Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday he will run for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat he held for over 20 years, but which is currently held by Doug Jones.
Sessions said, “I’ve battled liberals my whole life. Let’s Go!”
Sessions at his height was wildly popular, so much so that in 2014 there could not be found anyone, Republican or Democrat, who would run against him. Sessions’ fourth term was a near universal acceptance that his election was inevitable. This election will be much different and will certainly be the toughest contest Sessions has faced since his original election in 1996.
“When I left President Trump’s cabinet, did I write a tell all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the President? No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No,” Sessions said. “And I’ll tell you why: First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine. Second, the President is doing a great job for America and Alabama, and he has my strong support.”
Sessions appeared on stage with candidate Donald J. Trump at a nationally televised event in Mobile in front of a crowd of 50,000 people in the summer of 2015 and donned a Make America Great Again hat, when most of the political establishment thought that Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz would be the GOP nominee. Sessions was the first Senator to endorse Trump and campaigned tirelessly for the President. That friendship was shattered when Sessions refused to do the President’s bidding as Attorney General and recused himself in the early days of the Russia investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. The lengthy investigation probed went well beyond the allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians infuriating the President who has called Sessions his biggest mistake as President. A month ago, Trump called Sessions, “An embarrassment to the great state of Alabama”
“As everyone knows, President Trump and I have had our ups and downs. But here’s the important part: the President is doing great work for America,” Sessions said. “When President Trump took on Washington, only one Senator out of a hundred had the courage to stand with him: me. I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again.”
The shattered relationship between Sessions and the President was not lost on Doug Jones, who said Thursday: “Since Jeff is not running against me at this point, it would seem that folks need to be focused on the reactions of his opponents in the Republican primary and perhaps President Trump’s tweets about him over the last couple of years.”
Sessions faces seven other Republicans in the battle for the GOP nomination.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said that Sessions would be making a mistake by getting in the race.
Former Auburn football Coach Tommy Tuberville blasted Sessions.
“President Trump said it best when he called Jeff Sessions “a disaster” as Attorney General and an “embarrassment to Alabama,” Tuberville said on social media. “We can’t make the mistake of recycling a DC insider who let the President down. Our country needs a strong outsider who knows the people of Alabama and who will put America first. The establishment politicians have failed us. It’s time we elect someone with common-sense solutions and real conservative values. I’m not looking for a career, I’m running for the Senate to work alongside President Trump to drain the swamp!”
Secretary of State John H. Merrill told 99.5 FM radio hosts Matt Murphy and Aundrea Lindenberg that he had been with Sessions twice in the last month and had great conversations but that Sessions never did say anything to him about getting in the race.
Former Chief justice Roy Moore said that Jeff Sessions is my friend; but I am in this race no matter who qualifies.
Sessions will formally qualify with the Alabama Republican Party today. Ruth Page Nelson, who recently ran for Mayor of Dothan, qualified on Thursday joining a crowded Republican field that also includes: State Representative Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III was born in Wilcox County. He attended Huntingdon College, Sessions was a GOP organizer from his college days. He served as U.S. Attorney under President Ronald W. Reagan. Sessions was appointed a federal judge by Reagan; but his confirmation was blocked by liberals. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) was the key moderate who helped block Sessions. The two would later serve in the Senate together for years. Sessions was Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. He was elected Alabama Attorney General and then U.S. Senator. Sessions defeated State Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) for the Senate seat in 1996.
Sessions returned to the hot button social issues that he has emphasized his whole career.
“Our freedoms have never been under attack like they are today,” Sessions said. “We have major party candidates for President campaigning on socialism, confiscating firearms, and closing down churches they disagree with. I’ve battled these forces my entire life, and I’m not about to surrender now. Let’s go!”
The Republican primary will be on March 3.
Secretary of State extends absentee voting for Senate District 26 special election
Secretary of State John Merrill has officially extended the opportunity for anyone concerned about COVID-19 to apply for and cast an absentee ballot for the Senate District 26 special election.
The special primary election for Senate District 26 will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17. If necessary, a runoff election will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The general election will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
Any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual.
State law allows the secretary of state to issue absentee voting guidance during declared states of emergency, allowing Merrill to encourage voters to check the box which reads, “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]” unless another box applies.
For the Nov. 17 primary election, the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Thursday, Nov. 12. If delivered by hand, absentee ballots must be returned by Monday, Nov. 16. If delivered by mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 16.
Inaugural Alabama Works innovator awards presented
The inaugural AlabamaWorks! Innovator Awards were presented by Gov. Kay Ivey and Deputy Director of Commerce Ed Castile Thursday during the AlabamaWorks! Virtual Conference.
The awards were developed to highlight people and programs across the state that take an innovative approach to solving workforce challenges and help advance Ivey’s Success Plus attainment goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.
At the time of the inception of the awards, Alabama was unaware of the impact COVID-19 would have on the workforce and although the attainment goal has not changed, our economic and workforce recovery post-COVID-19 will hinge on innovators like those recognized.
“The workforce challenges that we face today are not the same ones that we faced six months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has completely reshaped the workforce landscape,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “The State of Alabama is relying on those who are leading the charge by implementing innovative solutions in their cities, counties and regions to further economic and workforce development.”
The recipients are visionaries, outside-of-the-box thinkers and problem solvers. The programs test boundaries, explore new opportunities and reach deeper to bring about change. “It is important to recognize these leaders of innovation and to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the citizens, communities and industries of Alabama,” said Ed Castile, deputy director of commerce and AIDT director. “Their innovative approach to workforce development will be key to opening doors, breaking barriers and propelling Alabamians forward.”
The recipients of the first-ever AlabamaWorks Innovator Awards are as follows:
Region 1 – North AlabamaWorks – Beth Brumley, Colbert County Schools
Beth Brumley built the Health Science Program for Colbert County Schools from the ground up by using her experience in the healthcare field to provide critical, real-world skills to her students. She developed key relationships within the healthcare community to provide her students enhanced learning opportunities and exposure, which resulted in increased demand for program graduates. Beth was also named the 2020 National New Teacher of the Year through the Association for Career and Technical Education. By bridging the gap between education and employer, Beth has created a formula for success that positively impacts the workforce.
Region 2 – East AlabamaWorks – The Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE)
SAFE has been a model for supportive services to empower individuals and families while fostering positive and healthy development of the community for nearly 25 years. In their program, SAFE combines occupational and employability skills to help job seekers be ready to enter the workforce regardless of barriers they may have faced in the past. Their dedication to providing practical solutions to modern problems is a testament to their heart for service and passion for helping their community and region.
Region 3 – West AlabamaWorks – Dr. Mike Daria, Superintendent Tuscaloosa City Schools
Dr. Daria has played a crucial role in the success of West Alabama’s workforce development by fostering important relationships between industry and education. His leadership has focused on increased Career Technical Education (CTE) enrollment, supporting local Worlds of Work events and the Educator Workforce Academy. Dr. Daria’s emphasis on the importance of identifying career pathways for the students in his district and then providing viable opportunities for students to take those paths, make him invaluable to West Alabama.
Region 4 – Central Six AlabamaWorks – Ed Farm
Ed Farm is the signature program of TechAlabama that focuses on encouraging children and adults to discover and pursue STEM careers. Ed Farm has a vision for a world full of invention, led by citizens who have been equipped with the necessary tools to fill or create the careers of the future. Through equipping educators and communities with innovative tools, strategies and programs they are able to support active learning for all students. With three signature tracks, Ed Farm is poised to help increase educational equity and improve learning outcomes through technology all while preparing the future tech workforce.
Region 5 – Central AlabamaWorks – Tiger Mochas, Auburn City Schools
Tiger Mochas is a collaborative effort between special education students, FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) members and peer volunteers at Auburn High School. This student-led organization is serving up a lot more than hot cups of coffee to their peers because through their work, students are provided meaningful, hands-on work experience that teaches important functional, social and daily living skills. Graduates of the program leave with not only work and employability skills, but in-demand soft skills that will help them succeed in life and work.
Region 6 – Southeast AlabamaWorks – WeeCat Industries
WeeCat Industries uses a simulated workplace model to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce. WeeCat saw an opportunity to begin teaching work ethics and employability skills as early as preschool, and rose to the challenge. Their students clock into work, run an assembly line, fill orders, check invoices, meet production quota, interview for new positions and implement quality control all while earning a “paycheck” to be spent at the WeeCat Store before they can even spell the word “school”. WeeCat Industries places invaluable skills at a crucial age in development which will shape the future of the workforce.
Region 7 – SAWDC AlabamaWorks – Ed Bushaw
Ed Bushaw with the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce researched and developed initiatives to address the region’s workforce supply to meet the needs of the growing hospitality and tourism industry in his region. His collaborative efforts with business and industry officials resulted in the development of the first Hospitality and Tourism registered apprenticeship program in Alabama. Apprentices receive classroom instruction as well as valuable real-world experience within the hospitality and tourism industry and finish the program with a credential that can be used to advance their career. Ed’s ability to adapt to the needs of industry and implement programs that address those needs are vital to the continued success of southwest Alabama.
Jones gets “F” rating from anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is criticizing Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, for receiving an “F” rating this week from the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion rights group that supports candidates who oppose abortion.
The organization gave Jones a failing grade because they said that Jones has voted against almost every “critical piece of pro-life legislation” offered in the Senate since he took office.
“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones’ pro-abortion record and opposition to pro-life legislation shows just how blatantly he disregards the values of Alabamians,” said NRSC spokesperson Paige Lindgren. “Alabama deserves a Senator that is a vocal supporter of the pro-life movement and willing to stand up for their conservative values in Congress.”
Lungren added that, “In February, Jones laughed when asked if he would support the Pain Capable Protection Act, a bill that would ban late-term abortions. He later voted NO on the same bill when it came to the Senate floor.”
The Republican candidate challenging Jones, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, has been endorsed by National Right to Life.
“National Right to Life is pleased to endorse Tommy Tuberville for election to the U.S. Senate,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “Tommy Tuberville supports compassionate proposals to safeguard unborn children and their mothers from the pain of abortion.”
The voters of Alabama in 2018 voted to outlaw abortions in the state in an amendment to the state constitution, and the state Legislature in 2019 essentially outlawed abortions. However, federal law and Supreme Court precedent make those measures unenforceable.
“Tommy Tuberville will work to ensure all innocent human life is protected and he is committed to strengthening a culture of life throughout the nation and in the U.S. Senate,” said Tobias. “As a coach, Tommy Tuberville knows the hard work that goes into achieving victory and we look forward to working with him to win greater protections for the most vulnerable in our society.”
Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. He has coached the University of Mississippi, Texas Tech University and the University of Cincinnati.
Jones is a former U.S. attorney. He has had many years in private practice as an attorney. After law school, Jones was an aide to then-U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Alabama.
Jones defeated former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in a December 2017 special election.
The Alabama Senate race is the closest-watched race in the state in the Nov. 3 general election.
Faith and labor partnership launched on Birmingham bombing anniversary
The bomb that ripped through the 16th Street Baptist Church 57 years ago was a predictable result of the social divisions of the early 1960s, and the nation is experiencing a similarly dangerous level of polarization now, said two prominent rights advocates who led a virtual ceremony on Tuesday commemorating the infamous event.
Rev. William Barber, who heads the nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, joined Richard Trumka, president of the country’s largest federation of unions, at the church to announce a formal partnership to work for social, racial and economic justice.
Trumka said the labor movement honors the bombing’s four young victims: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair.
“But our debt to this community is greater than that,” he said. “On the day the Ku Klux Klan set off the bomb, parts of the labor movement were racially segregated, including in Birmingham. The divisions and hatred that landowners and employers had been sowing since the founding of this country infected our own movement. So when the AFL-CIO fought for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, they were fighting to end discrimination and racism not just by employers, but by our own unions, our own institutions. We were fighting to change ourselves.”
With deep divisions again threatening American lives and democracy, Barber said, it is time for communities of faith to join with other groups struggling for fundamental rights in pursuit of a more perfect vision of the country.
There have always been attempts to defend a status quo that favors some over many others, willing to commit heinous violence to enforce it, he said.
“But we must remember these brutal acts were in violent response to the movement that had been achieved: The first citywide desegregation campaign in the South,” Barber said. “And it happened because faith and labor came together. Faith and labor and moral leaders and poor people came together.”
The killings were perpetrated after the movement had multiple successes by extremists who wanted to go backwards, he said. The achievement of basic rights by some was perceived as a threat to the “peace of Southern society and American society as a whole,” he said, and similar sentiments are being stoked today.
Barber said that the Civil Rights movement is too often talked about exclusively through a Black lens, although that was not the message of its leaders at the time. They emphasized the shared interests of poor people of all ethnicities, and of all marginalized communities.
“In some ways, we’re returning to what is. We’re not building so much new, but we’re embracing what has always been the necessary embrace in times of national crisis, around justice and around fundamental civil rights and economic rights,” he said.
Barber said the issues transcend President Donald Trump and the tribal state of American politics. He said that he meets people around the country of various ideologies who are dismayed with the way things are.
“What people are starting to realize is that those who push and support racist voter suppression, like Trump — it may be targeted at Black people, but the people who use those tactics to get elected, once they get elected they block living wages, they block union rights, they block health care,” Barber said.
He used Alabama as a prime example, with its majority of poor and uninsured people being white. The officials who promote policies that amount to voter suppression or who rally support with dog-whistle racism advance their agendas with lies, he said.
“Something that my grandmother taught me is if you scratch a liar, you find a thief,” Barber said.