- Created on 30 October 2014
By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter
OPELIKA— On day three of the trial, and what some thought would be the last day of the State’s case vs. Rep. Barry Moore. R-Enterprise, the defendant testified and closing arguments were heard.
Early in the morning Moore took the stand in an effort to defend himself from two counts of perjury and two counts of providing false statements.
The defense, led by Derek Yarbrough (Dothan), opened by asking Moore about his relationships with Jonathan Tullos (Enterprise) and his challenger in the Republican Primary, Josh Pipkin (Enterprise). Moore responded that they were good friends prior to Pipkin indicating that he was going to enter the race.
Specific to Pipkin’s and Tullos’ involvement with the economic development project to Enterprise Electronics Corporation, Moore said that Pipkin was not involved with the project and he first remembered discussing it with Tullos at Cutts (a local restaurant in Enterprise) during a meeting with Mayor Ken Boswell (Enterprise), Billy Cotter (Enterprise), a representative from Enterprise Electronics Corporation (EEC), and Hubbard. Moore said the group felt like they would get the deal completed.
Yarbrough asked Moore how he first learned the project may go bad and he said during a phone conversation with Pipkin.
During his testimony Moore said both he and Speaker of the House Hubbard, always supported the project and it “would be completed whether Pipkin got out of the race or not.”
Specific to the indictments against Moore, the defense asked Moore if he had any knowledge of Hubbard threatening to withhold any financial support from Moore’s district if his challenger, Pipkin, did not get out of the Republican Primary.
Moore’s response was a definitive, “No, sir.”
The defense continued by asking Moore what happened after his testimony was complete. The defendant said he was asked to wait until the prosecution had a chance to speak with him. Moore said after the grand jury was dismissed Matt Hart called him into “a small room,” pulled up his chair next to Moore’s and asked him, “is your political career worth this?”
Yarbrough said that he believed the State was trying to intimidate Moore, even condescendingly saying, “he got you didn’t he?”
Mr. Moore was not quite as definitive in his answers during cross-examination.
Hart seemed poised and prepared when he began questioning Moore.
The prosecution asked Moore if he ever attended any education classes on the ethics law for public officials.
Moore responded, “yes, sir. I think we went to a one day class or something.”
Hart then asked a couple of questions which quickly caught a couple of objections from the defense.
The State was about to move on to what might have been a more pertinent question, but before doing so Hart asked Moore if the room they had their discussion in was a really “a small room.”
Moore quipped with an honest, “it felt mighty small that day.” The room was actually the Lee County District Attorney’s office which Hart said was 16 by 20.
Hart then inquired about Moore being intimidated during their discussion. Moore replied, “I was intimidated because you played something I didn’t remember saying.”
The prosecution then got Moore to admit that some of his statement was not true.
During his grand jury testimony Moore said he never agreed to convey a message to Hubbard that Pipkin would get out of the race if the economic development project was completed.
However, a phone call between Moore and Pipkin indicated otherwise. Moore said, "OK, I'll tell him if we get these jobs, you're going to get out."
Moore acknowledged the difference in his comments and said that he “just didn’t remember saying them.”
Hart tried to point out how unique it must have been for Moore to have a conversation with his opponent about getting out of the race without being able to remember it.
One might think that you’d remembered the conversation where you nearly talked your opponent out of running.
He even pointed out how odd it was that Moore could remember the details to the lunch meeting with Tullos, Cotter, EEC, Boswell, and Hubbard.
Hart then turned his attention to asking Moore about Pipkin.
During a conversation between Moore and Pipkin, Pipkin asked if the community would really lose the jobs if he stayed in the race. Moore responded, that he was having a meeting with Hubbard but there was a lot at stake for the community.
Moore said he first heard about it from Pipkin but according to phone conversations it was actually brought up during a discussion between Tullos and Moore, not Pipkin and Moore.
Referencing the meeting where EEC, Tullos, Cotter, Boswell, and Hubbard were in attendance, Hart asked Moore why they were all there. He responded that EEC was there because it was their business that would have benefited for an incentive package, Tullos was there because of his position, Cotter was there because he sits on the board of Wiregrass Economic Development Corporation.
Moore was having a difficult finding the appropriate way to describe why Hubbard was in attendance so Hart offered the option of, “because he’s Speaker of the House.”
Moore replied, that’s a good answer. Hubbard was there as a legislator.
Hart then asked Moore if he knew Hubbard was receiving money from his relationship with EEC and he said that he did not.
The State tried to inquire about the relationship between any contributions from PACs and Moore paying for his defense team, but the defense objected due to potentially causing prejudice from the jurors. The question was denied.
Hart asked Moore if he remembered Pipkin saying he would get out of the race during the grand jury testimony and Moore said that he only remembered certain parts of the conversation.
Moore seemed to be flustered by that point told the prosecution that he told Pipkin numerous times that he was for the deal.
Moore closed by saying the last thing he remembered saying was that he’d pray for Pipkin and asked that he do the same for him.
During closing, the State reminded the jury what is important when determining innocence from the charges and what is not.
Hart reminded the jury that the Hubbard and Moore’s support of the project was not important, only that there were threats about killing the economic development package conveyed.
Pipkin’s running for office was irrelevant.
The relationship between Tullos and Pipkin was not important.
It was especially not important that Moore was not told that recording existed before giving his grand jury testimony. As Hart pointed out, “grand juries are for trying to determine truthfulness” so their effectiveness might be impeded if they are required to share evidence before questioning.
The facts of the case were the only things important and the facts show that Moore provided false statements and perjured himself.
The defense’s closing statement would be led by Yarbrough and followed by Bill Baxley (Birmingham)
Yarbrough began his closing by telling the jury that it was their duty to come back with a not guilty verdict if there was a reasonable doubt. He went on to say the State had to satisfy all burdens of proof, which he seemed to think the State did not because they never proved that Moore knowingly lied.
When Baxley began he began by reminding the jury how important it is to have fair and impartial jurors. He said he believed they are and “we need fair and impartial jurors and we’ll be okay.” asked that they go back into deliberations with the understanding that Moore is innocent until the State satisfied all the necessary burdens.
Baxley also said the defense was “thankful.” They were thankful for the tapes because they showed that no crimes were committed.
He went on to call every phone call between Pipkin and Tullos from June 2013 reasonable doubt as well as every offer Tullos made to help Moore with his campaign.
He closed by calling Pipkin’s action a plot and that there was a flaw in it – Moore didn’t say or do anything wrong.
Van Davis had last word for the State’s case with a redirect to the defense’s closing.
Davis was to the point in his comments. He said this case is about someone who took an oath and lied and a legal team that is desperately trying to fog up the facts of the case.
Davis said, the tapes don’t lie and the facts speak for themselves.
Davis closed by saying Moore has been “protecting himself and protecting Speaker Hubbard.”
After Davis closed, the Judge read the jury their charges and the applicable case law.
The jury was sent into deliberations around 3:20 pm.
During the jury’s discussion there was some uncertainty concerning the burdens of proof for convicting someone of providing false statements and Judge Walker had to re-instruct them. The burdens for perjury were not needed by the jury.
The jury had not reached a verdict by the end of the day and would be reconvened at 9:00 am Thursday morning.
- Created on 30 October 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, October 29 an overflow crowd packed the Lurleen Wallace School of Nursing auditorium at Jacksonville State University to hear the Senate District 11 debate between incumbent Senator Del Marsh (R from Anniston) and his opponent, attorney Taylor Stewart (D from Anniston). The event was a heavy weight slug fest between two gifted politicians who are both supremely confident in their command of a stage.
Taylor Stewart called the situation in Montgomery a, “Disgusting mess.” Stewart said that if one of his colleagues were accused of unethical behavior of using his office to gaining money for his business, “I wouldn’t stand behind that person. I wouldn’t perjure myself before the grand jury. I would be doing whatever I could to clean up that mess in Montgomery.”
Senate President Marsh said that Montgomery is not like that. The first thing that the Republican Supermajority did was to pass sweeping ethics reform legislation.
Marsh said that Mike Hubbard has been accused of a crime, “And he will have his day in court.” “Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) is my friend.” “I pray for him and for his family every night as I would for any of my friends if they were in the same situation. I pray for (former Governor) Don Seigelman.”
Marsh said, “I was called as a witness to testify before the Grand Jury twice.” Marsh said that you will not find Del Marsh guilty, indicted or charged with anything. Marsh guaranteed that he won’t be convicted of anything.
Stewart accused Marsh of a lack of sincere concern for our students, teachers, and schools. Mr. Stewart said that the district needed a leader who cares about our schools. The people in the district want a leader who properly funds our schools. They want a leader who does not divert funds from the educational trust fund to scholarship funds for their friends who used to be in office.
Senator Marsh said that in 2008 we had a housing bubble to bust. That was not the fault of the Republicans. That was not even the fault of the Democrats who were in charge in Montgomery at the time. State revenues dropped. Over a $ billion a year in revenue were gone. We didn’t cut anything, we couldn’t spend more than we had. Sen. Marsh said it would have been fiscally irresponsible to raise taxes on the people of Alabama in an economic crisis.
Sen. Del Marsh said that the GOP Supermajority in the legislature did everything we could to streamline state government. Despite the hard times teachers still received one pay raise. If you take 2008 out of that equation and it was just a 3% drop from the 2007 budget.
Taylor Stewart said if elected he would appeal the accountability act. “It diverts millions into a scholarship fund.” “That is the kind of money that we need in education.” Stewart promised that teachers and state employees would get cost of living wages every year if he were the state Senator.
Mr. Taylor Stewart said that repealing the Accountability Act would be $25 million more for the Education Trust Fund. That could be $50 million. Who knows that could be $100 million a year diverted from education next year? “That is funding we need for the educational trust fund.”
Mr. Stewart said, “We also need to get new industry to this community. He has been negligent in this regard.” If elected he would talk to local leaders and ask them what industry do we need here? And then develop a plan for economic development in the district.
Del Marsh said that only 1/3 of the funding for Jacksonville State comes from the state of Alabama. Jacksonville State and the other colleges and universities were hurt by changes in Pell grants by the Federal government.
Marsh said that in the last budget that the legislature added $400,000 to Jacksonville State more than the governor asked for. Marsh said, “We have got to raise revenue. I am a businessman. I personally created 160 jobs. As a businessman I know how to create jobs because I have done it and I will continue to do it if I am sent back to Montgomery.”
Sen. Marsh said that the unemployment rate in Calhoun County is 6.7%. The state average is 6.6%. That is just .1 percent higher than the state average after we lost Ford McClellan, had to deal with the pollution problem at Monsanto, and had an incinerator burning chemical weapons. Under the circumstances I think that is pretty good.
Sen. Marsh said that the district needs more Aerospace, automotive, and high tech jobs. Those are the kind of jobs that we need. We want people who graduate from this great University to be able to stay here. We need to create jobs.
Stewart said that if you go to each community and talk to public officials they want to get manufacturing jobs, soft industry jobs, technology jobs, and construction jobs. That is what we need to do. “Actions speak louder than words.” When the state recruits industries it doesn’t come to this district it goes elsewhere.
Stewart said, “I do support raising the minimum wage to help those people out.” There is no rule that says we (the state of Alabama) can’t raise the minimum wage.
Senator Del Marsh said that most minimum wage jobs are starter jobs. Students need those jobs. According to one study over 500,000 people would lose their jobs if the minimum wage were raised.
Businesses will reduce their sales force and people will lose their jobs. The starter jobs are traditionally held by high school and college kids. “It is what they pay for their college education with.” The last thing we need to do is decrease jobs. Instead we need to concentrate on creating those higher paying jobs. “That is what I am going to do.”
Senate President Del Marsh said, “I have no issue with a lottery.” “As Pro Tem I can stop that from coming to the floor at any time,” but said that he will not do that.
Sen. Marsh did object to the idea of earmarking that money for scholarships. Marsh said, “87 percent of the money we have is earmarked.” Marsh said that lottery income should be put in a safety valve fund and then used where that pit of money is needed; whether that is for education, prisons, Medicaid, whatever is the biggest need that year. “Don’t tie your hands.”
Sen. Marsh said, “We have worked for the last several years working on long term problems,” and a safety valve fund would be s solution for a long term budget problem.
Stewart said that he support an educational lottery. Stewart said that voters want lottery money, “Earmarked not put in the general fund where folks can grab it and use that money for whatever they wish.” Stewart said that Georgia has Hope scholarships. “I do disagree with him (Marsh) about not earmarking that money.” Stewart said that he favors a bill to let the people vote on an education lottery.
Sen. Marsh said that Medicaid System cost the state $365 million when he got in office it costs over $700 million today and consumes a third of the state’s general fund. Medicaid is a broken system in Alabama. In the last session the legislature passed a plan that will reform Medicaid. If that plan to save us millions of dollars works then we can look at adding more people. Putting 300,000 more people on our Medicaid rolls would break the general fund budget after the first three years when those federal dollars run out and the burden is on the state.
Del Marsh pledged, “I will work to fix the problem and when we do we will address those of us in need as well as we can.”
Stewart said that the UAB study showed that expanding Medicaid would create 30,000 to 40,000 jobs and will produce income tax that we need. Our tax dollars are going to expand people’s Medicaid in other states.
Stewart said that he supports expanding Medicaid, because it is the moral thing to do.
Stewart said that he support plan 2020 and higher standards. He said that Common Core has opponents because the teachers are not yet all properly trained and parents are confused.
Marsh said that the state trusts curriculum and standards to the Alabama State School Board. If you don’t let them make those decisions, why have a school board?
255 people attended the event at Jacksonville State University which filled the auditorium and the overflow lounge outside.
Voters go to the polls on November 11.
- Created on 30 October 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Evoking images from an era long-ago, where the railroads were the primary method of travel, Republican candidates in Jefferson County spoke at the historic train depot in Leeds, AL.
State Representative Dickie Drake (R from Leeds) who represents Alabama House of Representatives District 45. Drake thanked everyone for coming to the event. Drake who was first elected in a special election for the office previously held by his brother, Owen Drake, said that he has no opponent on Tuesday, but urged everyone to vote on Tuesday, November 4.
Judge Suzanne Childers (R) told the crowd (estimated at 50), I have been a judge for 12 years now. I have been a private Circuit Judge, a Domestic relations judge, and a municipal judge. Childers said that she has enjoyed being a private Circuit Judge, but is running for office in Jefferson County again.
While most of Alabama has moved firmly into the Republican County, strong get out the vote efforts for President Obama has swept most Republican officeholders, including the judges, out of office in recent elections. Childers said that of the 40 Jefferson County Judges only 5 are from Jefferson County. Childers was one of the Republican judges who lost two years ago when Obama was re-elected.
Childers is a graduate of the University of Alabama, Nashville Judicial College, and the Birmingham School of law. Her daughter is an international lawyer in Boston. She is running for Place #1 on the Jefferson County bench.
Childers said that Republicans need to take back the county. “Please vote for me. I am very much a Constitutional judge, particularly the Second Amendment. I am known as the pistol packing judge.”
Childers is also staunchly pro-animal and is endorsed by the Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation (AVRAL) who said on Facebook that they, “Enjoyed our visit with Elect Judge Suzanne Childers at Bark at the Moon Festival in Fultondale. Suzanne is on AVRAL's list of endorsements.”
State Representative candidate Danny Garret (R) and AL state Senate candidate Shay Shelnutt (R) are both running from Trussville. Both are unopposed on the ballot.
Shelnutt is taking outgoing state Senator Scott Beason’s (R from Gardendale) seat representing St. Clair, Blount, Talladega, and Jefferson Counties.
Shelnutt said that he and Garrett are, “Both Very conservative.”
Garrett said that he is running to take Arthur Payne’s place (House District 44).
Garrett said that he is looking forward to representing the people of District 44 and described himself as a, “Christian businessman.” “I am not moving to Montgomery.”
Garrett said that “Will Ainsworth (R) needs our support in Marshall County. He is an tough race against a former legislator.”
Davis Lawley is the Republican Candidate for District Court Judge place 2. That is the Judge for Jefferson County’s drug court. Lawley lost that position in the Presidential Election of 2008.
Lawley said that the drug court concept started in New York State and was started here (Jefferson County) by a Democrat. Lawley held the post until the Judges races became politicized in 2008.
Lawley said that it is key to talk to your friends about voting on Tuesday. “You are not getting the best quality Judges on the bench now. Lawley is urging Libertarians, democrats, and Republicans to vote for him.
Lawley is concerned that too many people are apathetic. People don’t feel like their vote matters.
Joel Blankenship said, “I am not running for judge. I am running for Jefferson County Tax Assessor I have been campaigning for 12 months.” Blankenship said he was born and raised in Trussville. He is a real estate attorney with a degree from the Cumberland School of law.
He has been doing real estate closings for the last 5 years and working with the Tax Assessor’s office has been difficult. You can’t just phone them to get something done. Blankenship said that he either has to go down there himself or send a secretary down there and it should not be that difficult.
The most dangerous word in politics is “taxes” but taxes have to be paid. “Your tax exemptions should not be hidden from you. I am running to fix a broken office.” Some people’s property is assessed too high currently and often their neighbor is assessed too low. Blankenship vowed to assess the taxes on people’s property accurately and take politics out of the process.
Blankenship said that all he is scared of is that the vote will not turn out. “The County is getting bluer and bluer. We keep losing judges. We keep losing county wide offices.” The incumbent is Richard Arrington’s niece. “I need voters to turnout.” Start on the back of the ticket and fill out those offices first and start with Blankenship for tax assessor. “On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions is going to win. Governor Bentley is going to vote. Vote to bring good government back to Jefferson County. Vote and then call your friends to come vote.
Steve Ammons spoke next. He is running for Jefferson County tax collector as a Republican. Ammons said that when you run for office you learn that Jefferson County is a huge huge county. “I have enjoyed meeting new people.” Ammons said, the county has been broken and is just beginning to turn around under the current county commission.
Taxes have to be paid. The Birmingham race course has not paid its taxes in years. They ought to bring back horse racing then maybe they can pay their back taxes. There are lots of properties in Jefferson County where taxes are overdue but collecting those taxes has to go through the court process.
Ammons said, “It has been frustrating. We know the county needs all the revenue it can get but because of politics taxes are not collected." Ammons is a member of the Vestavia City Council and understands the problems this poses to cities. Both Leeds and Homewood both have each missed out on over a million in ad valorum taxes each year. The tax collector’s office did not collect the money and would not tell the cities where those properties are for them to try to collect the money.
Ammons said that there is presently a lack of transparency and lack of accountability. The process has got to be more clear, got to become more transparent. Just collect what is there. Vote for me and vote for Joel Blankenship as well.
Ammons said we have to get the vote out. 59 percent of straight ticket voters in Jefferson County vote straight Democratic. Only 41 percent vote straight Republican. We have got to change that percentage.
Gary Palmer is running for Congress. Palmer said, “This election is about whether we still believe in the ideas of the Revolution....This is a pivotal election.”
John Merrill who is running for Secretary of State also addressed the Constitutional Conservatives of Alabama at this event.
Deanna Frankowski thanked all the candidates for coming and urged everyone in attendance to join their Facebook page.
- Created on 30 October 2014
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In the election of 2010, incumbents Parker Griffith (R from Huntsville) was easily defeated by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks in the Republican Primary. Griffith has been elected as a Democrat with President Barack H. Obama in 2008, but that relationship rapidly soured and he switched political parties amidst much fanfare by the National GOP.
Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District of Alabama never bought into Griffith’s sudden conversion to conservatism and jettisoned the Huntsville oncologist for the candidate with the stronger conservative credentials: Commissioner Brooks.
In the Second Congressional District that same year, Montgomery City Council woman Martha Roby (R) narrowly defeated conservative Democrat Bobby Bright in the November General Election that same year (2010).
2014 has not been 2010. None of the Congressional incumbents faced credible challengers in their primaries, and according to every pundit we are aware of the incumbents should win easily on Tuesday, November 4th.
Congressman Robert Aderholt (R from Haleyville) does not even have to go through the charade of dispatching another outclassed Democratic Party opponent because none qualified to run in Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) will be on the ballot on Tuesday; but he has no challenger there. National Democrats did not want to waste resources in a race that everyone considered a hopeless quest from the very beginning.
Similarly Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D from Selma) faces no Republican challenger in the majority minority Seventh Congressional District of Alabama.
In the Fifth Congressional District of Alabama, Congressman Mo Brooks faces no Democrat on the ballot. The struggling Alabama Democratic Party abandoned any hope of fielding a credible challenger in the increasingly conservative Fifth District. Rep. Brooks does however face a challenger in independent Mark Bray.
Congressman Mo Brooks has raised $532,737 this campaign cycle and has $798,626 in cash on hand according to his pre-general election Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing to spend in the closing days of the campaign against Bray.
Without any party support, Mark Bray was only able to raise $24,465 for his campaign and his total cash on hand is just $7,226.
Congresswoman Martha Roby is seeking a third term in the United States House of Representatives representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
Her opponent is Erick Wright (D).
Congresswoman Roby has raised $1,047,288 this cycle and has $511,504 remaining in cash on hand.
Despite running as a Democrat in a district that Democrats held just four years ago, Erick Wright has only been able to raise $3,676 in contributions and is reporting just $441 left in cash on hand. Wright has had to dip heavily in to his own finances to fund much of his campaign. We could not find Wright’s pre-general election report on the FEC website so his totals are from his October 1 report.
In the Third Congressional District, incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks) also appears to be secure. Rogers has raised $974,324.99 and has $456,360 left to spend in the final stretch of his campaign.
Democratic Party challenger Jesse T Smith reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that he had only $4,100 in reported contributions and just $1,300 in cash on hand.
In Alabama’s First Congressional District, incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) has had less than a year since his special election to raise money for this campaign; but he still reports in with a respectable $487,953 in contributions. Rep. Byrne faces the last days of the race with $238,831 in cash on hand.
The Alabama Democratic Party candidate is Burton LeFlore, whom Byrne defeated in the special election last December 71:29 percent of the vote. LeFlore has only reported contributions of $1270 this time around and has just $2,592 in cash on hand to spend on this race.
In the Sixth Congressional District, incumbent Spencer Bachus is retiring. In his bid to replace Bachus, Republican Gary Palmer has raised $ 1,639,614. Most of that however was spent in the Republican Primary and Runoff elections. Palmer reports just $225,620 in cash on hand.
His Democratic opponent, Mark Lester, reports raising $112,235 in contributions. Lester reported $23,560 in cash on hand in October.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost $4 billion will be spent before this Congressional midterm is over. If that estimate is correct, that would make it the most expensive midterm ever by nearly $400,000. Spending is up from $3.6 billion in 2010 and $2.8 billion in 2006. Of the $4 billion spent this cycle, about $2.7 billion is projected will be spent by candidates and parties. Outside groups spending is estimated to be close to $900 million.
Voters will go to the polls on November 4 to decide who will represent them in the U.S. Congress for the next two years.
- Created on 30 October 2014
Inside the Statehouse
by Steve Flowers
The 2014 General Election is Tuesday. It is set to be uneventful. I predicted over a year ago that this election year was going to be dull and, folks, my prognostication has come to fruition. This year has been a yawner from the get go.
Even the GOP and Democratic primaries in June were void of any drama. As the results trickled in from the summer primaries, there were absolutely no surprises or upsets. Even in the face of historic low voter turnout, every favorite or incumbent prevailed and usually by the margin suggested by polling.
The low voter interest and predictability were for obvious reasons. There have simply not been any close or interesting statewide races this year. The governor’s race is generally the paramount premier political show every four years, but not this year.
Gov. Robert Bentley began the year with incredible approval ratings in the polls. His popularity does not stem from his job performance as much as it does from his likeability factor. Alabamians simply like the retired physician. Most importantly, they trust him. He reminds older Alabamians of the country doctors who once made house calls. Bentley feels as comfortable as an old shoe.
The Democrats have become the minority party in Alabama state politics. So much so that winning the Republican primary for governor is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie. Bentley won the Republican nomination in June with an amazing 90% of the vote against two token opponents.
The Democrats fielded a credible candidate in Parker Griffith. Ironically, both Bentley and Griffith are retired physicians. I doubt that will ever happen again in Alabama history where two 72-year-old retired physicians are the two candidates for governor. At least whoever is elected governor will be intelligent.
Griffith has governmental experience. He has served one term in the State Senate and one term in Congress from Huntsville. Being from Huntsville is one of the reasons Griffith’s name identification remains fairly low. Most voters do not get much news from Madison County, which itself probably feels a closer kinship to Nashville and Tennessee.
Nevertheless, Griffith has run a valiant campaign. He has attacked Bentley on the issues. He has stressed several major topics on which the two doctors’ differ. Griffith supports expanding Medicaid and starting a state lottery for education. He describes Bentley as a nice man but too beholden to the extreme right wing. He has also criticized Bentley for signing a school choice bill that Griffith says has “choked and bled dry” the state’s public schools. Griffith’s sharpest attack against Bentley has been on Bentley refusing to expand Medicaid. He says, “Our people are without health care only because Gov. Bentley doesn’t like who’s in the White House.” Regardless, the polling has shown for months that Gov. Bentley commands a 20-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Dr. Griffith.
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey should have no trouble disposing of former Cullman State Representative, James Fields, in her bid for a second term. Popular State Treasurer, Young Boozer, will waltz to a second four-year term. John Merrill, who ran a spirited race for Secretary of State in the Republican primary, will have little trouble turning back a challenge from Democrat Lula Albert-Kaigler and Jim Ziegler should easily defeat Miranda Joseph in the State Auditor’s race.
All Republicans have an inherent advantage on a statewide ballot. This should help incumbent Luther Strange in his bid for reelection as Attorney General. However, this will be the closest race to watch next Tuesday.
Strange is being challenged by Montgomery State Rep. Joe Hubbard. Young Mr. Hubbard, who is the great grandson of Senator Lister Hill, has run a well-financed and organized campaign. If he falls short, it will be because he is a Democrat and a good many Alabama voters may mistake him for the embattled Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, who has been bombarded with negative publicity for over a year.
Do not forget to vote next Tuesday.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 72 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.