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We Can’t Expect Change Without Voting For It, Too

By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, Joe Lovvorn narrowly prevailed in a field of four candidates for the GOP nomination to fill former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. Hubbard vacated his seat under State law when he was convicted of more felonies than you can count on both hands.

Campaign finance records show that Lovvorn was backed by many of the same high-dollar Montgomery brokers who rolled Hubbard into power.

In addition to Lovvorn being tied to a number of Montgomery special interest PACs who are also linked to the Riley-Hubbard machine, this publication reported earlier this week that Lovvorn was also being advised by a former Riley-Hubbard 2014 PAC consulting firm, Greystone Consulting, which is also linked to Dax Swatek, Tim Howe and John Ross–all three of whom showed up on the witness list for Hubbard’s unethical dealings.

It’s not hard to connect the dots that Lovvorn is clearly the Riley candidate.

If those connections didn’t clarify it, look at the other candidates in the race. Sandy Toomer ran a strong effort to unseat Mike Hubbard in the 2014 primary election. Boomer and Jay Conner both reported zero PAC dollars in this special election. Brett Smith, the fourth Republican candidate, only received a small contribution from the Restaurant Association. If those are the Riley Machine candidates, they’re losing their touch.

Unfortunately, the burden here rests solely on the shoulders of the residents of House District 79. Anyone could guess that Riley and the BCA would try to fill Hubbard’s seat–they need someone to pick up the ball and run where Hubbard left off–but dollars don’t mean donuts when the actual ballots are being cast.

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If the voters of Lee County were truly tired of public corruption and truly ready to turn the page to a new style of leadership in Montgomery, there’s no amount of Riley Machine money that could have bought this election. But for that, voters have to be angry.

Unfortunately, corruption has become such a common occurrence that it’s lobbed at political opponents like a political public relations grenade. When both sides are pointing fingers calling the other side corrupt, it’s easy to get bogged down and difficult to discern who to believe. We can see this on all levels of government.

We’re counting on our Attorney General’s office to cut down on public corruption for individuals who are already in office, but we have to look to ourselves as voters to do the same. If we expect government to work, we have to look in the mirror.

Our Republic is based on a binding contract between voters and elected officials–government and the governed. We can’t sit back and become disenchanted with the government when we refuse to do basic research on our elected officials–and more importantly, who is financing them.

People like Bob Riley and Billy Canary will continue to buy elections in the state of Alabama until the people step up and decide enough is enough. We are the gatekeepers that can keep corrupt people out of public office before they even have an opportunity to take an oath of office.

But to do this, we have to do our part at the ballot box.

There will be two candidates in the election to fill the District 79 seat, and there will be a number of candidates on the ballot in November. Do your research. Look past political ads and talking points. Don’t just be another cog in the Riley Machine.

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