By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Republican candidate in the Sixth District Congressional Race, Gary Palmer, told the Alabama Political Reporter that he supported calls by Speaker Boehner, Mo Brooks, Bradley Byrne and others to ban international travel from countries with active Ebola epidemics.
Palmer said frankly, “I think it should have done weeks ago.”
APR asked: the head of the CDC says that a travel ban would make the situation worse? Palmer said he didn’t know how it could make the situation in West Africa any worse. Palmer said that Most Americans are concerned about Africa; but they are more concerned about keeping the American people safe.
APR asked: Did the President make a mistake when he did away with the Bush Administration’s Ebola epidemic plan? Palmer said that he has not seen those reports; but if the administration did jettison a plan to protect the country from Ebola then that was “unconscionable.”
Palmer said that if you ask those two nurses they would think that we should have kept Ebola out of this country. Palmer said that there are hundreds of people in Dallas, in Cleveland, on the Frontiers airliner from Cleveland to Dallas who were potentially exposed to this disease, “We don’t know who is exposed.”
Palmer said that he talked with a retired flight attendant. When people are hired as flight attendants they sign away their rights to talk to the media. The current flight attendants are telling their retired former comrades that the flight attendants are terrified and are asking them to get the word out.
APR asked, “Is President Obama taking a risk by putting 4000 troops in West Africa to fight Ebola? Palmer said that based on the facts at this time yes we have put those troops in harms way. The chances are pretty high that they will be exposed to Ebola. Palmer said that regular troops for whom fighting infectious disease is not their specialty should not be deployed into West Africa.
Palmer said that he is all for fighting Ebola; but it should be done by the best trained, best equipped people in the world to do so.
APR asked: the Pentagon has said that troops returning from Africa will be put in isolation. If that is o.k. for U.S. troops, why is that not o.k. for immigrants from Africa? Palmer said that it is a great question. We shouldn’t be allowing people from Ebola infected nations into this country.
Palmer said that the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days. Palmer said that we should isolate the disease, eradicate it if we can and contain it
APR asked: Since we already have two infected American nurses and potentially more people infected, is the U.S. an infected nation and there is a risk of other nations imposing a quarantine on American travelers?
Palmer said that other countries will do what they do.
Palmer said that Thomas Duncan took a flight from Africa to Brussels. From Brussels he went to Dulles and then went from Dulles to Dallas. Palmer said that the family Mr. Duncan was visiting were illegally here because they had over stayed their visa. Palmer emphasized that we have to get control of our borders.
Palmer warned that there is a high probability of there being more Ebola cases
For 24 years, Gary Palmer led the Alabama Policy Institute (API) as the group’s co-founder and President. API is a research and education organization that is dedicated to identifying, developing and promoting public policies which emphasize limited government, free markets, the rule of law and strong families.
Gary Palmer was appointed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to the Alabama Commission on Improving State Government. He was appointed by former Governor Bob Riley to the Governor’s Task Force to Strengthen Alabama Families and served as an advisor to the Alabama Aerospace, Science and Industry Task Force. Palmer was appointed by Alabama Governor Fob James to the Governor’s Welfare Reform Commission. Palmer is a founding director and past president of the State Policy Network.
Gary Palmer grew up in the North Alabama town of Hackleburgh, the son of a small logger. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Management and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Mobile.
Palmer’s opponent is Dr. Mark Lester (D). He was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his family have lived in Homewood for the past 23 years while teaching history at Birmingham Southern College. Lester attended Rhodes College, received a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in Modern British Economic History from the University of Oxford. After finishing law school, Mark Lester was appointed Assistant United States Attorney where he prosecuted drug dealers and white collar criminals. He later formed a small law firm, specializing in commercial litigation.
Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District is currently represented by Republican Representative Spencer Bachus from Vestavia who is retiring after 11 terms in the Congress. Congressman Bachus served the District as an Alabama State Senator before going to Congress after defeating Congressman Ben Erdreich (D) in 1992.
The General Election will be on Tuesday, November 4.
Jones urges voters to select him over Tuberville
“The choice before the voters is an unprepared hyper-partisan that will add to the divide in Washington, or my proven track-record to find common ground and get things done,” Jones said.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, urged Alabama voters to re-elect him after Republican primary voters selected former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville to be their Senate nominee heading toward the November general election.
“When I was elected, I promised the people of Alabama that I would put their interests first to find common ground and get things done for our state,” Jones said in a statement. “Washington already has plenty of people who fight along partisan lines and nothing much seems to get done.”
“I’ve passed seventeen bipartisan bills signed into law by President Trump and was honored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce three times for my record of bipartisanship, leadership and pro-business support,” Jones continued. “Working across the aisle, we repealed the tax on Gold Star widows after more than twenty years of partisan bickering kept thousands of families from earning the benefits they were promised. We secured relief for farmers in the Wiregrass hit hard by hurricanes and tornadoes. We’re investing in rural hospitals that, without Medicaid expansion, continue to struggle despite their importance to many Alabama communities. I will always protect health care for our seniors and people with pre-existing conditions.”
“That’s the record I will present to the people of Alabama at a time when our country and our state face multiple crises,” Jones claimed. “We are not out of the woods yet but every step of the way I will have your back and no one else’s. The choice before the voters is an unprepared hyper-partisan that will add to the divide in Washington, or my proven track-record to find common ground and get things done. We can choose One Alabama and continue to move Alabama forward together and work for better health care, support our veterans, and bring back jobs from overseas.”
The Alabama Democratic Party, which has been torn by internal strife for years but recently came under new leadership after the former chair was removed from her post, is promising to marshal their resources to re-elect Jones.
“Tommy Tuberville just won the Republican runoff to take on Doug Jones this fall,” the ADP said in a statement. “Help us welcome him to the race like Nick Saban (not Lou, Mr. President) did in his last Iron Bowl.”
Democrats are trying to convince volunteers and donors that the Senate rate is winnable.
“Doug Jones is tied 46-46,” the ADP claimed. “Let’s help him win. Pitch in and help us beat Tommy Tuberville, the guy who said he “wouldn’t have a clue” how to deal with the Coronavirus. Want a Senator who’s actually had an original thought to bring people together and get things done? Then Doug Jones is your Senator. Help us re-elect him now.”
The ADP is citing a recent poll showing Tuberville leading Jones 47 to 43. The same internal polling showed Jones pulling even if there is heavy Black turnout and over 90 percent of Black voters break to Jones on election day.
The former college football coach took time in his victory speech to address his general election opponent.
“Democrat Doug Jones is running for reelection with the slogan of One Alabama,” Tuberville said. “Well, you can make no mistake about it: what Doug really means is One Liberal Alabama.”
Tuberville accused Jones of taking “marching orders from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and bartender AOC,” and criticized Jones for voting against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and to “impeach Trump.”
Technically Senators do not vote to impeach or not to impeach. That is a matter for the House of Representatives, of which Jones is not a member. The Senators vote, after a president has been impeached by the House, on whether to convict or not to convict. Jones voted to convict Trump on two articles of impeachment brought by the House.
Tuberville won the Republican primary runoff with 61 percent of the vote, besting former U.S. Attorney General and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who received 39 percent.
Legendary Democratic strategist James Carville has called the Tuberville and Jones race “a tossup.”
Jones is the only Democrat to win any statewide political race since 2008. Jones beat former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a 2017 special election to fill the vacancy created when Trump appointed Sessions as attorney general.
Mark Gidley announces run for Rep. Becky Nordgren’s House seat
Republican voters in Etowah County went to the polls and elected State Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, as their nominee for revenue commissioner, defeating Jeff Overstreet in the Republican primary runoff.
No Democrat qualified for the seat, so Nordgren will likely be the commissioner once the current commissioner’s term runs out. At that time, the governor will call a special election to fill Nordgren’s soon-to-be vacant House seat.
Mark Gidley has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for State House District 29.
“I have a strong desire to continue to promote pro-life, pro-family, and strong conservative values in Montgomery as the Representative for the people of District 29,” Gidley said. “I have been a member of the pro-life community for many years, serving as a board member for the Etowah County Pregnancy Center, and I will fight in Montgomery to continue to make Alabama a Pro-Life State. I believe in family values, and the traditional family created in the image of God. I will fight for these values as a Representative in the Alabama House”.
Mark Gidley is a lifelong resident of Etowah County and is heavily involved in his community. Gidley is the pastor of the Faith Worship Center Church of God in Glencoe.
Gidley says that it is his desire to serve this community and the area of District 29 with bold and conservative leadership.
Mark is married to the former Kathy Chapman of Hokes Bluff. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Mark is a member of the Executive Committee of the Etowah County Republican Party.
Kellum holds onto Court of Criminal Court of Appeals seat
While there is still a general election on Nov. 3, Tuesday’s victory effectively re-elected Kellum to her third term as no Democrat or independent qualified to run for the race.
Incumbent Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Beth Kellum won the Republican primary for her seat on the court, likely assuring that she will return to the general election.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting unofficial results, Beth Kellum had 56 percent while challenger Will Smith received 44 percent.
“Thank you to everyone who made the effort to vote in today’s “pandemic election,“ Kellum said in a statement. “It has been one of the great honors of my life to represent you on the Court of Criminal Appeals for the past 12 years. It was a hard fought race, and I am thankful for the people of Alabama and for the trust you put in me to serve the great State of Alabama. I look forward to serving you for another six years!”
Smith conceded the race in a statement.
“This Sunday, one of the hymns we sang in church was Have Faith In God. The chorus of the song has played in my mind ever since. So first and foremost, I want to thank God for giving me faith and provision along the way of this campaign journey,” Smith said. “I want to thank the Republican voters who braved the unusual circumstances of this time to vote for me today. These conservative grassroots supporters have supported my campaign, defended my character and championed our sacred beliefs of faith and family and our American ideals of liberty, freedom and constitutional government.”
“I am forever grateful to my wife, Laura,” Smith continued. “She has been my rock and encourager. She has always been so supportive and understanding throughout the demands of this campaign journey. I love her and I am blessed to have her as my wife.”
“I enjoyed traveling to the four corners of our great state and meeting so many of her wonderful people,” Smith added. “This race was one of grassroots conservatives against the big money interests of Montgomery which contributed over $80,000 to the incumbent. The results of the March 3rd Republican Primary showed me trailing the two-term incumbent by a margin of 43% to 37%. It was amazing we were within 6 percentage points of the two-term incumbent despite being outspent over 15 to 1 during the primary. Today, the voters spoke and re-elected the incumbent to her third term. I congratulate Judge Kellum on her victory tonight.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement following Kellum’s win for the GOP nomination for the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals.
“While we had two exceptional candidates for the Criminal Court of Appeals, Alabama Republican voters have selected a highly qualified legal mind to be their nominee for the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals,” Lathan said. “Beth Kellum has proven herself to a be a strong judge during her previous two terms on the bench. Combined with her extensive legal career, we are confident Judge Kellum will win re-election and return to this seat on November 3rd. We look forward to her continued service with the upmost integrity and seriousness she has shown Alabama as a judge.”
“We extend our gratitude to Will Smith for his willingness to serve — not just in this position but in his previous post as a Lauderdale County Commissioner,” Lathan added. “He is a great example of a true statesman.”
Kellum is an Alabama native who grew up in Vance in Tuscaloosa County. She graduated from Brookwood High School in 1977. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.
Kellum was hired in 1985 by Attorney General Charles Graddick as an assistant attorney general. She worked in the criminal appeals division where she primarily prosecuted appeals before the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court.
She later worked as a staff attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals from 1987 until 1990. Kellum went into private practice with the Montgomery law firm of Robison & Belser, P.A., working on a wide variety of civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts.
In 1997, she went back to the Court of Criminal Appeals to work as a senior staff attorney for the newly-elected Judge Jean Brown. She worked as a senior staff attorney for the Alabama Supreme Court from 1999 until 2001, before returning to the Court of Criminal Appeals as the senior staff attorney for then newly-elected Judge Kelli Wise.
Kellum was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals in November 2008 and was re-elected in 2014. While there is still a general election on Nov. 3, Tuesday’s victory effectively re-elected Kellum to her third term as no Democrat or independent qualified to run for the race.
Alabama is one of the few states to elect its judges in partisan elections.
Alabama governor issues statewide face mask order amid COVID-19 surge
Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision came the same day the state saw its highest single-day increase in reported COVID-19 deaths and the day after the previous record.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday issued a statewide face mask order to begin Thursday at 5 p.m. and to remain in effect for the rest of the month.
Face masks are to be worn while in public when within six feet of another person outside of one’s own household, while outside around groups of ten or more, and inside in a public spaces and on public transposition, with exceptions, according to the order.
Ivey said there were 2,141 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and said with continued increases in cases, deaths and hospitalizations she made the decision to require masks to be worn statewide.
There have been 1,183 deaths from COVID-19 statewide, Ivey said, and nine of the first 13 days in July saw daily case increases of more than 1,000.
Ivey said despite the best efforts, we’re seeing increased cases every day “and we are almost to the point where hospital ICUs are overwhelmed.”
Ivey has been reluctant to issue a statewide mask order in previous weeks, and has said such an order would be difficult to enforce.
“I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce, and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate,” Ivey said Wednesday. “And, yet, I also know with all my heart that the numbers and the data over the past few weeks is definitely trending in the wrong direction.”
Ivey said there are more drastic options to slow the spread, including a return to shutdowns, but said, “I don’t want to go there unless there are absolutely no other options available.”
Ivey’s decision came the same day the state saw its highest single-day increase in reported COVID-19 deaths and the day after the previous record. Forty deaths were reported Tuesday as having been caused by the virus, and 47 deaths were reported Wednesday.
At least 151 deaths have been reported in the last week, the most in any seven-day period since the state’s first confirmed death in late March. At least 236 have been reported in the last fourteen days, the most of any two-week period.
On Tuesday, the total number of current hospitalizations of coronavirus patients again reached another all-time high. COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than 61 percent since July 1. ADPH hadn’t updated COVID-19 numbers as of Wednesday morning.
The seven-day average statewide positivity rate Wednesday was roughly 16 percent, the highest since the start of the pandemic, taking into account incomplete testing data in April that threw off figures. That’s according to APR’s tracking of state data.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said during the press conference that a full third of the state’s cases have been added within the last two weeks.
“That’s not a reflection of testing, because our percentage of tests that are positive continues to go up. The most recent completed data, leading up to the Fourth of July showed about 14 percent of all tests are positive,” Harris said.
More than 2,000 people across the state were hospitalized for confirmed or suspected coronavirus on Wednesday, Harris said, and about 30 hospitals statewide have very limited intensive care beds availability. At least 1,477 are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 while 541 are under investigation.
“We really don’t have a lot of other options at this time,” Harris said. “We’re frequently asked, does the economy need to be shut down, and the answer is no. Not if people will cooperate with the orders that we have in place.”
Failing to wear a mask as per the order could result in a $500 fine and arrest, Ivey said. There are some exceptions to the mask order, including children aged six or younger, those with certain medical conditions, while eating or drinking, exercising so long as a person maintains six feet from others, while competing in athletic events and while swimming.
Prior to Ivey’s statewide order, numerous local municipalities and county governments were issuing local mask orders. Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said Tuesday that he’d prefer a statewide order coupled with local orders as a more effective way to convince the public to wear masks.
Beginning Monday, July 20, Walmart and Sam’s Club will require masks to be worn at stores nationwide.
“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities. According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance,” said Dacona Smith, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., and Lance de la Rosa, chief operating officer at Sam’s Club, in a blog post.
Graphics for businesses to download, print and display for customers on the mask order can be found here.