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Opinion | It’s time for Alabama Democrats to learn from Alabama Republicans

Josh Moon

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Democrats never seem to learn from Republicans. 

All around the country, and all around the state of Alabama, Democrats are still playing by the rules. Still listening to the cries and outrage from the other side. Still entertaining the idea that compromise and diplomacy are important to Republicans on some level. 

Still watching Lucy jerk that football away at the last moment. 

It’s time that stopped. 

It is time — actually, well past time — for Democrats to adopt the attitudes of their GOP colleagues, and just do whatever the hell you want to do. 

Whatever goal you set, go achieve it. Whatever policy is important, implement it. Whatever action you believe is right, take it. 

This is how Republicans have governed now for years. It is how they have wrestled control of the U.S. Supreme Court — just don’t hold a hearing for a duly appointed candidate — and how they have stolen elections — keep blocking attempts to secure elections. It is how they control half of Congress — thanks, gerrymandering! — despite representing nearly 20 million fewer people and how they have managed to offset a growing minority vote — put up every roadblock short of a poll tax. 

In Alabama, it has how they adopted the AAA act to funnel tax money to private schools — just completely rewrite the bill in the dead of night — and how they passed the most restrictive abortion ban — just ignore promises and public opinion. It is how they have stopped attempts to pass gambling legislation — by straight up lying about the law — and how they have steadily cut into ethics laws — pretend that no one can understand the laws they wrote themselves — and how a House Speaker convicted on 12 felonies still isn’t in prison three years later — just don’t send him. 

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They don’t care. 

About rules. About the law. About public perception. About basic decency. 

And it’s time for Democrats, especially in Alabama, to adopt the same attitudes. 

Because if Republicans can behave this way to implement racist bills and roll back ethics laws and protect the income of the elites, then Democrats shouldn’t think twice about doing it to protect rural hospitals or new mothers’ health or workers’ rights or decent public schools. 

Now, this will be a big change for Democrats, so let me explain how this would look in practice, using the ongoing saga of Confederate monuments. 

Republicans shoved through an absurd bill last year that protects the state’s monuments to those who fought to enslave other human beings, and they’re shocked — shocked and outraged — that African Americans in Alabama might find it offensive to honor the men who enslaved their ancestors. 

The bill they passed last year was a dumb bill, right down to the portion which levied a fine on cities if those cities removed or damaged a monument. The bill completely screwed up the fines portion, failing to penalize cities for moving or damaging monuments over 40 years old and failing to place a per-day fine on those cities. Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court said the cities would be subject to one $25,000 fine. 

Birmingham has a monument that it desperately wants to move. It has already boarded up the monument in Linn Park, and the ALSC, in the same ruling, ordered the boards to come down. 

And this is the first opportunity for Mayor Randall Woodfin to approach this with a new attitude. 

Tear it down. 

Write out one of those big “Price is Right” checks for $25,000, hold a press conference and award that money to Steve Marshall like he just won at Plinko. 

At the same time, workers should be taking that monument apart piece by piece and moving it to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where it can be viewed for its historical significance instead of serving to honor traitors and racists. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t even entertain their complaints. 

A similar approach should be taken by the city of Montgomery in regards to its occupational tax, which Republicans are attempting to stop through legislative action. 

Montgomery is going broke, and it can’t put enough cops on the streets. Part of that is because every day about 70,000 people flood into the city to go to work, and then they leave each afternoon and spend their money in — and give their tax dollars to — surrounding cities and counties. 

Montgomery has to do something to offset the costs, so an occupational tax has been proposed. But just as quickly as it was, the ALGOP — the kings of handouts to people who don’t need them — passed a bill to block it. 

So, some creativity is required.

Instead of an occupational tax, pass a public safety tax. 

If you work within the city limits of Montgomery, but live outside of those city limits, your paycheck will now be taxed an extra 1 percent to offset the cost of the police and fire services that you might use while in the city every day. 

No apologies. No shame. Don’t listen to GOP complaints. 

It’s a shame that things have to be like this, but they do. Democrats have tried for decades to force rational debate and to promote the value of compromise. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, which have been attached to toddler-like brains that have justified atrociously selfish behaviors and awful governance. 

At this point, it has gone on so long and been so successful for Republicans, the only thing that might break through is a taste of their own medicine. 

Give it to them.

 

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Elections

Alabama Republicans upset with Jones’ “no” vote on coronavirus stimulus bill

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Republican leaders on Monday condemned U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ procedural vote to prevent the coronavirus stimulus bill from coming to a vote.

On Sunday, Democrats blocked action on the comprehensive stimulus package — the third of the legislative response to the coronavirus outbreak. The bill is still being negotiated and the vote was not a vote on whether to pass a final version of the stimulus package.

“I voted against it yesterday because I wanted to make a point,” Jones said. “We had lost the negotiating and bipartisan progress for about 24 hours. And I felt very strongly that we need to get that progress back. So I voted no on a procedural motion to proceed, and guess what happened, they got down to negotiating, and in the last 24 hours, more progress has been made in the last 24 hours and than there was in the 24 hours before that.”

By Monday, Jones decided to vote yes another similar procedural vote, a vote to move forward with the legislative process but said that does not mean he will vote for the final product if changes aren’t made.

“We need to get the clock ticking,” Jones said. “We have got to get this thing moving. I felt it very important to tell my leader as well as leader McConnell that we need to get it together.”

But Republicans in the state are not happy with Jones’s procedural vote. Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “This is not the time for politics.”

“Senator Doug Jones needs to follow the example of Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – who has put his political differences aside and is working across the aisle with President Trump during this crisis – instead of being Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s partisan puppet,” Lathan said in a statement. “His NO vote Sunday night has had serious ramifications on the people of Alabama and our country. The Democrats helped craft this emergency unprecedented legislation and then, like Charlie Brown and the football, yanked away desperately needed help for America.”

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The deal was originally negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi. Democrats had agreed, but the deal had been held up last week by conservative Republicans balking at the price tag – all of this will be paid for with deficit spending and no plan to pay any of it back in the foreseeable future.

The Republican position in the Senate was weakened further when Republican Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, announced he was infected with the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, though he is showing no symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

46,148 Americans have been confirmed as having the virus. The virus has killed 582 Americans, 140 of them on Monday alone.

“Doug Jones has let the majority of our state down in an uncertain time,” Lathan said. “We needed him – and he ignored us AGAIN. “

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, voted in favor of ending debate and bringing the stimulus bill to a vote.

“Thank you to President Trump and Senator Richard Shelby for putting America and Alabama first,” Lathan concluded. “We continue to lift our leaders up in prayer as their burdens and decisions weigh heavy.”

Republican Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said, “I’ve seen this play before too many times. Just as the Senate was ready to pass a bi-partisan bill providing support for American workers… Senator Chuck Schumer & House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blew it up at the last minute, trying to add unrelated spending to a bill with already too much spending. Amazingly, Pelosi wants to use this time of crisis to breath new life into the Green New Deal!”

Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville said, “America is at war with an enemy we can’t see, and we currently have no weapon that can kill it. To win this war against the Coronavirus, salvage the U.S. economy, and provide needed financial help to millions of Americans, Doug Jones and other Senate Democrats are going to have to put their partisanship and hatred of President Trump aside and support a bipartisan stimulus package. Now is the time to work together as Americans first and save the partisan political battles for when this crisis is resolved.”

The president, with bipartisan support from Congress and the governors, issued recommendations that led states to shut down their schools and most businesses beginning a week and a half ago.

The question for most business owners now is will they make payroll or just lay off their workers. Mnuchin’s deal included loans that small businesses would not have to pay back if they used it to make payroll and pay overhead. It also included cash payments for Americans. The average family of four would receive about $3,000 under the plan.

“We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy,” Mnuchin said on Sunday. “I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now.”

“This isn’t the financial crisis that’s going to go on for years,” Mnuchin added. “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win this war.”

Former State Representative and Member of the National Trump/Victory Finance Committee Perry Hooper said that he is confident the Coronavirus Stimulus Legislation will pass.

“One of the most important parts of the Bill is addressing the needs of Small Business and the employees,” Hooper told the Alabama Political Reporter. “Small Business is the backbone of America. Any Republican or any Democrat would be insane voting against the Trump Stimulus Legislation.”

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Elections

Hightower campaign accuses Carl of trying to politicize a national crisis

Brandon Moseley

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Bill Hightower’s congressional campaign Monday responded to charges from Jerry Carl that they were running campaign ads during the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign said that they have already pulled their political advertising and accused Carl of trying to politicize a national crisis.

“Bill Hightower has not been airing ads for nearly a week now,” said Hightower campaign senior strategist Matt Beynon. “Once it became clear that the run-off would be postponed, we stopped airing ads. So Carl is shouting about something that isn’t happening and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to politicize a national crisis. Carl lied in his ads about Bill Hightower and he’s continuing to lie about Bill Hightower, this time by trying to use a national emergency to his political advantage. It’s shameful.”

Beynon was responding to a story by the Alabama Political Reporter in which Carl chastised Hightower for not pulling his campaign commercials.

“Shamefully, Bill Hightower has decided to continue his deceitful television commercials that are nothing more than lies,” Carl said. “Apparently, he would rather put himself above the health of our community. At a time when our country must come together, Bill Hightower is continuing to tear our country apart.”

“Bill, it’s time to put politics aside and hit pause on the campaign,” Carl added. “There will be a time and place for politics, but right now, it’s time to help our neighbors. I call on Bill Hightower’s campaign to immediately end all paid advertising that is still running on television and focus on what’s important right now – helping our community through this pandemic.”

A source close to the Hightower campaign told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Jerry Carl cracks me up. He went up with an ad FILLED with lies and pounded Bill for ten days, but when Bill responds he wants the ads pulled and is using the crisis for it. Our paid advertising has been down for days now.”

Jerry Carl is a Mobile County Commissioner, while Bill Hightower is a businessman and former state senator. The two of them are running for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, is not seeking another term in Congress.

The Republican primary runoff was supposed to be on March 31 but due to the growing COVID-19 global pandemic, that has been postponed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to July 14.

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The eventual Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic party runoff in the November 3 general election. Kiani Gardner is running against James Averhart for the Democratic nomination.

As of press time, there have been 196 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama. Hardest his is Jefferson cases where there have been 86 confirmed cases. They are followed by Shelby County with 22, Madison County with 21, 19 Lee, 9 Tuscaloosa 6 Elmore, 4 Montgomery, 3 St. Clair, 3 Walker, 3 Lauderdale, 3 Baldwin, 2 Mobile, 2 Chambers, 2 Calhoun, and 2 in Cullman County. Marion, Washington, Jackson, Lamar, Limestone, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Franklin, and Houston Counties all have one case thus far. There have been no confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Alabama.

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Congress

Jerry Carl “upset” that Hightower is still running ads

Brandon Moseley

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Jerry Carl, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, has said he is suspending advertising due to the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 is an often fatal illness caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City China late in 2019. Carl called on his Republican primary opponent former State Senator Bill Hightower to do the same.

“With the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) throughout Alabama and the uncertainty of the March 31st election now up in the air, I am suspending all paid advertising for my campaign,” Carl said. “I urge Bill Hightower and outside groups supporting or opposing either candidate to put politics aside and do the same at this delicate time. Although this is an important election, focusing on the health and safety of our friends, family, and neighbors is of the utmost importance. There will be a proper time to resume campaign advertising in the future, but for now, we need to focus on mitigating the effects of this virus in our communities and throughout our great nation.”

Following that statement, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey moved the primary runoffs back to July 14.

After Hightower and his supporting groups did not pull the ads, Carl chastised Hightower over not following Carl’s example.

“Yesterday, our campaign urged Bill Hightower and all other groups supporting candidates in this race to immediately suspend all paid campaign advertising so that the public can focus on the health and safety of their friends and families,” Carl said. “Since that time, the City of Mobile, as well as Mobile County, have declared states of emergency. And, our election on March 31st is in limbo as state officials are working through whether or not to postpone the runoff election. Restaurants are being forced to shut down. Schools are canceled. And our workers are being asked to stay home.”

“Shamefully, Bill Hightower has decided to continue his deceitful television commercials that are nothing more than lies,” Carl continued. Apparently, he would rather put himself above the health of our community. At a time when our country must come together, Bill Hightower is continuing to tear our country apart.”

“Bill, it’s time to put politics aside and hit pause on the campaign,” Carl added. “There will be a time and place for politics, but right now, it’s time to help our neighbors. I call on Bill Hightower’s campaign to immediately end all paid advertising that is still running on television and focus on what’s important right now – helping our community through this pandemic.”

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As of press time, Alabama has 157 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Jefferson County has 71 cases, Shelby 17, Madison 16, Lee 16, Tuscaloosa 7, Elmore 6, St. Clair 3, Montgomery 3, Cullman 2, Lauderdale 2, Baldwin 2, Mobile 2, and Chambers 2. Jackson, Calhoun, Walker, Talladega, Limestone, Washington, Marion, and Lamar Counties all have 1 confirmed case. There are still no official deaths; but there are reports of deaths where COVID-19 is suspected of having playing a role.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff on November 3.

 

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Elections

Reaction to postponement of primary runoffs

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the Alabama primary runoff elections will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, due to spread of COVID-19.

Here is some reaction from state officials and candidates.

“We support the administration’s prudent measures and decisions to protect Alabamians,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “While these are concerning and unknown times, we appreciate our leaders implementing a safe atmosphere for our probate and election officials, poll workers, campaigns, candidates and voters. The old saying ‘better safe than sorry’ is truly applicable in these unknown circumstances.”

“Since President Trump’s declaration of National Emergency, our campaign has prepared for the potential postponement of the Alabama Republican run-off election for the 1st Congressional District,” said former State Senator Bill Hightower. “President Trump and his Administration have provided strong leadership in issuing guidance to states about the importance of public health vigilance during the coronavirus outbreak. This announcement is simply one more step in accordance with those recommendations.”

“On Sunday the CDC recommended canceling or postponing events or gatherings of more than 50 people,” said Republican Second Congressional District candidate Barry Moore. “Today the White House asked people not to gather in groups of more than 10 for the next 15 days, so that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to follow these guidelines, so most of our face to face events will be canceled for now. This is just common sense, not a reason to panic. We’ve already moved away from handshakes, so not holding political events where our supporters might be at risk of getting sick is the smart thing, the right thing to do.”

“I know that Governor Ivey has considered the health of Alabamians and that she has focused on their best interests in making her decision,” said Republican Senate candidate former Sen. Jeff Sessions. “The safety and health of Alabamians must take precedence. I am confident that Secretary of State John Merrill and Circuit Clerks across the state, in consultation with public health officials, will work hard to ensure a safe and orderly runoff election on July 14th. It is important that every voter’s voice has a fair chance to be heard, whether the vote is cast via an absentee ballot, or at the ballot box on election day.”

“I am glad that our elected officials are finally taking the threat of this virus seriously,” said Democratic First Congressional District candidate Kiani Gardner. “This decision, in conjunction with our success in expanding absentee ballot access to ALL Alabamians (without excuse) during the pandemic, is a big step towards ensuring that Alabamians can simultaneously protect their health and their right to vote.”

“I understand Governor Ivey’s decision to postpone the runoff and join her in encouraging all Alabamians to stay safe, be kind, and follow all guidelines related to the Coronavirus,” said Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. “I pray that the current health crisis will be brought under control and that lives will be saved.”

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“President Trump has taken bold steps that no other President would have taken to ensure our safety,” said Republican First Congressional District candidate and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl. “This is just more evidence that we need to not only re-elect President Trump but to also flip the House Red!”

“As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the country, our government has taken action to protect every citizen,” said Republican Second Congressional District candidate Jeff Coleman. “Now, that means postponing our run-off election until July 14th when it is safe for every Alabamian to make it to the polls. Stay tuned for more news.”

“We applaud the governor for looking out for the safety of all Alabamians, especially our senior citizens, poll workers, and those most at risk for the Coronavirus,” said Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Beth Kellum (R) who is running for re-election. “First and foremost, we want everyone to have the right to vote and to be able to do so safely. As announced this morning, the run-off election will now be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. We encourage everyone to go ahead and request an absentee ballot. Additionally, please look at CDC’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding procedures for COVID-19.”

“Many of you are aware that Governor Ivey announced that the primary election will be postponed until July 14, 2020,” said Democratic First Congressional District candidate James Averhart. “We should also receive guidance from the Secretary of State informing citizens that we will be allowed to vote absentee starting today, and until July 13, 2020. I’ve presented guidance to our campaign staff and they are committed to managing expectation. Until further notification, our staff will be tele-working and staying engaged with current events on all levels.”

“We intend to maintain our vigorous campaign up until the last day, even as we are careful to do so in a manner that puts the health and safety of the public first,” Sessions said. “It will be very difficult for Tommy Tuberville to hide from debates for four months. He will have to conquer his fears, and face me and the voters.”

“We’ve had a great social media presence during this campaign, and we’re going to ramp that up,” Moore said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of live streams on Facebook so people can still get to know Barry Moore and where I stand on the issues without risking their health.”

“My campaign is maintaining our position of suspended face-to-face events,” said Gardner. “But, we continue our work of keeping the citizens of South Alabama informed, engaged, and connected throughout this trying time. So, mark you calendars for July 14, apply for your absentee ballot, wash your hands, and stay at home. We will weather this storm together, Alabama!”

“America has faced daunting challenges in the past, but one of the characteristics that has made our nation uniquely exceptional is our resiliency and ability to overcome what is put in front of us,” said Hightower. “This includes the coronavirus. We must all be mindful to heed the President’s direction, and take appropriate precautions with all social interactions. Together we will overcome this challenge as well.”

“During this unprecedented time in history, we are praying for our nation and all Alabamians who have been impacted,” said Judge Kellum. “Now is the time for us all to do our part to be one nation and one Alabama.”

“Fellow citizens, I hope all is well and you are following safety guidance from our city, state and federal officials as it pertains to COVID-19,” said Averhart. “This pandemic is real and has fatal consequences if we don’t take care of ourselves and our fellow man. Now more than ever, we must remember that we are ALL in this together. Please be mindful to:- Wash your hands, Practice #SocialDistancing, Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, Call the doctor if you’re sick.”

“We ask all to be in deep prayer for our president, state leaders, candidates, their families and our fellow citizens,” said Lathan. “We also lift up our health care workers, first responders and those who keep our nation and state safe. This opportunity of working together will showcase our great state’s resilience with a focus on our fellow Alabamians’ safety and health. Americans are tenacious and tough people who have risen to many trying times and we have no doubt that we will all rise together again in this chapter of our nation’s and state’s history.”

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