By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Four candidates are vying for the seat once held by convicted felon, Mike Hubbard in the Republican primary on September 13. The voters of District 79 have yet to pick a candidate, but the well-heeled of Auburn and influential Montgomery PACs have already chosen theirs.
Jay Conner, Joe Lovvorn, Sandy Toomer and Brett Smith are all in the running, but only Lovvorn is winning the “dash for cash” contest.
According to the July FPCA filing, Lovvorn raised just over $61,000 to begin his campaign, with a significant portion coming from Montgomery-based PACs.
ALFA has officially endorsed Lovvorn, along with the Road Builder’s Association, Trucking Association and numerous others who gave generously to help “kick-start” his campaign.
Conner’s campaign shows one donation from the Restaurant Association.
The Smith and Toomer campaigns report zero funding from PACs.
Associations backing Lovvorn who were once loyal to Hubbard has caused speculation that he is Hubbard’s man, or at least favored by the political class that served as Hubbard’s machine in Montgomery and Lee County.
In August, Lovvorn received a single donation of $10,000 from the Atlanta-based Halstead Family Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that awards scholarships to Auburn University. A report by Chip Brownlee, for the Auburn Plainsman, found Lovvorn returned the donation. However, Lovvorn claims, “It was perfectly legal for us to accept that contribution and we could have kept the money in the campaign, but it would have affected his longterm tax situation.”
Brownlee’s report casts doubt on Lovvorn assertions citing 501(c)3 IRS regulations on non-profits.
With the Republican primary only days away, the funding contest goes to Lovvorn.
Will the election?
Totals contributions for each candidate to date are:
Jay Conner $1,150 (PAC—Restaurant Association $250)
Joe Lovvorn $95,500 (FARMPAC , BIPAC, Alabama Power Employees, NEW PAC, Retailers, PAC, SAVEPAC, TRUK PAC)
Sandy Toomer $7,200
Brett Smith $15,680.95