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Maddox: Next week’s election is winnable with high Democratic turnout

Gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox speaks to a group of students at Auburn University on Oct. 29, 2018. (Chip Brownlee/APR)
Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox told a crowd gathered at Auburn University Monday night that next week’s election is winnable if he and other Democrats are able to garner turnout similar to that in last year’s special election for U.S. Senate.

Speaking to the Auburn University College Democrats, Maddox said his campaign’s internal data and his observations over the last few weeks of the campaign make him optimistic going into the final week before voters head to the polls on Nov. 6.

“We have to have a base turnout similar to Doug Jones in 2017. Without that, we can’t win, but I believe we can,” Maddox said. “I’m beginning to see signs.”

With little to no public polling, it’s nearly impossible to say which direction the election is heading, but recent elections and fundraising numbers suggest Republicans dominating the race. Maddox would be Alabama’s first Democratic governor in more than a decade.

Weekly campaign finance reports filed Monday night show Republican incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey maintaining a sizeable fundraising lead. Maddox raised only $45,465 to Ivey’s $146,413. Ivey also outspent Maddox more than three-to-one last week. Ivey reported spending $212,304 last week. Maddox spent $62,325.

Maddox, on the other hand, has reported far more individual donors to his campaign than Ivey over the course of the last three weeks. And he encouraged the college students to volunteer for Democratic candidates, saying people power is more important than money.

The Democratic nominee said he has seen a backlash to Ivey’s refusal to engage in a public debate with him.

“Alabamians, by our very nature, we rise to every challenge, and we don’t run away from it,” Maddox said. “I think a lot of Alabamians have a lot of concern about that. … I think it’s very winnable.”

Maddox said he believes Ivey won’t debate him because she doesn’t have answers for issues like Medicaid expansion and an education lottery.

Maddox has favored Medicaid expansion while Ivey has not. And while Ivey has said she would support a public referendum on a lottery, she has largely punted the issue to the state Legislature.

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The Republican-dominated Legislature would have to authorize such a referendum to alter the state’s Constitution, which currently prohibits a lottery, but Maddox has said he would call a special session to force the Legislature to take up the issue.

“There’s no answer for Medicaid expansion. There’s no answer for not wanting to support a lottery,” Maddox said. “And there’s no answer for the continued corruption.”

The state government has continued to pay former Gov. Robert Bentley’s legal bills after he resigned from office in April 2017. He pleaded guilty misdemeanor campaign finance violations but continues to face a civil lawsuit brought by former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier.

Maddox cited the payment of Bentley’s legal bills as an example of enabling corruption.

“Why are we continuing to pay over $400,000 in legal fees?” Maddox said. “It’s all these questions that can’t be answered. If you’re not transparent now, just imagine what happens if you’re elected to the office. I don’t think answering those questions is something she wanted to do.”

Maddox repeated his calls for the state to expand Medicaid to individuals making up to $16,753 and families of three making $28,676. Alabama’s Medicaid requirements are currently some of the strictest in the country, and the program is limited to children, those with disabilities and the elderly. Adults without children rarely qualify and those with kids only receive benefits if they make less than 18 percent of the poverty line. That’s less than $4,000 a year for a family of three.

Republicans have resisted expanding Medicaid since the state became eligible to receive federal matching money six years ago. Republican state legislators have refused to expand the program because of a state match that would be required. Although federal money would have covered nearly all of the expansion costs over the past six years, federal matches have now dropped to about 90 percent, where they are expected to stay.

Meanwhile, Democrats have largely championed such an expansion. The Democratic nominee for governor said he would sign an executive order on day one to expand Medicaid. Either way, the Legislature would need to approve the expansion and they would have to handle the budget reverberations that would follow.

The state’s hospitals, which have suffered budget cuts and closures over the past decade, have sought expansion to keep hospitals, particularly those in rural areas, open.

Maddox said the state could pay for the expansion without having to raise taxes.

“The state of Louisiana is paying for their Medicaid expansion through the savings they’ve generated through their existing Medicaid program. In fact, it was $199 million in Fiscal Year 2017,” Maddox said.

While he said he wouldn’t budget for those savings if he’s elected, he said expanding the program would provide an economic boon for the state, which could provide new revenues to pay for the program.

“How we want to propose paying for the Medicaid expansion is the 30,000 new jobs that are created,” Maddox said. “We want to do similar to other economic development projects and take the payroll taxes and income taxes generated by those 30,000 jobs and escrow them into an account that would offset the state share of the Medicaid expansion.”

Maddox spent the majority of his time on Auburn’s campus touting his plans for an education lottery, telling students that were gathered to hear him speak that they stand to benefit most if his plan is enacted.

The Maddox campaign estimates an education lottery would generate $300 million in revenues that could be put toward public schools and college scholarships.

Maddox’s talk Monday comes after the second-largest lottery jackpot and the fourth-largest jackpot in history. Both jackpots — $1.537 billion and $687.8 — were won in the course of a week.

“The only losers from last week’s Mega Millions and Powerball were the students in the state of Alabama, because students elsewhere, they got their scholarship programs increased and they got their pre-K programs enhanced, and we didn’t do anything in Alabama,” Maddox said.

 

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Elections

Faith in Action Alabama calls on law enforcement to protect voters from harassment

“In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.”

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Nine clergy members from across the state have signed an open letter calling on local and state law enforcement to protect voters against intimidation and harassment at the polls.

The clergy are leaders in Faith in Action Alabama, a regional association of Christian congregations affiliated with the national group Faith in Action, the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the country. It seeks to address a range of issues like gun violence, health care, immigration and voting rights.

This is their letter:

Across our country and here in Alabama, it is being seen that citizens are turning out in record numbers to vote early and by absentee ballots. It is very heartening to see so many of our fellow citizens energized and committed to exercising that most fundamental and critical duty of citizenship, the use of their franchise.  As servant leaders of an ecumenical association of nearly 2,000 faith communities across our state we are certainly encouraging our congregants to fulfill this duty either through early, absentee or day of election voting. For us this is not only part of our civic duty, but as people of faith obligation as well.

Unfortunately, it it also largely known that there are forces in our country that are actively, publicly and fervently at work to suppress the votes of some of our fellow citizens. We write to implore you to use the full authority of your office and department to ensure that those who seek to vote, especially on November 3, 2020 are not assailed or intimidated by illegal harassment in their polling places. We believe these threats are pervasive enough and real enough that proactive measures should be in place as citizens come to vote throughout that day. The strong, visible presence of uniformed legitimate law officers will hopefully prevent any attempts at confrontation or intimidation and violence.

The history of our state is marked by the efforts of tens of thousands of Alabamians who marched, protested, brought legal actions, shed their blood and some even gave their lives that every citizen of this state might have full and free access to the ballot box. In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.

Please be assured of our prayers for you and the men and women of your department who have the awesome responsibility of providing public safety and equal protection under the law for every Alabamian. If we, the members of Faith in Action Alabama’s Clergy Leadership Team, can be of assistance please do not hesitate to call upon us.

Sincerely,

Rev. Jeremiah Chester, St. Mark Baptist Church, Huntsville

Rev. David Frazier, Sr., Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, Mobile, and Moderator, Mobile Baptist Sunlight Association

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Bishop Russell Kendrick, Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

Bishop Seth O. Lartey, Alabama-Florida Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

President Melvin Owens, Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention

Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Ninth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., Living Stones Temple, Fultondale

Father Manuel Williams, C.R., Resurrection Catholic Missions of the South, Montgomery

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Some conservatives oppose Amendment 2

An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A number of prominent conservative voices in the state of Alabama are urging voters to vote no on Amendment 2 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Amendments 2 and 3 are a rewrite of the state constitutional reforms championed by former Chief Justice Howell Heflin in 1973.

An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months, conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI since Heflin’s revisions were approved in Amendment No. 328 in 1973.

The resulting Amendment 2 is one of the most controversial constitutional amendments brought forward by the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature since Gov. Bob Riley’s controversial Amendment 1 in 2003, which would have raised taxes by over a $1 billion. That was voted down by the voters, and conservatives are asking voters to similarly reject Amendment 2.

Alabama Eagle Forum is urging citizen to vote no on Amendment 2.

Amendment 2 is a complete rewrite of what is an already complicated portion of the Alabama Constitution, and it does many things. One of these is that it strips the power of the Legislature to impeach a judge.

Under current law, the Alabama House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment against a sitting judge. If the House impeaches, the Senate sits in trial and decides whether the judge has acted improperly and is guilty of what the House has charged them with.

This closely parallels the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 2 would change all of that and instead the only power in state government who can discipline judges would be the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which brings charges against judges, and the Court of the Judiciary, which determines guilt and punishments.

The Alabama Legislature has not impeached anyone in over a hundred years. Amendment 2 would take the power of impeaching members of the judiciary away from future legislatures.

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore opposes Amendment 2 and explained that stripping the Legislature of the power to discipline a judge for cause takes away a powerful check on the judiciary and violates the principle of checks and balances between the three branches of government. Moore also objected to giving more power to the unelected Judicial Inquiry Commission.

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Moore, like Eagle Forum, also strongly objected to taking the chief justice’s power to appoint his own administrative director of the Alabama Court System and instead gives it to the full Supreme Court.

The chief justice is the elected head of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, he or she would not be able to hire their own administrator but would be forced to work with an administrator chosen by the Supreme Court as a whole.

The current administrative director of the Alabama Court System is Rich Hobson, who was appointed by Chief Justice Tom Parker. Hobson is in his third tenure as administrative director of the Alabama Court System. The previous two times he was appointed by Moore.

When Moore was effectively removed by the Court of the Judiciary his replacement as chief justice fired Hobson.

If Amendment 2 passes, the associate justices could overrule Chief Justice Tom Parker, fire Hobson and replace him with someone of their choosing.

This situation would also apply to Democrats. The last Democrat elected to the role of chief justice was Sue Bell Cobb in 2006. Cobb was able to appoint her own administrative director of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, the administrative director of the Alabama Court System would have been someone suitable to the Republican associate justices, who could simply outvote the chief justice.

Moore called this move a “power grab” by the associate justices.

“Amendment 2 is really an anti-democratic and anti-Tom Parker amendment,” Foundation for Moral Law staff attorney Matt Clark said. “It is anti-democratic because it removes the people’s main check on the judicial branch, which is impeachment. Instead, it provides that only the Judicial Inquiry Commission, over which the people have no control, may remove a judge from office. It is also designed to strip Chief Justice Parker of his power as the administrative head of the judicial branch to choose his right-hand man for carrying out the judicial branch’s administrative role.”

Eagle Forum also had a number of other objections to the extremely long and complicated Amendment 2, including that it takes away the power of the lieutenant governor to make JIC appointments and gives them to the governor.

The Alabama Constables Association has also come out strongly against Amendment 2, arguing that it would write the funding mechanism for their position completely out of the state constitution.

“Constables are not taxpayer-funded, they are largely voluntary Peace Officers,” said Jefferson County Constable Jonathan Barbee. “The fees they collect from their duties as Officers of the Courts allow them to support the expenses of the office such as vehicles, uniforms, and equipment. Amendment 2 also deletes the language protecting how Constables are paid by private court fees, leaving it in question for the appointed Administrator to decide.”

In Alabama, constables are elected peace officers and act in many of the same ways as do sheriff’s deputies. They’re able to make arrests, serve court papers and provide security for parades, funerals and other functions.

Amendment 2 was sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.

Voters need to remember to vote on the constitutional amendments. Amendment 2 is extremely long and complicated so voters should probably read it and know how they are going to vote before going to the polls.

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FarmPAC endorses congressional candidate Barry Moore

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s 2nd Congressional District general election race.

“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”

“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”

A full list of FarmPAC’s endorsements is available here. FarmPAC previously endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary, but he was bested by Moore in a Republican primary runoff.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.

Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress after five terms.

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Jones to attend Auburn student forum, Tuberville hasn’t yet responded to invitation

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The College Democrats at Auburn University and the College Republicans at Auburn University have asked U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, to attend a student forum on Wednesday.

“We are excited to invite the candidates running for our U.S. Senate seat and provide this opportunity for any Auburn student to hear directly from them, and we hope it will inform our student bodies’ decisions with the November 3rd election only days away,” said Carsten Grove, president of the College Democrats at Auburn University, in a statement.

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, Auburn University College Democrats confirmed for APR on Sunday, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend. The student organization  was still awaiting a response from Tuberville’s campaign.

Jones has for months requested Tuberville join him in a debate, but Tuberville has declined.

“AUCR takes great pleasure in coming together with AUCD to co-host the Alabama Senate candidates in this forum. We are looking forward to a very informative and constructive event,” said Lydia Maxwell, president of the College Republicans at Auburn University.

Dr. Ryan Williamson, assistant professor of political science, is to emcee the forum, which will be open to all Auburn University students in the Mell Classroom Building at 6 p.m., according to a press release from the College Democrats at Auburn University.

Students will be permitted 30 seconds to ask a question of either candidate, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer, according to the release.

Capacity at the forum will be limited and precautions taken due to COVID-19. Any student with an Auburn ID is welcome and attendance will be first come, first served.

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