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Opinion | The plot to kick a GOP school board candidate off the ballot

Larry Lee is no stranger to Alabama politics, especially in education circles.

For going 50 years or so now, Lee has been involved in state government — a member of the Alabama Republican Party — and writes a popular education blog. He’s been a thorn in the side of many elected officials, and the voice and advocate for more teachers, principals and students than you could probably count.

That’s why so many teachers and administrators talk to him, and send him information. I do a little reporting on state education issues myself, and I’m consistently amazed at the volume of education info Lee is able to gather in a short period of time.

There is no one who knows more about education, particularly from a policy standpoint, than Larry Lee.

And all of that makes what happened this past weekend all the more … odd? Infuriating? Downright shameful?

Let’s go with downright shameful.

Lee is running for the Montgomery County School Board, where his wisdom and level head would be a godsend. And he’s running as a Republican, since he’s been a pro-public education Republican for years. (He was a member of the Jefferson County GOP Executive Committee in the 1960s, for God sakes.)

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Some Republicans are trying to toss him off the ballot.


Well, the official reason, given by Perry Hooper Jr., a member of the GOP State Executive Committee and president of the Least Popular People on Earth Club (only one of those is real, but both should be), is that Lee once took money from the Alabama Education Association.

If this is a disqualifier within the state GOP, congrats Democrats, almost all of the Republicans have to drop out. Including Perry Hooper Jr.

But it’s not a real reason. It’s a ploy.

It’s a lame ploy to move a less business friendly candidate out of the race. It’s yet another scam in a seemingly never ending series of scams regarding the takeover of Montgomery’s schools. And it’s a con game to grease the rails for charter schools.

While Lee isn’t exactly anti-charter schools, he is anti-abandoning struggling public schools. And abandoning Montgomery’s struggling schools is something every Republican in and around Montgomery — from the mayor to the council to the business owners — seem perfectly willing to do.

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It’s a disgrace what has happened to Montgomery’s schools, and it’s an even bigger disgrace to watch this bunch of clowns trip over themselves to apply yet another “fix” that will leave the poorest students — most of whom are black — stuck in underfunded, awful schools.

And to make sure they can get away with it, they’re pulling stunts like trying to remove candidates from the ballot.

Luckily, sources told APR that the chairwoman of the Montgomery GOP, Pat Wilson, isn’t buying Hooper’s stories. Lee jumped through all of the initial hoops, including going before the county executive committee and submitting the required paperwork. That committee unanimously approved him.

The sources said Wilson informed Hooper that the decision of the committee was good enough for her. And good for her. 

Let’s hope that holds. A source said a complaint has been filed with the GOP state executive committee about Lee’s candidacy. 

It should follow the same path as Wilson and leave Lee on the ballot. And leave Montgomery voters with a decent option.


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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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