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Opinion | The worst candidate in Alabama

It takes some real effort to be the worst candidate for the state Legislature in Alabama.

Our State House is typically filled with more crooks than a roadside trash crew and enough brain power to make a pocket flashlight flicker. I mean, let’s remember that this bunch, just three years ago, voted nearly unanimously to re-elect as speaker a guy who had just been indicted on 23 felony counts. (He was eventually convicted on 12 of them.)

So, being the worst candidate for office in this state is a pretty high bar. Or maybe it’s a low bar.

Whatever. I have this year’s winner, and it’s not close.

Meet: Northport’s Rodney Sullivan.

If you’ve never heard of Sullivan, that’s because he’s selfishly confined his style of aggressive governance to the Northport City Council the last several years. He decided this was the year to spread his wings, and he’s looking for your vote for the House District 61 seat.

That seat has been held for the past 12 years by Republican Alan Harper, who you might remember not-so-fondly for his racist tirade on Facebook in 2015 against non-American business owners. It was so super-duper racist that even the Alabama Republican Party leadership — which has rarely encountered an instance of a party member’s racism that didn’t help the brand — was forced to admonish Harper publicly.  

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I bring all of that up only to make this point: Sullivan would be WORSE than that guy!

If you’re not into reading, let me give you the quick political bio of Sullivan: stands accused of rape, assaulted his opponent for his council seat, assaulted the mayor of Northport, was part of a scheme to fire the city manager so the council could give the job to Harper (and make room for Sullivan to run for election) and was accused in a city audit of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act law to concoct the wrongful termination.

In other words: He’ll fit in great among Republicans in the State House.

I have no idea how this guy is on a ballot.

Seriously, the GOP refused to certify another candidate earlier this year after discovering some old, racist Facebook posts and some sketchy personal finances. It was probably the right move.

But that guy hadn’t assaulted anyone. Much less two people.

And yet, Sullivan remains.

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The cost of that decision to leave him certified by ALGOP were felt last week, when fliers landed in the mailboxes of District 61 voters showing the University of Alabama Campus Police report which accused Sullivan of 1st degree rape. The fliers also featured ALGOP chairwoman Terry Lathan’s picture and asked voters to call her and ask why Sullivan is still on the ballot.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that the rape allegation wasn’t new. It was filed back in May, but several sources said UA PD couldn’t get the victim to cooperate further and she refused to press charges.

Even more odd, sources said: the fliers were not produced by Democrats or anyone working to aid the campaign of Sullivan’s opponent, Thomas Hyche. Instead, they appear to be produced by a group, Committee for Good Government, that has Republican ties.

Maybe they’re concerned that Sullivan will not be good for government. He certainly hasn’t been so far.

In 2012, following a candidate forum at a local civic center in Northport, Sullivan was allegedly assaulted his his opponent for that seat, Chuck Gerdau. Gerdau said Sullivan hit him twice in the chest with a closed fist — an assault Gerdau believed was meant to intimidate him into dropping out of the race.

Former Northport Mayor Harvey Fretwell also said Sullivan assaulted him after discovering that Fretwell was planning to support Gerdau. Maybe the plan was to beat an endorsement out of Fretwell.

None of it mattered, because Sullivan still managed to win the seat.

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And he repaid voters by allegedly taking part in a scam to give Harper the city manager’s job. A scam that was so blatant and ridiculous that the firm that has conducted the city’s annual audit for years risked angering the council by citing the violations in its annual audit report.

So, if you’re scoring at home, that’s: rape (allegations), assault times two, ethics violations and violations of the Open Meetings Act.

  Even for ALGOP, which could start a prison football team at this point, Sullivan is notably bad.

In fact, he’s the worst.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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