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Sessions expected to announce candidacy for Senate

Brandon Moseley

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Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce that he is running for the Senate he vacated in 2017 today. Friday is the last day to qualify and there are already six candidates who have been on the campaign trail for months. Multiple news outlets are reporting that their sources are reporting that Sessions will enter the race today.

A source in Sessions inner circle has been leaking Sessions’ plans to enter this race for some time now to a variety of outlets. The Hill has quoted their source as saying that the former Alabama senator “will come out forcefully in support of [President] Trump’s agenda while denouncing Democrats’ impeachment efforts. And steps have already begun to hire campaign staff.”

Sessions is reported to be making a Fox News appearance on Thursday night where he will announce his candidacy publicly.

A source in the Alabama Republican Party told the Alabama Political Reporter, “He has not told us anything,” when asked if Sessions has communicated his plans to the party when these leaks from the Sessions camp began occurring with more frequency.

Sessions at one point had off the charts favorability in Alabama; so much so that when he ran for re-election last in 2014 not only did he not have a primary challenger; but the Alabama Democratic Party could not find anyone who would face him either and he was elected without any opposition whatsoever. This time will be very different with six Republicans already in the field and a Democratic incumbent in Doug Jones occupying the seat.

Former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. told APR that if the President stays out of it this will be a very close race; but if President Trump endorses someone then that person will win the nomination.

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Trump had endorsed appointed Senator Luther Strange in 2017; even going so far as to holding a full campaign event in Huntsville attended by 20,000 people where he begged Alabama Republicans to vote for Sen. Strange. Strange said in his one debate appearance in the runoff, “The President is my friend. He picked me.”

It and $50 million of GOP establishment dollars did not help him and Alabama Republicans picked former Chief Justice Roy Moore instead.

Sessions was the first Senator to endorse Trump and appeared with him on stage in his hometown of Mobile in the summer of 2015. Sessions loaned his staff to the Trump campaign and campaigned relentlessly for Trump. The President appointed Sessions Attorney General.

That warm relationship crashed. when AG Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that Sessions had twice met with the Russian Ambassador in 2016 and had not disclosed that to the Senate during confirmation hearings. The meetings were about Russian rocket engines that United Launch Alliance (ULA) was importing to power its rockets that are assembled in Decatur. ULA will be using a rocket engine made by Blue Origin in a new factory being built in Huntsville; but at the time Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) was trying to ban importation of the Russian rocket engines, a move that would have crippled ULA in favor of SpaceX which has production facilities in Arizona.

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Sessions did not clear his recusal with Trump who was furious over both the decision and Sessions’ doing it without telling the President first. Sessions’ authority in the matter then fell on Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein who made the decision to hire former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the matter at a cost of $30 million. The intense corruption investigation netted a number of convictions, more indictments, and fueled speculation that the President would be impeached. Eventually Mueller would find no evidence that Trump nor anyone in the Trump family had broken any laws in the 2016 campaign; but the matter cost the Republicans control of the House of Representatives. A furious Trump demanded that Sessions resign immediately after the 2018 election disaster.

Trump is not a forgiving man and has repeatedly attacked Sessions on Twitter and in off the cuff comments. The President has called appointing Sessions as AG, “My greatest mistake.”

Sessions has reportedly hired OnMessage as his consulting firm for the campaign. OnMessage has not confirmed or denied that.

Rick Dearborn, a former top aide to Sessions, declined to comment on whether his former boss would announce a bid in the coming days.

Many Alabama Republicans have expressed dismay to APR that Sessions is entering this race.

Sessions would be joining a crowded primary field that includes Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, businessman Stanley Adair, state Rep. Arnold Mooney and former Chief Justice Roy Moore.

“I think it would be a mistake for him and really bad for the state given the president’s extreme displeasure with him. Alabama is very pro-Trump,” Byrne told The Hill on Tuesday.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has made several statements early on in the process encouraging Sessions to run; but according to the Hill Sessions does not have the support and reportedly has not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) or Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana), the chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee (which squandered tens of millions of $$s on Strange’s doomed primary campaign).

Doug Jones has already begun running political ads attacking Sessions as being “divisive.”

(Original reporting by Fox News, Politico, and the Hill’s Julie Grace Burke and Al Weaver contributed to this report.)

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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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