Bentley vs. Taylor

Did you see the story near the end of last week with Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking state Sen. Brian Taylor (R – Montgomery) last week for Taylor’s proposal to move the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to the Attorney General’s control? The proposal also allowed the Attorney General to take control of the Alabama Department of Public Safety when the AG deemed it necessary.

For his part, Taylor responded with a statement of his own.

What if anything should we make of this episode?

Bentley, Folsom, and Strange Lead in New Poll

Did you see the results from the poll from the University of South Alabama Polling Group that was jointly commissioned by the Press-Register, Birmingham News, and Huntsville Times? The poll was taken Oct. 17 – 21 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 points.

Quick hits:

  • Republican Robert Bentley has apparently taken some hits over the AEA connection as his lead in the Governor’s race is down to 45% -36% over Democrat Ron Sparks. That cuts the lead in half from the previous poll cited that shows Bentley leading 53% – 33%.
  • Jim Folsom (D) leads Kay Ivey (R), 43% – 36%, in the race for Lt. Governor. Ivey says her polling shows the race “competitive” and that the “the tide has turned in our direction.” But wasn’t she supposed to be ahead already?
  • The poll shows Luther Strange (R) with a 47% – 33% lead over James Anderson (D) in the race for Attorney General.
  • 59% of respondents say they favor a state lottery if the proceeds go to education. 48% are in favor of allowing casino gambling in resort areas.

Check out the whole story here.

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New Luther Strange Ad in AG Race

Later today Republican Luther Strange goes up statewide on broadcast and cable TV with this ad that takes aim at his Democratic opponent, James Anderson.

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Strange and Anderson square off to see who will succeed Republican Troy King as the state’s Attorney General.

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Luther Strange on TV with Second Spot

Luther Strange is on TV across the state with his second TV spot of his campaign for Attorney General.

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The Republican nominee faces Democrat James Anderson in the November election.

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AG Candidate James Anderson on the Air

Democratic Attorney General nominee James Anderson is on statewide broadcast TV with his first ad of the general election campaign. The ad, “Chicken Baby,” features the same cast of characters from some of his ads in the primary season.

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The ad touts his positive campaign but still manages to get a couple of digs in at his opponent – a neat trick if you can pull it off.

Anderson faces Republican nominee Luther Strange.

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So BP Would Have Paid Alabama Already Except...

So… Riley is cutting funds to education because BP isn’t paying a $148 million claim from the state. The Montgomery Advertiser reports that BP hasn’t handed the money over “in part, because of litigation filed by Alabama Attorney General Troy King against BP.”

I realize that this gives Riley an opportunity to heap ashes on his antagonist King, but some thoughts come to mind here. Let’s see if I can organize them.

  • BP has not ruled out eventual payment.
  • King tells the Advertiser that other states who have not sued have not received payment either.
  • Riley on the suit filed by King: “He did it without consulting me or local officials on our coast.” That definitely speaks to the strained relationship between the two.
  • Riley: “No other state’s attorney general has sued BP at this time and King’s lawsuit stopped our abili­ty to recover these tax dollars before the end of this fiscal year.” Here’s what I don’t get. No other state has sued at this time, and those states haven’t gotten their money either. But Riley’s point is that if Alabama had not sued, Alabama would have its money, unlike any other state?
  • What in this episode really offers evidence that the lawsuit is a bad idea given that 1) other states who have not sued have not received payment either, and 2) BP has not ruled out eventual payment? BP has given no assurance that they would have otherwise paid if not for the lawsuit.
  • I’ll quickly concede that Troy King may have relished filing suit against Riley’s wishes, given the nature of their relationship, but may we assume that Mississippi and Louisiana also appear to be considering filing suit because they are considering the best interests of their citizenry?

Just thinking aloud…

What’s your take?

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First AG Candidate on Air is Strange

This morning Republican Luther Strange airs the first TV spot of the general election campaign for Attorney General.

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Strange faces Democrat James Anderson in the November election.

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ALFA's Farm-PAC Makes Endorsement Recommendations

ALFA’s Farm-PAC advisory trustees met this week to recommend candidates for the entire Farmers Federation to endorse. ALFA’s Farmers Federation Board of Directors will meet next week to formalize (or not) the endorsements. No announcement will be made until the endorsements are made final, but the Parlor has been able to scope out some of the recommendations.

ALFA’s endorsement means a bit more than most in that it comes from one of the state’s political heavyweights that has significant membership in counties across the state.

Again, these are recommendations, and ultimately the Board may decide to sit out some of these races, particularly if the trustees were divided. It is hard to imagine that the Board would endorse another candidate in a race than the one recommended by its PAC’s advisory trustees.

So what are we hearing?

Governor – No recommendation

The Ron Sparks campaign has to be disappointed not to be recommended for an endorsement given the good relationship Sparks and ALFA have had in Sparks’ tenure as Agriculture Commissioner when he received their endorsement in both of his races (in 2002 and 2006). On the other hand, ALFA is generally Republican leaning enough that he is probably pleased that Robert Bentley did not get the recommendation either. ALFA’s Farmers Federation did not endorse in this race in 2006 either when Riley faced Lucy Baxley.

Lt. Governor – Kay Ivey (R)

The Parlor hears that the trustees narrowly recommended Ivey for endorsement over Jim Folsom. Folsom’s campaign no doubt hopes that the Board decides to sit out this race as it did in the 2006 LG race between Folsom and Luther Strange.

Attorney General – Luther Strange (R)

Make of this what you will, but the version heard here is that the trustees initially decided this week to make no recommendation in this race between Strange and Democrat James Anderson. ALFA apparently is not a big Strange fan in that they did not endorse him in 2006 for LG, and in the AG primary this year ALFA endorsed incumbent Troy King over Strange. After the initial decision to make no recommendation, I am told, they reconsidered and recommended Strange to the Board for endorsement.

Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries – John McMillan (R)

Democrat Glen Zorn had strong supporters in the room, but the trustees apparently decided to mend fences with McMillan, who is likely to be a strong favorite in November, after snubbing McMillan in favor of Dorman Grace in the primary.

PSC, Place 1 – Jan Cook (D)

ALFA has supported Democrat Jan Cook at the PSC in other election cycles, yet we hear that the decision to recommend her this year over Republican Twinkle Cavanaugh was a contentious and difficult one. Might the Board ultimately decide not to make an endorsement?

PSC, Place 2 – Susan Parker (D)

In 2006, ALFA endorsed Perry Hooper, Jr. over Parker for what was then an open seat.

We heard no word about any other races than these. Endorsements for state legislative races will be considered later.

Again, ALFA Farmers Federation will make the final determination on these recommendations when its Board meets next week.

Six Downballot Races of Interest Today

Everybody’s talking about the GOP governor’s runoff and, to some degree, the Congressional races for the GOP in AL-02 and the Dems in AL-07. Here are six downballot races of interest that we’re watching in the Parlor today.

A question that looms over the elections with the potential to affect downballot races: will Democrats really cross over in large numbers to vote in the GOP gubernatorial runoff? I have been a bit skeptical that they would, but I hear anecdotes that suggest a good many are.

  • Democrats’ Attorney General race, James Anderson and Giles Perkins. You would expect the race for the highest contested office on the Democratic side to be burning brightly, but it is getting very little oxygen. Said one Democratic regular to the Parlor, “Anderson dropped off the radar. I don’t know where he’s been the last 6 weeks.” Perhaps he feels he can keep his powder dry for the general election; he fell a whisker short of winning outright with 49.6% of the vote to Perkins’ 31.1%. Perkins is more firmly entrenched in Democratic Party politics (picking up support from state Sen. Bobby Singleton and Howard Dean, for example). If a lot of Dems crossover, Perkins is probably helped. One Montgomery GOP’er tells the Parlor that Dems crossing over to vote in the GOP primary could have a “huge impact” on this race.
     
  • Republicans’ PSC race, Place #1, Twinkle Cavanaugh and Stephen Evans. Cavanaugh came in at 49.4% of the vote to Evans’ 25.9%. Cavanaugh would no doubt provide stronger competition to Democratic incumbent Jan Cook in November. To what degree will Evans be helped by Democratic crossover voters unlikely to vote for Cavanaugh? As former state GOP chair and later in Riley’s administration, Cavanaugh represents GOP establishment. Dems voting in the primary would be more likely to go for the relatively unknown Evans.
     
  • Democrats in SD 28, Billy Beasley and Johnny Ford. Beasley looks to have the edge here for the nomination for this open seat, to the consternation of Johnny Ford who believes the majority African-American district should be represented by an African-American. Ford launched his “SOS” campaign (for “Save Our Seat”) after Beasley led 48% to 28% in the first election, but that hasn’t stopped retiring state Sen. Myron Penn from endorsing Beasley to be his successor (.docx). One Republican insider tells the Parlor that this is the Senate race most likely to be affected by crossover voting, the idea being that Ford supporters might be more likely to vote in the Democratic primary and Beasley supporters might be a bit more likely to consider voting in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
     
  • Republicans in SD 9, Clay Scofield and Don Spurlin. Spurlin has not run quite as strong as expected, and Scofield has been something of a surprise. Scofield led the field with 6,531 votes to Spurlin’s 5,651 and picked up the endorsements of the two candidates defeated in the primary. This is the seat opened up by the retirement of longtime Democratic state Sen. Hinton Mitchem and is a key to GOP hopes of taking the Senate from the Dems.
     
  • Republicans in SD 4, Paul Bussman and Patricia McGriff. Republicans hope Bussman could give incumbent Zeb Little a challenge but Bussman hasn’t yet gotten past McGriff. Bussman led McGriff 42.8% to 32.2% in the primary. Bussman hopes to nail it down tonight, but it could be a close one.
     
  • Republicans in HD 5, Steve Pepper and Dan Williams. Former Athens Mayor Williams was a good “get” for the Republicans who hope he will run strong against Democratic incumbent Henry White, but he has got to get by Pepper. Williams led Pepper 49.6% to 33.6% in the primary.
     

What races are you watching?

ALGOP Chair Says Only Tim James Can End Recount

Rep. Mike Hubbard, state Chair of the Alabama GOP, issued a statement this afternoon.

In its entirety:

“The James Campaign has petitioned each county for a recount, and it is up to the candidate to decide whether or not to proceed with the process. He initiated it, only he can end it at this point.”

Do you think James will stop a recount? Seems unlikely to me. [Pause] Does it to you?

AL.com quoted Hubbard as saying that the opinion from Republican AG Troy King was “ridiculous.”

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AG King Says Byrne and Bentley Should Be on Runoff Ballot

From Associated Press:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Attorney General Troy King says the names of Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley should appear on the Republican runoff ballot for governor on July 13 no matter what a statewide recount shows.

Tim James can ask for another runoff if his protest is found to be valid, says the opinion.

A second runoff could be held if the GOP finds that Tim James filed a valid contest of the election. Read the whole AP story here.

Now you know why I enjoy this person’s email in my inbox as much as I do.

Update: I sought and received this clarification to pass along to you: “AG opinions do not have the force of law. That said, if a government official follows the advisory opinion they are protected from any future liability, etc. The courts give deference to AG opinions but are not bound by them.”

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Recount News and Rumor

NEWS: The Tim James’ campaign has this morning expanded its request to have the GOP gubernatorial primary votes recounted in all 67 counties instead of in 40 as indicated yesterday. See the campaign’s petition to the Secretary of State here in a .pdf file.

RUMOR: “Rumor has it that the Attorney General is about to issue an opinion that Alabama law does not allow for a recount following a primary election, only after a general election,” says email from a source I always enjoy seeing in my inbox. Secretary of State Beth Chapman has cited one opinion from the AG [.pdf] regarding a recount, but I don’t see that it particularly addresses this question. YMMV.

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Governor Riley Endorses Challenger to His Own Appointee

Here is the flier referenced in the Associated Press story.

The strained relationship between Governor Bob Riley and his Attorney General Troy King is no secret, but I still find it a remarkable story that the sitting Governor would endorse Luther Strange, the primary opponent of his own appointee. The involvement of the Senators in the primary is odd enough (though old news).

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AG Candidate Giles Perkins on Radio Statewide

Democratic AG candidate Giles Perkins is running this radio ad statewide that features former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington. Arrington founded the Citizens Coalition that once dominated Jefferson County politics.

Click play to hear the ad.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

FWIW, in 2009, Arrington and Earl Hilliard, Sr. (the dad who is the former U.S. Representative, not the son who is the state Senator running for Congress) launched the New Jefferson County Citizens Coalition according to a Bhamwiki article that cites a 2009 Birmingham News story.

Perkins faces James Anderson and Michel Nicrosi in the Democratic primary.

Dem Giles Perkins on the Air in AG Race

A bit of trivia about the AG race: Perkins is in the same church as Republican AG candidate Luther Strange.

I said earlier that Perkins “never did get up on air in primary campaign” and this ad is here to prove me wrong.

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Perkins faces James Anderson and Michel Nicrosi in the race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Incumbent Troy King and Luther Strange vie for the Republican nomination.

Legislative Dispatch

A Look from the Rearview Mirror

This Thursday will mark the last day of the legislative Session.  For some, it was a Session that seemed would never end.  For others, it was one that ended much too quickly.  It may be early, yet, to write an obit on this Session, but as we approach the finish line, some perspective may be in order.

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Putting Students First

As you know, a very important piece of legislation will be presented for our consideration in the House tomorrow in Montgomery – Senate Bill 310 – the “Students First” tenure and fair dismissal reform bill. Like me, many House members have been inundated with phone calls and emails from opponents of this bill, and some have been [...]

Legislative Transparency

There are a lot of issues to debate before we begin the final days of this session. In fact, I am quite certain there will be some comments on this post debating many of them. Before we get into the last seven day of the session I wanted to bring up a topic that [...]


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