The powerful Business Council of Alabama has endorsed challenger Richard “Bull” Corry, R-Oakman, in House District 14 over incumbent Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley.
In addition, BCA’s PAC has donated $20,000 to Corry’s campaign.
BCA said in a statement that, “Elections are a battle to ensure that a pro-jobs majority in the Legislature leads with a pro-jobs agenda.”
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Wadsworth: Have you done anything in the Legislature that was anti-jobs?
“Absolutely not,” Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth said that there are three reasons that Billy Canary and the BCA have targeted him.
“I supported the Autism bill.”
The bill required health care insurers, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to provide potentially life changing therapy to children diagnosed with autism. Canary and the BCA opposed the bill because BCA backing corporation Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama initially opposed the legislation. Hundreds of parents of autistic children supported the bill, so ultimately it passed.
“I opposed the Gas tax.”
The Business Council of Alabama for the last three years has been pushing for infrastructure improvements. Everyone agrees that the roads and bridges need to be improved, but there is disagreement on how to pay for it. BCA supports raising fuel taxes and imposing a user fee on electric cars. Senate candidate Tim Sprayberry has proposed building more weigh stations for heavy trucks. Other ideas floated include toll roads, more public/private partnerships, and ending budgetary earmarking so the legislature can prioritize needs such as roads and bridges. Canary and BCA however have opposed all of those solutions and are instead demanding that legislators support their plan to raise the fuel taxes. Wadsworth was instrumental in organizing opposition in the House to the BCA plan. Wadsworth said that the Alabama Roadbuilders are also supporting his opponent.
“I was also anti-Hubbard,” Wadsworth said.
APR asked if Canary is still upset with legislators who did not back his friend, Hubbard.
“I think he is,” Wadsworth said. “They are targeting the most conservative lawmakers.”
In addition to targeting Wadsworth, BCA has thrown its weight against state Senator Paul Bussman, R-Cullman. Sen. Bussman was punished by Senate President Del Marsh, R-Anniston, by having his committee chairmanship stripped from him for opposing Marsh’s plan to effectively take tenure protections away from Alabama teachers. Bussman also was critical of BCA’s plan to raise gas taxes and questioned the ethics of Mike Hubbard. BCA has endorsed Bussman’s challenger, Harlan Gudger.
Hubbard was eventually convicted of 12 counts of felony ethics violations in 2016. To this day he has not served a single day of his prison sentence. At his trial, Canary testified about his strong friendship with the then Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. Every week during legislative sessions, Hubbard and Marsh and their chief of staff would meet with Canary and BCA leaders even before meeting with their caucuses about what BCA and Canary wanted to happen in the coming legislative week.
Wadsworth said that BCA has also not endorsed conservative House incumbents Tommy Hanes and Richie Whorton in their races. “That is all connected.”
Wadsworth told APR that he has been endorsed by the Alabama Forestry Association, the Alabama Realtors Association, Manufacture Alabama, the United Mineworkers local, the National Rifle Association, the Alabama Homebuilders Association, the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Alabama Communications Workers, the Alabama Citizens for Life, the Alabama Retailers Association, and A-Vote.
Wadsworth is seeking his second term in the Alabama House of Representatives.