By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, May 31, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) headlined a campaign event in Columbiana. This small town in Shelby County is where the longtime Tuscaloosa dermatologist grew up. Bentley was welcomed back by the Columbiana High School band and over 500 enthusiastic supporters and admirers, who gathered in front of the historic Shelby County Courthouse to meet the governor and share a barbecue lunch.
Gov. Bentley thanked the people of Columbiana and Alabama as a whole, for letting him be their Governor and asked for four more years heading our State’s government. Gov. Bentley was introduced by popular former Secretary of State Beth Chapman (R). Chapman is also a resident of Shelby County.
Bentley said that he has gotten the State on a sounder financial footing than when he first entered office, and pledged to continue to work to bring more good jobs to the State of Alabama.
In attendance were numerous Republican Primary candidates for office including: Dr. Stan Cooke who is running for Lieutenant Governor; Rep. John Merrill who is running for Alabama Secretary of State; Judge Will Perdue who is also running for Alabama Secretary of State; Johnathan Barbee who is running for Public Service Commission Place number 2; Public Service Commissioner Place #1 Jeremy Oden who is seeking re-election; state Auditor candidate Adam Thompson; state Auditor candidate Hobbie Sealey; state Representative Paul DeMarco who is running for the U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s Sixth District; Rep. Jim McClendon (R) who is running for state Senate District 11, and Sen. Jerry Fielding who is also seeking election in Senate District 11. District 11 is compromised of parts of St. Clair, Talladega, and Shelby counties, including Columbiana.
Dr. Stan Cooke told the Alabama Political Reporter that they are expecting a light turnout in Tuesday’s Primary. Cooke said that it is very important for candidates to do everything possible to get their voters to the polls on election day. Cooke is running against incumbent Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (R) in the Republican Primary. Dr. Cooke is from Sumiton and is the pastor of the Church of God in Kimberly.
Jonathan Barbee said he likes his chances. His campaign for the PSC has been gaining momentum as well as a number of endorsements as the primary nears.
Gov. Robert Bentley was elected in 2010 in a very competitive Republican field that included: then State Senator Bradley Byrne (now a U.S. Congressman representing Alabama’s first district), businessman Tim James, former Chief Justice Roy Moore (who was elected back to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012, and Riley Administration ADECA head Johnson (who has moved to New Zealand). On Tuesday Bentley faces Stacy Lee George and Bob Starkey.
On Thursday, the Alabama Political Reporter spotted George campaigning on the shoulder of Interstate 20 east bound near Leeds. Four years ago less than 200 votes put Bentley in a runoff with Senator Byrne instead of James. This year it is expected that Bentley will easily prevail in the Republican Primary.
In November, the Republican gubernatorial nominee will face former Congressman Parker Griffith or Fayette baseball player and businessman, Kevin Bass. Griffith is also a doctor. He was elected to the State Senate as a Democrat, was elected to the Congress in District five as a Democrat, then ran as a Republican in 2010, where he was defeated by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks in the Republican Primary. Rep. Brooks defeated Griffith again in the 2012 Republican Primary. Fed up with both parties, Griffith became an Independent in 2013. In December the Alabama Democratic Party readmitted former Congressman Griffith. After Governor George C. Wallace’s (D) final election in 1982, only one Democrat (Don Seigelman in 1998) has won an Alabama gubernatorial election.
Before running for Governor, Robert Bentley served in the Alabama state legislature. Dr. Bentley has had a long and high successful medical practice in Tuscaloosa where his clients included former Alabama Football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The Republican Primary is Tuesday, June 3.