Harri Anne Smith’s Expedient Company

Smith for Congress, Invitation to Fundraising Reception, May 27, 2008Republican state Sen. Harri Anne Smith had a fundraising reception Tuesday night in Enterprise for her campaign for the AL-02 Congressional seat. A noteworthy name on the Host Committee list was developer Ronnie Gilley.

This session Smith introduced a bill to reverse regulations allowing electronic bingo at Gilley’s Country Crossing development without a vote of the people.

From the Alabama Baptist:

“My personal stance is this is not bingo this is gambling, and I am opposed to any form of gambling,” said Smith, a member of First Baptist Church, Slocomb.

“When the citizens of any community face a political and moral issue as significant and important as whether or not to allow a casino into their county, the people not the elected officials should have the right to make the decision,” she said. “The people should have had a voice in this, and that’s what we are trying to give them.”

But her bill was said to put the future of the development in doubt and in 11 days Smith changed her mind. In an awkward reversal, Smith announced that she was asking that her bill be “stopped, permanently.”

Last month, developer Ronnie Gilley stood on the opposite side of the issue, but this week he is a member of the Host Committee for her fundraising reception.

“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” – attributed to Alexandre Ledru-Rollin during the French Revolution of 1848.

The whole episode is reminiscent of Smith’s party switch in 1998.

Smith had been quite the active Democrat. She was President of the Geneva County Democratic Club. For the state Democratic Party, she served on a Small Business Roundtable that actively sought to engage small business owners in the Democratic Party.

Ken Walker, Democratic Party County Chair of Dale County, remembers when Harri Anne Smith switched. “I got a call from the E.D. [Executive Director] of the Democratic Party saying we had to have a Senate candidate right away and could I find somebody that would run. [Democratic state Senator] Chip Bailey was going to switch parties and run as a Republican, and we didn’t have much time to find a candidate. I thought of Sheriff Lamar Glover and called him to ask if he knew of someone. He calls me back to say Mac Palmer will run. So I call the E.D. back in about an hour to say we have somebody.”

“‘No, no, no,’ he says. ‘We have to wait. Harri Anne Smith is trying to decide if she is going to run as a Republican or a Democrat. I said, ‘No, we already have somebody. You asked me to find somebody, and I already talked to him.’

“‘No, no, no,’ he says. ‘We need to wait to see what Harri Anne Smith is going to do.’ I said, ‘No, I gave my word to Mac Palmer, and the way I was raised I don’t go back on my word. She can run if she wants to, but Mac Palmer is our guy.’

Smith ended up running as a Republican against the incumbent Chip Bailey, and I asked Walker if he thought Smith would have run as a Democrat if she could have had a clear primary field.

“No. The Republicans were mad at Chip Bailey. The Dothan folks, Saliba and those folks. They told her they would support her with a lot of money if she ran as a Republican against Bailey. It wasn’t about ideology or political stances. She had a chance to get a lot of money supporting her, and so that’s what she did.

“I always teased her after that, that she was on the wrong side. She had always been so active with the Democrats. Came from a big Democratic familiy. Her daddy was a big Democrat. I really hated to see her go.”

Another south Alabama Democratic party activist tells essentially the same story about when she switched. “These folks were going to back her if she ran against Bailey as a Republican. It didn’t have anything to do with party positions or anything like that. She had a chance for a big win, and she took it.”

“She was close to Siegelman for a while. Her daddy was a big Wallace man. We watched her grow up active in the Party. It really broke my heart to see her go. Not just mine. Broke a lot of people’s hearts.”

She defeated the incumbent Bailey and won the seat. But after she was elected, she gave thought to switching back to the Democratic Party. Giles Perkins, then the Democratic Executive Director, has been known to tell the tale of driving down to the Wiregrass to meet with Sen. Smith to discuss it as she, in his telling, thought seriously about switching back.

The common thread here is the demonstration of expediency over ideology. Her critics would see it as a weakness, her supporters would see it as a strength. Ronnie Gilley sees it as a $250-300 million development, and for that, he’d see you at Harri Anne Smith’s fundraiser.

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42 comments to Harri Anne Smith’s Expedient Company

  • Reliable Sources

    I hear Gilley’s Country Crossroads is in B-A-D bad shape, Bama Jam is having trouble selling $160 tickets, and that he had to turn in the keys to 25 houses in one of his developments to the bank.

    She’ll get her money, but she’ll pay the price, too.

  • Truth Police

    George Bush had reliable sources that WMD was in Iraq. I see the same reliable sources are being used. The only keys Ronnie Gilley turns in is to the purchasers of all the houses he continues to sell. As far as BamaJam goes, I hear ticket sales are great and they are going to have to double the size of the campground and RV park.

  • Spalding Smails

    Mickey Gilley is playing at BammerJam?? AWESOME!!

  • waltm

    Isn’t expediency over ideology a common theme in politics of all sorts?

  • Anonymous

    It looks like she did silence Schmidtke’s refrain that she was “against Country Crossings.”

    I guess he’ll be returning to the Lamda Lamda Lamda house to hang out with Gilbert . . .

  • Johnny R.

    To post one, you are full of crap. The project is moving forward nicely. You are a Jay Love homer trying once again to stir up crap. By the way, I have it from a “reliable source” that good ole Jay met with Gilley recently and asked for some money. Gilley said no. Love is a true christian conservative right? He is just like all those bible beaters asking for money at every turn. To “Reliable Sources” SCREW YOU.

  • Wiregrass

    Anybody ever thought Mr. Gilley might want Smith to get elected so she can get out of the Senate? This might explain his support for her campaign. Makes a lot of sense. Gilley wants to be able to count on a vote from his Houston County senator.

  • Anonymous

    I am glad all that info came out. It is all 100% accurate. And to think that her campaign manager told the Dothan Eagle this was a meet and greet event and not a fundraiser….

  • Observer

    Oh wow Johnny R. you sound like a completely respectable, unbiased, yet reliable source!

  • BlueDog

    Any idea who’d fill Smith’s seat if she did win the race? I’d hope not Ben Lewis. Maybe Clouse?

  • Concerned Citizen

    If Harri Anne Smith wins then expect at least 5 people to run for her Senate seat including some newcomers to politics and at laast one former Dothan mayor who needs a job.

  • Red Rabbit

    I hope Clouse does run. He seems to be a very smart and nice guy. I know he’d do a good job…

  • houston county peanut

    The only one running for Harri Anne Smith’s seat will be Harri Anne. Unless she does so poorly in the Congressional race that she has all kinds of competition.

  • Carl n Ozark

    I hear Clouse runs next time regardless! It’s time for him to move to the senate. He’ll win if he runs. It’s time for some leadership here in the wiregrass….

  • Concerned Citizen

    As I said earlier expect a crowded field if Harri Anne wins or does not run for re-election. At least five but maybe closer to 8. Lots of people interested in this one.

  • Smith loses twice

    When Smith loses the congressional race, she will also lose her senate seat. Take it to the bank…..maybe even her’s.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that smith will likely not be the GOP nominee for Congress and when that happens, she also will draw a primary challenger if she runs for her senate seat again. she wanted to run for governor not long ago – now congress – who knows what is next. She is showing the folks in her senate district she rather have another job. so….they will likely give her one….out of elected office.

  • SamfordDem

    I understand that much of Smith’s campaign is made up of leftovers from the Romney campaign. It makes sense: a candidate who is shameless about political expediency and a campaign that looked great six months out and then sucks wind once people start actually voting.

    It puts me in the same awkward situation as the GOP presidential primary; I should have been rooting for Romney then – and Smith now – because each would have been by far the easiest candidate to defeat in November, but my darn ideals mean I would rather the Dems face a candidate I grudgingly respect somewhat, like McCain or Love, even if they’d be tougher in the general.

  • Billy Graham

    To Reliable source, post #1.
    I work for Ronnie Gilley so I want the record straight because these blatent attacks against Ronnie affect everyone that works for him(500 Plus) and their families. We have NEVER turned one set of keys on anything back to the bank. We currently have 50 houses under construction and the majority are PRESALES. As far as BamaJam, ticket sales have gone better than expected that industry experts are calling BamaJam the “Sleeper Event” of the year. So keep your “reliable-source self” at home with all the friends I am sure you have and miss out on the biggest party ever in this great State.

  • John Townsend

    I agree Reliable Source with Mr. Graham. Present what facts you have if you are going to question Mr. Gilley. Looks like his employee Mr. Graham has made it very clear you are full of manure. Quit hiding behind a bogus name and state what info you have and where you got it. Of course, you don’t know a damn thing about this guy’s company. You are just one more of the folks trying to stir up something. I also agree with Mr. Graham. Keep your lowlife butt at home next week. Bamajam is only the beginning of an entertainment boom for the Wiregrass. You must work for Mr. John Watson, Mr. Downs, or a few of those other men who try to control everything around and near Dothan.

  • Anonymous

    SamfordDem, I think you just confirmed Lay Love’status as a RINO – if anyone needed any convincing.

  • Observer

    If anyone is a RINO here i would think it is the politically expedient republican who used to be president of the democratic club in geneva!

  • Publius

    Smith is the best the Democrat Bright can hope for. Bright is a mental midget, Smith is a half wit already used beyond her stale date. Bright and Smith could share the same short bus on the way to their debate at the Troy University International Intellectually Challenged Universal Wiregrass Extravaganza Hyperbolic Abecedarian Supremacy Awards Banquet with Jack Hawkins providing translation services for all non wiregrass viewers. Outside of the ‘federal’ nature of this seat, everybody knows that it is an inbred hillbilly halfwit election. Neither the RNCC nor the DCCC will bleed money in this sh*thole election. Regardless of party, whoever wins will be a mental midget.

  • Anonymous

    Dem can you explain what you mean by “leftovers from the Romney campaign”? Explain.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that all the RINO jay stuff can stop now that it is well known harri anne was a life long dem until it was easier for her to switch to get elected to the senate. rino rino harri anne

  • Don't believe Liar Love

    And so you are saying they both can’t be RINOs? One of the two Davids would be best for the job. They are men of character which some of the other candidates are not familiar with.

  • For the record. I’ve not given Senator Smith money. I simply agreed to be one of the many host at the Tartan Pines event. Yes we were at odds in regard to her introduction of the bill that would have killed our project. After the public repsonded in a very profound way…..she responded. Which is exactly I would hope our Senator would do. After requesting disposal of her bill she stood firm thereafter. She certainly helped block other porposed legislation that would have been just as harmful as hers. In doing so she certainly stepped on a few toes that have put her in a very sensitive situation. I can assure you I’m not part of the sensitivity. She didn’t even ask me to host the event. Instead it was several of my business partners who made the request. It was simply me giving credit where credit is due. She has made it very clear to me what her stance is on the expansion of bingo in Alabama. But she now understands that we’re not just bringing bingo but probably the largest positive economic impact this area has ever seen. Her position on wide spread gaming has not changed. This simply is another political ploy to undermine Senator Smith and attach her to me. Believe me…we’re not attached in any way form or fashion. I’m just thankful that she stood up against the big boys and really put the people first. That wasn’t an easy task.

    Reliable source….you’re full of it. Why don’t you come out from behind that screen name so everyone can really see what your motives are. I’m pretty sure I know who you are…With that being said you’re not being very smart. Especially after the meeting you had with me. One more time…..We never have nor will we ever turn in any keys on houses to the bank! Get used to it….we’re here to stay. Like it or not.

    I did give Craig Schmidtke $4600.00 for his campaign. He was one of the few that stepped up in the beginning and supported Country Crossing. I feel that he’s a visionary and an upright guy and will…at some point will have a very positive impact on our communities.

    Senator Smith is being punished for doing the right thing. Plain and simple! She responded to pupblic demand. Irregardless of what promted such! We need afew more to do the same thing.

  • Dothan

    I do not know Ronnie, but I must say that I believe his business decissions will have a positive effect on the Wiregrass. However, I also feel that his desire is to make money and a name for himself, NOT to help the wiregrass. Why not agree to give a percentage of profits from BINGO to charities and local government, instead of a flat fee; that is what Casinos along the Gulf Coast do. As CC gains, so does the supporting community. All of that said, I wish him well in his endeavors.
    As for Jay Love, I like the man. Ronnie, did Jay actually ask you for money? I don’t believe that he did.
    Good luck again.

  • Mike Tice

    Well, it appears to me that the true rumor mongers have been exposed. The Bama Jam festival has come and gone and it was a monsterous success. It’s obvious to me that some were speaking out of turn, with zero information mind you, in an attempt to publicly humiliate Ronnie Gilley. Yes, I consider myself a friend and have known Ronnie for about 25 years. No, I don’t work for him, but I think those of you that were spreading lies or bad information about him must have something to gain by doing so. What is it? By the way, where are all of you blowhards now? He was right all along and Country Crossing WILL happen. I know that is just killing some of you, but at least you got all the cheap shots you could in before the bell rang. Congratulations.


    Ronnie is a man of true morals. Just ask his ex-wife! Also…take steroids much??? Inside information indicates yes. I have never seen anyone with a Napolean complex like his. He certainly WANT to be somebody, however, poor ethics and values prohibit such things. Ronnie, keep TRYing, but you just can’t buy everyone with a buck,or a flashy salespitch.

  • Mike Tice

    Hey THE TRUTH. Why hide behind a screen name if you are so sure of your inside sources. It is so easy to talk big when you have the benefit of anonymity. Put your name on it and I’ll listen. Otherwise your just spreading rumors like the rest as far as I’m concerned. Sorry if I sound brash, but that is how I see it.

  • RG PhoneE

    In my opinion:

    What’s it like to:

    not to be able to pay a $3,000 tab at Builder’s Cash and Carry?

    Cheat on your wife?

    Say F@#k Enterprise Politics on stage in front of the 100 people attending Bama Jam?

    Screw people in New Orleans for a quick buck after Katrina?

    Have people in attendance at said Bama Jam not know who the heck you are?

    Own too many memberships at Ent. Country Club?

    Lose money on homesales?

    Not have money to do things yourself..having to borrow from investors?

    Worry about paying back said investors?

    Think how CC MAY happen, but your slice of the pie will be tiny…I mean after all..what was it you bring to the table?

    Have a college degree?

    All of the aforementioned is preliminary speculation based on information provided by several sources.

  • Mike Tice

    “All of the aforementioned is preliminary speculation based on information provided by several sources.”

    I love the way you added the disclaimer at the end…it’s like having a get out of jail card for free up your sleeve isn’t it? You have proven my point once again. Thank you.

  • RG PhoneE

    Well, it’s not like I have financial statements or, college transcripts, divorce proceedings, etc. However, if a person’s wife says her husband cheated, a business owner, that an individual doesn’t pay his bills, or a company homepage claims he graduated from the “school of hard knocks,” I feel comfortable putting that out there. It’s not like the information is baseless….

    Again, in my opinion, people are not out to get him ..he is his own worst enemy.

  • Bama Man

    I think Ronnie did overstep at Bama Jam. He was so drunk you could barely understand what he was saying. Very business-like! Enterprise doesn’t need him if that’s how he feels.

  • Mike Tice

    Okay…let’s review.

    “In my opinion:

    What’s it like to:

    not to be able to pay a $3,000 tab at Builder’s Cash and Carry?” – Not be ABLE to pay or has not paid? BIG difference between the two.

    Cheat on your wife? – I haven’t ask her, but if he did, that would put him on a list all by himself correct?

    Say F@#k Enterprise Politics on stage in front of the 100 people attending Bama Jam? – I was there. Definitely more than 100 people in attendance and that was not said. Period.

    Screw people in New Orleans for a quick buck after Katrina? – Again, I’m sure he is the only one on that list if he in fact did it.

    Have people in attendance at said Bama Jam not know who the heck you are? – Let’s see…27,000 Thursday night,81,000 Friday night, and 111,000 Saturday night. Wow, I can’t believe that all these people didn’t know him. After all, everyone in attendance was from right here in south Alabama correct?

    Own too many memberships at Ent. Country Club? – I don’t even know what you mean by this one. How do you own to many memberships to the same country club?

    Lose money on homesales? – So now your the bookkeeper too…you must be a busy person. How else would you know this?

    Not have money to do things yourself..having to borrow from investors? – I think that’s the basic idea behind having investors, to create enough capital to enter into business…I know….that is sooooooo crazy huh?

    Worry about paying back said investors? – I believe when investing money in anything there is a risk taken.

    Think how CC MAY happen, but your slice of the pie will be tiny…I mean after all..what was it you bring to the table? – Again, you are privy to so much information…how do you do all of these jobs at once? Since you have already seen the final contract for this CC deal, how much is “tiny”? And, I believe it was the IDEA that he brought to the table. Without it, there is no BamaJam or CC and we aren’t even having this discussion.

    Have a college degree? – I know alot of former football players and other athletes with degrees that have made tons of money in their sport, but they don’t have any basic reading comprehension skills. That didn’t stop them from being successful in their endeavors though.

    All of the aforementioned is preliminary speculation based on information provided by several sources.”

  • Mike Tice

    Bama Man when did you witness this drunk episode? I’d sure like to know. Was it right before or right after he led 100,000 people in prayer on center stage? Ah, but I bet you don’t remember that part do you?

  • Bama Man

    Hey..I have an IDEA…let’s open a NASCAR track here. How much is that one worth? NOTHING!!! Why?? Because if you aren’t financially vested in a project you don’t get a share..you may get a piece up front…but I am tired hearing this is a Ronnie Gilley owned project.

  • Bama Man

    Also..RG said such comments after saying that he wanted to thank Terry Everett/or Spicer, then telling everyone he was sorry but his friend Tracey Whatever got him drunk. Hope you bring those values to CC too!
    Jim Baker led people in prayer too—didn’t make what he did right.

  • Mike Tice

    Okay, I’m not going to keep beating a dead horse here. You believe what you believe and that is your right. But, it doesn’t make it a fact because you believe it. I know that gas is around $3.90 a gallon right now…that is a fact. If you were on here lambasting our government and politicians for not doing more to combat this choke hold we are under, I would agree with you fully. But coming on here and libeling someone because of whatever reasons you have is a totally different ballgame. That is all and I hope you have a good day.

  • NotAFAN

    The truth comes out that Ronnie Gilley is trying to buy a vote and own a Congressional Office for Country Crossing. As previously stated Jay Love supports CC but not Gambling. This is why RG’s support was shunned, along with all of the other negative associations with RGP.

    Jay Love is honest, has integrity, and is not afraid to stand up for his values. It is obvious he feels CC was a local issue and believes HAS should have kept out of the Dothan politics.

    If anyone is a liar it is RG, who contributed money or other resources to HAS.

  • I think Ronnie Gilley,regardless if you like him or hate him,is doing a fantastic job with Bamajam!Just ask Enterprise Mayor how much tax money was made on this as some of you would have us to believe it to be
    a boondoggle!(now let me tell you what a boondoggle is:a wasteful or impractical project or activity often
    involving graft.)I wish we had more men,or females with his kind of vision!
    Mr. David C. Grider

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