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Opinion | No! To Ivey and the gang

Joey Kennedy

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey lost in a landslide on Super Tuesday. So did Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. And most members of the Alabama House and Senate.

You say they weren’t on Tuesday’s ballot? Well, yes, they were. They were the big sponsors of Amendment One, the proposed constitutional amendment that would have taken away Alabama voters’ right to elect the state school board.

The vote wasn’t even close. Amendment One didn’t just lose. It lost so badly that you have to wonder what Ivey, Marsh, and lawmakers were thinking. The amendment failed by more than 555,000 votes: 830,436 No (75.22 percent) to 273,592 (24.78 percent).

Allowing the governor to appoint the state school board was mainly a power grab. Ivey claimed she wanted the power to help improve education in Alabama.

Don’t they always?

More likely, Ivey was angling for the chance to make a few more political appointments for some of her cronies.

I’m not defending the state school board. It has some serious issues. But I am defending Alabama voters’ right to elect their school board members so that the board can remain independent.

You know an idea is really bad when both the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party and the executive director of the conservative, paranoid Eagle Forum are on the same side opposing it.

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House Ways and Means Chair Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, who supported the amendment, said: “Let’s take the Rs and Ds and primaries and general elections out of it, and let’s just put qualified persons on the board and let them make good, sound decisions.”

Yeah, that always happens with “appointed” boards, right? If you believe that, take a look at some of the whacky decisionmade in the past by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Like the state school board would have been had Amendment One passed, the members of the state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners are appointed by the governor.

Poole is wrong that appointing a school board removes the politics. It just shifts the politics from the voters to the governor.I think Democratic Party Chair Christopher England has it right: “As a state, Alabama ranks last or close to last in just about everything. Some might try and convince you that this is an effort to move public education forward, but greedy power grabs rarely lead to sustainable progress. Our state’s education system should not be used as a political football. Amendment One is another attempt to dismantle democracy, trading the will of the people for the wishes of one person.”

Ivey has used her popularity to do a lot of things, including raising the state’s gasoline tax, but voters drew a hard line in the sand on giving up their elected school board.

Yeah, many Alabama schools are crappy, but that’s not only the school board’s fault. We underfund many of our schools; where is Ivey’s proposal for a tax to help improve teacher pay?

And if Ivey and the Republican-controlled Legislature are eager to end elections for something, how about ending partisan elections for judges? We could do what some other states are doing: Finding truly qualified lawyers and appointing them to the courts where after six or eight years, they stand in a retention election. A judicial commission could be set up to screen the judicial applicants, and then it would send the names of three qualified attorneys to the governor for selection.

Politics truly has no place in the judiciary; judges are supposed to rule on the law, not filter their decisions through party affiliations.

But a school board? How the schools are run is, in the end, a question for all of us, not just the governor. On Amendment One, voters sent Ivey a really loud “No! No! 830,000 times No!”

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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Tallassee mayor endorses Jeff Coleman

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman has received the endorsement of Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock. Coleman is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the July 14 Republican primary runoff.

“Alabama needs a strong conservative candidate who will not back down from a challenge, and will represent the voice, people, and values of those who live in Alabama and District 2,” Hammock said. “Jeff Coleman has my full support and endorsement.”

Coleman thanked Hammock for the endorsement.

“Mayor Hammock’s leadership is evident by the respect the community has for him,” Coleman said. “He is a leader not just for Tallassee but for the surrounding area as a whole. It is an honor to have the support and endorsement of Mayor Hammock and many more in the Tallassee community!”

Tallassee is on the Tallapoosa River and is in both Elmore and Tallapoosa Counties. The city has a population of 4,581 in 2018, which is down from its peak in 1999 of 5,858.

Coleman now has the endorsements of the mayors of Luverne, Dothan, Millbrook, Geneva, and Florala.

Coleman is a native of Dothan. He is the fifth generation of his family to head the family business, Coleman Worldwide Moving, based in Dothan. He recently stepped down as President and CEO in order to run for Congress. Coleman is a former Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama. Coleman is one of the wealthiest people in Alabama.

Coleman has been endorsed by BCA and the Alabama Farmers Federation, as well as the Alabama Realtors Association, Alabama Home Builders Association, Alabama Retail Association, Alabama Trucking Association, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Coleman is a graduate from Northview High School where he was a member of the 1981 Football team that won the Alabama High School Football State Championship. He has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration from Troy University in Dothan. He is an Eagle Scout, a 2011 Graduate of Leadership Alabama and a 2015 Graduate of the Air War College National Security Forum. Coleman served two terms as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama.

Coleman is running in the Republican primary runoff against former State Rep. Barry Moore on July 14. The eventual Republican nominee for the open 2nd Congressional District seat will face Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall in the November general election.

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Alabama Republican Assembly endorses Barry Moore

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidates Barry Moore’s campaign on Wednesday said the Alabama Republican Assembly has endorsed him for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Jennifer Montrose is the President of the Alabama Republican Assembly.

“We must have elected leaders who are committed to governing honestly and ethically and believe Barry Moore can best help our state and nation move forward in the November election,” Montrose said. “We hope you will agree with us and vote for this outstanding individual who we believe is committed to Life, Liberty and Family.”

Moore thanked the group in a statement.

“I want to thank the Alabama Republican Assembly for the vote of confidence this endorsement represents,” Moore said. “It’s an honor to be recognized in this way by this fine group of Conservatives.”

“I’ve always been committed to the conservative values I share with the ARA, and I’ll continue to fight for our Constitution, our rights, and our freedoms when I’m in Congress,” Moore continued. “I’ll do this not only to justify the faith groups like the ARA have in me but because it’s what I believe is right. The ARA knows I have a proven conservative voting record and I will always protect our 2nd amendment, take a pro-life stance, support term limits, and stand with President Trump.”

The Alabama Republican Assembly calls itself “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party.”

Moore continues to receive endorsements from prominent Alabama politicians and groups from across the state in his bid to go to the United States Congress.

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Moore faces Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. Moore served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 until 2018 and has been endorsed by both current and former members who served with him there.

Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) said, “I have served in the Alabama House with Rep. Barry Moore; and found him to be one of our Top Five Conservatives every year. I served with him at the RNC Convention in 2016 when Rep. Moore was one of the first to endorse Trump. He is still strongly aligned with Trump. I enthusiastically endorse Barry Moore for Congressional District 2!.”

Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery) said, “When Rep. Barry Moore served in the State House he chaired the Military and Veterans Affairs committee. He was instrumental in bringing the F-35 to Montgomery and he well understands the needs of our Veterans and the importance of our military bases to Alabama. He will always work to support both. I am proud to support Barry Moore for our next Congressman.”

Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur)said, “Barry Moore is a man of integrity and honor. He will represent Alabama well.”

Former Rep. Barry Mask (R-Alexander City) said, “Barry Moore is a fighting conservative who has been through the fire. As a veteran, he stands with our country and will fight to preserve it. He was a Trump man early on and has earned our trust.”

“It’s humbling to have so many leading Alabama Republicans endorse me in this race,” Moore said. “These are the people I served within the Alabama House, and they know me and what I stand for. I appreciate their endorsements, and I will do everything I can to honor their trust by continuing to represent the people of our District and our conservative values in Congress. I thank everyone who’s endorsed me, and those who have supported me in this race. I look forward to serving the people of Alabama and District 2 as their next Congressman.”

Moore has been endorsed by the Eagle Forum, Conservative Christians of Alabama, the American Workers Coalition, the Club for Growth, and the House Freedom Fund. He is a former member of the Alabama Legislature, a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise.

Moore and his wife Heather own a waste disposal company. Moore is a small businessman, a veteran, a husband, and a father of four from Enterprise. He has a degree from Auburn University.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl in the race for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

The U.S. Chamber said in a statement that it is proud to endorse Carl, in an effort to promote free enterprise and job-creating policies for businesses across all regions and sectors.

“In difficult times, we are reminded of the importance of having leaders that understand the genius of the American system of government and free enterprise and who are willing to tackle the hard problems that confront our nation,” said U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue. “As our country faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy, but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like Jerry Carl. He has a proven track record of leading responsibly and standing up for good policies. The U.S. Chamber is proud to endorse Jerry and looks forward to partnering with him in the future.”

“THANK YOU, U.S. Chamber for the endorsement!” Carl wrote on social media. “I’m proud to be endorsed by the U.S. Chamber! I look forward to working with President Trump and the Chamber to get our economy roaring again!”

The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business advocacy organization and represents more than three million business interests. The Chamber has been leading the business community for 108 years.

The Chamber’s Alabama affiliate, the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) endorsed Carl last month.

BCA had endorsed State Rep. Chris Pringle in the March 3 Republican primary; but Pringle finished third and did not advance to the runoff.

Commissioner Carl faces former State Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) in the Republican primary runoff on July 14. The eventual Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic party runoff between Kiani Gardner and James Averhart.

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Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) is not seeking re-election. Byrne has endorsed Carl.

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Alabama appeals COVID-19 voting decision to U.S. Supreme Court

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision allowing curbside voting during the July 14 Republican runoff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. *Correction: This story previously stated that the runoff was on July 12. That was an error. The primary runoff is on July 14. This story has been updated to correct that mistake, and we regret the error.

Edmund LaCour Jr., solicitor general with the state attorney general’s office, filed an emergency application for stay with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday, arguing that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that lower courts should not alter election rules on the eve of an election. 

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon on June 15 approved, in part, a preliminary injunction filed by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. 

Those groups sued Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill seeking to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and to remove requirements for voters to submit photocopies of IDs and that witnesses sign absentee ballot requests. 

The state appealed Kallon’s ruling, but on June 25, judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the state of Alabama’s appeal. 

“Appellants fail to explain why voter confidence is not negatively affected by their enforcement of voting restrictions that force Alabamians to choose between voting and potentially contracting a severe or deadly case of COVID-19,” the judge’s wrote in the ruling. 

The 11th circuit judges, in denying the state’s appeal, also found the state’s argument that Alabama’s photo ID and witness requirements are meant to combat voting fraud were without merit, and wrote that “according to Plaintiffs’ evidence from the Heritage Foundation, Alabama has prosecuted a total of only sixteen people for absentee-ballot voter fraud” in the past two decades.

“That suggests that Alabama has not found itself in recent years to have a significant absentee-ballot fraud problem,” the order reads.

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The state, in its filing to the Supreme Court, argues again that the requirement for voters to submit photocopies of a photo ID and witness requirements to vote absentee are to prevent voter fraud. 

As the State explained in 1996 when successfully seeking preclearance for strengthening the witness requirement, the protection was enacted in direct response to ‘systematic absentee ballot fraud and abuse’ that had likely altered the results in several statewide races in 1994,”  LaCour Jr. wrote to the Supreme Court. “These provisions remain vital for preventing absentee voter fraud.” 

The state also argues to the Supreme Court that requirements to obtain copies of photo ID’s and have ballots signed by witnesses is not overly burdensome, and that perhaps family members can take photo ID’s to have copies made if a person doesn’t wish to leave their home during the pandemic for fear of contracting COVID-19. 

“No precedent of this Court indicates that the mere possibility that some voters may need to ask someone else for help making a photocopy imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote,” the state’s filing reads.

The state’s decision to appeal to the Supreme Court comes as the number of new cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in recent days have both been record high, and the state’s health officer expressed concern that the virus is spreading too widely for contact tracing to be effective.

Alabama on Monday saw a new record number of patients in hospitals with COVID-19, and the seven-day and 14-day rolling averages of new cases on Monday were also at record highs.

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