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Merrill to run for Senate

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced Tuesday on the state capitol steps that he would run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020.

“This is not something that I have pursued,” Merrill said. “This is something that pursued me.”

Merrill said people have come to him and said, “We need to have a conservative reformer that is a proven winner who has offered himself as a candidate for this seat.”

Merrill said he has wanted to be a U.S. senator since he was a college student at the University of Alabama running for president of the Student Government Association, but ultimately, it was all the support that he was getting from people all over the state encouraging him to run that led him to become a candidate.

“I am the person that the people of Alabama need to get behind and to move forward supporting so that we can make sure that we take this Senate seat back and give it to the people of Alabama,” Merrill stated.

“We have to have someone go to Washington, D.C. that is going to support the president and help the president build the wall to stop the immigration fiasco that is currently ongoing in our nation,” Merrill said.

Merrill said he is going to continue to serve as secretary of state during the election. He also said he was secretary of state last year while he was a candidate for secretary of state. He said the local election officials are responsible for hiring the poll workers and canvassing the results.

“That’s the way the process works,” Merrill said. “And anybody that wants to make anything more than that is obviously somebody that’s trying to do it for political purposes.”

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Merrill said a friend came to him last week asked if it is worth running for what he will have to go through and whether he thinks it is worth it for the commitment he will have to make. Merrill said he replied by asking whether the Republic worth it.

“Because I can tell you something — the Republic is worth it to me,” Merrill said. “The Republic is worth it to the 150 people that are gathered here behind me and the people that are gathered here today.”

“As far as the other candidates are concerned, each one of those candidates brings certain strengths to the table,” Merrill said. “Each one of those candidates has certain benefits that they can offer to the people of Alabama, but if I thought that any one of those people could do a better job of representing me or representing you in the United States Senate, I would not be here declaring my candidacy today.”

“Until we decide that Democrats are going to quit using the immigration conversation as a cash cow and until republicans stop using the immigration issue as a cash cow to raise money for campaigns we are not going to get anything done on immigration reform,” Merrill said.

“We have people who need to have support in business and industry and agriculture in our state and we have people who want to come work here,” Merrill said. “We want anybody who wants to come to the United States or the state of Alabama to come, but we want them to come the right way. We have got to make sure that these laws are working for people that want to come here and want to be a part of our culture not change our culture, but people who want to assimilate into the United States and people who want make a positive difference for themselves and their family.”

Merrill said he talked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, about this seat in February right before McConnell went to hear the president’s State of the Union address.

Alabama Political Reporter asked whether Merrill would like to respond to Sen. Doug Jones’ comment that his Republican opponent was going to either be a conservative extremist, like Roy Moore, or the hand-picked candidate of Mitch McConnell.

“Well if by that statement, Sen. Jones means that the Republican nominee will be someone who will follow the Constitution, someone who will represent Alabama thinking, someone who will represent Alabama values, someone who will vote to confirm conservative judges, someone who will work with the president to build the wall and to stop the flow of illegal immigrants who are coming here to do us harm — if that is what Doug Jones means by a conservative extremist, then count me in, coach,” Merrill said.

Merrill said Sen. Richard Shelby has been a friend and a mentor of his since 1984 when he was an intern in Congress and Shelby asked him to come by and speak to him before he left.

“I will continue to rely on him for guidance and counsel because of his experience and the things he’s done,” Merrill said.

Merrill was then asked whether he was prepared for the same level of scrutiny as Roy Moore when he ran for the Senate seat.

“If I was not ready for that same level of scrutiny, I would not be a candidate for this office,” Merrill answered.

Merrill also said Medicaid expansion is a local issue and if that is what Gov. Kay Ivey decides to do, she will have his support.

Merrill told reporters that there has been climate change and weather change since God created the world after seven days, and there will be climate change and weather change until he comes back again.

Merrill said he has been to China and talked with the Chinese, and they have no interest in doing anything to lower their emissions. He said the air there comes over here, and he is not interested in doing anything that would put business and industry over here at a competitive disadvantage with them.

Reporters asked Merrill what he would do if former Sen. Jeff Sessions entered the race.

Merrill said Sessions was one of his personal heroes, and if that were to happen, he would have a discussion with Sessions about the path moving forward.

Last week, former Chief Justice Roy Moore announced that he was going to run for the U.S. Senate seat again.

Judge Moore has offered himself up as a candidate for Alabama chief justice twice, for governor twice, and for U.S. Senate once.

State Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, endorsed Merrill at the state of the event. State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, former State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, and Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell were also there supporting Merrill’s candidacy for Senate.

The Republican primary will be on March 3.

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Sessions: FFRF’s demands that Ivey stop praying is ridiculous

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, former Senator and GOP Senate candidate Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, said that Alabamians will not be intimidated by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Sessions was responding to a letter that the FFRF sent to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) demanding that she stop praying at press conferences and citing scriptures.

“This is RIDICULOUS,” Sessions said. “Alabamians will NOT be intimidated by Freedom From Religion Foundation atheists spouting constitutional heresies in their war on religion. My friend Governor Kay Ivey is completely within her God-given and constitutional rights to pray for Alabama, and I stand with her!”

“The FRFF atheists want to force Governor Ivey and all public officials to hide their deeply-held convictions,” Sessions continued. “THEY are trying to impose their views AGAINST religion on US! Gov. Ivey calling for prayer for our great state & country is NOT her forcing Christianity on anyone.”

“The Constitution guarantees EVERY American, even public officials, the right to freely exercise their religion,” Sessions stated. “It’s time this country REJECT the FRFF’s extreme and unconstitutional view of religious liberty in America.”

On Monday, the Wisconsin based Foundation chastised Gov. Ivey for, “Your use of your office to promote Christianity. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to non-theism.”

The FFRF objected to Gov. Ivey’s speech during Friday’s press conference announcing that she was issuing a stay-at-home order for the State of Alabama to fight COVID-19.

“Multiple concerned Alabama residents reported that you used this official government event to promote your personal religious beliefs,” the FFRF wrote. “In the middle of your speech you suddenly started preaching,”

“The good Lord reminds us in Isaiah 43:1-3, and I quote, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God,” Ivey said drawing the ire of the FFRF. “I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

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They also objected to Ivey’s inviting Reverend Cromwell Handy from the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church to speak at this official state-sponsored event.”

“Reverend Handy delivered a 9-minute long sermon, during which he recited many different bible verses and referred to the pandemic as an opportunity given by God “to pause and reflect on His glory.”” The FFRF continued. “To end the press conference, you asked Reverend Handy “to lead a prayer to God Almighty asking for his blessings.. Reverend Handy then led all of the government officials present in a lengthy formal prayer “in Jesus’ name.””

The FFRF claimed that, “These actions amount to an endorsement of religion, specifically Christianity, in contravention of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

“We urge you in the future to refrain from promoting religion in your official capacity as governor of Alabama,” the FFRF stated.e

Sessions faces former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. The winner of the runoff will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) in the November general election.

Sessions served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017. He left the Senate after he was confirmed as President Donald J. Trump’s Attorney General and served in that role through November 2018. He was a late entry into the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

 

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Sessions attacks Tuberville’s views on China

Brandon Moseley

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, rolled out an ambitious, comprehensive plan to hold the Chinese government accountable for what Sessions called a cover-up of the coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands of people and devastated economies worldwide.

In an interview Thursday on the Matt & Aunie radio show on Talk 99.5 in Birmingham, for Auburn head football Coach and current GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville expressed his views on China.

Matt Murphy asked: What do you see happening with China?

“Well, we can’t worry about China right now…” Tuberville responded.

“You say you don’t need to worry about China, but this came from China and our economy depends on China,” Murphy asked on follow up. “Specifically how to overcome some of that dependence on Chinese goods and specifically in the pharmaceutical industry because right now we’re dependent on the country that covered this up.”

“Now we’re seeing firsthand the results of letting everything go to China,” Tuberville said. “The good thing about this is we’ll have manufacturing come back and drugs and all those things….we’re headed in that direction, just the simple fact that we can’t control our own destiny. Everything’s controlled by China. But that’ll take care of itself.”

During the show, Tuberville also characterized the Wuhan Virus, which has killed over 53,000 people and infected more than 1 million people across the globe, which then including over 1,300 people in Alabama, as “just a virus.”

Jeff Sessions issued a statement critical of Tuberville on Friday in response.

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“Amazingly, Tommy Tuberville said yesterday, ‘We can’t worry about China right now,”” Sessions quoted. “China is where the virus is from, and their deliberate lies hid the danger and resulted in a pandemic that never should have happened. We must take on China now and win, not run scared like Tommy Tuberville.”

“There are over 1 million infected with the Wuhan Virus, and more than 1,300 in Alabama already,” Sessions continued. “This is serious. But Tommy Tuberville said yesterday that ‘this is just a virus.’ What planet is he on? Tuberville is clueless. No wonder he’s scared to debate me. We must stop relying on China for our critical medicines and equipment. I have a detailed plan to fix it. Amazingly, Tuberville also said yesterday, ‘Everything’s controlled by China, but that’ll take care of itself.’ Wrong! We must lead with action, this will not ‘take care of itself.’”

On Thursday, a U.S. intelligence report claimed that China understated the damage that the coronavirus was doing in their country.

“Alabama’s next Senator must be a leader who has the drive and determination to push a Congress that is too often unwilling to confront the critical issues of our time,” Sessions continued. “I have proven my willingness and preparedness to lead from Day One. Tuberville is weak: all talk and no action.”

Sessions is a former Senator, U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Attorney General, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, U.S. Attorney, asst. U.S. Attorney, and U.S. Army Captain.

The Republican primary runoff has been moved to July by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) due to fears of the coronavirus. The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019.

As of press time, 10,943 Americans have died from COVID-19 including 53 Alabamians. 367,650 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 2,006 Alabamians. At this point, only 240 Alabamians are confirmed hospitalized with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the medical condition caused by a strain of coronavirus first identified late last year in Wuhan City, Hubei Province China, SARS-CoV-2. Since then it has spread across the globe infecting 1,346,566 persons that we are aware of killing 74,697 people.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will then face Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) in the November election.

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Alabama Republicans upset with Jones’ “no” vote on coronavirus stimulus bill

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Republican leaders on Monday condemned U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ procedural vote to prevent the coronavirus stimulus bill from coming to a vote.

On Sunday, Democrats blocked action on the comprehensive stimulus package — the third of the legislative response to the coronavirus outbreak. The bill is still being negotiated and the vote was not a vote on whether to pass a final version of the stimulus package.

“I voted against it yesterday because I wanted to make a point,” Jones said. “We had lost the negotiating and bipartisan progress for about 24 hours. And I felt very strongly that we need to get that progress back. So I voted no on a procedural motion to proceed, and guess what happened, they got down to negotiating, and in the last 24 hours, more progress has been made in the last 24 hours and than there was in the 24 hours before that.”

By Monday, Jones decided to vote yes another similar procedural vote, a vote to move forward with the legislative process but said that does not mean he will vote for the final product if changes aren’t made.

“We need to get the clock ticking,” Jones said. “We have got to get this thing moving. I felt it very important to tell my leader as well as leader McConnell that we need to get it together.”

But Republicans in the state are not happy with Jones’s procedural vote. Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “This is not the time for politics.”

“Senator Doug Jones needs to follow the example of Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – who has put his political differences aside and is working across the aisle with President Trump during this crisis – instead of being Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s partisan puppet,” Lathan said in a statement. “His NO vote Sunday night has had serious ramifications on the people of Alabama and our country. The Democrats helped craft this emergency unprecedented legislation and then, like Charlie Brown and the football, yanked away desperately needed help for America.”

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The deal was originally negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi. Democrats had agreed, but the deal had been held up last week by conservative Republicans balking at the price tag – all of this will be paid for with deficit spending and no plan to pay any of it back in the foreseeable future.

The Republican position in the Senate was weakened further when Republican Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, announced he was infected with the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, though he is showing no symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

46,148 Americans have been confirmed as having the virus. The virus has killed 582 Americans, 140 of them on Monday alone.

“Doug Jones has let the majority of our state down in an uncertain time,” Lathan said. “We needed him – and he ignored us AGAIN. “

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, voted in favor of ending debate and bringing the stimulus bill to a vote.

“Thank you to President Trump and Senator Richard Shelby for putting America and Alabama first,” Lathan concluded. “We continue to lift our leaders up in prayer as their burdens and decisions weigh heavy.”

Republican Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said, “I’ve seen this play before too many times. Just as the Senate was ready to pass a bi-partisan bill providing support for American workers… Senator Chuck Schumer & House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blew it up at the last minute, trying to add unrelated spending to a bill with already too much spending. Amazingly, Pelosi wants to use this time of crisis to breath new life into the Green New Deal!”

Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville said, “America is at war with an enemy we can’t see, and we currently have no weapon that can kill it. To win this war against the Coronavirus, salvage the U.S. economy, and provide needed financial help to millions of Americans, Doug Jones and other Senate Democrats are going to have to put their partisanship and hatred of President Trump aside and support a bipartisan stimulus package. Now is the time to work together as Americans first and save the partisan political battles for when this crisis is resolved.”

The president, with bipartisan support from Congress and the governors, issued recommendations that led states to shut down their schools and most businesses beginning a week and a half ago.

The question for most business owners now is will they make payroll or just lay off their workers. Mnuchin’s deal included loans that small businesses would not have to pay back if they used it to make payroll and pay overhead. It also included cash payments for Americans. The average family of four would receive about $3,000 under the plan.

“We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy,” Mnuchin said on Sunday. “I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now.”

“This isn’t the financial crisis that’s going to go on for years,” Mnuchin added. “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win this war.”

Former State Representative and Member of the National Trump/Victory Finance Committee Perry Hooper said that he is confident the Coronavirus Stimulus Legislation will pass.

“One of the most important parts of the Bill is addressing the needs of Small Business and the employees,” Hooper told the Alabama Political Reporter. “Small Business is the backbone of America. Any Republican or any Democrat would be insane voting against the Trump Stimulus Legislation.”

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Hightower campaign accuses Carl of trying to politicize a national crisis

Brandon Moseley

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Bill Hightower’s congressional campaign Monday responded to charges from Jerry Carl that they were running campaign ads during the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign said that they have already pulled their political advertising and accused Carl of trying to politicize a national crisis.

“Bill Hightower has not been airing ads for nearly a week now,” said Hightower campaign senior strategist Matt Beynon. “Once it became clear that the run-off would be postponed, we stopped airing ads. So Carl is shouting about something that isn’t happening and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to politicize a national crisis. Carl lied in his ads about Bill Hightower and he’s continuing to lie about Bill Hightower, this time by trying to use a national emergency to his political advantage. It’s shameful.”

Beynon was responding to a story by the Alabama Political Reporter in which Carl chastised Hightower for not pulling his campaign commercials.

“Shamefully, Bill Hightower has decided to continue his deceitful television commercials that are nothing more than lies,” Carl said. “Apparently, he would rather put himself above the health of our community. At a time when our country must come together, Bill Hightower is continuing to tear our country apart.”

“Bill, it’s time to put politics aside and hit pause on the campaign,” Carl added. “There will be a time and place for politics, but right now, it’s time to help our neighbors. I call on Bill Hightower’s campaign to immediately end all paid advertising that is still running on television and focus on what’s important right now – helping our community through this pandemic.”

A source close to the Hightower campaign told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Jerry Carl cracks me up. He went up with an ad FILLED with lies and pounded Bill for ten days, but when Bill responds he wants the ads pulled and is using the crisis for it. Our paid advertising has been down for days now.”

Jerry Carl is a Mobile County Commissioner, while Bill Hightower is a businessman and former state senator. The two of them are running for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, is not seeking another term in Congress.

The Republican primary runoff was supposed to be on March 31 but due to the growing COVID-19 global pandemic, that has been postponed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to July 14.

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The eventual Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic party runoff in the November 3 general election. Kiani Gardner is running against James Averhart for the Democratic nomination.

As of press time, there have been 196 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama. Hardest his is Jefferson cases where there have been 86 confirmed cases. They are followed by Shelby County with 22, Madison County with 21, 19 Lee, 9 Tuscaloosa 6 Elmore, 4 Montgomery, 3 St. Clair, 3 Walker, 3 Lauderdale, 3 Baldwin, 2 Mobile, 2 Chambers, 2 Calhoun, and 2 in Cullman County. Marion, Washington, Jackson, Lamar, Limestone, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Franklin, and Houston Counties all have one case thus far. There have been no confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Alabama.

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