Monday, Alabama Democrats held a general election campaign kickoff event at the Gardendale Civic Center. Approximately 250 people were present at the event hoping to kick off a Democratic campaign effort that they hope will lead to a “Blue Wave” election on November 6 up and down the ballot.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D) is the Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama.
Maddox was introduced by former Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks (D). Sparks was the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2010.
“One of my greatest regrets is that we did not work hard to elect you as governor in 2010. You would have made a great governor, Ron,” Maddox said.
“This is an exciting time in Alabama.” Maddox said that when Lyndon B. Johnson became President he said we are going to pass the Civil Rights Act. His advisors all said. Don’t do that. If you will do nothing you will be elected next year. Johnson said, ““What good is the Presidency if you don’t do anything with it? What good is the governorship if you don’t do anything with it?”
Maddox said: We are going to pass the Alabama education lottery. We are going to regain our moral standing by offering mental health services to the people that need it.
“We are going to expand Medicaid to save our rural hospitals,” Maddox said. “We are on the right side of history. It is not right versus left; but right versus wrong.”
Maddox was critical of the 1901 Constitution; but said that as he is a pragmatist, replacing the Constitution will have to wait for his second term.
Maddox said that he has challenged his opponent, incumbent Governor Kay Ivey (R), to four debates.
Dr. Will Boyd (D) is the pastor of the Missionary Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals and the Democratic nomine for Lt. Governor.
“We need everyone’s Blue Wave so we can take Alabama back,” Boyd said. “We have some important issues on the table. Alabama has 900,000 people in poverty, 300,000 of them are children.”
We could have a high-speed rail system connecting people across the county and across the state, but we keep leaving transportation dollars on the table, Boyd said. We need to expand Medicaid. “We need prison reform because we have a disproportionate share of African Americans in prison.”
Boyd ran for U.S. Senate in 2017; but lost the Democratic primary to Doug Jones. He was also the Democratic nominee for the Fifth Congressional District; but lost the general election to incumbent Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).
“We can’t throw tomatoes at the TV and say ‘dump Trump’,” Boyd said. We need to be out in the street burning up shoe leather knocking on doors to elect Democrats this fall.
“We are not the party that believes in conservatism,” Dr. Boyd said. “Conservatism got us thirty years of trickle down economics.” “If we were not on TV, I would say that we have been GOPeed on.”
Boyd told the Alabama Political Reporter that he is challenging his opponent, Will Ainsworth, to six debates.
Jefferson County Judge Robert “Bob” Vance Jr. (D) is running for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
“I have had the honor of being one of the circuit judges in Jefferson County for sixteen years,” Vance said. “In that time I have been involved in a lot of elections. In all that time this is the first time that I have been to a Democratic event in Gardendale. That is progress.”
Vance said that many of the prisoners in the jails and the prisons are suffering from mental health and drug abuse problems. Until they get the help that they need, the problems in this state will not go away.
“We are so tired of the politics of hate, of divisiveness, of politicians trying to pit that group against this group for their own political gain,” Vance said. “The people of Alabama are starting to understand that. Look at the election of Doug Jones.”
“What does the Chief Justice do?” Vance said. “Why should you care?” The Chief Justice is the Chief Administrator of the Alabama Court system. Whenever there is a problem in any court in the state, ultimately the buck stops there at the Chief Justice.
Vance said that Roy Moore was the opposite of what a judge should be and that his opponent, Tom Parker is just as bad.
Danner Kline is best known for leading the effort to end regulations on craft beer. Kline is running for U.S. Representative for the Sixth Congressional District. The Sixth District is currently represented by Gary Palmer (R-Hoover). Kline lives in Vestavia Hills.
“This is the most impressive slate of Democratic candidates we have had in decades,” Kline said. “I am very excited for the matchup that we have at the top and that is Walt Maddox running against Kay Ivey.”
“With your help we are going to kick Gary Palmer out of Congress,” Kline said. The only thing that Gary Palmer have voted on that passed was a tax cut plan that gave a tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and did not help a single person in this room.
Heather Milam said, “I am proud to be your next Secretary of State.” I am running for this office because we must make it easier to vote. Number two we need to strengthen and support our voter files. My opponent was in Russian observing their free and fair elections. I don’t think that is OK.
Milam is running against incumbent Secretary John Merrill (R).
Donna Smalley is running for the Alabama Supreme Court.
Smalley said that everybody who is running for judge will tell you that they will be fair but you as a voter need to look beyond that.
“You should vote for me because: Number one I have the most experience. I have practiced law for forty years,” Smalley said. My opponent was two years old when I began. I have practiced in a variety of areas of the law in both the federal and state court systems; while my opponent has been primarily a lobbyist. Second Alabama has a widespread corruption problem. My opponent has defended Mike Hubbard. Third I have done a lot of mediation
Karie Powell is running for the Alabama Public Service Commission.
“I am running because we need transparency at the Public Service Commission,” Powell said. “The Public Service Commission holds rate meetings in secret. Other states have formal rate hearing. Alabama has not had a formal hearing since 1982.”
“Alabama Power has the highest return on equity, profits, of any utility company in the country,” Powell continued. “Alabamians pay the second highest residential utility rates in the country. You are being ripped off.”
Powell said that she is for repealing the fee on home solar customers, which she calls a tax.
Veronica R. Johnson is running for House District 51.
“One of my biggest platform issues is Pre-K,” Johnson said. “Our Pre-K program is the best in the nation but only 28 percent of the children in Alabama get Pre-K.” “With Pre-K there is a $7 return for every dollar invested.
“I am a juvenile probation officer,” Johnson said. Prison reform is very important. “We need to adequately equip our prison guards to protects themselves as well as the other prisoners and we have not been doing that.”
Alabama is becoming a car manufacturing Mecca; but we are not producing enough workers to fill all of these jobs,” Johnson added. “We are having to pull from out of state. We need more vocational education in high schools so Alabamians can fill those jobs.”
“We need to expand Medicaid,” Johnson said. Johnson said that District 51 is a purple district.
Danny Carr is running Jefferson County District Attorney. He is currently the Chief Deputy District Attorney and was previously the interim district attorney. He is running against Gov. Ivey appointee, Mike Anderton (R).
“I was removed because I am a Democrat,” Carr said. “In November this blue wave will ride throughout our state, through our county, and our city. Montgomery will not decide who we elect.”
Mark Pettway is running for Sheriff of Jefferson County against incumbent Mike Hale (R).
“I have over 26 years of law enforcement experience including 18 years in the Sheriffs Department,” Pettway said. “I want to be Sheriff because I care. I care about the children and the teachers while they are in school. I want an environment where teachers are able to teach in a safe environment and not carry a gun.”
“I care about criminal justice reform,” Pettway said. “We are going to stop the revolving door.” “When they leave the jail we will make sure that they have opportunities waiting for them.”
The general election will be November 6.
Plaintiffs ask for panel of judges to reconsider ruling on Alabama voter ID law
Plaintiffs suing Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill alleging the state’s voter ID law discriminates against minorities on Monday asked a panel of judges to reconsider an appeals court decision that affirmed the law.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Monday filed a petition Monday asking that all of the judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reconsider the July 21 decision by a panel of three judges that fell 2-1 in favor of the state’s voter ID law.
The 2011 law requires voters in Alabama to show a valid, government-issued photo ID to vote. The NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and several minority voters sued, arguing that lawmakers knowingly crafted the law to prevent Black people and other minorities, who are less likely to have such photo IDs, from voting.
The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in its July 21 opinion found that the burden of Alabama’s voter ID law is minimal, and does not“violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, nor does it violate the Voting Rights Act.”
Merrill has argued that the state’s voter ID law is meant to deter in-person voting fraud and that the state makes available mobile photo ID units able to provide voters with the necessary IDs.
District Judge Darrin Gayles in his dissenting opinion wrote that voter fraud in Alabama is rare, and that “while there have been some limited cases of absentee voter fraud, in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent.”
Gayles wrote that Merrill presented evidence of just two instances of in-person voter fraud in Alabama’s history.
“Despite the lack of in-person voter fraud, Secretary Merrill claims Alabama enacted the Photo ID Law to combat voter fraud and to restore confidence in elections — a dubious position in light of the facts,” Gayles wrote.
Gayles noted that former State Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, before his retirement in 2010, sponsored similar voter ID bills.
“During this time, Senator Dixon made repeated comments linking photo identification legislation to race, including ‘the fact you don’t have to show an ID is very beneficial to the Black power structure and the rest of the Democrats’ and that voting without photo identification ‘benefits Black elected leaders, and that’s why they’re opposed to it,'” Gayles wrote in his dissenting opinion.
“It is clear from the statements of the legislators who enacted Alabama’s photo ID law that they passed it for the unconstitutional purpose of discriminating against voters of color,” said LDF senior counsel Natasha Merle in a statement Monday. “As long as this law is intact, Black and Latinx Alabamians will continue to be disproportionately excluded from the state’s electoral process.”
Attorneys in the filing Monday told the court that “roughly 118,000 Alabamians lack qualifying photo ID, and Black and Latinx voters are twice as likely to lack qualifying ID as compared to white voters. Given this evidence, a trial was required to determine whether HB19 violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.”
Voting rights activist calls for federal Department of Democracy
LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.
The co-founder of an organization that is working to mobilize Black voters in Alabama and elsewhere used the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to call for a new federal agency to protect voting rights nationwide.
LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.
“The Voting Rights Act should be reinstated, but only as a temporary measure. I want and deserve better, as do more than 300 million of my fellow Americans,” Brown said.
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the law in a 5-4 ruling in 2013, eliminating federal oversight that required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get approval before they changed voting rules.
“To ensure that the Voter’s Bill of Rights is enforced, we need a federal agency at the cabinet level, just like the Department of Defense,” Brown said. “A Department of Democracy would actively look at the patchwork of election systems across the 50 states and territories. With federal oversight, our nation can finally fix the lack of state accountability that currently prevails for failure to ensure our democratic right to vote.”
She cited excessively long lines, poll site closings and voter ID laws in the recent primaries in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas as voter suppression techniques that disproportionately affect Black and other communities of color.
Brown said that the July 17 passing of Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma in 1965, has amplified calls for the Voting Rights Act to be strengthened. That’s the right direction, she said, but it isn’t enough.
“History happens in cycles, and we are in a particularly intense one. We have been fighting for the soul of democracy, kicking and screaming and marching and protesting its erosion for decades,” Brown said.
Alabama Forestry Association endorses Jerry Carl
The Alabama Forestry Association on Thursday announced its endorsement of Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Jerry Carl.
“Jerry Carl has experience working closely with the forest products industry in his role as County Commissioner and will carry that knowledge to Washington,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for limited government and free markets and will continue to promote those same values in Congress. We are proud to endorse him.”
Carl is a small businessman who has started more than 10 small businesses in South Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs. He is currently serving on the Mobile County Commission.
“I am thrilled to earn the endorsement of ForestPAC,” Carl said. “Alabama has a thriving network of hard-working men and women in all aspects of the forestry community, and I look forward to being a strong, pro-business voice for them in Congress. As a lifelong businessman and an owner of timberland, I understand firsthand the needs and concerns of the forestry community, and I will be a tireless advocate in Washington for Alabama’s forest industry.”
Carl said that he was inspired to run for the Mobile County Commission when he became frustrated with the local government.
He and his wife, Tina, have been married for 39 years. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Carl faces Democratic nominee James Averhart in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who currently represents the 1st Congressional District, did not run for another term and has endorsed Carl.
Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville
The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.
“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”
“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”
Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.
Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.
Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.
Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.
Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.