By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, nineteen major party candidates qualified to run for the US Senate seat vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions (R). While the focus was rightly on the candidates who did choose to step in the ring and run for some prominent candidates chose at the last minute not to run for the coveted position in the US Senate.
Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) was openly contemplating running for Senate and had been sparring with the Strange campaign but announced on the final day of qualifying that he would not be a candidate.
Marsh said that he had largely made up his mind a weak ago not to run.
Marsh, who has been a very successful businessman, was one of the few candidates who could have raised the financial resources to Trump for Alabama Campaign Co-Chair former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. (R-Prattville) had formed an exploratory committee to study the possibility of running gor US Senate. Ultimately however Hooper chose not to run.
Representative Hooper said, “Once it became apparent that President Trump would make our own Senator Jeff Sessions a Senior Member of his Team, people from all over Alabama urged me to seek his Senate Seat and become the Senate voice for his agenda. Being that voice was the reason I sought the appointment. I believed then and still believe now I would be an outstanding Senator. Unfortunately, this did not work out. Now it’s time for another decision. After a lot of prayer and thoughtful consideration, Judy and I have made the very difficult decision now is not the time for me to run for Senate. To my many supporters especially those who signed petitions and sent letters to the Governor, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Don’t worry I am not going anywhere. I will continue to fight the good fight for the full implementation of the Trump Agenda.”
Rep. Hooper added, “All the declared candidates are friends of mine and each one of them would be an outstanding US Senator. Donald Trump needs solid conservative team members in Congress in making his agenda a reality, not obstructionists and not distractors.”
Hooper endorsed Luther Strange for Senate. Hooper said, “I have known Luther Strange for over 30 years. He is a fine honorable man and a true statesman. He has assured me that he will be a strong Trump Floor Leader in repealing and replacing Obamacare, cutting taxes on working Americans, reducing regulations that are stifling our economy, rebuilding our military and ensuring our border security. He will assure Alabama Infrastructure needs are on Trump’s priority list, such as the Mobile Bay Bridge, Montgomery’s Outer Loop, Birmingham’s Corridor X and road expansions around Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal. He is currently fighting tooth and nail to bring a F-35 Squadron to the Capital City. I humbly ask the good people of Alabama to join Senator Luther Strange and me in Making America Great Again!”
Like Hooper, State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) is also a former Trump Alabama Co-Chair and a potential candidate for US Senate who ultimately decided that he should not run for US Senate. Unlike Hooper, Henry is not a fan of Strange and accused him of corruption.
Rep. Henry was joined by: Sam McClure who has filed a bar complaint against Strange; Thomas J. Scoville who has filed a complaint with the Alabama Republican Party seeking to deny Luther Strange Republican ballot access; and State Representative Mike Ball (R).
Ball and certain members of the House have held a grudge against Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart going back to the Mike Hubbard and Barry Moore trials. Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted by Hart and his team of 12 felony ethics violations. State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) was indicted for perjury; but ultimately found not guilty by a jury. Moore is now a 2018 candidate for US Congress.
Representatives Ball and Henry claim that Luther’s dismissal of Ball’s complaints against Hart is evidence of corruption. Sources close to the investigation tell The Alabama Political Reporter that they same claims were made by the Mike Hubbard and Barry Moore defense teams at the time and they were all investigated and dismissed by the courts as completely without merit. In the Hubbard case, Strange has recused himself so his conduct in that case was answerable to special Acting Attorney General William Van Davis (R-Pell City) and it would have been highly improper for Strange to have involved himself in a case where he has recused himself and if he had removed Hart in that case it arguably could have been obstruction of justice on the part of Strange. There is no doubt that Hart pressured Moore to turn state’s evidence against Hubbard and used the perjury prosecution as that vehicle; but that is what prosecutors do. Reportedly there are other corruption investigations underway involving some members of the Legislature.
The Strange campaign was at Henry’s press conference circulating flyers critical of Henry’s support for Hubbard and his efforts to get federal prosecutors to investigate Alabama’s prosecutors before the Hubbard trial. A finding of prosecutorial misconduct against Hart likely would have been a mortal blow to the Hubbard prosecution. Mike Hubbard is still not in prison, even with the convictions.
Henry also claimed that Bentley’s appointment of Strange prevented the legislature from impeaching Luther Strange. No Articles of Impeachment were ever introduced against AG Strange in the House and it is doubtful that even if Strange were still AG that that would have gained any traction in the House.
It is likely that some of those who chose not to compete in the Senate race will not be sitting out the 2018 elections.