Mitt Romney announced in a release [.pdf] that he has endorsed and contributed to 24 Republicans in Alabama this fall, including Kay Ivey, Richard Shelby, Luther Strange, Young Boozer, John McMillan, all seven Republicans running for the U.S. House, four running for state Senate, seven candidates for state House, and even a candidate for the Montgomery County Board of Education.
But not the head of the ticket Robert Bentley.
See the whole list here in a .pdf file.
Update: Bentley declines Romney endorsement.
William G Barnes is running in the Democratic Primary for a chance to unseat Richard Shelby in the General election. He has recently been endorsed by the Central Alabama Building Trades and Construction Council and added some content to his website. Remember, democracy does best when all incumbents are vigorousily opposed.
Central Alabama Building Trades Endorsement Letter
Also in the Democratic Primary is Simone De Moore (no easily findable website) while N.C. “Clint” Moser is running in the Republican Primary.
Our Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has taken the unusual step of placing a blanket hold on all of Obama’s nominees “in an effort to force presidential action on the Air Force refueling tanker and other matters,” according to FederalTimes.com.
Shelby is particularly peeved about the refueling tanker because a tanker contract worth up to $35 billion was awarded to Northrop Grumman and Airbus last year, but later voided in a bid protest filed by Boeing. The Northrop tankers would have been assembled in Mobile, Ala.
In a written statement, Shelby said Air Force efforts to build new tankers have been stalled for nearly 10 years and “we still do not have a transparent and fair acquisition process to move forward.”
FederalTimes.com adds, “Shelby also wants Obama to release funds so the FBI can build a Terrorist Explosive Devices Analytical Center in Alabama, the statement said.”
Reportedly more than 70 nominations are on hold until Shelby gets what he wants – or until the Senate has 60 votes to file successful cloture motions on the nominations.
Nationally, this will not play so well in an environment where Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson (D) was roundly criticized for negotiating his own sweetheart deal for his home state so that the Democrats’ Health Care plan could pass the Senate, and where Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham yesterday called on Congress to ban earmarks along the lines of what Shelby arranged for the proposed FBI center.
But locally? This will likely play well to the home crowd. It’s about creating jobs (about 1500 are at stake in the tanker project) and bringing the federal dollars home (Alabama receives $1.66 from Washington in government spending for every dollar it sends to Washington, according to an 07 study of FY 05).
Plus, a Senator is probably emboldened when he is one of three with eight-figure campaign warchests ($16.3 million in Shelby’s case) as CQ Politics noted this morning. Campaign money like that could overcome a lot of missteps if necessary.
The Press-Register has more here.
Obama was elected a year ago this week and has been in office since January. What kind of politics is at work that has led Obama to nominate Joyce Vance to the U.S. Attorney spot in the Northern District in less than four months, but to leave Bush appointee Leura Canary as U.S. Attorney in the Middle District to this day? Has a deal been struck to leave Canary in place? Many of you have heard the whispers suggesting just that. I wrangled the person most knowledgeable about the process that I could find and asked about it.
This individual recalled that Redding Pitt was appointed by Bill Clinton to replace James Wilson [who had been appointed by Bush I] in the Middle District in August 2004, some 19 months into Clinton’s administration. Using that yardstick, there is nothing extraordinary at work here with Obama yet to name a replacement 10 months into his administration.
Still, why even this delay? The source lays it out for us.
An advisory committee headed up by Artur Davis recommended two names for the Middle District: Michel Nicrosi and Joe Van Heest. Sen. Jeff Sessions raised objections about Nicrosi. (A customary practice that most presidents have followed is to respect a “hold” put on a nomination for U.S. attorney, federal judge, or appellate judge by a U.S. Senator in the state where the appointees would serve.) Nicrosi worked with Sessions in the Southern District when Sessions was the U.S. Attorney. The source offers that perhaps because Nicrosi clashed with some of Sessions’ hires in the U.S. Attorney’s office, “Sessions was openly critical of Nicrosi, and the White House decided to go in a different direction.”
There were no initial objections to Joe Van Heest, though Sen. Richard Shelby eventually decided to oppose Van Heest’s nomination. The nominal reason that Shelby blocked Van Heest, according to the source, is that Shelby objected to some aspects of Heest’s law practice; others have speculated that Shelby blocked Van Heest because Shelby has another name he would rather have nominated. Efforts to get Shelby to lift the block have not panned out.
Since then the nomination has been offered to and turned down by Delores Boyd, Truman Hobbs, Tracy McCooey, Vanzetta McPherson, and Bobby Segall. Charles Price refused to be considered for the position.
Artur Davis had suggested attorney George Beck to the Justice Department as an alternate in case Shelby would not release the hold on Van Heest, and Bessie Ford’s “Inside Politics” newsletter has recently suggested that Beck has emerged as the likely nominee.
Our source familiar with the process believes that there is a very good chance that the matter will be resolved in a matter of weeks in one of three ways in this order of likelihood: 1) Shelby will release the hold on Van Heest, 2) George Beck will be nominated, or 3) the Obama Justice Deparment will send in a career person from outside the state, similar to what George W. Bush’s Justice Department did when it sent Deborah Rhodes to the Southern District of Alabama.
A deal to keep Bush appointee Leura Canary? That’s not what we hear.
SurveyUSA’s latest poll of Sen. Richard Shelby’s approval rating among Alabamians shows a third straight month of decline down to 51%, his lowest rating in the four years shown online. Not sure that there is a lot to be made about that as his seat is quite safe and 51% is certainly respectable.
Just in January though he was at 60% and only two months before that he was at 64%, his highest rating in the four years shown on the chart. For that matter, his current 51% approval rating is close (within the margin of error) to the 48% of Alabamians who approve of the job Barack Obama is doing in a poll taken at the same time.
|Do you approve or disapprove of the job Richard Shelby is doing as United States Senator?
Les Stanford Chevrolet Cadillac in Dearborn, Michigan seems to think Shelby-as-bogeyman might move some cars off the lot.
More here in the The Hill’s Briefing Room.
Thanks to reader E.
A retired GM engineer has launched boycottalabamanow.com urging a boycott of Alabama because our Republican Sen. Richard Shelby is not helping the domestic auto industry.
From the front page of the web site (at this writing):
We are starting a nationwide boycott of Alabama that will include any travel into the state well as boycotting the purchase of anything produced in any way within the state.
To those hard working people in Alabama, we apologize for the boycott and the loss of income and future employment from this boycott but please understand that it is within your power to elect a representative who has America’s best interest in mind. Many people have watched as Mr. Shelby spewed inaccurate statements during the senate hearings. It is clear that Senator Shelby has no idea of the inner workings of the Big Three, yet his title allows him to poison the air with non-truths about the domestic auto industry.
The front page of the Boycott Alabama Now site lists a half-dozen mentions that the site has received in the media, including from three TV stations.
The website urges readers to call the Business Council of Alabama “so that they know we mean business” with the boycott. (Actually, I think that, being a boycott, they mean no business, but you get the idea.)
The woman who answered the phone at BCA this morning told me she knew of no calls about a boycott, and my call was the first she had heard about it.
Related… the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has an ad that specifically shows Shelby as one of the Senate Republicans who broke the economy but doesn’t want to help fix it. The ad has a tv clip of Shelby saying, “Close’em down. Get’em out of business. If they’re dead, they ought to be buried.”
Hat tip to reader W for the website and Left in Alabama for the DSCC ad.
Our own Richard Shelby (R) is second on the list of the Senate’s top earmarkers, behind only Robert Byrd (D) of West Virginia. According to a report from Taxpayers at Common Sense (via Politico.com), Shelby brought home over $114 million of federal money to Alabama. Byrd brought almost $123 million to West Virginia.
As points of comparison, #10 on the list, Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), was responsible for over $46 million in earmarking. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) at #20 was responsible for $19.5 million in earmarked funds.
The speculation that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R – Tuscaloosa) will run for Governor in 2010, that perhaps Gov. Riley and Shelby would swap roles in 2010, that Shelby is retiring altogether… Put all of those rumors to bed. Shelby’s spokeswoman Laura Henderson says that the Senator will seek a sixth term in 2010. He will be 76 at the time of the 2010 election.
Roll Call ranked the “50 wealthiest Members of Congress based on the minimum net worth reported on their financial disclosure forms.” (The article explains up front the ways that the financial disclosure forms are “extraordinarily unreliable sources of information.”)
FWIW, by my count, among the 50, there were 23 Democrats and 27 Republicans. 21 Senators and 29 Republicans. One Alabamian: Sen. Richard Shelby (R) at #30.
Following up on last week’s post “How Conservative/Liberal is Your Congressman?” . . .
National Journal ranked all U.S. Senators “according to their overall composite liberal or conservative scores based on National Journal’s 2007 vote ratings.”
|Sessions, Jeff, R-Ala.
|Shelby, Richard, R-Ala.
Jeff Sessions’ conservative score was 10th highest out of 97 Senators ranked. Richard Shelby’s score was 23rd out of 97. Three Senators missed too many votes to be ranked.
I am happy to hear that Senator Richard Shelby (R) and U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer (D – Huntsville) are okay after their plane was fired on as they flew out of Baghdad:
The Alabama lawmakers were part of a congressional delegation on a one day trip to Baghdad flying in an Air Force C-130, Shelby said “when on the way back we had a near miss.”
“It was dark as the dickens outside, and I was looking out the little window. I saw the red glare of a shell or a missile coming up toward our plane,” Shelby said in a telephone interview with Alabama reporters late this afternoon. “Then I saw a flare pop out and our plane just started moving and changing directions and trying to move.”
Rep. Cramer released a statement tonight:
Our plane leaving Iraq was fired upon and it was a close call, but this is something that our men and women in combat face every day. The flight crew was outstanding and I credit them for the way they handled the situation. This should not take away from the purpose of this trip, which was to see first hand the operations in Iraq and thank our troops, many of them from North Alabama.
I had interest in clarifying for myself who of our Washington delegation had endorsed what presidential candidates.
In case you are scoring at home, here is the rundown on our Alabama delegation in Washington and who they are publicly supporting in the 2008 presidential race.
Democrat Bud Cramer (AL-5) has not endorsed anyone and likely will not. No word heard here from Jo Bonner (R, AL-1) or our two Republican Senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby.
This morning, Birmingham area legislators agreed to support a 6-cent per gallon tax that would support public transportation and road construction.
Counties would have the option to charge the tax which would be expected to generate $20 million for Jefferson County. (For years, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has said that if local authorities could come up with $20 million for public transportation in the Birmingam area, that the federal government would provide $80 million in a 4 to 1 match. He is no longer in the majority party, and after many years, is this offer finally off the table?)
If this qualifies as a county tax (rather than a state tax, I believe it does since no referendum is required), Alabama would remain one of two states that invests ZERO dollars in public transportation.
High gas prices make an extra gas tax a tougher pill to swallow. High gas prices also make public transportation all the more important.
One Birmingham area legislator told me that the 10-cent per gallon tax proposal that had been floated earlier was going to be extremely difficult to pass. According to the legislator, Birmingham area legislators were determined to bring back $150 million in new money for projects for UAB (Birmingham’s largest employer) and “bringing back two big victories like that was going to be extremely difficult.”
Area lawmakers plan to request a division of the tax with 4 cents going to public transportation and 2 cents funding roads and bridges.
For public transportation, the money would pay for what Sen. Scott Beason, R-Fultondale, called a “bus system on steroids,” or increased bus routes. The road money would cover traffic improvements, including a high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lane on the interstates and park-and-ride lots with express shuttle buses, [Linda] Coleman [D-Birmingham] said.
The Christian Coalition wants to tell you that trial lawyers have an “anti-Christian agenda,” but Alabama Republican Senator Shelby didn’t get the memo.
Yesterday Senator Shelby and the Senate
…once again rebuffed a Republican effort to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases, taking the issue — a high priority for both President Bush and the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist — off the agenda for this year.
Senator Shelby didn’t stand with his party or against the trial lawyers, instead voting against bills that opponents said “would strip patients of their right to seek redress in court.”
Three Republicans — Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Michael D. Crapo of Wyoming and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama — joined with Democrats in blocking the measures from consideration. It was the fourth time in the past three years that Republicans had tried, and failed, to bring medical malpractice legislation to a vote in the Senate.