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Heading into the finish: Republicans look strong as Democrats hope for momentum

Bill Britt

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Mere hours ahead of election results, state Democrats are hoping some of the national momentum shows up in the Heart of Dixie.

According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO Poll, Democrats are motivated and angry, but in Alabama, so are Republicans.

“Roughly three in five (59 percent) Democrats say they feel angry about the midterms, compared to 30 percent of Republicans who say the same,” according to the Morning Consult survey released November 5.

But Republicans in Alabama are expressing similar anger over the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh in which Democrats used a guilty until proven innocent strategy in hopes of denying President Trump another conservative pick for the Supreme Court.

Republican judicial candidates in the state saw a jump in support following the Kavanaugh hearing, according to private polling.

While there are a few competitive races, there are few signs of any significant upsets this evening.

In the northwest part of the state, Democrat Johnny Mac Morrow is expected to give incumbent Republican Dr. Larry Stutts fierce competition for Senate District 6.

The same is expected in Etowah County where Craig Ford, an Independent, is looking to defeat newcomer Andrew Jones, a Republican, for Senate District 10.

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In an interview with APR, Secretary of State John Merrill also cited, “heavily contested State House races in Jefferson County, as well as in south Alabama, as potential drivers of voter turnout. We have pockets that might pull some people out; otherwise, you’re just going to have people that come out because it’s the general and they have a chance to vote between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

Republican lawmakers sought to ensure robust conservative voter participation by adding two constitutional amendments to the general election ballots that appeal to voters.

Amendment One allows for the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property so long as the display meets constitutional requirements, such as being displayed along with historical or educational items.

Amendment Two reaffirms that Alabama is a pro-life state and opposes abortion.

Having these two hot-button issues on the ballot will drive evangelicals and like-minded supporters to the polls.

According to Morning Consult, “a majority of voters are thinking about Trump when casting their vote: When asked how much they have been thinking about certain political figures when considering how to vote, 51 percent of voters said they’re thinking ‘a lot’ about Trump when casting their midterm vote.”

President Trump holds a 62 percent approval rating with just 34 percent saying they disapprove of the president, according to Morning Consult tracking poll.

With 57 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats saying they are thinking about Trump “a lot” when casting their vote, Republicans should finish the night with strong wins across the board in Alabama.

The full results are also available at morningconsult.com.

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Elections

Alabama appeals COVID-19 voting decision to U.S. Supreme Court

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision allowing curbside voting during the July 14 Republican runoff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. *Correction: This story previously stated that the runoff was on July 12. That was an error. The primary runoff is on July 14. This story has been updated to correct that mistake, and we regret the error.

Edmund LaCour Jr., solicitor general with the state attorney general’s office, filed an emergency application for stay with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday, arguing that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that lower courts should not alter election rules on the eve of an election. 

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon on June 15 approved, in part, a preliminary injunction filed by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. 

Those groups sued Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill seeking to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and to remove requirements for voters to submit photocopies of IDs and that witnesses sign absentee ballot requests. 

The state appealed Kallon’s ruling, but on June 25, judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the state of Alabama’s appeal. 

“Appellants fail to explain why voter confidence is not negatively affected by their enforcement of voting restrictions that force Alabamians to choose between voting and potentially contracting a severe or deadly case of COVID-19,” the judge’s wrote in the ruling. 

The 11th circuit judges, in denying the state’s appeal, also found the state’s argument that Alabama’s photo ID and witness requirements are meant to combat voting fraud were without merit, and wrote that “according to Plaintiffs’ evidence from the Heritage Foundation, Alabama has prosecuted a total of only sixteen people for absentee-ballot voter fraud” in the past two decades.

“That suggests that Alabama has not found itself in recent years to have a significant absentee-ballot fraud problem,” the order reads.

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The state, in its filing to the Supreme Court, argues again that the requirement for voters to submit photocopies of a photo ID and witness requirements to vote absentee are to prevent voter fraud. 

As the State explained in 1996 when successfully seeking preclearance for strengthening the witness requirement, the protection was enacted in direct response to ‘systematic absentee ballot fraud and abuse’ that had likely altered the results in several statewide races in 1994,”  LaCour Jr. wrote to the Supreme Court. “These provisions remain vital for preventing absentee voter fraud.” 

The state also argues to the Supreme Court that requirements to obtain copies of photo ID’s and have ballots signed by witnesses is not overly burdensome, and that perhaps family members can take photo ID’s to have copies made if a person doesn’t wish to leave their home during the pandemic for fear of contracting COVID-19. 

“No precedent of this Court indicates that the mere possibility that some voters may need to ask someone else for help making a photocopy imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote,” the state’s filing reads.

The state’s decision to appeal to the Supreme Court comes as the number of new cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in recent days have both been record high, and the state’s health officer expressed concern that the virus is spreading too widely for contact tracing to be effective.

Alabama on Monday saw a new record number of patients in hospitals with COVID-19, and the seven-day and 14-day rolling averages of new cases on Monday were also at record highs.

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Mayor Terry Holley endorses Jeff Coleman

Brandon Moseley

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Jeff Coleman’s campaign for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District said this week that Coleman has been endorsed by Florala Mayor Terry Holley.

“Jeff Coleman has my full support,” Holley said in a statement. “I believe that he will represent our families and values with principled leadership in Washington and help ensure that our district and state continue to thrive and grow.”

“Mayor Holley’s support is incredibly humbling and I am very thankful for his endorsement,” Coleman said. “His leadership and commitment to the wonderful citizens of Florala is something that we need more of in our country!”

Coleman, until his campaign for Congress, was the chairman and president of Coleman Worldwide Moving. The fourth generation of his family to head the company, Coleman is a businessman and a lifelong Dothan resident. Coleman is a former chairman of the Business Council of Alabama.

Coleman has been endorsed by the mayors of Luverne, Dothan, Millbrook, Geneva and now Florala in his bid to win the open 2nd Congressional District. He also has the endorsements of the BCA and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Coleman is running in the July 14 Republican primary runoff against former State Rep. Barry Moore. The eventual winner of the Republican nomination will face Democratic nominee Phyliss Harvey-Hall in the Nov. 3 general election.

Five-term incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby is retiring from Congress at the end of her current term.

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Winfrey was proud to see NASCAR ban the Confederate flag

Brandon Moseley

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Democratic 3rd Congressional District candidate Adia Winfrey said Monday that as a daughter of Talladega, she was proud to see NASCAR ban the Confederate flag.

“The last few weeks have marked some pretty major strides in our nation’s discussions around race and equality,” Winfrey said in a statement. “While President Trump continues to tweet his support of white supremacist statements, we’ve seen others– local governments, large corporations, and individuals publicly support Black Lives Matter and begin to finally dismantle racist symbols.”

“As a daughter of Talladega, I was proud to see NASCAR take the step that it did in banning the Confederate flag and beginning to transform the culture around the sport,” Winfrey continued. “Though the noose discovered in the garage was ultimately not found to be directed at the only black driver in the series, seeing NASCAR executives and other drivers react decisively in support of Bubba Wallace and against hate, signaled important progress– progress that is desperately needed in Alabama’s 3rd District.”

“Much work is left to be done in the movement towards justice and equality, and this campaign for Congress is an important part of that work,” Winfrey added. “It comes down to a simple choice. Mike Rogers has made his stance clear. Where will you stand?”

Winfrey “Dr. Dia” is challenging 10-term incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Rogers in the Nov. 3 general election.

“For 7 generations my family has called Talladega, Alabama home,” Winfrey said. “I am the mother of four amazing children, a Doctor of Psychology, author, founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People thru Empowerment) Movement, and…I am running for Congress in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District! I believe in the future of our beautiful state and nation. It is time for leadership with a new vision which is #FocusedOnAlabama.”

Winfrey has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wilberforce University and a doctorate of clinical psychology degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. She is the founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People thru Empowerment) Movement.

Automobile racing is the only major league professional sport in Alabama.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Aderholt

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt’s congressional campaign announced Monday the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had endorsed the congressman.

“On behalf of the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, I am pleased to inform you that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed your candidacy for reelection to the United States House of Representatives,” the Chamber wrote.

“The Chamber endorses pro-business leaders in Congress and vigorously supports policies that advance economic growth, help create jobs, and promote fiscal responsibility,’ the Chamber explained. “Last year the House passed the USMCA, renewed the charter of the Export-Import Bank, reauthorized Terrorism Risk Insurance, and restored critical resources for highway funding. While just a snapshot of important House activity in 2019, your lifetime percentage on the Chamber’s How They Voted scorecard was the driving factor in achieving this endorsement for 2020.”

“In challenging times, we are reminded of the importance of having leaders who understand the genius of the American system of government and free enterprise and who are willing to tackle the hard problems that confront our nation,” the Chamber added. “Your continued leadership in Congress will benefit the nation as we combat the coronavirus, work to restore economic growth, and expand opportunities for all Americans.”

Ashlee Rich Stephenson is the vice president and national political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The state affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama, endorsed Aderholt in February.

Aderholt is seeking his 13th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. Aderholt supports President Donald Trump and straight-ticket Republican voting. In a social media comment on Thursday, Aderholt said, “The radical left wing mob will not stop until they erase all of America’s history. We CANNOT let this happen. Vote straight Republican this November to assure we have leaders who stand against the out of control mob. #VoteRed.”

Aderholt was also recently endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.

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Aderholt is a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over funding the operation of the federal government.

He serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. Aderholt also serves as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee and the Defense Subcommittee. Aderholt is an advocate of fiscal responsibility, truth in budgeting and a federal government that operates within its means.

Aderholt also serves as a commission member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (commonly known as the Helsinki Commission). The Helsinki Commission is comprised of 56 countries around the world that together monitors human rights in Europe and Central Asia.

Aderholt believes the federal government serves a critical role in assisting state and local projects regarding economic development. He supports pro-growth initiatives that create jobs, strong immigration standards, and robust national security.

Prior to his election to Congress in 1996, Aderholt served as Assistant Legal Advisor to former Gov. Fob James as well as municipal judge for the city of Haleyville, Alabama. Aderholt has a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham Southern College and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He was born on July 22, 1965, and raised in Alabama, Aderholt and his wife, Caroline, have two children.

Aderholt faces Democrat Rick Neighbors in the fall general election on Nov. 3.

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