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Ten of the 24 Democratic presidential candidates debate: ten more tonight

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, the top candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination met for their first debate.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) capped the participants of the first debates at twenty, so not all of the candidates were able to participate.

Those that were allowed were: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, businessman Andrew Yang, and spiritual author Marianne Williamson, Sen. Michael Bennet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Tim Ryan, and recent Alabama visitor Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam, Rep. Joe Sestak, and Rep. Seth Moulton lacked the popular and donor support to participate under the DNC’s rules. Future debates will further pare down the field.

Ten candidates were in Wednesday night’s debate. The other ten will be on the state in tonight’s debate. The debate was moderated by NBC News with anchor Lester Holt being the lead moderator on the panel.

Sen. Warren said, “Who is this economy really working for? It’s doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. It’s doing great for giant drug companies. It’s just not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled.”

“We know that not everyone is sharing in this prosperity,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “And Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats about what’s going on, when you have so many people that are having trouble affording college and having trouble affording their premiums.”

“Right now, we have a system that favors those who can pay for access and outcomes,” Rep. O’Rourke said. “That’s how you explain an economy that is rigged to corporations and to the very wealthiest.”

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“I live in a low-income Black and brown community,” Booker said. “I see every single day that this economy is not working for average Americans. The indicators that are being used, from GDP to Wall Street’s rankings, is not helping people in my community. It is about time that we have an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthiest in our nation.”

“I would do several things, starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is to pass the Equal Rights Amendment finally in this country.” Castro said. “And also pursue legislation so that women are paid equal pay for equal work in this country. It’s past time that we did that. And, you know, we have to do this. If we want to be the most prosperous nation in the 21st century, we need to make sure that women are paid what they deserve.”

“I know the importance of our national security, as well as the terribly high cost of war,” Rep. Gabbard said. “And for too long, our leaders have failed us, taking us from one regime change war to the next, leading us into a new cold war and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end. As president, I will take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and instead invest those dollars into serving your needs, things like health care, a green economy, good-paying jobs, protecting our environment, and so much more.”

“Well, we’ve been addressing income inequality in New York City by raising wages, by raising benefits, by putting money back in the hands of working people, $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, pre-K for all, things that are making a huge difference in working people’s lives,” Mayor de Blasio said of what he has done to fight income inequality.”

“I think we have to do real things to help American workers and the American people,” Rep. Delaney said. “Right? This is the issue that all of us hear on the campaign trail. We need to make sure everyone has a living wage. And I’ve called for a doubling of the earned income tax credit, raising the minimum wage, and creating paid family leave. That will create a situation where people actually have a living wage. That gets right to workers.”

“I’m proud of standing up for unions,” Gov. Inslee said. “I’ve got a plan to reinvigorate collective bargaining so we can increase wages finally. I marched with the SEIU folks. It is not right that the CEO of McDonald’s makes 2,100 times more than the people slinging cash at McDonald’s.”

“The bottom 60 percent haven’t seen a raise since 1980,” Rep. Ryan said. “Meanwhile, the top 1 percent control 90 percent of the wealth. We need an industrial policy saying we’re going to dominate building electric vehicles, there’s going to be 30 million made in the next 10 years. I want half of them made in the United States. I want to dominate the solar industry…”

“So here’s what I propose for an industrial policy. Start with a place where there’s a real need,” Warren said. “There’s going to be a worldwide need for green technology, ways to clean up the air, ways to clean up the water. And we can be the ones to provide that. We need to go tenfold in our research and development on green energy going forward. And then we need to say any corporation can come and use that research. They can make all kinds of products from it, but they have to be manufactured right here in the United States of America. And then we have to double down and sell it around the world. There’s a $23 trillion market coming for green products. We should be the leaders and the owners, and we should have that 1.2 million manufacturing jobs here in America.”

“My proposal is to do something about pharma, to take them on, to allow negotiation under Medicare, to bring in less expensive drugs from other countries,” Klobuchar said. “And pharma thinks they own Washington? Well, they don’t own me.”

“So getting to guaranteed, high-quality, universal health care as quickly and surely as possible has to be our goal,” O’Rourke said. “The ability to afford your prescriptions and go to a primary care provider, to be — the ability to see a mental health care provider. In Texas, the single largest provider of mental health care services is the county jail system today. And health care also has to mean that every woman can make her own decisions about her own body and has access to the care that makes that possible.”

“I mean, we should give everyone in this country health care as a basic human right for free, full stop. But we should also give them the option to buy private insurance,” de Blasio said. “Why do we have to stand for taking away something from people? And also it’s bad policy. If you go to every hospital in this country and you ask them one question, which is how would it have been for you last year if every one of your bills were paid at the Medicare rate? Every single hospital administrator said they would close.”

“I believe Medicare for all is the way to do that,” Klobuchar said. “I also think that employers will recognize how much money will be saved by supporting a Medicare for all program, a program that will reduce the administrative costs, reduce the bureaucratic costs, and make sure that everyone gets that quality health care that they need.”

“If you look at other countries in the world who have universal health care, every one of them has some form of a role of private insurance, so I think that’s what we’ve got to look at, taking the best of these ideas, but making sure unequivocally that no sick American goes without getting the care that they need, regardless of how much or little money they have in their pocket,” Gabbard said.

“I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice,” Castro said. “And, you know, what that means is that just because a woman — or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.”

“Yes. (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) On day one, I will make sure that, number one, we end the ICE policies and the Customs and Border Policies that are violating the human rights,” Booker said. “When people come to this country, they do not leave their human rights at the border.”
…. “I will make sure that we reinstate DACA, that we reinstate pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients, and to make sure that people that are here on temporary protective status can stay and remain here.”

“I think it’s abhorrent. we’re talking about this father who got killed with his daughter, and the issues here, the way these kids are being treated,” Ryan said. “If you go to Guantanamo Bay, there are terrorists that are held that get better health care than those kids that have tried to cross the border in the United States. That needs to stop. And I think the president should immediately ask doctors and nurses to go immediately down to the border and start taking care of these kids. What kind of country are we running here where we have a president of the United States who’s so focused on hate and fear and division? And what has happened now, the end result is now we’ve got kids literally laying in their own snot, with three-week-old diapers that haven’t been changed.”

“But rather than talk about specific provisions, we really have to talk about why these people are coming to our country,” Delaney said. “… and what we’re going to do to actually make a difference in these countries.”

“There is no reason for the detention and separation of these children,” Inslee said. “They should be released, pending their hearings, and they should have a hearing and the law should be followed. That’s what should happen.”

The next debate will be tonight. Frontrunners Biden and Sanders will be in this next round of candidates.

The Madison County Democrats are holding a debate watch party at 7:30 p.m. at the Shelby Center on the University of Alabama in Huntsville tonight. Attendance is free and they are promising snacks.

Alabama’s presidential primary will be March 3.

To read the full transcript of Wednesday’s debate click here.

(Original reporting by the Washington Post and Washington Examiner contributed to this report.)

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Elections

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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Congress

Jerry Carl “upset” that Hightower is still running ads

Brandon Moseley

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Jerry Carl, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, has said he is suspending advertising due to the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 is an often fatal illness caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City China late in 2019. Carl called on his Republican primary opponent former State Senator Bill Hightower to do the same.

“With the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) throughout Alabama and the uncertainty of the March 31st election now up in the air, I am suspending all paid advertising for my campaign,” Carl said. “I urge Bill Hightower and outside groups supporting or opposing either candidate to put politics aside and do the same at this delicate time. Although this is an important election, focusing on the health and safety of our friends, family, and neighbors is of the utmost importance. There will be a proper time to resume campaign advertising in the future, but for now, we need to focus on mitigating the effects of this virus in our communities and throughout our great nation.”

Following that statement, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey moved the primary runoffs back to July 14.

After Hightower and his supporting groups did not pull the ads, Carl chastised Hightower over not following Carl’s example.

“Yesterday, our campaign urged Bill Hightower and all other groups supporting candidates in this race to immediately suspend all paid campaign advertising so that the public can focus on the health and safety of their friends and families,” Carl said. “Since that time, the City of Mobile, as well as Mobile County, have declared states of emergency. And, our election on March 31st is in limbo as state officials are working through whether or not to postpone the runoff election. Restaurants are being forced to shut down. Schools are canceled. And our workers are being asked to stay home.”

“Shamefully, Bill Hightower has decided to continue his deceitful television commercials that are nothing more than lies,” Carl continued. 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.”

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As of press time, Alabama has 157 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County has 71 cases, Shelby 17, Madison 16, Lee 16, Tuscaloosa 7, Elmore 6, St. Clair 3, Montgomery 3, Cullman 2, Lauderdale 2, Baldwin 2, Mobile 2, and Chambers 2. Jackson, Calhoun, Walker, Talladega, Limestone, Washington, Marion, and Lamar Counties all have 1 confirmed case. There are still no official deaths; but there are reports of deaths where COVID-19 is suspected of having playing a role.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff on November 3.

 

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Reaction to postponement of primary runoffs

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the Alabama primary runoff elections will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, due to spread of COVID-19.

Here is some reaction from state officials and candidates.

“We support the administration’s prudent measures and decisions to protect Alabamians,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “While these are concerning and unknown times, we appreciate our leaders implementing a safe atmosphere for our probate and election officials, poll workers, campaigns, candidates and voters. The old saying ‘better safe than sorry’ is truly applicable in these unknown circumstances.”

“Since President Trump’s declaration of National Emergency, our campaign has prepared for the potential postponement of the Alabama Republican run-off election for the 1st Congressional District,” said former State Senator Bill Hightower. “President Trump and his Administration have provided strong leadership in issuing guidance to states about the importance of public health vigilance during the coronavirus outbreak. This announcement is simply one more step in accordance with those recommendations.”

“On Sunday the CDC recommended canceling or postponing events or gatherings of more than 50 people,” said Republican Second Congressional District candidate Barry Moore. “Today the White House asked people not to gather in groups of more than 10 for the next 15 days, so that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to follow these guidelines, so most of our face to face events will be canceled for now. This is just common sense, not a reason to panic. We’ve already moved away from handshakes, so not holding political events where our supporters might be at risk of getting sick is the smart thing, the right thing to do.”

“I know that Governor Ivey has considered the health of Alabamians and that she has focused on their best interests in making her decision,” said Republican Senate candidate former Sen. Jeff Sessions. “The safety and health of Alabamians must take precedence. I am confident that Secretary of State John Merrill and Circuit Clerks across the state, in consultation with public health officials, will work hard to ensure a safe and orderly runoff election on July 14th. It is important that every voter’s voice has a fair chance to be heard, whether the vote is cast via an absentee ballot, or at the ballot box on election day.”

“I am glad that our elected officials are finally taking the threat of this virus seriously,” said Democratic First Congressional District candidate Kiani Gardner. “This decision, in conjunction with our success in expanding absentee ballot access to ALL Alabamians (without excuse) during the pandemic, is a big step towards ensuring that Alabamians can simultaneously protect their health and their right to vote.”

“I understand Governor Ivey’s decision to postpone the runoff and join her in encouraging all Alabamians to stay safe, be kind, and follow all guidelines related to the Coronavirus,” said Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. “I pray that the current health crisis will be brought under control and that lives will be saved.”

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“President Trump has taken bold steps that no other President would have taken to ensure our safety,” said Republican First Congressional District candidate and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl. “This is just more evidence that we need to not only re-elect President Trump but to also flip the House Red!”

“As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the country, our government has taken action to protect every citizen,” said Republican Second Congressional District candidate Jeff Coleman. “Now, that means postponing our run-off election until July 14th when it is safe for every Alabamian to make it to the polls. Stay tuned for more news.”

“We applaud the governor for looking out for the safety of all Alabamians, especially our senior citizens, poll workers, and those most at risk for the Coronavirus,” said Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Beth Kellum (R) who is running for re-election. “First and foremost, we want everyone to have the right to vote and to be able to do so safely. As announced this morning, the run-off election will now be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. We encourage everyone to go ahead and request an absentee ballot. Additionally, please look at CDC’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding procedures for COVID-19.”

“Many of you are aware that Governor Ivey announced that the primary election will be postponed until July 14, 2020,” said Democratic First Congressional District candidate James Averhart. “We should also receive guidance from the Secretary of State informing citizens that we will be allowed to vote absentee starting today, and until July 13, 2020. I’ve presented guidance to our campaign staff and they are committed to managing expectation. Until further notification, our staff will be tele-working and staying engaged with current events on all levels.”

“We intend to maintain our vigorous campaign up until the last day, even as we are careful to do so in a manner that puts the health and safety of the public first,” Sessions said. “It will be very difficult for Tommy Tuberville to hide from debates for four months. He will have to conquer his fears, and face me and the voters.”

“We’ve had a great social media presence during this campaign, and we’re going to ramp that up,” Moore said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of live streams on Facebook so people can still get to know Barry Moore and where I stand on the issues without risking their health.”

“My campaign is maintaining our position of suspended face-to-face events,” said Gardner. “But, we continue our work of keeping the citizens of South Alabama informed, engaged, and connected throughout this trying time. So, mark you calendars for July 14, apply for your absentee ballot, wash your hands, and stay at home. We will weather this storm together, Alabama!”

“America has faced daunting challenges in the past, but one of the characteristics that has made our nation uniquely exceptional is our resiliency and ability to overcome what is put in front of us,” said Hightower. “This includes the coronavirus. We must all be mindful to heed the President’s direction, and take appropriate precautions with all social interactions. Together we will overcome this challenge as well.”

“During this unprecedented time in history, we are praying for our nation and all Alabamians who have been impacted,” said Judge Kellum. “Now is the time for us all to do our part to be one nation and one Alabama.”

“Fellow citizens, I hope all is well and you are following safety guidance from our city, state and federal officials as it pertains to COVID-19,” said Averhart. “This pandemic is real and has fatal consequences if we don’t take care of ourselves and our fellow man. Now more than ever, we must remember that we are ALL in this together. Please be mindful to:- Wash your hands, Practice #SocialDistancing, Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, Call the doctor if you’re sick.”

“We ask all to be in deep prayer for our president, state leaders, candidates, their families and our fellow citizens,” said Lathan. “We also lift up our health care workers, first responders and those who keep our nation and state safe. This opportunity of working together will showcase our great state’s resilience with a focus on our fellow Alabamians’ safety and health. Americans are tenacious and tough people who have risen to many trying times and we have no doubt that we will all rise together again in this chapter of our nation’s and state’s history.”

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