By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) recently told al.com’s Chuck Dean that he would no longer carry the gaming bill he has championed since the 2015 legislative session — a fact we reported about a month ago.
Marsh claims he is pulling his support because he doesn’t have the votes, and it would be a distraction. This is political double-speak for, “I’ve spoken with my advisors and they tell me, if I want to be governor, I cannot sponsor this bill.”
The bill, known around the State as “The Marsh Plan,” has never had the necessary amount of votes. But like many bills, it takes a champion, which Marsh had agreed to be.
Marsh thinks he can be governor in 2018, but his double-dealing, cozy relationship with indicted Speaker Hubbard are just some of his problems. Now, he has created a new one by double-crossing some of the biggest power brokers and political operatives in the State. His enemies will tie him to the gambling bill anyway because he already sponsored it. Feeling betrayed, those who would have been his friends will now happily supply guns and ammo to his rivals.
Turning his back on Charles McCrary, Raymond Harbert, Harold Ripps, Frank Bromberg, III, and Coach Pat Dye is not exactly a smart political move.
Marsh relied on the advice of Phillip Bryan, Tim Howe, and Jimmy McLaughlin to drop the gaming bill, so as to keep a clean public image. But Marsh was the finance director at ALGOP when Hubbard funneled millions from its coffers into his own bank account. Marsh was also the bag man for the laundered money from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (perhaps the chatter about PCI putting a new casino at the defunct Anniston Army Depot may be playing a part in all this intrigue).
Polls show that around 25 percent of Republican primary voters oppose gaming. So, here Marsh, who has very little statewide name ID, is counting on winning 25 percent just to lose those who support gaming.
A May 2015 survey found that, ultimately, if Marsh’s plan were put to a vote of the people it would be overwhelmingly approved.The survey of 805 voters was weighted 60.1 percent Republican, 28.8 percent Democrat, and 11.1 percent Independent.
A constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate a lottery and Las Vegas-style gambling at the three Indian reservations (and four racetracks) shows the yes vote leads by more than 30 percent in what amounts to a near-mortal stranglehold over the no vote, with 58.5 percent saying they would vote yes on Marsh’s plan and only 28.2 percent saying they would vote no.
Marsh says he still thinks it is a good plan for economic growth, but doesn’t want it to interfere with the 2016 Session. Again, Marsh engages in political-double speak. What he really means is, “ Hey, I am a multi-millionaire, and I don’t care about economic growth as much as my political power climb, so, those of you who trusted that I would follow through on my promise can kiss my back-side.”
In politics, no one forgets a double-cross, and double speak cannot make this go away.