It’s one of the oddest, and most embarrassing, cases of mistaken identity in recent Alabama political history.
According to recent polling, James Bonner is leading Jeremy Oden in a race for a seat on the Alabama Public Service Commission.
No, not that James Bonner.
It doesn’t matter which James Bonner you were thinking of, it’s a different guy.
This Bonner — the one who resides in Bear Creek and who has never held public office despite several attempts — is set to embarrass the ALGOP like few other candidates.
On Monday, APR editor in chief Bill Britt wrote about a number of highly offensive Facebook posts by Bonner, including posting a Valentine’s Day card that read: “My love for u burns like 6,000 Jews.” There are other posts about strippers and an old blog post that inexplicably uses a racist rhyme.
Yet, because voters — mainly voters in south Alabama — are confusing James Bonner with a longtime congressman, he’s running neck and neck in the GOP primary.
“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 pollster and Cygnal president Brent Buchanan told Britt. “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.”
Should James from Bear Creek manage to pull off this “Distinguished Gentleman,” it could be a disaster for the ALGOP. Because his problems go well beyond a few offensive Facebook posts.
Bonner has filed multiple bankruptcies, has been cited by the IRS for failing to pay his federal income taxes for several years and owes his ex-wife more than $40,000 in back alimony. He also claimed during his most recent bankruptcy proceedings in 2016 that he is too disabled to work, and thus avoid paying his full alimony payments, yet he’s been able-bodied enough to run for public office five times over the last eight years.
And it gets worse.
Bonner entered into a bankruptcy agreement to repay his debts, which totaled into the six figures, and then he failed to pay the agreed-upon bankruptcy payments. That failure resulted in his bankruptcy agreement being dismissed — an extremely rare action by the courts and one that could see him face criminal charges over his back taxes.
And that’s not the end of it.
His campaign finance reports are also a mess. Most of his forms have been filed hopelessly late and are filled with incorrect info. He also has failed to report a single donation — outside of a loan he made to his campaign fund — to any of his various campaigns.
Following APR’s initial report on Monday, Bonner began scrubbing his Facebook page clean of the offensive posts. In response to the story, which he linked, he claimed his various offensive posts were made “make liberals angry.” He did not deny making any of the posts.
Hightower for Congress announces “Doctors Coalition”
Bill Hightower campaign for Congress said this week that it has received the endorsement of over 30 prominent South Alabama physicians who will serve as the leadership for Hightower’s new “Doctors for Hightower” Coalition.
The pro-Hightower doctors wrote a letter to voters in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.
“We have committed our careers to supporting the south Alabama community and we know first-hand the struggles that medical professionals, providers, and institutions face in addressing the healthcare needs of our community,” the Hightower doctors wrote. “These are challenges that have been magnified in the face of the global pandemic that has ravaged our country and community, and will have ramifications for years to come.”
“South Alabama and the entire Gulf Coast needs strong leadership in Congress that will stand up for our ability to provide accessible and affordable care for our community,” the doctors claimed. “Leadership that understands the needs of medical professionals and patients, an effective voice who will be able to deliver for our community, and an ear we know will be there to listen when future challenges emerge…”
The doctors endorsed Hightower because, “Bill Hightower knows and understands the medical community and healthcare sector. He is the son of Dr. Billy M. Hightower, a healthcare pioneer in open-heart surgery for the Gulf Coast. As a state Senator, Bill Hightower stood up for not only doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, but for patients and their rights. And as a congressman, Bill Hightower will work with the medical community to improve our medical funding and services to help the people of coastal Alabama. He will work to innovate and develop better ways to deliver affordable and accessible care, so we can better serve our patients. We know Bill Hightower is committed to working to ensure we are better able to work to support our patients, to provide the care they want and deserve.”
Hightower served in the Alabama Senate. He ran for the Republican nomination Governor in 2018 but lost to Gov. Kay Ivey, who went on to win her own term. Hightower has owned several small businesses in the South Alabama area. He worked for several large multi-national corporations before moving back to Alabama following 9-11. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and a master’s from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Susan have children and grandchildren.
Bill Hightower is running against Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl for the Republican nomination in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner of the Republican nomination will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary runoff between Kiani Gardner and James Averhart.
Incumbent Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne is not seeking reelection.
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.
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.
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.
National Association for Gun Rights endorses Tuberville
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.
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.
Barry Moore emphasizes support for Trump in debate
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.
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.