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Alabama Republicans narrowly decide against censuring Shelby

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama Republican executive committee members angry at U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, for abandoning Roy Moore in December’s general election launched an unsuccessful effort to have Shelby censured by his own party.

Passing resolutions only require a simple majority vote of the 550 member Alabama Republican Executive Committee.

Resolutions Committee Chairman Ed Isom said that Shelby’s actions in the Senate special election were unfortunate and against the majority of the people in this room, but the Resolutions Committee unanimously voted not to adopt the resolution.

Undaunted, Shelby’s many critics pressed on.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan limited debate to five minutes with an option for an additional three minutes if necessary.  The spirited debate took all of that.

Tim Sprayberry, from Cleburne County, said, “We are a  party of rules and they apply to each of us equally no matter your stature in the party.”

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Sprayberry said that he has 21 cosponsors, “Because of what Senator Shelby did the Democrats have a full slate of candidates from governor all the way down.

Joel Blankeship from Jefferson County said that the party should move on to other business including a multitude of challenges and introduced a motion to lay this resolution on the table.

The ALGOP Parliamentarian ruled that Blankenship’s motion was out of order.

Paul Thibado of St. Clair County said, “I am a co-sponsor of this.”  Thibado denounced Shelby’s conduct in the special election and said, “The ripple offense of this is going to be felt in the Alabama Republican Party for years and years and years.”

Steve Guede from Calhoun County said that he had opposed Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary; but he still went to Florida and campaigned for Romney anyway because he was the Republican nominee.

Guede said that Shelby should not be given a pass just because he has a high office.

A Lee County delegate defended Shelby saying, “I can not see where Senator Shelby or Mitch McConnell cost Roy Moore the election.”

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Charles Brown, from Tuscaloosa County said, “Richard Shelby sold out the Republican Party in Alabama.  He did not want to sit beside Roy Moore in the Senate but he will sit next to somebody who votes to kill babies.”

Sprayberry said that Shelby had a responsibity to the party, “To support the Republican candidate on the ballot or keep his mouth shut.”

One pro-Shelby delegate said that Shelby had done great things for the state.

Another motion was introduced to postpone indefinitely the vote on the resolution.  This time there was no objection from the parliamentarian.

Sprayberry accused the Chair of coaching from the podium.

Lathan said, “The Chair has not coached from the podium.  I have treated everyone with fairness.”

The motion to table the vote on the resolution carried 58 percent to 42 percent.

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Tim Sprayberry is running for State Senate in District 13, where incumbent Gerald Dial is leaving the Senate to run for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

In a related measure, the committee rejected a proposed bylaw change that would have established the seven congressional district chairs as the ALGOP resolutions committee.

Bylaws committee chair Joseph Fuller denounced the proposed bylaw change, “This is an attempt to strip power from the Chairman which we see from time to time.”

Sponsor Pierce Boyd responded, “This is not an attempt to strip the chairman of authority.”

Lathan said that if this passes, “The 7 district chairs would be the committee and the chair could not appoint any of the rest of you,” to the resolutions committee.

Boyd’s bylaw change was defeated 28 to 72 percent.

Richard Shelby was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 as a Democrat, narrowly unseating Sen. Jeremiah Denton .  In 1994, Shelby switched to the Republican Party.

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In last year’s special election, Shelby endorsed Bentley appointee Luther Strange.

Former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore defeated Strange and appeared to be headed to a resounding victory over Jones, until a series of women claimed that Moore acted sexually inappropriately with them during the 1970s when Moore was a single Etowah County deputy district attorney fresh out of law school.

Shelby refused to endorse Moore and the U.S. Senate Republicans withheld their funds for Moore’s campaign.

The senator angered many in the party by announcing he would write in a candidate rather than vote for Moore .  The Democrats flooded the state with advertising, much of it repeating Shelby’s statement and Jones narrowly defeated Moore.

The next meeting of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee will be in Tuscaloosa in August.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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