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Mistaken identity and racist, sexist, anti-Semitic posts could spell disaster in PSC race

Bill Britt

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Degrading women, racial slurs, anti-Semitic rhetoric and semi-pornographic images posted on social media pages hasn’t hindered the rise of a Republican Party candidate for the Alabama Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities and other entities.

The Alabama Public Service Commission race, where little-known James “Jim” Bonner  is challenging incumbent Jeremy Oden. Bonner is actually leading Oden in recent polls because voters in the Mobile area are confusing him with former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, who served the area in Congress for more than a decade. He is also seeing wide support in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas because of former University of Alabama Chancellor Judy Bonner.

“What makes this particular race so interesting is that Jim Bonner is benefiting greatly from having the same last name as the former Congressman Jo Bonner and his well-known sister former Judy Bonner,” noted Cygnal’s president, Brent Buchanan. “This is borne out by the fact that in the Mobile media market Bonner leads Oden by 28 percent to 6 percent, a 4-to-1 ratio.”

Despite all of this publicly available information, Bonner is leading in the GOP PSC primary against incumbent Oden for Place I on the commission.

According to Buchanan, Bonner is leading Oden due to mistaken identity.

Even though Bonner’s Facebook posts are readily available  voters wrongly identify the candidate.

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A closer look at at his posts revels a card reading, “My love 4 you burns like 6,000 jews,” donning a makeshift postage stamp of Hitler. His post reads, “Awwwww I got a Valentine!!!!”

In other posts, he defended the N-word and called himself a Bentley Republican.

But if these things don’t outrage Conservative sensibilities, then perhaps a photo Bonner posted of a young boy nursing on a mannequin breast should.

In several posts, he likes the use of the N-word and jokes about African-Americans in derogatory posts, refers to a female as a fat stripper, then says, “I’m sorry everyone knows you’re not a stripper” and joins in negative comments about a woman’s vagina, which he calls, “[N]atures perfect design.” Referencing a Chinese restaurant’s menu he says, “The fried anus was the best I ever had.”

In post after post, Bonner seems to revel in racist, sexist and anti-semite comments, but this has dampened his support among those who think he is someone he’s not.

Even with its dominance, the Republican Party has struggled with the conviction of the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard on felony ethics violations, Gov. Robert Bentley who resigned in disgrace and loss of a safe U.S. Senate seat by Judge Roy Moore.

“It appears from the data that this PSC race is within the margin of error strictly because of name confusion. Bonner is competitive across the state despite the fact that he has spent no money on advertising or building his name ID,” added Buchanan. “Given what is expected to be a low turnout election, Bonner would be favored to win this race if it were held today.”

Bonner is one more case of Republicans failing to vet candidates before approving their candidacy.

 

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Elections

State awards CARES Act funds to counties for safe elections

The Secretary of State’s office has made available online its records of how it allocated $2.2 million in federal emergency aid money to counties to prepare for the upcoming elections.

Micah Danney

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Alabama officials are preparing for the July 14 primary runoff and the general election on Nov. 3 amid a pandemic. (STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office has made available online its records of how it allocated $2.2 million in federal emergency aid money to its counties to prepare for the upcoming elections amid the pandemic.

The funding is part of $6.5 million Alabama received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March, which contained $400 million dedicated to helping states hold safe elections.

Alabama officials are preparing for the July 14 primary runoff and the general election on Nov. 3.

Secretary of State John Merrill has encouraged officials to purchase masks, gloves, disinfectant spray, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes and professional cleaning services to keep polling places safe and sanitary.

Almost all the 67 counties received exactly what they asked for, save for three: Mobile, Sumter and Tuscaloosa. 

Tuscaloosa was awarded $42,766.46 but was denied $178.74 that was requested for bottled water.

“Which should tell you that we read these and went over them with a fine-toothed comb,” Merrill said.

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Mobile received the highest amount at nearly half a million dollars. It was denied about $3,000 for video projector equipment that Merrill said could be used for other things and therefore can be applied for through other programs. 

Nor did the county get almost $80,000 for mailers to notify voters whose smaller polling locations have been moved to larger spaces per federal social distancing guidelines. Merrill said that mailers have already been sent to every voter, rendering that cost unnecessary. His office also denied more than $15,000 for tents that would have sheltered voters waiting on lines because, he said, seniors can go to the front of any lines and others can wait in their cars if the weather compels them to.

Sumter County was denied $4,430.38 that it wanted to pay for people to take temperatures at polling sites. Merrill said that student volunteers can do that at no cost per state law.

Dallas County was the only county to request funds to supply every poll worker, election official, law enforcement officer and voter with personal protection equipment like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, face shields and wipes. Officials asked for and received $22,950 for PPE.

“I thought that that was a great use of their resources because they probably would not have been able to purchase something like that,” Merrill said.

Counties will be eligible for another round of funding for the November elections.

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National Association for Gun Rights endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville has been endorsed by the National Association for Gun Rights, while his opponent, Jeff Sessions, has been endorsed by the NRA.

The National Association for Gun Rights Political Action Committee last week announced its endorsement of former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary runoff election for U.S. Senate.

NAGR-PAC is an affiliated PAC of the National Association of Gun Rights, which is the nation’s second largest pro-gun organization, which counts 4.5 million members and supporters nationwide.

“Tommy Tuberville scored a perfect 100% on the NAGR survey and has pledged to support the Second Amendment and fight back against illegal gun grabs as a member of the U.S. Senate,” said NAGR-PAC Chairman Dudley Brown. “Tuberville’s position stands is in stark contrast to Jeff Sessions, who has supported gun control his entire career.”

“The fact that Tommy Tuberville is not a career politician is quite refreshing, and we look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate,” Brown said. “Coach Tuberville is a gun owner who enjoys hunting and understands the importance of our Second Amendment rights.”

Tuberville has made gun rights a cornerstone of his standard campaign speech. Tuberville offered his appreciation for the endorsement and pledged to be the Second Amendment’s staunchest defender on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“Too many members of the U.S. Congress believe that the Second Amendment is merely a suggestion and not a hard-earned constitutional right,” Tuberville said. “Whether it is for hunting, sport shooting, home defense, or simply because they want one, every law-abiding U.S. citizen has the right to own a gun, and I will go toe-to-toe with any lawmaker who tries to take away that freedom.”

The largest gun rights group in the country, the National Rifle Association, has endorsed Tuberville’s opponent, former Sen. Jeff Sessions, in the primary runoff.

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The NAGR-PAC nod follows the endorsement of President Donald Trump, who has publicly thrown his full support behind Tuberville’s campaign and hosted the retired NCAA football coach aboard Air Force One during a recent trip to Texas.

“Every day we see stark reminders that Americans can’t take their safety for granted,” Tuberville said. “The 2nd Amendment enshrines the right to defend yourself and your loved ones from harm. I’m thrilled to have the endorsement of the National Association for Gun Rights, and will always be a staunch defender of our right to bear arms!”

Tuberville lives in Auburn. He is a native of Arkansas and has been a head football coach for Auburn University, the University of Mississippi, Texas Tech University and the University of Cincinnati. Tuberville was also defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and Texas A&M.

The winner of the Republican nomination will face Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Barry Moore emphasizes support for Trump in debate

Brandon Moseley

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Jeff Coleman, left, and Barry Moore, right, participate in a debate. (WTVY)

Congressional candidates Barry Moore and Jeff Coleman both participated in a debate in Dothan on Tuesday, ahead of their runoff in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore emphasized his long-standing support for President Donald Trump as well as his farm and military roots and experience serving in the Alabama Legislature.

“I want to thank WTVY for sponsoring this debate, and Reginald Jones for doing such a great job moderating the event,” Moore said in a statement to reporters afterwards. “I’d also like to thank those who watched it live, and who will watch it later online. The people deserved a chance to see both Republican candidates side by side, and WTVY made that possible despite the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Before the lockdown, we ran a strong grassroots campaign, but these last few weeks we’ve had to switch to more social media and online campaigning while trying to help everyone cope with the lockdown as best we could,” Moore said. “Now the people have seen the two of us standing side by side, and they’ve seen us answer questions about the issues and our records. For those who missed seeing it live, we’ve posted it to our campaign Facebook page. I encourage everyone to watch that video and see just who you’ll be voting for next Tuesday.”

“I think that when people see Barry Moore side by side with Jeff Coleman, they’ll realize that Barry Moore is the best conservative choice for District 2,” Moore said. “I’ve supported our President since I was the first elected official in the country to endorse him. I’ve supported our farmers because I grew up on a row crop farm and I know the challenges they face. I’ve supported our military and our Veterans because I’ve served. I term-limited myself in the Legislature, and I support term limits for Congress. I’ve always been pro-life, pro-family, pro-1st, and pro-2nd Amendments. I’ll continue to do all these things when I’m representing the people of this district in Congress.”

There had been some issues between the two campaigns on a debate date that both could agree on.

“I am glad that Mr. Coleman decided to show up to this debate and I want to thank him as well,” Moore concluded.

Moore represented Enterprise in the Alabama legislature from 2010 to 2008. He was part of the first class of Republican legislators to win control of the state Legislature, ending 135 years of Democratic Party dominance. Moore and his wife Heather own a small waste disposal business. Moore is also a veteran, has a degree in agriculture, and is a father.

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Moore and Coleman are running in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. The winner will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the November 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring after five terms.

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ACLU joins lawsuit over Alabama voting amid COVID-19 pandemic

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several voters who are at greater risk from complications or death due to COVID-19. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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The American Civil Liberties Union and its Alabama chapter have joined in a lawsuit attempting to make it easier for some voters to cast their ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Alabama joined in the lawsuit filed in May by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program against Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill. 

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision last week blocked U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s order that would have allowed curbside voting statewide and waived certain absentee ballot requirements for voters in at least Jefferson, Mobile and Lee Counties.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several voters who are at greater risk from complications or death due to COVID-19. 

The lawsuit was also brought on behalf of People First of Alabama, Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, voters in the upcoming July 14 Republican runoff election will have to submit a copy of their photo ID and have either two adult witnesses sign their absentee ballot requests or have it notarized. 

“Alabama is in the middle of a deadly and ongoing pandemic but is refusing to take common-sense steps to protect the public’s health and their right to vote for all elections in 2020. That’s why we are taking legal action,” said Alora Thomas-Lundborg, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project in a statement. 

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“In the midst of an out-of-control pandemic, Alabama officials should be doing everything they can to ensure that all voters have a safe, fair, and equal opportunity to cast a ballot. Instead, officials have chosen politics over public health and safety. They are fighting to make it harder to cast a ballot and have that ballot counted. This litigation is crucial to ensure safe, fair, and equal opportunity to vote,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, in a statement.

“As we head into preparations for the November general election with COVID-19 cases rising in Alabama, it is critical that our election officials take seriously the protection of voters, poll workers, and our democracy,” said Caren Short, senior staff attorney for SPLC in a statement. “In this critical election season, we are grateful to have Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Alabama join this effort to ensure that every voter is heard. No voter should have to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and their health or the health of a loved one.”

Deuel Ross, NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund senior counsel, said in a statement that over the July 4th weekend, Alabama reported nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases.

“Yet, state leaders insist on enforcing draconian restrictions on in-person and absentee voting that no other state finds necessary to combat the almost nonexistent issue of voter fraud,” Ross said. “These restrictions are needless in normal circumstances. They are deadly in a pandemic. At trial in September, we will work to make sure that state leaders comply with their constitutional duty to protect the rights and safety of all voters.”

In a Tweet on July 2, Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill expressed gratitude for the Supreme Court’s decision. 

“With the news that we have received a Stay in this process, I am excited that the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of those who believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution and has decided to grant the Stay and not endorse legislating from the bench,” Merrill said in the tweet.

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