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Republicans vote today in House District 49 primary

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The special Republican primary for House District 49 is Tuesday. Republican voters in portions of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties are voting to determine who will represent them in the Alabama House of Representatives.

There is no special Democratic primary because Cheryl Patton is the only Democrat who qualified.

Competing in the special Republican primary are Miriam “Mimi” Penhale, Russell Bedsole, Donna Strong, James Dean, Chuck Martin and Jackson McNeely.

Miriam “Mimi” Penhale

Penhale wrote in her campaign flyer: “I’ll fight to protect our unborn, and believe my Christian faith provides a path for my life.”

“I’ll lead the efforts to keep Alabama taxes low on hardworking families and small businesses,” Penhale promised. “I believe in the 2nd Amendment, and I’ll support legislation that protects hunters and law-abiding gun owners.”

“Government mandates are killing our rural hospitals and healthcare providers,” Penhale continued. “We need to provide better access to care by letting the healthcare community make decisions for themselves.”

“I’ll work hard to make sure our k-12 schools have the funding they need, and I’ll support an expansion of career technical and agricultural programs in our 2-year college system and in traditional higher ed,” she said. “Penhale is a proud conservative, and believes in limited government, low taxes and cutting unnecessary government regulations,” the Penahale campaign wrote.

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Penhale grew up on her family’s bison ranch in Troy and has worked as the Shelby County legislative director.

Jackson McNeely

Jackson McNeely says that she has worked as a teacher, small business owner and economic development specialist — and that she has the “real Experience to move Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties forward.”

“I ask for your vote on August 4th,” McNeely said.

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“I am an average person, a Christian wife and mother,” McNeely said in a statement. McNeely and her husband have four children — two grown sons, a daughter that attends the University of Montevallo and a youngest daughter who is a junior in high school. They have lived in the small community of Brierfield in Bibb County for 17 years.

“My husband of 20 years, Tommy and I are the shop keepers of a small veteran-owned business in Alabaster,” McNeely continued. “I was a teacher at Kingwood Christian School for 12 years. We were small business owners in the trucking industry. Before that, I traveled the country working in Economic Development helping communities to grow and prosper.”

“I am not a politician,” McNeely added. “I am the average resident that wants to make a difference in their community. I want to be your representative to do that, with common sense and compassion.”

McNeely supports President Donald Trump’s apprenticeship program.

“This! It is time to grow,” McNeely said on Facebook. “It is time to give our citizens an opportunity for a future. It is time to stop pushing everyone into the college path. Thank you to President Trump for last month’s executive order that will make this more available. We need our mechanics, our dental assistants, our truckers … the workers that are the backbone of this great country!”

McNeely is opposed to human trafficking and said on Facebook, “This must stop! Increase police funding. Increase imprisonment time for the predators. Prosecute complacent media platforms. Protect the victims with the ‘rape shield’ law.”

Chuck Martin

Chuck Martin said on social media, “I’m not running for office because I need a job, I’m a businessman and the only candidate in this race with deep roots in all corners of the District. That’s why I’ll fight for the taxpayers of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties as a staunch conservative.”

Martin’s wife said August marks 42 years that the couple has lived in Centreville, Alabama.

“Chuck and I both grew up in Montevallo, graduated from Shelby Academy, and were married at Wilton Baptist Church,” Martin’s wife said. “My late father, Billy Rockco, purchased a funeral home in Centreville in 1978. He asked Chuck if he would be willing to change careers and move to Centreville and help run his new business. We prayed about the decision and felt that Centreville was the best place for our new home. It has been our privilege and honor to celebrate the lives of loved ones in Bibb, Shelby, and Chilton Counties these past 42 years.”

“I have a long track record of leadership and success in my professional career and with my civic, community and political endeavors,” Chuck Martin wrote. “My conservative philosophy will best represent the residents of District 49. As a staunch conservative, I will be a strong advocate for the citizens of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties.”

Russell Bedsole

Russell Bedsole worked for nearly 22 years with the Shelby County Sheriff’s office and has been elected twice by the citizens of Alabaster to represent Ward 5 on the Alabaster City Council.

“During his time on the council, the City of Alabaster has enjoyed positive economic growth, a first-class school system, and high quality of life,” the Bedsole campaign wrote.

Bedsole is married to Dena Dixon Bedsole, who is a graduate of Alabaster’s Thompson High School. They are the parents of two children who are active in the Alabaster Parks and Rec sports.

“As the only current public sector employee serving on the current council, Russell has been able to fight to enhance the benefits of city employees thus creating a very professional workforce,” Bedsole’s campaign said. “Russell is dedicated to service of the citizens of District 49.”

“I’m ready to serve your family on day one!” Bedsole said on social media. “I’ve served my community already as a Law Enforcement Officer for 22 years and I’m ready to get to work for you!”

“We need to ensure that District 49 has the proper training resources to develop workforce needs of the future,” Bedsole said of his position on job training and workforce development. “District 49 is full of hardworking citizens who could help the area flourish with proper job training.”

“I know it has been hard for my family and me not to be able to visit with loved ones during this pandemic,” Bedsole said in a statement on rural broadband. “Being connected is more important now than it ever has been. With families not being able to visit and workplaces meeting online, district 49 must get high-speed, high-capacity, and affordable broadband access.”

Donna Strong

The Donna Strong campaign said in a campaign flyer, “Working together we will: Support local businesses, make our schools safer, provide better mental health care, protect children from abuse, and safeguard our environment.”

Strong is a graduate of Chelsea High School and has a B.S. and M.Ed. from Auburn University, as well as a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Penn State University. Strong’s campaign said that she has been a dedicated teacher for 31 years, proud wife of retired U.S. Navy veteran and proud mother of three wonderful children.

“Did you know, Alabama state code actually prohibits educators from serving in the House and Senate? If elected I would have to end my 31-year career as an educator to serve as a representative,” Strong said in a statement on social media. “A sheriff, nurse, lawyer or business owner can maintain their career and become a legislator.

“While I believe this is unjust, it does mean that I will be a full-time representative for my constituents. I will work to ensure I am available to answer phone calls, respond to emails, and attend all meetings, celebrations and ceremonies important in the communities I serve. I also believe that transparency and debate are critical elements in government to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and to prevent corruption. Alabamians have the right to know what is being planned, discussed and implemented in their House and Senate. Debate in government is the essence of a democratic process. The voices of all voters should be heard and all the votes should then be cast.”

“I am running on the Republican ticket, but all voters can vote on Aug. 4 and in the Sept. 1 run-off if needed,” Strong continued. “Because this is a special election to fill a vacant seat, this would not interfere with anyone’s ability to vote for Democrats or Independents in the November elections.”

“Why am I running for Representative for House District 49?” Strong wrote. “Like all candidates running for this office, I want a better Alabama. I am a Christian with conservative values. I am proud to be pro-life! I will work hard to reduce government influences and keep our taxes low for the benefit of both consumers and businesses. I believe wholeheartedly in our first and second amendment rights, and that individuals are responsible for their actions. I fully support our first responders and want to see adequate physical and mental health care for every community. I want better roads, repaired bridges and widespread wireless access for all of Alabama. I want us all to treasure and protect our beautiful, natural environment.”

“Most Alabamians don’t realize the degree to which politics controls our public education system,” Strong wrote. “When everything from class sizes, curriculum programs, school calendars, lunchroom menus, educator salaries, and standardized testing are legislatively mandated, public schooling is largely dictated by career politicians who have never walked in an educator’s shoes. There is an enormous amount of wasteful spending in public education. Every year millions are spent on purchasing new curriculum kits and inventing new testing for our students, and yet we are still at the bottom of the curve in national learning and academic achievement statistics! Our money needs to go to lowering class sizes and reducing unnecessary paperwork, so that classroom teachers can actually spend more quality, individualized time helping all students reach their maximum potential.”

James Dean

James Dean works in computing services and was elected a Trump delegate in March.

“Let’s talk about November,” Dean wrote. “This election feels different to me, and it does for millions of other Americans, too. That’s because we aren’t just voting for candidates—we’re voting for the future of our country. Whether we’re going to live in chaos, disarray, and division, or truth, prosperity, and unity as one nation under God.”

“Typically by this time in an election cycle, we’ve heard all about the major candidates’ platforms and why they’re the better candidate from debates & the media,” Dean continued.

“Unfortunately, with everything happening in the world, that hasn’t happened, so independent content creators are responsible for sharing that information with you all. Here are just a few of the reasons I’m voting for President Donald J. Trump for a second time, and why I think you should, too. I am not interested in name calling & division, I’m interested in living United in these nearly divided States of America. For that reason, each and every trip to the voting booth this November counts — and I hope you’ll join me there!”

“There comes a time when we all must step in the ring and FIGHT!” Dean wrote on social media. “That time for me is NOW! Please Vote for James Dean August 4th. GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

The Dean campaign wrote, “James Dean an American Patriot & Family Man Fighting for You. The Time is Now To Take Back Our Country. To Stand Up for All and to Let Liberty Ring. God Bless America and Alabama District 49.”

Election

The eventual Republican nominee will face Cheryl Patton in the special general election on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The vacancy in House District 49 was created when State Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield, announced her resignation to accept an appointment as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

House District 49 consists of portions of Bibb, Shelby and Chilton Counties. The winner will serve the remainder of April Weaver’s term, which ends in late 2022.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. You must vote at your assigned polling place and have a valid photo ID.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Sewell: Confirming Barrett before the election would undermine Supreme Court’s legitimacy

“The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise,” Sewell said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell (via Office of Rep. Terri Sewell)

Saturday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) released a statement claiming that President Donald J. Trump’s (R) nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court was tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and that confirming Judge Barrett would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court nomination by President Trump today, with the 2020 presidential election only 38 days away, denies the American people a voice in this very important decision,” Rep. Sewell said. “The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is clearly tainted by the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans to go back on their own promise not to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court so close to a presidential election. This standard articulated by Senate Republicans was applied against President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland eight months before the 2016 presidential election. This blatant power grab by Trump and Senate Republicans is especially disturbing given that the voting process has already begun with hundreds of thousands of voters having cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.”

“Fairness and comity demand that the Senate not confirm any vacancy on the Supreme Court until the American people have chosen the next president,” Sewell concluded. “To do otherwise, I believe would undermine the very legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”

Friday before Barrett was even nominated, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) announced that he will not support any Trump nominee for the Supreme Court for the vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Jones stated, “I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election.”

“Justice Ginsburg was a role model and an inspiration,” Sen. Jones said. She was a brilliant and tireless advocate, a champion for fairness and equality, and her efforts have brought our country closer to the ideals upon which it was founded.”

“It is a poor reflection of the state of our national politics that, just hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we were thrust into a divisive partisan fight over her successor, denying the nation the time to mourn this extraordinary American’s death,” Jones continued. “Just weeks from a national election, we are confronting a blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President that will undermine the court and subvert the will of the American people.”

“Just four years ago, Leader McConnell held open a Supreme Court seat for ten months before a presidential election because he said time and again that, in an election year, we must let the American people decide,” Jones said. “If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election?”

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“I believe the answer to this question is a resounding YES,” Jones continued. “This is especially true given the urgent legislative work we have yet to do. Leader McConnell should turn his focus instead to protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people by bringing a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief package up for a vote. We also need to pass the National Defense Authorization Act to support our military. We need to pass our annual funding bills instead of kicking the can down the road with yet another costly continuing resolution. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has languished in this Senate, in order to protect the right of all Americans to vote and participate in our democracy.”

“Consequently, under these circumstances, I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election,” Jones explained. We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan confirmation fight while Americans are already voting to choose the next President. If President Trump is re-elected, I will evaluate any pending or future nominee on their merits and vote for or against the nominee based solely on their qualifications.”

Trump has already appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Barack H. Obama (D) only got to select two of his nominees to the court. When conservative icon Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 – the previous election year, Republicans led by McConnell and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) blocked Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland.

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Jones also voted against previous Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Sewell has no Republican general election opponent.

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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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