In his opening bid to become the next U.S. Senator from Alabama, Secretary of State John Merrill hit all the right notes to appeal to Republican primary voters.
In an approximately 90-second video, Merrill took on the liberal left, touted his conservative record and slammed his closest Republican opponents Congressman Bradley Byrne, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and Judge Roy Moore.
“From the Shoals to the shores in Alabama, we’re known for winning,” Merrill said in his introductory statement. “Lately liberals have been empowered because Republicans promote candidates who can’t win.”
With not so subtle jabs, Merrill said, “Some walked out when the money called,” pointing out that Tuberville’s career choices saw him leave one team after another in a money chase.
He then pivoted to Byrne, saying, “Some asked others to walk out when liberals got tough,” referring to Byrne calling for then-candidate President Donald Trump to drop out of the 2016 Republican Primary after the Access Hollywood tapes broke in which Trump was caught making sexist remarks. Byrne quickly walked back those comments going on to support Trump.
Lastly, Merrill targeted Moore saying, “Some walked out on our conservative values,” reminding Republican voters that Democrat Doug Jones beat Moore in the 2017 Special Election.
Without missing a beat, Merrill listed his fights against liberals Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer, the ACLU and other left-leaning bogeymen.
Nearly a decade younger than his rivals, and in some cases two, Merrill looks and sounds fresh compared to Moore, Byrne and Tuberville.
His well-crafted roll-out shows Merrill has a reliable team behind his campaign.
But in a six-way race, name ID and money is critical.
Byrne has the money while Moore and Tuberville have high name recognition.
But it’s doubtful that any of the declared candidates will outwork Merrill.
Taking a page from Alabama’s senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby’s playbook, Merrill has visited all of the state’s 67 counties twice.
He has also turned the antiquated Secretary of State’s office into a model of modern efficiency.
Not only has his office set a high standard in government effectiveness, but Merrill may also be the last public official who is actually fighting for strong ethics laws. Merrill has tracked and filed numerous campaign finance violations against PACs, lobbyists and candidates.
Despite push-back from the Ethics Commission and the state’s elites, Merrill continues to charge ahead with his mission to hold those who violate the state’s campaign finance laws accountable.
Merrill now becomes the Republican candidate to watch as the battle to defeat Jones intensifies.
Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville
The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.
“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”
“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”
Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.
Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.
Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.
Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.
Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.
Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.
“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”
The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”
“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”
Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.
Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.
The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.
Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.
The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.
Jones campaign director blasts Tuberville for saying $600 “too much” for out-of-work Alabamians
The communications director for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign on Wednesday called out Tommy Tuberville for saying that $600 in emergency unemployment aid was too much for Alabamians.
“Tommy Tuberville once again proves he’s out of touch with Alabama. When he ‘resigned’ from his job as a football coach he took a $5.1 million payout for himself. To this day, he receives $800 a week in State Retirement funds for a coaching job he ‘quit’ in 2008,” said Owen Kilmer, communications Director for Jones’s Senate campaign, in a statement Wednesday.
“But he says $600 in emergency benefits is ‘way too much’ for people in Alabama who lost their jobs in this crisis through no fault of their own. Tuberville says $600 is ‘way too much’ to help people put food on the table and pay utilities,” Kilmer continued. “No wonder, when asked about how to handle this crisis, he said ‘I wouldn’t have a clue.’ It’s true. He doesn’t.”
Tuberville, the Republican Senate nominee, is trying to unseat Jones in the November general election. Jones has called the former Auburn football coach and first-time political candidate an “unprepared hyper-partisan.”
Mimi Penhale, Russell Bedsole advance to GOP runoff in HD49
Republican voters in House District 49 went to the polls Tuesday to nominate their next representative. Miriam “Mimi” Penhale and Russell Bedsole received the most votes and will advance on to the special Republican primary runoff scheduled for Sept. 1.
“What an incredible day!” Bedsole said. “Thank you friends and family for your love, support, and prayers. We had a great showing today and we are on to a runoff. Looking forward to getting back out and winning this thing on September 1st.”
“THANK YOU Bibb, Chilton and Shelby County!” Penhale said on social media. “I’m looking forward to earning your vote, again, on September 1 in the runoff.”
The election was very tight between the two. Mimi Penhale received 829 votes, or 31.4 percent of the votes. Russell Bedsole received 919 votes, or 34.8 percent.
The rest of the votes was split among the other four candidates. James Dean received less than 1 percent, Chuck Martin received 24.3 percent, Jackson McNeely received 2.16 percent and Donna Strong received 6.71 percent.
There were 2,639 votes cast on Tuesday. Voter turnout was 8.88 percent.
Bedsole serves on the Alabaster City Council, Pemhale is the director of the Shelby County Legislative office.
The eventual winner of the Republican nomination will face Democrat Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.