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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.

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.”

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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

ALGOP rejects change that would have stripped voters of power to elect convention delegates

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The 435-member Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday voted to reject a proposed bylaws change that would have taken away the ability of Alabama Republican primary voters to elect the delegates to the Republican National Convention every four years. Under the proposal, the Executive Committee themselves would have picked all of the delegates.

The controversial measure was voted down 51 percent to 49 percent. This was a bylaws change so it required a two-thirds majority to pass. The vote was not even close.

The full Alabama Republican Executive Committee was holding its summer meeting at the Trussville Civic Center. Executive Committee members from every county in the state travel to the two Executive Committee meetings each year.

Claire Austin, who represents the Bullock County GOP, said that the committee would be taking away the people’s right to vote.

Joseph Fuller, who chairs the Bylaws Committee and represents the 3rd Congressional District on the ALGOP Steering Committee, argued for the change saying that having all of those delegate races on the ballot confuses primary voters and that 34 other states do not elect their convention delegates.

Fuller said the change was proposed by Elbert Peters of Madison County, who could not attend because of his health. One delegate from Jefferson County accused proponents of the change of trying to take away democracy. This same bylaw change was proposed at last year’s summer meeting and rejected by the Executive Committee then as well.

Republican primary voters on March 3 elected 47 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Charlotte. The Alabama Republican Executive Committee elected 47 alternate delegates in May. This year’s GOP convention has been canceled by President Donald Trump because of the growing danger of contracting COVID-19 by mixing so many people across the country into a packed convention hall.

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The Executive Committee did approve a bylaws change allowing that in a declared state of emergency that a meeting of the Executive Committee could be done online.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said that she had talked to some members who were afraid to attend Saturday’s meeting because of the coronavirus threat.

There was a live feed so that members who did not attend the summer meeting in person could watch online, but because there was no provision in the bylaws for remote participation, they did not count toward achieving a quorum and could not vote on the proposed bylaws changes, resolutions or on selecting delegates to the electoral college.

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Due to so many members fearing exposing themselves to the coronavirus and wrecks on I-65 slowing traffic, it was over 30 minutes into the event before the Executive Committee had a quorum and could conduct business. The traditional fundraising luncheon was canceled this year due to COVID-19 fears. Lathan said that there may be a virtual fundraiser later in the year to address the shortfall.

The Alabama Republican Executive Committee meets two times a year. The 21-member Republican Steering Committee conducts regular business for the party and meets much more frequently.

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Elections

Sheriff Samaniego endorses Russell Bedsole in House District 49

Brandon Moseley

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Russell Bedsole

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego has endorsed Russell Bedsole for Alabama House of Representatives District 49. The election is Tuesday. Bedsole, who has 21 years of experience with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, announced his candidacy for the vacant District 49 seat on June 2, 2020.

“As a longtime member of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Bedsole knows firsthand how crucial law and order are to our nation,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego. “Bedsole will be a powerful voice in the Alabama House of Representatives. He will fight for the hardworking law enforcement officers and first responders serving our communities.”

The special primary election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 4, to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, joined President Donald Trump’s administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services. House District 49 includes portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties.

Bedsole’s campaign said that during his time of service, Alabaster has benefited from positive economic growth, a first-class school system and a high quality of life.

Bedsole describes himself as a conservative Christian candidate, who “believes that life starts at conception, that the 2nd amendment should be protected, that our taxes need to be low and fair, and that our cities and counties need their fair share of infrastructure support.”

Bedsole says that he is dedicated to the service of the citizens of District 49 and standing up for conservative values and promised to make District 49 a great place to live for all of its citizens by working to improve District 49’s infrastructure and traffic flow, increased economic development and advancing school systems.

“I humbly ask for your vote on August 4th to allow me to serve District 49,” said Bedsole.

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Bedsole has also been endorsed by Conservation Alabama.

In addition to Bedsole, Donna Strong, James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely and Mimi Penhale are all running in the special Republican primary on Tuesday, Aug. 4. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17. There is no Democratic primary on Tuesday because Patton did not have a primary opponent. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.

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Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. You must be a registered voter in HD49 in order to participate. You may only vote at the polling place you are assigned, and you must have a valid photo ID to participate in any Alabama election.

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Elections

Conservation Alabama endorses Russell Bedsole in House District 49 race

Brandon Moseley

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Russell Bedsole

Conservation Alabama announced Thursday that the group is endorsing Russell Bedsole in the special Republican primary on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

“Conservation Alabama Action Fund is pleased to announce the endorsement of Russell Bedsole in the State House District 49 Special Election,” the group said in a statement.

Tammy Monistere is the executive director of the Conservation Alabama Action Fund.

“We need legislators in Montgomery who will prioritize public lands, clean water, and access to renewable energy,” said Monistere. “Bedsole’s experience as an Alabaster City Councilor coupled with his genuine appreciation for our state’s natural resources make him a prime candidate. We look forward to working with him at the State House.”

The special primary election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 4, to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, joined the Trump Administration.

House District 49 includes portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties.

Conservation Alabama Action Fund describes itself as a non-partisan organization working to protect people and places in Alabama. The group shares information with elected officials and voters about conservation issues, and helps to elect legislators who share members’ conservation values.

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Bedsole has 22 years of experience with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He has also been elected twice by the citizens of Alabaster to represent Ward 5 on the Alabaster City Council.

Bedsole’s campaign said that during his time of service, Alabaster has benefited from positive economic growth, a first-class school system and a high quality of life.

Bedsole describes himself as a conservative Christian candidate, who “believes that life starts at conception, that the 2nd amendment should be protected, that our taxes need to be low and fair, and that our cities and counties need their fair share of infrastructure support.”

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Bedsole says that he is dedicated to the service of the citizens of District 49 and standing up for conservative values and promised to make District 49 a great place to live for all of its citizens by working to improve District 49’s infrastructure and traffic flow, increased economic development, and advancing school systems.

In addition to Bedsole, Donna Strong, James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely, and Mimi Penhale are all running in the special Republican primary on Tuesday, August 4. If a Republican runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2020.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Representative April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment with the Trump administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term which ends in late 2022.

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Elections

Donna Strong seeks Republican nomination in House District 49

Brandon Moseley

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Republican State House candidate Donna Strong

Donna Strong is touting her experience as an educator in her bid to win the Republican nomination for Alabama House District 49 special election. Strong is a veteran educator with 31 years of teaching experience at the middle, high school and college levels. She hopes to bring that experience and educational knowledge to the Alabama House of Representatives, she said.

“Most Alabamians don’t realize the degree to which politics controls our public education system,” Strong said in a statement. “When everything from class sizes, curriculum programs, school calendars, lunchroom menus, educator salaries, and standardized testing are legislatively mandated, public schooling is largely dictated by career politicians who have never walked in a teacher, bus driver or cafeteria worker’s shoes.”

Strong said that she wants to cut wasteful spending and see curricula implemented that will help all students learn to think critically, communicate clearly and solve problems in their everyday lives now and for their future. Strong said that she believes health and safety resources should be significantly enhanced for students.

“Educators at all grade levels have seen an increase in the number of students who come to school with mental health or behavioral problems,” Strong explained. “Learning is just too challenging when children are depressed, scared or angry. Every school should have a qualified nurse and easy access to trained mental health professionals.”

Strong said that she will make enhancing infrastructure in District 49 a high priority.

“The events of the past several months have brought a new awareness of the critical dependence we all have for a strong and stable economy,” Strong continued,. Safe roads, effective schools, accessible local health care, and adequately funded police and fire departments are the key elements to encourage both small and large business growth. As a state we also need to continue to upgrade 5G (5th Generation) wireless so that every student and every worker has fast and reliable access to the online resources they need to succeed. As a legislator, I will always focus on these important local and state issues for every citizen in District 49.”

Strong grew up in Shelby County. She was a member of 4-H and later was on both the Auburn University Livestock and Dairy judging teams.

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“I always enjoyed the time we spent visiting and practicing at farms throughout Alabama,” she said. “Agriculture is still a very important way of life for many Alabamians and this industry needs to be fully funded and supported.”

Strong is a science teacher, nature enthusiast and animal lover. Strong says that she is dedicated to protecting our environment.

“From the scenic mountains of north Alabama to the beautiful beaches of our southern coast, we have one of the most biodiverse states in the country,” Strong said. “Some Alabama plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world. And importantly, our unique and picturesque landscapes are critical to the people and jobs that depend on the tourism driven by our beautiful landscapes.”

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Strong said that she wants to encourage community recycling programs and see tougher sanctions on companies and individuals who harm the environment.

Strong is a graduate of Chelsea High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in education from Auburn University. She also has a Ph.D. from Penn State University.

She and her husband Russell live in Alabaster. They have two children.

In addition to Strong, Russell Bedsole, James Dean, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely and Mimi Penhale are all running in the special Republican primary on Tuesday, Aug. 4. If a Republican runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2020. The eventual Republican nominee will face Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Representative April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment with the Trump administration 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.

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