Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday said the primary runoff election, which will include the headline race for the GOP nomination for Senate, will be held on July 14, 2020, over concerns surrounding the health and safety of Alabamians voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary election was scheduled for March 31.
“Exercising my extraordinary powers under the Emergency Management Act, I am setting Alabama’s Primary Runoff Election for July 14, 2020,” Ivey said. “The ability to hold free and fair elections is an inherent right as citizens of the United States and the great state of Alabama, but the safety and wellbeing of Alabama citizens is paramount.”
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is recommending that people should practice social distancing and refrain from public gatherings of more than 25 individuals.
Maintaining a 6-foot distance between one another is paramount.
This guidance alone would be making an election day a hotbed for spreading the virus, Ivey said.
“Persons who are 65 years or older, as well as those with previous heart and lung diseases, are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus,” Ivey said. “Knowing the average age of our faithful poll workers qualifies them to be most at-risk adds the necessity to extend the election runoff date.”
Ivey said delaying the election to July 14 is “not a decision I came to lightly, but one of careful consideration. I appreciate the guidance of Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John H. Merrill for their collaboration to ensure the continuity of our state government.”
Attorney General Steve Marshall issued an emergency ruling Tuesday declaring Ivey had the authority to delay the runoff under the state of emergency declaration.
“Governor Ivey has the legal authority under the Alabama Emergency Management Act to declare a state of emergency as a result of the current pandemic,” Marshall said. “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”
Upon the governor’s issuance of the amended State of Emergency proclamation rescheduling the Primary Runoff Election to be held on July 14, 2020, the Secretary of State shall give notice and provide the amended Administrative Calendar, via certified mail and email, to all applicable election officials.
“I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork displayed during these trying times,” said Secretary of State John H. Merrill. “It is critical that we provide a safe and secure environment for all 3,585,209 voters in the State of Alabama to participate in the electoral process.”
The Secretary of State is encouraging anyone who is concerned about contracting the virus or spreading the illness may vote by absentee. For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, please contact the Secretary of State’s website.
Jeff Sessions issued the following statement:
“I know that Governor Ivey has considered the health of Alabamians and that she has focused on their best interests in making her decision. 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.
“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.
“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.”
Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan issued the following statement:
“This morning Governor 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. With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus as it moves across our nation and confirmed cases in Alabama continue to increase, we support the administration’s prudent measures and decisions to protect Alabamians. 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.
“We ask all to be in deep prayer for our president, state leaders, candidates, their families and our fellow citizens. 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.”
Alabama Democrats: Tuberville doesn’t have a plan or experience
The Alabama Democratic Party on Wednesday released a statement slamming Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville for not commenting on Hurricane Sally.
Tuberville is challenging U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election.
“Tommy Tuberville said he didn’t have a clue how to address the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, so it isn’t surprising that he hasn’t offered a single word for the Gulf Coast in the face of a life-threatening storm,” said Wade Perry, the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party. “He doesn’t have a plan or the experience to tackle an actual crisis. Unlike our own U.S. Senator Doug Jones.”
The Jones campaign has seized on the “Tommy Tuberville does not have a clue” narrative, trying to make the argument that Tuberville, a career football coach who has never held a public office before, lacks the experience necessary to represent the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate.
Jones used that line several times at a Labor Day appearance in Leeds.
“Senator Jones was on the ground in Lee County after devastating tornadoes and worked across party lines to secure emergency relief for farmers and families in the Wiregrass,” Perry said. “He will always be there to help Alabamians navigate a crisis and save lives— he always has, and always will.”
The Tuberville campaign disputed the ADP narrative.
Hurricane Sally devastated Dauphin Island in Mobile County as well as Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan in coastal Baldwin County when it came ashore as a category two hurricane with 105 miles per hour winds.
Sally then inundated South Alabama, West Florida and Georgia with heavy rain, leading to localized flooding. Several roads were closed on Thursday across South Alabama due to flooding including in Troy, Andalusia and Opp.
Almost 200,000 Alabama homes lost power due to the storm. Alabama Power crews are still working to restore power to customers who lost power.
Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a 2017 special election. This was the only time that a Democratic candidate had won any statewide race in Alabama since 2008.
Jones and his allies led an effort to topple the then-existing leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party in 2019. The new chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, State Rep. Christopher England, D-Tuscaloosa, is trying to make the case that times have changed and the state has two viable political parties.
Republicans are targeting Jones, a Democratic senator representing a very red state. Democrats are hopeful that they can hold Jones’ seat and take control of the U.S. Senate.
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.