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Fastest growth in Alabama: Baldwin, Lee Counties and the Greater Huntsville area

Brandon Moseley

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There are 383 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) in the country. The Census Bureau estimates that only seven of the twelves MSAs in Alabama have experienced any growth since the 2010 census.

From 2010 to 2017 the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley MSA has grown from just 182,265 in 2010 to 212,612 people in 2017. That is an incredible 16.68 percent increase. That makes the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley MSA in Baldwin County the thirteenth fastest growing MSA on a growth rate basis nationally.

The Auburn-Opelika MSA has grown from 140,247 to 161,604. That is a 15.23 percent growth rate and is number 19 in growth rate in the nation.

The Huntsville MSA has grown from 417,953 people in 2010 to 445,448 people in 2017. That is a 9.07 percent growth over that time period.

The three county Tuscaloosa metro area has grown from 230,262 people in 2010 to 242,299 persons in 2017. That is a 5.49 percent increase.

The Birmingham-Hoover metro area is the largest MSA in the state. It has grown from 1,128,047 persons in 2010 to 1,149,807 people in 2017. That is a 1.93 percent increase. Birmingham-Hoover is the 49th largest MSA in the country; but is only number 245 in growth rate nationally.

The Dothan MSA has a 2017 population of 147,914, up from 145,639 persons in 2010. That is a 1.56 percent increase.

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The Mobile MSA increased from 412,993 people in 2010 to 413,955 in 2017. That is an increase of just .23 percent.

The Florence-Muscle Shoals MSA has an estimated 2017 population of 147,038. That is a decline from 147,137 persons in 2010. That is a .07 percent decline.

The four county Montgomery MSA had a 2010 population of 374,536. The Census Bureau estimated that that population has declined to 373,903. That is a .17 percent decline.

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The Decatur MSA has a 2010 population of 153,829. The Census Bureau estimates that the MSA has declined to just 151,867 in 2017. That would be a 1.28 percent decline.

The Gadsden MSA which consists of just Etowah County had a 2010 population of just 104,430. The Census Bureau estimates that Etowah County has dropped to just 102,755 people. That is a decline of 1.60 percent since the last census.

The Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville MSA which consists of just Calhoun County had a 2010 population of just 118,582 people. The Census Bureau estimates that the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville MSA has a population in 2017 of just 114,728. That is a decline of 3.24 percent which would rank Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville at number 361 out of 383 MSAs in terms of growth rate.

The state was hit extremely hard in the Great Recession, which was exacerbated by the confusion and chaos surrounded the Jefferson County bankruptcy. Jefferson County is by far the largest county in the state; but experienced several post recession years where financial issues surrounding the massive sewer system debt made it difficult for the state’s largest county to compete to recruit new employers. As a result, a lot of jobs and young people entering the prime of their working careers left the Birmingham-Hoover MSA to pursue greater opportunities elsewhere. The Birmingham area has also been hard hit by gang violence and the opioid crisis.

Huntsville on the other hand grew despite cuts in military spending during the presidency of Barack H. Obama (D). Now, President Donald J. Trump (R) is President and there is strong bipartisan support for increased defense spending. As the home of Redstone Arsenal and numerous defense contractors, Huntsville is uniquely positioned to benefit from increased spending on military research and weapon systems. Additionally Huntsville has grown their manufacturing and high tech sectors.  According to the Census Bureau, Huntsville passed Mobile in population in 2016 for the position as the third largest city in the state. There are projections showing that Huntsville will surpass Birmingham as the largest city in Alabama within five years.

The Census estimates that 4,875,000 people lived in Alabama in 2017, up from 4,785,000 in 2010. 2,383,113 Alabamians live in the four largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery MSAs. That is over 48.88 percent of the state.

Governor Kay Ivey (R) is encouraging everyone to participate in the 2020 Census that congressional reapportionment is based on. At this point, there appears to be a strong likelihood that Alabama could go from the current Seven Congressional Districts to just six based on early population growth estimates.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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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.

Micah Danney

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(VIA BLACK VOTERS MATTER)

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.

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“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.

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Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate 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.

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Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy 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.

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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.

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Elections

Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”

The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding ­in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”

Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.

Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.

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The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

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