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Congressional Incumbents Appear In Good Shape As Elections Wind Down

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

In the election of 2010, incumbents Parker Griffith (R from Huntsville) was easily defeated by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks in the Republican Primary. Griffith has been elected as a Democrat with President Barack H. Obama in 2008, but that relationship rapidly soured and he switched political parties amidst much fanfare by the National GOP.

Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District of Alabama never bought into Griffith’s sudden conversion to conservatism and jettisoned the Huntsville oncologist for the candidate with the stronger conservative credentials: Commissioner Brooks.

In the Second Congressional District that same year, Montgomery City Council woman Martha Roby (R) narrowly defeated conservative Democrat Bobby Bright in the November General Election that same year (2010).

2014 has not been 2010. None of the Congressional incumbents faced credible challengers in their primaries, and according to every pundit we are aware of the incumbents should win easily on Tuesday, November 4th.

Congressman Robert Aderholt (R from Haleyville) does not even have to go through the charade of dispatching another outclassed Democratic Party opponent because none qualified to run in Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.

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U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) will be on the ballot on Tuesday; but he has no challenger there. National Democrats did not want to waste resources in a race that everyone considered a hopeless quest from the very beginning.

Similarly Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D from Selma) faces no Republican challenger in the majority minority Seventh Congressional District of Alabama.

In the Fifth Congressional District of Alabama, Congressman Mo Brooks faces no Democrat on the ballot. The struggling Alabama Democratic Party abandoned any hope of fielding a credible challenger in the increasingly conservative Fifth District. Rep. Brooks does however face a challenger in independent Mark Bray.

Congressman Mo Brooks has raised $532,737 this campaign cycle and has $798,626 in cash on hand according to his pre-general election Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing to spend in the closing days of the campaign against Bray.

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Without any party support, Mark Bray was only able to raise $24,465 for his campaign and his total cash on hand is just $7,226.

Congresswoman Martha Roby is seeking a third term in the United States House of Representatives representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Her opponent is Erick Wright (D).

Congresswoman Roby has raised $1,047,288 this cycle and has $511,504 remaining in cash on hand.

Despite running as a Democrat in a district that Democrats held just four years ago, Erick Wright has only been able to raise $3,676 in contributions and is reporting just $441 left in cash on hand. Wright has had to dip heavily in to his own finances to fund much of his campaign. We could not find Wright’s pre-general election report on the FEC website so his totals are from his October 1 report.

In the Third Congressional District, incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks) also appears to be secure. Rogers has raised $974,324.99 and has $456,360 left to spend in the final stretch of his campaign.

Democratic Party challenger Jesse T Smith reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that he had only $4,100 in reported contributions and just $1,300 in cash on hand.

In Alabama’s First Congressional District, incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) has had less than a year since his special election to raise money for this campaign; but he still reports in with a respectable $487,953 in contributions. Rep. Byrne faces the last days of the race with $238,831 in cash on hand.

The Alabama Democratic Party candidate is Burton LeFlore, whom Byrne defeated in the special election last December 71:29 percent of the vote. LeFlore has only reported contributions of $1270 this time around and has just $2,592 in cash on hand to spend on this race.

In the Sixth Congressional District, incumbent Spencer Bachus is retiring. In his bid to replace Bachus, Republican Gary Palmer has raised $ 1,639,614. Most of that however was spent in the Republican Primary and Runoff elections. Palmer reports just $225,620 in cash on hand.

His Democratic opponent, Mark Lester, reports raising $112,235 in contributions. Lester reported $23,560 in cash on hand in October.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost $4 billion will be spent before this Congressional midterm is over. If that estimate is correct, that would make it the most expensive midterm ever by nearly $400,000. Spending is up from $3.6 billion in 2010 and $2.8 billion in 2006. Of the $4 billion spent this cycle, about $2.7 billion is projected will be spent by candidates and parties. Outside groups spending is estimated to be close to $900 million.

Voters will go to the polls on November 4 to decide who will represent them in the U.S. Congress for the next two years.

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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Health

Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels

Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Kierstin Kennedy.

Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19. 

The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192. 

Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.

The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.” 

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Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.” 

“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.” 

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.

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As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.

ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.

ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.

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Corruption

Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence

The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was booked into jail to begin serving his four-year sentence for ethics violations in September. (VIA LEE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER)

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two. 

Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.

Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”   

Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.” 

“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.

Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months. 

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.

“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law.  Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”

Hubbard was booked into the Lee County Jail on Sept. 11, more than four years after his conviction. On Nov. 5 he was taken into custody by the Department of Corrections.

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News

Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.

Eddie Burkhalter

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday. 

“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.” 

Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game. 

It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.

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National

Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83

The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

Brandon Moseley

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Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton

Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.

“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”

Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.

The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.

While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.

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Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”

His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.

Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.

This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

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