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Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate Ross Perot has died

Brandon Moseley

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Tuesday, Texas billionaire and one of the most significant third party presidential candidates in the last 100 years, Ross Perot, died. He was 89.

“With deep sadness, I am letting you know that Mr. Perot passed away early Tuesday at his home, surrounded by his family,” said family spokesperson James Fuller in a statement to ABC News. “Mr. Perot was a true patriot and a dedicated humanitarian. He will be missed greatly.”

He is survived by his wife Margot and their five children.

Former Chief Justice and current U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore expressed his condolences in a statement.

“I was sorry to hear of the passing of Ross Perot this morning” Moore said. “A graduate of USNA, Perot was a Korean War Veteran and tireless advocate for Veterans’ issues. Perot also embodied the American Dream in having risen from depression era poverty to found companies that would later be sold for billions of dollars. Perot’s warnings about the ill effects of the NAFTA trade agreement during his 1992 presidential race we should, have as a country, heeded and many jobs in plants across Alabama would not have been lost, he was right! Thank God for men and women of this country like Ross Perot who have made America great, they are the true dreamers.”

Perot ran for president in 1992 on a populist, nationalist, anti-free trade agenda that in many ways foreshadowed the Donald Trump populist bid for the republican nomination in 2016.

Perot was highly critical of incumbent president at the time George H. W. Bush. He disagreed with the president on trade, Bush’s “New World Order” foreign policy pronouncement and his decision to raise taxes after saying that he would not. Perot would go on the Larry King program, when CNN still had high ratings, and rant for 45 minutes about Bush.

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Perot called his movement the Reform Party and a number of candidates ran for offices on the Reform Party ticket in the 1990s. Some of them even won, most notably professional wrestler and actor Jesse “the Body” Ventura who was elected the governor of Minnesota in 1998.

In the 1992 presidential election, democratic challenger, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, won with just 43.1 percent of the votes cast, 44,909,889 votes. Bush, the Republican incumbent, received just 37.5 percent of the vote — 39,04,545 votes. Perot received a shocking 19 percent of the vote — 19,742,267 votes. The libertarian candidate, Andre Marrou, received .3 percent — 291,628 percent of the votes. Populist Party candidate James “Bo” Gritz received .1 percent — 107,002 votes.

It was the best performance by an independent or third party candidate showing since incumbent President William Taft was the Republican nominee and former President Theodore Roosevelt was the Progressive Party, or Bull Moose Party, nominee. Roosevelt got 27.4 percent of the vote and Taft 23.2 percent, while socialist Eugene Debbs got 6 percent. Woodrow Wilson won with 41.8 percent.

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Perot’s strong performance also revealed the inherent weakness of third party candidates in American politics. Clinton got 370 electoral college votes, and Bush got 168, including Alabama. Even though Perot got nearly one out of five votes cast in a competitive three way, he got not one electoral college vote.

Perot ran again in 1996 finishing a distant third behind Clinton and GOP nominee Sen. Bob Dole with just 8.4 percent of the vote. The Clinton and Dole campaigns jointly agreed to exclude Perot from the debates after his strong 1992 performance.

“Family, friends and associates are encouraged to honor Mr. Perot’s memory by continuing to support his commitment to these organizations: Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, North Texas Food Bank, Salvation Army DFW, Teach for America: Dallas/ Fort Worth, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Visiting Nurses Association of Dallas,” Fuller said in the statement.

According to Forbes, Perot was worth $4.1 billion at the time of his death.

Perot, after his Navy service, worked for IBM before leaving to found Electronic Data Systems, an information technology and services company.

Angry Republicans blamed Perot for splitting the GOP base, enabling Clinton to win in 1992. Ironically democrats blamed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for splitting the progressive vote in 2000, allowing Bush’s son, George W. Bush to narrowly beat out Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Former President George W. Bush released a statement of condolences.

“Texas and America have lost a strong patriot,” Bush said. “Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed. He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world. He loved the U.S. military and supported our service members and veterans. Most importantly, he loved his dear wife, children, and grandchildren. Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Perot family as they celebrate a full life,” Bush said in his statement.”

“Every day he came to work trying to figure out how he could help somebody,” said his son, Ross Perot Jr., to the Dallas Morning News.

Original reporting by ABC News, Ballotpedia, and the Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.

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Courts

Doug Jones praises end of state Democratic Party lawsuit

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday applauded the end of a lawsuit over control of the state Democratic party. 

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley, which means that state Rep. Chris England, who was picked to lead the state Democratic party by a reform group championed by Jones, is the party’s chair. 

“This is a great day for Alabama and her Democratic Party. Throughout much of last year, countless Democrats in our state worked to create a more open and diverse state party, while recognizing and being true to the crucial and historic role held by African-American voters,” Jones said in a statement Thursday.

“The by-laws of the Alabama Democratic Party now reflect the growing diversity in our state — including representation for Hispanic voters, Native American voters, Asian voters, voters with disabilities and voters from the LGBTQ community. And most importantly, the Alabama Democratic Party has dramatically increased leadership opportunities for young voters. Around 70 new caucus members were added to the state party Executive Committee last year—many of them young people from diverse backgrounds throughout the state. I’m proud to continue to work alongside a more unified, diverse and inclusive state party. 

“With the dismissal of this lawsuit, it is time that all who have been involved in this challenge, resolution, and expansion of the Democratic Party come together for a common good. Our state benefits from the ideas and engagement of a competitive two-party system. We have now demonstrated that we have the ability to be inclusive within our own party while working to expand the number and experiences of people who play a role in moving it forward.  

“Chairman Chris England and First Vice Chair Patricia Todd have my complete support and I call on Democrats throughout the state to unite behind them as we move forward in modernizing, re-invigorating, and expanding the Alabama Democratic Party.,” Jones said.

 

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Elections

11th-hour smear campaign against Byrne linked to opponent Tuberville, sources say

Bill Britt

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A story published February 24, on Gateway Pundit alleges, “Bradley Byrne kicked his brother’s widow off her land,” but the land was never owned by Byrne’s sister-in-law.

Whether the reporter at Gateway Pundit didn’t read all the court records or there were other motives, the erroneous accusations on the popular right-wing blog are now being used to smear Byrne in the final hours of a heated U.S. Senate race.

See complete records. 

Political consultants not tied to Byrne’s campaign say that operatives working for his rival, Tommy Tuberville, are promoting the story to damage Byrne. Random text messages are being sent to distribute the story as well as numerous calls to Alabama media outlets to report on the false claims. State political reporters have rejected the story due to its inaccuracies.

Several calls and voice messages to Tuberville’s campaign have gone unanswered.

The land in question was part of the estate of Byrne family matriarch, Elizabeth Patricia Langsdale Byrne.

In her original will signed July 23, 1996, Mrs. Byrne left her property in Baldwin County to her three children, Dale, Bradley and Patricia.

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However, on Feb. 25, 1999, she amended her will, removing her eldest son leaving the property to only Bradley and Patricia.

On Dec. 6, 2000, Mrs. Byrne again amended her will, leaving one-third to Bradley, one-third to Patricia and one-third as a “life estate” to Dale. According to the will, the life estate left to Dale would go back to Bradley and Patrica upon Dale’s death because a life estate means ownership of land is only for the duration of a person’s life.

Mrs. Byrne died in 2008; she was followed in death by her son Dale in 2014,  at which time the life estate bequeathed to him expired.

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Bradley, who his mother selected as executor of her estate, then filed the necessary paperwork with the Baldwin County probate office to address Dale’s death as stipulated in Mrs. Byrne’s will.

The Gateway Pundit story leaves out crucial details and in its interview with Dale’s fourth wife, Gloria, repeats claims she made that are not grounded in facts.

There is also a false claim that Byrne refused to leave the campaign trial when his brother died, but he did in fact cancel a scheduled event in the family’s time of morning.

The same reporter at Gateway Pundit wrote several stories praising Tuberville and trashing his other primary opponent, Jeff Sessions, calling him a skunk and a snake.

Court records clearly show Byrne acted in accordance with his mother’s wishes as they were detailed in her last will and testament.

 

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Elections

Atlanta Mayor to campaign for Biden in Alabama

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden (D) announced that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will travel to Tennessee and Alabama to campaign on behalf of Joe Biden.

On Friday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Tennessee, where she will host a Women for Biden event with State Senator Brenda Gilmore, moderate a health care roundtable, and host a meet and greet with State Representative Harold Love in Nashville. She was supposed to have hosted a GOTV kickoff event with Mayor Lee Harris and State Senator Raumesh Akbari in Memphis, Tennessee; but that event has been reportedly cancelled.

On Saturday, Mayor Bottoms will travel to Alabama, where she will host community events in Huntsville and Birmingham before speaking at the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

Biden has promised that his campaign will carry South Carolina, where he is leading in the polls. Biden hopes that he can win several southern states, including Alabama, on Super Tuesday to emerge as one of the leaders in the race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The Huntsville community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms in Huntsville will be 9:30 a.m. at the Huntsville Country Club 2601 Oakwood Ave NW, Huntsville, AL 35810. Doors open at 9:00 a.m.

The Birmingham community Event with Keisha Lance Bottoms is somewhere in Birmingham at 12 noon; but the Biden campaign has not given us a location. We will update this story once the details are available.

UPDATED at 10:27 a.m. 2/28 The Biden event will be at Iron City Grill 2208 6th Ave S, Birmingham, AL.

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Mayor Bottoms will address the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors in Selma at 3:00 p.m. pm Saturday. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. C.S.T. at Browns Chapel A.M.E., 410 Martin Luther King Street, Selma, AL, 36703.

Biden has been endorsed by both Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) and U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama).

Biden is the favorite to win both the South Carolina and Alabama Democratic Primaries. Biden however is trailing in most of the Super Tuesday states to frontrunner U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Sanders carried 47 percent of the vote in the recent Nevada Caucus. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary and won the most votes in the Iowa Caucus; though South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most number of Caucuses, and thus the most delegates in Iowa.

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Biden was the early front runner in the polls; but has been hurt by Republican charges of nepotism benefitting his son, Hunter Biden, while he was Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

The Alabama Democratic Conference has endorsed former New York City Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was a late entry into the race, thus was not even on the ballot in Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire and won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina either. Bloomberg has spent over $350 million of his own money to buy TV and media ads. Bloomberg is a billionaire with a fortune estimated to be worth over $66 billion.

Moderate Democrats like James Carville have expressed fears that the Democratic Party will suffer tremendous losses in November if Sanders, a self-declared Socialist, wins the nomination.

The Alabama Democratic presidential primary will be on Tuesday.

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Elections

Bloomberg making final Alabama push

Josh Moon

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The Michael Bloomberg campaign is making Alabama one of its top Super Tuesday priorities — hoping that state Democratic voters will help catapult the former New York City mayor into the running for the party’s presidential nomination. 

Bloomberg has already spent more time in Alabama than most of the other candidates — including kicking off his presidential run by qualifying first on the Alabama ballot and speaking at an Alabama Democratic Conference meeting — and has flooded the state with workers and cash, buying advertising spots and building infrastructure the likes of which Alabama has rarely seen. 

With the primary less than a week away now, Bloomberg’s campaign is making a last push. 

That will be highlighted by the former mayor’s visit to the state over the weekend and a number of surrogates making their way around Alabama throughout the coming days. 

That starts in earnest on Thursday, when former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, one of the first mayors to endorse Bloomberg, travels to Miles College for a “community conversation” with students and others. 

The visit to a historically black college is no coincidence, as Bloomberg’s campaign looks to regain the support of black voters after his history as NYC mayor drew major fire from his Democratic primary opponents. Having the endorsement of the ADC, the state’s black caucus, will certainly help, but former Vice President Joe Biden maintains strong support among black voters and moderates in Alabama.  

Nutter will be joined at Miles by former Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who also has announced his support for Bloomberg. 

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Following the event at Miles, Nutter will travel to the Alabama State House in Montgomery for a meeting with the Alabama Baptist Association Leadership and then on to Selma, where he’ll attend a reception for the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors.

 

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