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Judge dismisses McKay’s ballot challenge citing no jurisdiction

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, Judge William Rhea dismissed Robert McKay’s lawsuit against House District 30 Republican nominee B. Craig Lipscomb (R) citing the lack of proper jurisdiction.

Former Ashville Mayor Robert McKay was narrowly defeated by Gadsden area architect Brandon Craig Lipscomb in the July 17 Republican primary runoff for House District 30. On Thursday, McKay sued: Lipscomb, Terry Lathan as Chair of the Alabama Republican Party, Thomas Albritton as Executive Director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, and John Merrill in his role as Secretary of State.

McKay asked the court to remove Lipscomb from the general election ballot because Lipscomb did not update his Statement of Economic Interests by the April 30 deadline. Lipscomb had however filed a 2016 Statement of Economic Interests when he qualified on November 30, 2017.

After Judge Rhea’s ruling that Lipscomb could remain on the ballot, Lipscomb told reporters, “I am pleased that the court overruled this frivolous lawsuit.”

Lipscomb emailed the press a more detailed statement afterward.

“In a Democracy, we choose our representatives at the ballot box and not in the judicial system,” Lipscomb wrote. “It is unfortunate that Mr. McKay chose to abuse our court system in a desperate attempt to override the will of the voters of District 30. We are pleased with today’s court decision to dismiss the frivolous lawsuit that he filed. Today, the Alabama court system worked as it should have. I am thankful for the overwhelming amount of support that my family and I have received, and I am looking forward to immediately returning to the campaign trail as the Republican nominee for the House of Representatives.”

In the hearing, McKay’s attorney, Fred Teague, argued that Lipscomb’s failure to file the 2017 Statement of Economic Interest until August 1 “is in violation of the law.”

McKay’s original filing had asked the court not only to remove Lipscomb, but to replace him with McKay. That filing had been updated Tuesday striking the request to put McKay on the ballot.

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Judge Rhea told Teague, “My understanding of the law is that I would not have any authority in that regard.”

Lipscomb was represented by Montgomery area attorney Algert S. Agricola.

Agricola introduced a motion to dismiss McKay’s case arguing that for the court to remove Lipscomb from the ballot is prohibited by the statute. The statute precludes jurisdiction over matters with the legality, conduct or results of an election are challenged. The procedure for a legal contest are set by statute which sets a very strict deadline. The Republican primary runoff was on July 17. McKay had until noon of July 28 to file a contest and that would not be in circuit court but with the Alabama Republican Party. McKay did not do that. Instead, he waited until last Thursday which far too late.

Agricola cited a state Supreme Court case to bolster his argument. A case in which Agricola himself had been the attorney representing the client, whose effort to remove a candidate was rejected by a special Supreme Court.

“We say that there is not any need whatsoever for this court to have any hearing,” Agricola said. “Any order issued by this court would be null and void.”

“There has not been a failure to file here,” Agricola continued. “In fact, a statement of economic interest was filed by Mr. Lipscomb on November 30, 2017, when he qualified.” The procedures set by the Alabama Ethics Commission require that you file the Statement of Economic Interests simultaneously with the date that you file your qualification papers or before and that is what Mr. Lipscomb did.

“There is no failure to file here,” Agricola said. “Mr. Lipscomb was certified by the Alabama Ethics Commission on January 22.”

“Today is the last day, 76 days before the election, that either party could substitute a candidate for any reason,” Agricola concluded. “The last thing anybody wants is that this decision be carried over until tomorrow. We really need a decision today.”

Cynthia Ralston, with the Alabama Ethics Commission, said that the statute is clear and that the statement that Mr. Lipscomb filed on November 30 is current. He was certified as having met the requirements for ballot access and that is good for a year.

Brent Beal with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said that this election includes federal races for Congress and that absentee ballots have to be in 55 days prior to the election and removing Lipscomb from the ballot at such a late date could delay printing those ballots for them to be available as required by federal law.

“We would ask that we not be put in that position,” Beal said.

Teague said that the fact is that filing a statement of economic interests must be current. This was addressed by the court in 2008. “Mr. Lipscomb filed his statement of economic interest for 2016. We would argue that that is not a current filing.”

Teague also argued that the court would have jurisdiction.

Agricola disagreed and repeated that the statute precludes jurisdiction over matters with the legality, conduct or results of an election.

Judge Rhea ruled simply, “This court does not have jurisdiction.”

Teague told reporters that there would be no appeal of this decision.

Brandon Craig Lipscomb (R) will face Jared Vaughn (D) for Alabama House of Representatives District 30 in the November 6 general election. House District 30 includes parts of St. Clair and Etowah Counties.

Afterward the Alabama Political Reporter talked with Chris Christie who is representing Vaughn. Vaughn, while an interested observer, was not a party to this lawsuit.

Christie told APR that the judge ruled incorrectly here and that the statute concerning challenging a primary was not relevant here. The question is whether Lipscomb should be on the general election ballot and Christie did not believe that he should be.

“We followed the rules,” Lipscomb told reporters.

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Elections

Alabama House District 49 major party candidate qualifying is closed

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, the Alabama Republican Party closed its candidate qualifying period for the Alabama House of Representatives District 49 special primary election.

The following individuals have qualified to run as Republicans for the District 49 seat: Russell Bedsole, James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely, Mimi Penhale, and Donna Strong.

The Alabama Political Reporter talked Wednesday to the Alabama Democratic Party and they have also closed qualifying. Cheryl Patton has qualified to run as a Democrat for the seat.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Representative April Weaver (R-Briarfield) announced her resignation to accept an appointment with the Trump administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term which ends in late 2022.

The special Republican primary election for House District 49 will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Since only Patton qualified as a Democrat there will be no need for a Democratic Party primary. If a Republican runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The winner of the Republican nomination will face Ms. Patton in the special general election to be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, two weeks after the general election on November 3.

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Elections

Coastal 150 endorses Jerry Carl for Congress

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, Coastal 150 announces their endorsement of Republican Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl for Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Wiley Blankenship is the Executive Director of Coastal 150.

“Our members believe that Jerry Carl is the right person to serve our region in Congress.” Blankenship said. “He understands our unique needs and supports our shared vision for coastal Alabama. We expect that Mr. Carl will represent Coastal Alabama well and look forward to working with him in Washington. “The experience, character and leadership that he brings to the office is what we believe is necessary to solve the challenges facing our region and our nation. “

“In case you missed it, our campaign has picked up some huge endorsements recently,” Carl said. “t’s an honor to be endorsed by these well-respected conservative leaders who know that I will fight for south Alabama in Congress.”

Carl has also been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation, former State Representative Chris Pringle, and Wes Lambert.

Jerry Carl was born in Mobile, started his first company at the age of 25 and grew that small business into numerous other companies throughout the region. In all, Jerry has started over ten different companies ranging from real estate to healthcare and timber, to even the manufacturing of church furniture. Carl and his wife Tina have been married for over 37 years. They have children and grandchildren.

When Jerry was frustrated with the direction of Mobile’s local government, he ran for County Commission where he still serves today. On the county commission he has been a vocal fiscal hawk and advocate for pro-growth, job-creating policies, and is laser‑focused on creating economic opportunities so good-paying jobs can be created.

Carl is an avid hunter, a lifelong supporter of Second Amendment rights, and believes all human life should be protected from the moment of conception.

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Carl is promising to build the wall along our southern border, “stop the liberals from imposing a 90% tax rate on hard-working Alabamians,” and “stand with Trump to do what’s right and fight for us.”

Coastal 150 is a comprehensive group of community leaders who work from a grassroots level to the highest levels of government to further the mission of Coastal Alabama Partnership to make coastal Alabama the place to live, work and play along the Gulf Coast. Coastal 150 gives all regional leaders an opportunity to be involved in the development of our coastal region’s bright future.

Carl faces former State Senator Bill Hightower in the July Republican primary runoff. The eventual Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff. between James Averhart and Kiani Gardner, in the November general election.

First Congressional District incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) is not seeking re-election.

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Alabama Republicans will hold summer meeting August 1

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Republican Party announced Tuesday that the state executive committee will meet on Saturday, August 1.

The Alabama Republican Party Summer Meeting is scheduled to be at the Trussville Civic Center, 5381 Trussville Clay Road, Trussville, AL 35173.

“We will be meeting in person and will be following all social distancing guidelines as applicable at the meeting time,” wrote Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “As the guidelines change, the ALGOP will plan accordingly for a safe, in person business meeting. The civic center can accommodate the social distancing guidelines with some alternations. However, as of today, special event buildings are closed. We will look for a backup place in case we need one. For now, our meeting is booked at the Trussville Civic Center.”

“Because of the guidelines that require distancing and not knowing what the future brings, the luncheon fundraiser we had scheduled prior to our meeting will be postponed,” Lathan explained. “Seating for 8-10 people at a table is not conducive for now- hopefully this will change sooner than later. It takes us months to prepare for 500 at our dinners, luncheons and meetings. The virus situation has hijacked many of our choices. Stay tuned for information about an exciting event later in the fall.”

Lathan said that, “The guidelines are fluid and our plan will need to adjust accordingly.”

“Please be assured that our team will be focused on having a safe and efficient Summer Meeting on August 1.”

Re-electing Donald Trump and defeating Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones are the focuses of the Alabama Republican Party. Tommy Tuberville and Jeff Sessions are in the July 14 Republican Primary runoff seeking that nomination.

The Alabama Republican Party holds six of the state’s seven congressional seats. They are not challenging incumbent Terri Sewell, D-Selma.

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Republican incumbents Mo Brooks of Huntsville and Gary Palmer of Hoover do not have Democratic challengers.

Republicans are hoping to re-elect incumbent Congressmen Robert Aderholt and Mike Rogers who face Democratic challengers. The 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts are both vacant.

In CD1 Bill Hightower faces Jerry Carl in the Republican Party primary runoff. In CD2 Barry Moore and Jeff Coleman are seeking the GOP nomination. Both eventual nominees will face Democratic opponents in the fall.

The Alabama Republican Party holds every statewide office. The highest-profile state office on the November ballot is Public Service Commission President where the Alabama Republican Party hopes to re-elect incumbent Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh.

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Elections

Russell Bedsole announces candidacy for House District 49

Brandon Moseley

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Russell Bedsole on Tuesday announced his candidacy for Alabama House of Representatives District 49.

Bedsole has 22 years of experience with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He has also been elected twice by the citizens of Alabaster to represent Ward 5 on the Alabaster City Council.

Bedsole’s campaign said during his time of service, Alabaster has benefited from positive economic growth, a first-class school system and a high quality of life.

Bedsole describes himself as a conservative Christian candidate.

“I believe that life starts at conception, that the 2nd amendment should be protected, that our taxes need to be low and fair, and that our cities and counties need their fair share of infrastructure support,” Bedsole declared.

Bedsole says that he is dedicated to the service of the citizens of District 49 and standing up for conservative values.

Bedsole is the only current public sector employee serving on the current city council, where he has fought to enhance the benefits of Alabaster employees.

Bedsole promised to make District 49 a great place to live for all of its citizens by working to improve District 49’s infrastructure and traffic flow, increase economic development, and advance school systems.

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“I have spent many successful years with my family by my side serving my community and demonstrating the type of leadership the people of District 49 will appreciate,” Bedsole stated. “I am patient enough to listen to those who have something to say, but bold enough to speak up for those who feel like they do not have a voice.”

“I humbly ask for your vote on August 4th to allow me to serve District 49,” concluded Bedsole.

Bedsole joins a crowded Republican primary field. James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely, Mimi Penhale, and Donna Strong are also running for the Republican nomination for House District 49.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Rep. April Weaver (R-Briarfield) resigned to join the Trump administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties.

The special primary election for House District 49 will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The special general election will be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

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