave tens of thousands of dollars to defeat Republicans, but not to get them elected,” wrote Campbell.
In 2010, Democrat Fielding bested Republican Ray Robbins for one of the most hotly contested races of the year.
At the time, then Chairman of the ALGOP, Mike Hubbard said of the race, “The Alabama Republican Party looks forward to working with the Robbins Campaign to put together a strong message that will focus on jobs, the economy and restoring the people’s trust in government. With Democrats in Washington and in Montgomery expanding government and giving free reign to special interest groups, Republican Ray Robbins is the only conservative voice for the people’s interests in this race – and he won’t be beholden to the status quo, unlike Democrat Jerry Fielding.”
So, Hubbard thought then that Fielding was beholden to Democrats. Now, what does ALGOP think? They let him run against life long Republican Representative Jim McClendon, a man who helped build the ALGOP in Alabama.
In 2010, Fielding not only ran as a Democrat but took almost $700,000 from liberal-leaning groups to defeat the ALGOP handpicked candidate. However, Scovill and the ALGOP remain silent on Fielding.
It seems that Fielding is going to get a pass on his previous support of Obamacare and other Democrat legislation while the ALGOP just as Whatley has received a pass.
However, a man like Whorton may be punished because someone in the upper echelon wants him off the ticket.
“I’m a lifelong, Conservative Republican. My roots and beliefs run deep into the red clay of this district,” said Whorton. “I’m running for this office because I know I can do a better job for the people of this district.”
Fielding said he changed his mind after more than a decade of loyal service to the Democrat Party.
Whorton has never served as a Democrat like many in the State who now claim to mantle Ronald Reagan.
What Whorton has done is exercise his rights as a citizen. Now he wants to run for office as a Republican by stating, “We need someone that’s concerned about the people of our district rather than the political bosses and agendas in Montgomery.”
Whorton and others will have to wait and see what the political bosses in Montgomery have to say. The double and triple standards are obvious.
The full list of challenged candidates:
State House, 52
State House, 24
State House, 64
State House, 85
State Senate, 31
State Senate, 8
State House, 22
Madison, District 10, 1
District Judge, Mobile Place 2
Circuit Judge, 10th Circuit, 10
District Judge, Baldwin Place 1
Criminal Appeals, 2
US House, 4