By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, December 1 Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett (R) said that Monday’s recount in Senate District 6 showed that Republican Larry Stutts has defeated Democrat Roger Bedford by a 70-vote margin. The previously announced results showed a 66-vote margin for Stutts.
Secretary of State Bennett said, “While a recount was required by state law because of the very close results, it shows the results are substantially the same and our elections system worked well.”
Senator Larry Stutts (R) said in a statement, “I will not lose any time going to work for the people in northwest Alabama. I will be in Montgomery tomorrow to meet with the Governor and with officials at the Department of Commerce to address the main issue facing our area – jobs. I appreciate the hard work done by Senator Bedford on behalf of the people of our area for many years.”
Dr. Larry Stutts defeated longtime incumbent Sen. Roger Bedford for State Senate District 6 despite being outspent. Stutts will join a new larger Republican Supermajority representing the people of northwest Alabama’s Sixth Senate District.
Election officials in Colbert, Franklin, Marion, Lauderdale and Lawrence Counties met on Monday to re-run the ballots through the voting machines and confirm the vote totals.
According to information provided by the Alabama Republican Party the initial tabulation of votes cast on November 4 showed Dr. Stutts defeated Sen. Bedford 17,605 to 17,545. After provisional ballots were counted on November 12, Dr. Stutts had 17,641 votes and Sen. Bedford had 17,574, giving Dr. Stutts a 67 vote margin. The State Canvassing Board, which includes the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, met on November 25th and officially certified Dr. Stutts as the winner in Senate District 6. After being certified by the State Canvassing Board as the winner, Dr. Stutts was sworn in as State Senator at the Colbert County Courthouse.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead issued a written statement on Monday regarding the final outcome of Senate District 6: “The votes in Senate District 6 have confirmed Dr. Larry Stutts has won this election. This has been one of this year’s most watched Alabama elections, as Dr. Stutts challenged longtime Democratic Senator and State Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford. For the first time in over 140 years, northwest Alabama will be represented by a Republican.”
Chairman Armistead (who served with Bedford when both were in the Alabama State Senate) said, “I commend Sen. Bedford for his long service to the people of northwest Alabama. He has no doubt benefited the many communities in Senate District 6 through his ability to secure grants and other means of financial support to improve the lives of the people in this area.”
Chairman Armistead continued, “The political landscape has changed in Alabama over the last several years. Republicans now hold every statewide office and a supermajority in the Alabama House and Senate. Senator Larry Stutts will work closely with his colleagues in the House and Senate, Governor Bentley and all state agencies to ensure the people of northwest Alabama and Senate District 6 receive the assistance they need to become an economic powerhouse. From the first time I met Dr. Stutts, I knew he had a deep passion for serving the people of Senate District 6. I saw in him the conservative, Republican philosophy that would benefit all of the people in his district. I have worked with many people in the public arena over the years, and I have found no one who I believe to be more dedicated to doing the right thing for the right reasons than Senator Stutts. I congratulate Senator Stutts, his wife Jackie and the entire Stutts family, and the many, many friends who remained dedicated to en suring this day became a reality.”
Sen. Stutts said, “I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Senate District 6. I have been confident in the integrity of the process and the elected officials who oversaw the election results. Fair and honest elections are a major part of the foundation of our country, and to see that verified locally is a testimony to the people and the officials of this district.”
According to information provided by the Secretary of State’s office, Bedford lost one vote during Monday’s recount in Lauderdale County while Dr. Stutts gained one vote each in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties. There was no change in Colbert and Lawrence Counties and a loss of one write-in vote in Marion County.
Sec. Bennett said the final tally will be certified in the next few days.
Sen. Bedford has told local media outlets that he is at peace with the outcome of the race; but would not rule out future campaigns. Bedford was first elected to the Alabama Senate in 1982. Sen. Bedford ran for the U.S. Senate when Senator Howell Heflin (D) retired; but was defeated by then Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) in the 1996 General Election.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.