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Democratic presidential candidates visit Selma for 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”

Eddie Burkhalter

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About halfway through Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s speech at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma on Sunday, a man stood and turned his back to the former New York City Mayor. 

Soon after, seven or so others stood and joined in the silent protest against Bloomberg’s “stop-and-frisk” policies during his tenure as mayor, which disproportionately targeted young men of color. 

If Bloomberg had hoped that his visit to Selma on the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, when hundreds of civil rights activists were beaten trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge demanding that blacks be allowed to vote, would help endear him with black voters, his hope might have been dashed inside the church. 

People standing in protest as former New York City mayor and presidential candidate
Michael Bloomberg speaks at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma on Sunday.

Joining Bloomberg in Selma on Sunday was former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-.Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also attended, but U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, did not. 

Sunday would be Buttigieg’s last official campaign stop as a candidate. Later on Sunday he announced he was suspending his campaign.  

Former presidential candidate Tom Steyer did show in Selma on Sunday, despite having dropped out himself the day before. 

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Ryan Haygood, an attorney and president of New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, told APR after the service that his decision to protest was made on the spot. 

 “I thought he would use this space to atone for that,” Haygood said of Bloomberg’s often-criticized policing policies. “There’s a direct connection between the police brutality on Bloody Sunday and the police brutality he presided over in New York City, so I thought he would lean in to the moment.” 

“Especially in this sacred space,’ Haygood said of the chapel. “You cannot come in here cavalierly, with that record and not atone for that.” 

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Queen Tate Jackson of Selma has been coming to the bridge crossing jubilee for years, she said outside George Corley Wallace State Community College on Sunday morning. Events Sunday started with a breakfast at the college, and in the afternoon a candidate forum was held in the school’s gymnasium. 

“I like Biden,” Jackson said after being asked who she planned to vote for. 

Each candidate is vying for Alabama’s 61 delegates (which includes unpledged superdelegates) but 1,357 delegates are at stake across all 14 states in the Super Tuesday primaries.

There’s scant polling in Alabama, so It’s hard to know where candidates stand with the state’s Democratic voters. The last statewide poll of Alabama voters took place over the summer, according to FiveThirtyEight, and had Biden ahead by 21 points, followed by Sanders. 

Rev. Al Sharpton spoke briefly at the church Sunday, but made no endorsement. 

Sen. Doug Jones, Rep. Terri Sewell and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin all have come out in support of Biden. 

Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels announced his endorsement of Bloomberg on Friday. 

Biden, however, pulled away from the pack with a strong win in South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Saturday, garnering more than double the votes of the next closest competitor, Sen. Sanders. It was the first primary in a state with a large black voting population, and a signal that blacks were getting behind the former vice president. 

“We are again battling for the soul of this nation,” Biden told those gathered inside Brown Chapel AME Church. 

Biden made no mention of his competitors, but instead focused on President Donald Trump, whom he said was leading with anger, dividing Americans and who “doesn’t understand who we are.” 

Another Queen, 87-year-old Queen Bruton, sat inside the church Sunday and asked who it was that was speaking. 

She didn’t know who Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, was, but when she learned that he’d prosecuted the klansmen who bombed the church in Birmingham and killed four young girls Queen jotted that fact down on the back of her program.  “Doug Jones. The Birmingham bombing” 

She liked what Jones was saying, but she really wanted to hear Biden, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who also spoke Sunday morning. 

“She’s inspiring,” Queen said of Abrams. 

After the mass of people and several of the candidates followed the path taken 55 years ago from the church over the bridge, two candidates, Warren and Klobuchar, attended the candidate forum at the college. 

Warren came out to enthusiastic applause from the hundred or so gathered inside the gym. She spoke of her plans to fund education, fair and accessible housing, and to pay off student debt for millions with a 2 cent wealth tax. 

“They’re big plans because we have big problems,” Warren told the crowd. 

Asked about the fear among some that Warren’s promises to fight the wealthy would lead to a backlash and hurt, not help, many communities, Warren said that “there are more of us than there are of them.”

 

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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Sen. Doug Jones won’t support SCOTUS nominee before Nov. 3 election

“Certainly, power grabs are not uncommon in our political system, but few are accompanied by such blatant hypocrisy as we are witnessing now,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones during a livestreamed press briefing. (VIA DOUG JONES CAMPAIGN)

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday said he would not support any nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court before the outcome of the Nov. 3 election is determined. 

Speaking during a livestreamed briefing, Jones said that while Republicans appear to have enough votes to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he will not be a party to denying the people a voice in the process in the election of the next president “in just under 44 days.” 

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he plans to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg, who on Friday became the first woman, and first Jewish person, to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. 

Several Republicans who voiced opposition to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court more than 10 months before the 2016 election have reversed course, and now say they support Trump nominating a selection with election day just a little more than a month away. 

“Certainly, power grabs are not uncommon in our political system, but few are accompanied by such blatant hypocrisy as we are witnessing now,” Jones said. “In fact, I believe that the level and intensity of hypocrisy being displayed by Senator McConnell and the president, with regard to the rush to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s successor, is unmatched in the history of our constitutional government.” 

Jones said what McConnell and other Republicans should be focusing on instead is getting another round of much-needed COVID-19 aid to small businesses and people impacted by the pandemic. 

“Rather than pushing this confirmation to the top of the Senate calendar, the majority leader should turn his focus instead to protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people. We should pass a new bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus package to give Americans and businesses the relief that they desperately need, and that economists say if required to shore up the economy now,” Jones said. 

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Jones expressed concern as well for what medical experts are warning could be a new spike in COVID-19 nationwide. 

“There could be an even greater urgency, if our health care professionals’ warnings come to pass,” Jones said. “And that is as temperature drops and people go indoors that this virus spikes, and we see another surge.” 

Asked why his opponent, Tommy Tuberville, won’t debate Jones, he said, “It’s pretty simple. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  

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“He has no clue. He is Coach Clueless,” Jones said. 

Jones noted that when asked recently on his thoughts on extending the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, Tuberville stumbled through an answer that indicated he wasn’t sure what the Voting Rights Act was.

“He had no earthly idea,” Jones said. 

Jones said Tuberville isn’t going to debate him because Tuberville doesn’t want to talk about issues.

“He doesn’t want to talk about a plan. His plan is simply this: Whatever Donald Trump says, I’m good,” Jones said, “and if Donald Trump says or does something that is not good, it’s crickets coming from Coach Tuberville.” 

Jones noted that after multiple news outlets, including Fox News, confirmed reporting that Trump had said disparaging things about veterans who died in combat, Tuberville has not spoken out against Trump’s comments. 

Jennifer Griffin, senior national security correspondent for Fox News, reported that she has spoken to senior U.S. officials who backed up reporting by The Atlantic, and said Trump said of the Vietnam War “anyone who went was a sucker.” 

“He has not said a thing about what was confirmed by Fox News about the president’s comment,” Jones said of Tuberville. “That’s just disgraceful.”

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Merrill gives guidance on straight party, write-in voting

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill issued guidance Wednesday on straight party and write-in voting.

“Voters who wish to vote straight party for all of the Democratic or Republican candidates on their ballot may do so by filling in the bubble next to their party preference at the top of their ballot,” Merrill explained in a statement.

“If a voter wishes to vote for any candidate outside of the selected party, however, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the preferred candidate’s name. In doing so, the candidate(s) voted on outside of the voter’s designated party ballot will receive the vote for that particular race.

In addition, if a voter wishes to write-in a candidate, he or she may do so by filling in the bubble next to the box marked ‘Write-in’ and then printing the name of the preferred candidate on the designated line.

Write-in votes must be hand-written and not stamped or otherwise artificially applied to the ballot.”

Sample ballots for the Nov. 3 general election are available online.

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Opinion | For Coach Tub, no thinking required

Joey Kennedy

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Has Tommy Tuberville ever had an original thought? It doesn’t sound like it. Coach Tub basically spews Republican talking points and keeps his mouth firmly locked onto Donald Trump. He disrespects Alabama voters so much that he thinks that’s all he needs to do to win a place in the U.S. Senate.

Tuberville recently addressed the St. Clair County Republican Party at its September meeting. As reported by APR, Tuberville is quoted as saying the following, and I’ll offer a short rebuttal. I’m doing this because Tuberville is clearly afraid to death to debate his opponent, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

So here goes:

Tuberville: America is about capitalism, not socialism. I think we are going to decide which direction we are going to go in the next few years.”

Me: We decided which way we were going to go years ago, when the federal government started subsidies for oil and gas companies, farmers and other big industry and business. That, coach, is your so-called “socialism.”

I’m not necessarily opposed to subsidies to boost business, depending on the cause, but I’m not going to let a dimwitted, know-nothing, mediocre, former football coach pretend we don’t already have “socialism” in this country.  

What Tuberville really means is that he’s against “socialism” like Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security or food assistance or health insurance. He’s a millionaire already, so there’s no need for him have empathy for or support a safety net for people who are less fortunate socially and economically. That’s Tuberville’s “socialism,” and the Republican Party’s “socialism,” and Trump’s “socialism.

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That’s a cruel, mean perspective that would cast aside the great majority of Americans for the rich (Tuberville, Trump) and connected and, where Trump is concerned, the fawning.

Tuberville: “I am not a Common Core guy. I believe in regular math. We need to get back to teaching history.”

Me: I would love to ask Coach Tubby, one-on-one, exactly what he thinks “Common Core” is. I’ll guarantee you he can’t explain more than he already has. “I believe in regular math?” There is no other math. It’s math. Does he think there’s a math where 1+1=3? There isn’t one. There are a variety of ways to teach math, but there’s only math, not a “fake” math or a “Republican” math or a “Democratic” math or, God forbid, a “Socialist” math.

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And when Coach Tommy said, “We need to get back to teaching history,” one wonders if he’s ever been into a classroom. We know more than a few of his former players weren’t in many classrooms, if reports are correct. But they always played the game under his uninspired coaching.

Of course schools teach history.

The history Coach T. is talking about is Donald Trump’s “white” history, the one we’ve been teaching in our schools forever. Not real history; you know, the one where the United States was founded as a slave-holding nation, where Native Americans were massacred and starved by the hundreds of thousands, where white supremacy was codified within our laws, where any color but white was subjugated. That history. The history that is finally fading away, so we can really see where we’ve been as a nation—so we know where, as a nation, we need to go.

Tuberville: Tuberville said he supports following the Constitution and appointing a replacement for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.

Me: Well, of course he does. Tuberville doesn’t have an independent thought in his body, and Donnie told him this is what he’s supposed to think. The big question: How much will a Senator Tuberville be able to function as a member of a minority party in the Senate — with no Papa Trump in the White House to tell him what to do?

Both scenarios are real possibilities, if not likelihoods.

There is no question that Doug Jones is far more qualified than Tuberville. Jones can work across the aisle, which will be vitally important if Democrats take control of the Senate. Jones has his own thoughts, which sometimes go against the Democratic Party’s wishes. Jones is independent, smart and represents Alabama well.

Tuberville is a failed football coach who lives in Florida. That’s about it.

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President Donald Trump endorses Barry Moore for Congress

Brandon Moseley

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President Trump and Barry Moore (OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO/JOYCE N. BOGHOSIAN)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Barry Moore, sharing his endorsement on Twitter.

In the tweet, the president wrote, “Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama! An early supporter of our #MAGA agenda, he is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order, and the Second Amendment. Barry has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #AL02”

Moore met with the president in the White House on Wednesday.

“I’m truly honored to be endorsed for Congress by President Donald J. Trump,” Moore said. “I have never regretted being the first elected official in America to endorse him for president in 2015, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the next Congress during his second term.”

“President Trump has already accomplished so much and kept so many of his campaign promises despite all that the establishment and the Democrats have done to obstruct him, but he knows there’s still lots to be done,” Moore continued. “We must contain and control the COVID pandemic, restore our economy to the pre-pandemic level of growth and prosperity we enjoyed during his first three years in office. We must restore and maintain law and order on our streets and in our cities. We must finish building the wall, and then fix our broken immigration system.”

“We had great meetings at the White House with the president’s domestic policy team,” Moore said. “Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, was also there. We discussed a new health care plan being introduced, economic recovery, trade with China and expansion of opportunity zones in depressed areas. The president has a bright vision for America.”

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“I’m convinced that Donald J. Trump is the president we need to lead us for the next four years, and I hope the people of Alabama’s 2nd District see fit to elect me to work with President Trump as their congressman on Nov. 3,” Moore concluded.

Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. Moore is a graduate of Auburn University, a veteran, a small business owner, husband and father.

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Moore is running for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is not seeking another term. Moore faces Democratic candidate Phyllis Harvey-Hall.

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