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Elections

Jeff Sessions is reportedly eyeing a return to Alabama politics

Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly eyeing a return to politics in the Yellowhammer State.

After Sessions announced his forced resignation Wednesday, two people familiar with his thinking told Politico that he is considering a run for his old seat as Alabama’s junior senator.

The seat is up for another election in 2020.

The embattled attorney general sent a long-awaited resignation letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday. The first line of the letter: “At your request, I am submitting my resignation.”

Session — one of Trump’s first allies among the upper echelons of American politics — has been on the receiving end of Trump’s attacks and criticism for more than a year.

Trump has publicly hit Sessions for his decision to recuse from the investigation into potential ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

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He’s also attacked Sessions for apparently refusing to launch investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats whom Trump has, without evidence, accused of violating the law.

After representing Alabama for two decades, Sessions left the Senate in 2017 when Trump chose him to lead the Justice Department as the attorney general.

Sessions’ tenure as attorney general has been tumultuous, to say the least. Only a month after taking office, Sessions was accused of committing perjury during his confirmation hearings after he told Senators he had not had any contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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In March, press reports revealed that Sessions had, in fact, met twice with a senior Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, in 2016. The accusations led to Sessions’ recusal.

While Sessions has been on the wrong side of Trump when it comes to the Russia investigation, he has been one of Trump’s most effective cabinet members, enacting a number of Trump-backed priorities and hard-line immigration policies — including family separation.

He’s been hard-lined against so-called sanctuary cities, reversed an Obama-era memo intended to relax mandatory sentencing requirements and backed civil asset forfeiture.

Sessions’ resignation came the day after Democrats won back the House of Representatives on Nov. 6. Democrats now plan to ramp back up investigations in the House that were dampened by Republican Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California.

Reports have suggested that Trump was waiting until after the midterms to fire Jeff Sessions as to avoid affecting the outcome of the elections. Democrats have alleged that Trump was seeking to fire Sessions as a way to take more control over the Russia investigation.

Sessions chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, is now replacing Sessions on an acting basis until the Senate can consider a new nomination. In the meantime, Whitaker, who has been openly critical of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, will assume authority over the probe.

Because Sessions was recused, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also has a tumultuous relationship with Trump, was overseeing the investigation. The normal chain of command would have seen Rosenstein assume the acting attorney general role.

In Alabama, Sessions remained extremely popular throughout his tenure in the Senate, winning re-election in 2008 with 68 percent of the vote and running unopposed in 2014.

After Sessions left his Senate seat, Democrat Doug Jones won an upset special election against Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Though Jones has attempted to walk a moderate line in a deeply red state, he’s widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable senators facing re-election in 2020.

There are already a number of rumors about who could be seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Jones. Among the potential hopefuls is U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

Luther Strange, who was temporarily appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley to replace Sessions, sent out an eerily predictive tweet early Wednesday morning.

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

Slow absentee voting in Tuscaloosa sparks outrage, possible legal action

Among the issues were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Long lines and slow absentee ballot processing in Tuscaloosa County have left voters outraged and incumbent Sen. Doug Jones’s campaign threatening legal action. 

On Wednesday, Jones’s campaign attorney, Adam Plant, sent a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo, outlining a number of issues with ongoing absentee voting and promising to take legal action if Bobo doesn’t improve the process on the final day, Friday. Among the issues documented by Plant were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Additionally, Plant noted that Bobo has hired her family members to help process absentee ballots and at least one family member had made disparaging remarks on social media about voters. 

“You and those acting on your behalf are suppressing the vote of qualified Alabama voters,” Plant wrote in the letter. “If you are unable or unwilling to execute your duties competently, and allow Tuscaloosa voters to exercise their voting rights without undue burdens, we will take further action.”

In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday, Bobo noted that her office had received more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots — a remarkable uptick from the 3,000 or so her office usually receives — and there had been problems in managing that number of ballots while also adhering to social distancing guidelines within the office. 

However, as Plant’s letter notes, the massive increase in absentee ballots for this election shouldn’t have been a surprise. Also, Secretary of State John Merrill had made additional funds available to absentee managers to facilitate hiring extra staff, purchasing additional computers and staying open for longer hours to accommodate the anticipated increase. 

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In a press release on Wednesday, the Alabama Democratic Party criticized Bobo and her family members, and the release included screenshots of Facebook posts from Bobo’s daughter lashing out at voters who complained about the long wait times. 

“No voter should have to wait in line for hours to exercise their rights,” said ADP executive director Wade Perry. “We should leverage every tool we have to make voting easier, not harder. Also, it should go without saying that election workers should not insult the very people they are employed to serve. If Ms. Bobo is incapable of processing voters quickly, someone else needs to do the job.”

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Elections

Jones campaign calls Tuberville a “coward” after no-show at Auburn forum

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” Jones’s campaign said.

Brandon Moseley

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

There are only four days left before election day, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign is slamming Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville, accusing him of “hiding” and calling him a “coward.”

On Wednesday, Jones addressed an Auburn University forum. Tuberville did not attend.

“Tonight, the College Democrats and College Republicans at Auburn University co-hosted a debate between Doug Jones and Tommy Tuberville, offering students a chance to ask the candidates about the issues that matter most to Alabama,” the Jones campaign said in an email to supporters. “But Tuberville never showed up – he’s too scared to face Doug… even on his own home turf. Tuberville has repeatedly refused to debate Doug Jones. He’s consistently refused to be interviewed by the press. He’s refused to tell Alabama the truth about who and what they’re voting for – and it’s clear why.”

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” the campaign continued. “If he won’t tell the truth, we will. Tuberville expects to win this race off of his blind allegiance to the President and his party affiliation. But Alabamians know better.”

“People deserve to know who they’re really voting for if they vote for Tuberville: someone who … won’t protect our health care, doesn’t believe in science, has no idea what the Voting Rights Act is, and doesn’t care about the lives and livelihoods of Alabamians,” the Jones campaign concluded. “Alabama will never elect a coward. Pitch in now and help us spread the truth about the man hiding behind the ballot.”

“I am disappointed that Tommy Tuberville is not here,” Jones said. “I think it is important that people see two candidates side by side answering the same questions.”

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Tuberville meanwhile is canvassing the state, speaking to rallies and Republican groups to turn out the Republican vote for himself and President Donald Trump. Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest in Madison County on Thursday and at the Trump Truck Parade rally in Phenix City.

“It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who represents our conservative beliefs and traditional values,” Tuberville said in Phenix City. “It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who supports the Second Amendment, the right to life, and putting God back in the classroom.”

Polling consistently shows Tuberville with a commanding lead over Jones. Real Clear Politics lists the race on their current board as a likely Republican win. FiveThirtyEight’s election model gives Tuberville a 79 percent chance of defeating Jones.

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Elections

Tuberville says election is about “the American dream”

“It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us,” Tuberville claimed.

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Thursday, Tommy Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest asking Madison County voters to support him and re-elect Donald J. Trump Tuesday.

The former Auburn University head football Coach told the estimated crowd of 350 that, “It is great to be here. This has been a lot of fun for me. Two years ago, my wife and I started to pray on whether or not to run. When we decided to run, she said don’t come back until you win.”

“This is a very serious election,” Tuberville said. “This is not about Donald Trump. It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us.”

“I always told my players this: this country gives you the opportunity to fail and if you fail you get back up and try again,” Tuberville said. “When I was growing up in Arkansas I wanted to be a college football coach. People in high school laughed at me for it and people in college. It takes perseverance.”

Tuberville said that this country gives you the opportunity to succeed, more so than any other country in the world. Most of the rest of the world is socialist.

Tuberville warned that the other side is trying to turn America into a socialist country.

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“We are not going to let them ruin this country,” Tuberville vowed.

The 2020 Madison County GOP Freedom Fest was held at the brand new Toyota Field, the new home of the Huntsville Trash Pandas minor league baseball team.

Tuberville praised President Trump whom “I have gotten to know through all of this and we have become friends. He never slows down; and he is sharp as a tack.”

Tuberville said that the President once called him at 2:30 in the morning, “He said sleep is overrated.”

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To protect the American dream we need to vote on Tuesday to keep the Senate and get Donald Trump re-elected.”

Tuberville said that he has spoken with, “A lot of people who as nervous as I am about Tuesday.” Coach Tuberville, who is being outspent, urged the crowd to ignore all of the television ads by his opponent, incumbent Senator Doug Jones (D).

Tuberville vowed to defend the Second Amendment if elected, “They ain’t getting my guns….or your guns.”

“We need to get God back in our schools and teach values again,” Tuberville stated. “The other side does not talk about values and morals.”

We are not going to allow them to tear down our country,” Tuberville said. “God will not allow them.”

“We are going to get God back in our country like it is supposed to be,” Tuberville said.

Coach Tuberville was introduced to the crowd by State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville).

Scofield said that he “is ready to send Doug Jones back to California.”

“Yes I know he is actually from here; but he sure votes like California. He certainly doesn’t vote like the vast majority of the people of Alabama want him to vote.”

Scofield called Tuberville is “A fighter” who will stand up for the values of the people of Alabama.

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said, “This is the most important election of my lifetime.”

“Do we believe in freedom and liberty or do we believe in socialism?” Brooks said. “We need to beat them like a drum.”

The general election is on Tuesday. You must bring a valid photo ID with you to your assigned polling place in order to participate.

Secretary of State John H. Merrill predicted that the state would have record participation on Tuesday.

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Congress

Aderholt receives prestigious Guardian of Small Business Award

The NFIB is the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization and the Guardian of Small Business Award is its most prestigious legislative recognition.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt accepts an NFIB award. (CONTRIBUTED)

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, has been awarded the prestigious Guardian of Small Business Award by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. While accepting the award, Aderholt said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy.”

The NFIB is the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization and the Guardian of Small Business Award is its most prestigious legislative recognition.

NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash presented the award to Aderholt at a ceremony at NorthRidge Fitness, an NFIB member business in Northport owned by Mary Cartee.

“NFIB presents its Guardian of Small Business Award to lawmakers who small businesses can depend on,” Elebash said. “Congressman Aderholt has supported Alabama’s job creators on the issues that our members are concerned about and have proven themselves to be real champions for small business.”

NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman said, “Our policy positions are driven by our members, and we report NFIB Key Votes back to our membership. We are proud to recognize the elected officials from the 116th Congress who earned this distinction by taking pro-small business votes supporting financial assistance programs and tax relief and opposing increased labor costs.”

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy,” Aderholt said. “It’s where new innovations and ideas are developed and nurtured. In fact, almost every large business in America started out as a small business. It’s both my pleasure and my duty to work in Congress to protect small businesses. We depend on these entrepreneurs and that’s why I will always fight for them.”

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The National Federation of Independent Business’s Guardian of Small Business Award is reserved for only those lawmakers who vote consistently with small business on the key issues identified by small business owners. Those who voted with small business on key issues 70 percent or more of the time during the 116th Congress earned the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award.

Alabama Congress members Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Gary Palmer, Mo Brooks and Sen. Richard Shelby were also NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award recipients from the 116th Congress.

NFIB informs lawmakers in advance what votes will be considered NFIB Key Votes and asks lawmakers to support the consensus views of its members. Congress members are also reminded that the results of how they vote will be reported back to the NFIB membership.

Aderholt is serving in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces a challenge in Tuesday’s general election from Democratic candidate Rick Neighbors.

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The polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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