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Elections

Ainsworth blasts Twinkle in lieutenant governor race, lays out his plan for the office

Josh Moon

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Will Ainsworth, a state representative, speaks at a committtee meeting during the 2018 Legislative Session about his bill that would arm teachers. Ainsworth is currently in a race for lieutnant governor. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Career politician vs. successful businessman.

That’s the way Will Ainsworth sees his Republican primary race for lieutenant governor. He, of course, is the successful businessman, having founded Dream Ranch and the Alabama Hunting and Fishing Expo, and his opponent, Twinkle Cavanaugh, is the “swampy” career politician.

“You can’t get more swamp than my opponent in this race,” Ainsworth said during an interview with the Alabama Political Reporter on Wednesday. “She’s spent her entire life living off the taxpayers, bouncing from one state job to another. While I’ve been running successful businesses and putting people to work. That’s the difference between us, and I hope people will just look into our backgrounds a bit before making a decision.”

Ainsworth’s background reads like the wish list for a conservative politician’s bio: raised in Boaz to a businessman dad and mom who’s the director of the local Crisis Pregnancy Center; he’s a former youth pastor, Auburn grad, started a couple of successful businesses with his brother, wife and three cute kids.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life, and I know it, and I want to share some of that,” Ainsworth said. “I want to make the state better, to do what I can to help. This isn’t about earning a living or taking from the taxpayers. It’s about doing what I can to leave a better Alabama for my kids.”

To do that, he has a three-step plan for his time as lieutenant governor — a position Ainsworth acknowledges carries little real authority under current Alabama law. Just the same, Ainsworth said he believes the position — the only statewide elected official in the Alabama Legislature — can influence positive change.

And in that regard, he said he plans to focus on shaping a positive conversation among lawmakers, improving education and sharpening the state’s workforce development.

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“I’m tired of Alabama government being an embarrassment to the Alabama people,” Ainsworth said. “I want to be part of changing that image.”

Ainsworth also noted that, unlike Cavanaugh, his children attend public schools, and he has ideas for improving public schools all over the state. That plan starts with expanding pre-k options and providing all school systems with the opportunity to participate.

“My wife is a former pre-k teacher, so I have some experience with seeing the benefits of that program up close,” Ainsworth said. “When I was running for the House, I went and sat down with many of the public school teachers in my district. I took their recommendations to heart.”

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On the workforce development front, Ainsworth said he simply wants to be a facilitator — bringing people from all sides together to make sure we’re getting Alabama citizens into Alabama jobs.

“I want to be that voice, that person who can bring everyone to the table and make things happen,” he said.

Ainsworth also said he wants to continue the push in economic development to see more accountability. And he wants to see more focus on existing businesses expanding, which he said was the biggest jobs producer.

But mostly, he wants Alabama voters to know that he plans to work as lieutenant governor, unlike Cavanaugh.

“When she talks about improving education and creating jobs, it’s such a joke, because she has no idea how to do any of that,” Ainsworth said of Cavanaugh. “She’s never done it. She is a professional politician. She says these things because they sound good — that’s something a politician does.”

Ainsworth said he’s grown tired of politicians, like Cavanaugh, spending their entire lives in government, which is why he introduced a bill last session to put term limits on all public offices. He also said he’s been a staunch advocate for tougher ethics laws, and he was an original sponsor on a bill that prohibited lawmakers from jumping immediately from their office to working as lobbyists.

“That’s profiting from your office, as far as I’m concerned,” Ainsworth said. “My opponent certainly did that. She went right from being a public official to working as a lobbyist.”

In the early 2000s, Cavanaugh left a position with then-Gov. Bob Riley to become a lobbyist for a firm in Mississippi that represented Mississippi Choctaw Indian casinos. At the same time, Cavanaugh was serving as the executive director of the Alabama GOP.

But it didn’t stop there. After an unsuccessful run for the Alabama Public Service Commission, Cavanaugh was hired by Riley to work in his finance department. What experience Cavanaugh had working in finance is unclear — she has a degree from Auburn in biology and had never worked in finance. Additionally, Cavanaugh’s hire came during a statewide hiring freeze.

“How is any of that serving the public?” Ainsworth said. “That’s what’s wrong with politics today. Everyone is in it for themselves. But I’m not. I just hope the voters of this state will take a hard look at both of us and then make up their minds. There’s a pretty clear difference.”

 

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Economy

Likely Republican primary voters reject Poarch Creeks “winning” plan

Bill Britt

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A survey of likely Republican primary voters obtained by APR shows that a majority do not support giving the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a monopoly over gaming in the state despite the tribe’s promise of a billion dollars.

Over the last several months, PCI has orchestrated a massive media blitz to convince Alabamians that they have a winning plan for the state’s future in exchange for a Tribal-State compact and exclusive rights to Vegas-style casino gaming.

The survey commissioned by the Republican House and Senate caucuses and conducted by CYGNAL, a highly respected Republican polling firm, found that only 34.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters are buying what the tribe is selling. On the contrary, nearly 50 percent of Republicans oppose the plan, with almost 40 percent voicing strong opposition.

Of those surveyed, females are against the plan by nearly 50 percent, with men weighing-in at almost 60 percent unfavorable to PCI’s proposal.

Perhaps most significant is that PCI’s monopoly plan was widely rejected in areas where the tribe already operates casinos. In the Mobile area, nearest Windcreek Atmore, over half of Republicans see a monopoly unfavorably. The same is true in the Montgomery area, where PCI has two gaming facilities.

Not a single big city surveyed in the state held a favorable view of PCI’s plan with Birmingham and Huntsville rejecting the tribal monopoly by almost 50 percent.

Very conservative, somewhat conservative and moderate voters didn’t view the plan as positive.

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Ninety-one percent of respondents said they defiantly would be voting in the upcoming Republican primary on March 3.

PCI has lavished money on media outlets throughout the state, garnering favorable coverage, especially on talk radio and internet outlets. The tribe has also spent freely on Republican lawmakers.

Perhaps some good news for PCI is that Republican primary voters believe that state legislators are more likely to represent special interests above the interests of their constituents.

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PCI lobbyists continue to push the tribe’s agenda at the State House in defiance of Gov. Kay Ivey’s call for no action on gaming until her study group returns its findings.

The survey found that Ivey enjoys a 76.3 percent favorability rating among likely Republican primary voters.

 

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Elections

Opinion | It’s time for Alabama Democrats to learn from Alabama Republicans

Josh Moon

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Democrats never seem to learn from Republicans. 

All around the country, and all around the state of Alabama, Democrats are still playing by the rules. Still listening to the cries and outrage from the other side. Still entertaining the idea that compromise and diplomacy are important to Republicans on some level. 

Still watching Lucy jerk that football away at the last moment. 

It’s time that stopped. 

It is time — actually, well past time — for Democrats to adopt the attitudes of their GOP colleagues, and just do whatever the hell you want to do. 

Whatever goal you set, go achieve it. Whatever policy is important, implement it. Whatever action you believe is right, take it. 

This is how Republicans have governed now for years. It is how they have wrestled control of the U.S. Supreme Court — just don’t hold a hearing for a duly appointed candidate — and how they have stolen elections — keep blocking attempts to secure elections. It is how they control half of Congress — thanks, gerrymandering! — despite representing nearly 20 million fewer people and how they have managed to offset a growing minority vote — put up every roadblock short of a poll tax. 

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In Alabama, it has how they adopted the AAA act to funnel tax money to private schools — just completely rewrite the bill in the dead of night — and how they passed the most restrictive abortion ban — just ignore promises and public opinion. It is how they have stopped attempts to pass gambling legislation — by straight up lying about the law — and how they have steadily cut into ethics laws — pretend that no one can understand the laws they wrote themselves — and how a House Speaker convicted on 12 felonies still isn’t in prison three years later — just don’t send him. 

They don’t care. 

About rules. About the law. About public perception. About basic decency. 

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And it’s time for Democrats, especially in Alabama, to adopt the same attitudes. 

Because if Republicans can behave this way to implement racist bills and roll back ethics laws and protect the income of the elites, then Democrats shouldn’t think twice about doing it to protect rural hospitals or new mothers’ health or workers’ rights or decent public schools. 

Now, this will be a big change for Democrats, so let me explain how this would look in practice, using the ongoing saga of Confederate monuments. 

Republicans shoved through an absurd bill last year that protects the state’s monuments to those who fought to enslave other human beings, and they’re shocked — shocked and outraged — that African Americans in Alabama might find it offensive to honor the men who enslaved their ancestors. 

The bill they passed last year was a dumb bill, right down to the portion which levied a fine on cities if those cities removed or damaged a monument. The bill completely screwed up the fines portion, failing to penalize cities for moving or damaging monuments over 40 years old and failing to place a per-day fine on those cities. Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court said the cities would be subject to one $25,000 fine. 

Birmingham has a monument that it desperately wants to move. It has already boarded up the monument in Linn Park, and the ALSC, in the same ruling, ordered the boards to come down. 

And this is the first opportunity for Mayor Randall Woodfin to approach this with a new attitude. 

Tear it down. 

Write out one of those big “Price is Right” checks for $25,000, hold a press conference and award that money to Steve Marshall like he just won at Plinko. 

At the same time, workers should be taking that monument apart piece by piece and moving it to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where it can be viewed for its historical significance instead of serving to honor traitors and racists. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t even entertain their complaints. 

A similar approach should be taken by the city of Montgomery in regards to its occupational tax, which Republicans are attempting to stop through legislative action. 

Montgomery is going broke, and it can’t put enough cops on the streets. Part of that is because every day about 70,000 people flood into the city to go to work, and then they leave each afternoon and spend their money in — and give their tax dollars to — surrounding cities and counties. 

Montgomery has to do something to offset the costs, so an occupational tax has been proposed. But just as quickly as it was, the ALGOP — the kings of handouts to people who don’t need them — passed a bill to block it. 

So, some creativity is required.

Instead of an occupational tax, pass a public safety tax. 

If you work within the city limits of Montgomery, but live outside of those city limits, your paycheck will now be taxed an extra 1 percent to offset the cost of the police and fire services that you might use while in the city every day. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t listen to GOP complaints. 

It’s a shame that things have to be like this, but they do. Democrats have tried for decades to force rational debate and to promote the value of compromise. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, which have been attached to toddler-like brains that have justified atrociously selfish behaviors and awful governance. 

At this point, it has gone on so long and been so successful for Republicans, the only thing that might break through is a taste of their own medicine. 

Give it to them.

 

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Elections

Maggie’s List endorses Jessica Taylor in 2nd Congressional District

Brandon Moseley

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Maggie’s List, a national political action committee dedicated to electing conservative women to federal office, endorsed Jessica Taylor in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Sandra B. Mortham is the Chairman of Maggie’s List and the former Florida secretary of state.

“Jessica Taylor is a proven leader who brings dedication and heart to Alabama,” Mortham said. “We know Jessica is the right person to represent Alabama’s Second congressional district in Washington because she respects the need for increased personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism, and will help move Alabama forward.”

“As the Alabama Chairwoman of Maggie List, I am proud that the organization has officially endorsed Jessica Taylor for Congressional District 2 here in Alabama,” said Alabama Chairwoman Claire H. Austin. “Jessica holds the conservative policy values as a fiscal conservative, less government spending, and more personal responsibility, and a strong national defense. Jessica will stand strong in Washington for our conservative Alabama values.”

Jessica Taylor thanked Maggie’s List for the endorsement.

“I am humbled to be chosen as one of the 12 conservatives women endorsed by Maggie’s List,” Taylor said. “I entered this race because I am sick and tired of far-left radicals like AOC, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of “The Squad”, thinking that Democrats can have a monopoly of the women’s vote. I put together the Conservative Squad to challenge that narrative and fight back. It’s an honor to have the support of Maggie’s List. I look forward to working with them and conservative women around the country to take back the house in 2020!”

The criteria for an endorsement from Maggie’s List includes electoral viability as well as a commitment to promoting fiscal conservatism, less government, more personal responsibility, and strong national security.

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To date, Jessica Taylor has been endorsed by Maggie’s List, Empower America Project, Susan B. Anthony List, former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Winning for Women, VIEW PAC, Empower America Project, and former Second Congressional candidate Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville).

Jessica Taylor is married to former State Senator Bryan Taylor. The Taylors live in Prattville with their four children. She has her own business which helps small businesses and nonprofits apply for government grants.

Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby is not seeking another term representing the Second Congressional District.

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Elections

Sessions responds to negative attacks from Tuberville, Byrne

Brandon Moseley

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Every poll that has been released since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions entered the GOP field for U.S. Senate has had Jeff Sessions in the lead, whether it was by just two points or by as many as 10 points.

Predictably, Sessions main two rivals, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, have run ads taking shots at Sessions to try to bring him back to the field. On Monday, Sessions responded to the attacks.

“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign,” Sessions said. “But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid. Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy, low point.”

Sessions warned that he is capable of going negative to.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” Sessions added. “The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing the strong Trump economy.”

Bradley Byrne is currently running ads saying that Sessions failed as Trump’s attorney general and Tuberville failed as a head football coach.

Tuberville has criticized both Sessions and Byrne as “career politicians.”

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“If the voters of Alabama want a career politician as their next U.S. Senator, then they have plenty of choices,” Tuberville told Breitbart News. “If they want a political outsider who will actually stand with President Trump and fight the DC establishment when it matters the most, I am the only choice. Jeff Sessions had a chance to stand and defend the President and he failed.”

GRIT PAC is a political action committee formed to help elect Tuberville to the U.S. Senate.

One GRIT PAC ad played a quote of an angry Pres. Trump, “The attorney general said, ‘I’m going to recuse myself,’ and I said, ‘Why the hell didn’t he tell me that before I put him in?’ He’s bad, he’s a bad, bad guy.”

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“Time for Jeff to hang up the cleats. Say no to traitor Jeff Sessions,” adds a narrator at the end of the clip.

According to their filing with the Federal Elections Commission, GRIT PAC reported raising $111,500 from just seven donors in 2019: Smart Living LLC $6,000; Gulf Distributing Holdings LLC, $15,000, William Lester, $500; Lewis AMC LLC, $5,000; Colsa Corporation CEO Office Account, $25,000; Hometown Lenders INC,$25,000; and Frank Brown, $35,000.

Sessions was Attorney General from 2017 to 2018. He served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017. Prior to his Senate service, he served as: Alabama Attorney General, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, U.S. Attorney under Presidents Bush and Reagan, assistant U.S. Attorney, and as Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.

The Republican primary is on March 3. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the November general election.

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