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Monday, June 28, 2010

Republicans push forward with plan to take over Legislature

Alabama Republicans are targeting more than 20 legislative seats as part of their goal to take control of the Legislature in the November election.
The Alabama Republican Party rolled out the latest phase of its Campaign 2010 program on Monday, trying to inform voters that "136 years is long enough" and launching the website
"That is a message we intend to send throughout the state of Alabama," said state Rep. Mike Hubbard, who is also chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Democrats have controlled the Legislature for 136 years. They hold an eight-vote advantage in the 140-member House and a three-vote margin in the 35-member Senate.
Republicans launched Campaign 2010 in 2007, seeking to raise $4 million, to recruit quality candidates and to target specific districts.
Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said Democratic legislators have balanced budgets in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression without major layoffs, helped save the state's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program, reformed juvenile justice laws, and worked with Republican Gov. Bob Riley to help land major economic development projects.
Instead of "chest-thumping," Turnham said people need to be talking about how to put people back to work, the large anticipated budget shortfalls in the state, and cleaning up the Gulf after the oil spill.
Hubbard said the party is currently targeting about 15 seats in the House of Representatives and eight or nine Senate seats, which he said they will probably trim down to six.
Looking at polling, he said there is an opportunity to win virtually all of them.
Hubbard believes the retirement of some Democratic lawmakers, the national political climate and President Obama's low approval rating also bolster the Republicans' chances.
Those targeted Senate seats include that of Sen. Wendell Mitchell, a Luverne Democrat who represents portions of Elmore and Autauga counties; the east Alabama district represented by Kim Benefield of Woodland, who is retiring; and the district represented by Sen. Ted Little of Auburn.
Turnham said Democrats here, unlike those in most other southern states, have stopped Republicans from taking control of the Legislature.
Because they are in power, Democrats "have more ground to defend," he said. That, Turnham said, creates more opportunities for Republicans.
He said the Democrats will also be on the offensive.
"There are a number of bright starts running in these Republican districts," Turnham said. " ... They're going to have to play some defense too."

Republicans have also hurt themselves in areas like the Wiregrass where they removed Sen. Harri Anne Smith from the party's ballot, Turnham said.
The state GOP has raised more than $4 million, which was the goal and more than the party has ever raised, Hubbard said. The party did spend to pick up seats in special elections, picking up one seat in the Senate and two in the House. Those wins, the chairman said, are evidence their plan has worked.
Turnham said the Democrats have done well to defend Democratic seats in Republican-leaning districts in other special elections.
Hubbard said the Republicans have spent some of that money on the special elections, polling, data and looking at the districts they intend to target. He said they continue to raise money.
"We won't be able to match the Democrats," Hubbard said.
He said the Democrats can lean on the Alabama Education Association, which is run by two vice chairmen of the Alabama Democratic Party, for financial help. The AEA heavily funds legislative races and other campaigns.
Turnham said about a third of Alabamians are independent so neither party will be able to win on partisan rhetoric.
Turnham said the Democrats have recruited quality candidates who can speak to the issues of the day.
Hubbard also slammed the Democrats' Covenant for the Future, a 2006 campaign promise to bring up certain issues early in the next legislative session if Democrats remained in the majority. The Democrats did not pass substantial reforms outlined in the covenant.
They did, however, give themselves a pay and expense allowance increase of 62 percent, Hubbard said.
Turnham said Democrats tried to make progress on many of the issues in the covenant.
He said Republicans have worked to deny people the right to vote on whether to tax and regulate gambling, whether to remove the state sales tax on groceries, and whether they want a constitutional convention to rewrite the state's constitution.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Penn endorses Beasley

State Sen. Myron Penn has endorsed Rep. Billy Beasley in the Democratic runoff for Senate District 28.
Penn, D-Union Springs, is not running for a third consecutive term.
Beasley is in a runoff with former Tuskegee mayor and former state Rep. Johnny Ford, who recently won the endorsement of the Alabama New South Coalition.
The runoff is July 13.
Beasley finished well ahead of a pack of Democratic candidates, but did not have enough votes to claim a majority, which is necessary to avoid a runoff.
"Over the last decade I have worked closely with Billy Beasley and I know he will work tirelessly for all the people of this senate district," Penn said in a statement. "He is a man of character who will continue to move this district forward through the issues that we will face over the next four years. Billy and I have discussed redistricting, which will likely come up in the Senate, and we have agreed to work together to ensure that the makeup and demographics of Senate District 28 will remain fair."
Ford has said he wants the senator for the district to remain black. Penn is black while Beasley is a sitting white legislator and pharmacist from Clayton.
District 28 includes Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon, and Russell counties.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Montgomery Police officer to challenge Love in District 74 race

Voters in House District 74 will have two men named Jay to choose from when they go to the ballot box in November.

Montgomery Police Lt. Jay King is taking on two-term Republican State Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery, to represent the district that covers part of east Montgomery. Love faced no opposition in the June 1 Republican primary, and there is no Democratic opponent.

King, a one-time candidate for mayor, announced this week that he has qualified to run as an independent candidate. King exceeded the 345 signatures he needed from voters in House District 74. In fact his petition had 402 signatures.

He also met all of the other requirements to gain independent access to the ballot, according to officials with the Secretary of State’s office and the Alabama Ethics Commission. Barring any kind of court challenge to his candidacy, King’s name will appear on the general election ballot in November.

"I’m running as an independent because if I am elected to office I will be obligated to the people who elected me, not any political party or special interest," he said.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Flap Over GOP Primary Recount Continues

Attorney General Troy King is firing back against accusations that he is attempting to block Republican candidate for governor Tim James from having a recount.

James, who came in third during the state's primary elections, has said he wants a recount, and King said the opinion he issued at the request of Secretary of State Beth Chapman doesn't stop him from getting one. He hopes that a recount will net him the votes he needs to knock Dr. Robert Bentley, who edged James out of the runoff with former two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne, with 167 votes out of second place.

But King issued a statement Monday, to "set the record straight."

"Tim James accused me of blocking his recount from going forward," King said in a statement. "That is simply not true. My opinion said the recount could go forward, and, it is indeed going forward tomorrow."

King said if James wants to challenge the results after the recount, he can do that, but his challenge would be before the Alabama Republican Party, not King. King also said in his statement that James, nor the party, are required to follow his opinion, it was intended for the guidance of the Chapman, who requested it.

The primary runoff will take place July 13.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tim James to request recount in all 67 counties

Tim James has decided his campaign can afford to recount the votes in all 67 counties in his bid to pick up almost 170 additional votes and secure a spot in the Republican runoff for governor, according to his campaign spokesman.
James, a Greenville businessman, must request the recounts by noon Thursday. He requested recounts in 40 counties on Wednesday after he finished 167 votes behind state Rep. Robert Bentley in the battle to be the second Republican in the runoff.
Former state senator and two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne finished ahead of the pack of seven Republicans and secured a spot in the July 13 runoff.
James said Tuesday, after a count of the provisional ballots, that the campaign would ask for the most populated counties to be recounted first and would have the other counties counted if the campaign had the resources.
His spokesman, Brett Hall, said Wednesday night that they believed the campaign would be able to have the votes recounted in all 67 counties for less than $200,000.
"Tim is happy to have a full statewide recount," Hall said.
The campaign that requests the recount, according to the secretary of state's office and the Alabama Republican Party, must pay for the recount.
Hall said campaign officials will be driving throughout the state Thursday to serve petitions requesting the recount to county party officials.
He said probate judges in some of the state's most populated counties including Jefferson and Mobile said the recount could be done there in a day or less.
"This will not be drawn out," Hall said.
The winner of the Republican runoff will face Democratic nominee Ron Sparks in the November general election.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Bentley claims lead over Byrne in runoff

State Rep. Robert Bentley has a clear lead over Bradley Byrne in the Republican runoff for governor, according to a poll released by Bentley's campaign on Wednesday.
Dresner, Wickers and Associates LLC conducted the statewide survey on June 5 and June 6 among 400 people registered to vote in Alabama and considered likely to vote in the July 13 Republican primary runoff election.
Bentley, a Tuscaloosa dermatologist, leads Byrne 45-29 among likely voters.
"Despite being outspent by over 3 to 1 by Bradley Byrne, Robert Bentley is now the clear front runner in the GOP runoff election for governor of Alabama," according to the summary of the poll. "Robert Bentley holds double digit leads over Bradley Byrne among all likely voters, key media markets, and among likely Republican, Democrat, and independent voters. ... Robert Bentley is well-positioned to win the runoff and the general election for governor."
Bentley was strong across all three groups with 53 percent of Democrats preferring him compared to 20 percent for Byrne. Forty-five percent of Republicans preferred Bentley compared to 31 percent for Byrne.
Byrne, former chancellor of the state's two-year college system, and Bentley finished ahead of five other Republicans. Greenville businessman Tim James finished 167 votes behind Bentley and has asked for a recount.
The winner of the Republican runoff will face Democratic nominee Ron Sparks in November.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tim James to request recount

Tim James will ask for a recount in the Republican race for governor after a tally of the provisional ballots failed to yield the more than 200 votes he needed to gain to move into second place and secure a spot in the runoff.
After provisional ballots from across the state were counted, James finished in third.
"The vote margin remains razor thin. Because of this, I have decided to move forward with a recount of the Republican gubernatorial primary vote," James said Tuesday at his Montgomery headquarters.
Former two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne finished ahead of James and five other Republicans to secure a spot in the July 13 runoff.
State Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa finished in second, just 167 votes ahead of James.
Through the counting of the provisional ballots, James picked up about 40 votes on Bentley.
Byrne finished 13,488 votes ahead of Bentley and received 137,448 votes statewide. Those totals were called in to the Alabama Republican Party from probate offices across the state, according to a release from the party.
The party will certify the vote with the secretary of state's office on Friday, but the results could be amended following a recount, according to the statement from the party.
James must pay for the runoff, according to the Alabama Republican Party and Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
Chapman said Tuesday that an opinion from the attorney general confirmed her office issued appropriate guidelines for the runoff and counting provisional ballots.
"I have said all along that the taxpayers of Alabama should not have to foot the bill for a primary recount," she said. "Today the attorney general's opinion confirmed that we are providing sound and accurate guidance in the best possible way in this unprecedented and historic election."
Chapman, the state's chief election official, and other leaders have said the close three-way election is unprecedented.
James, a Greenville businessman, said he is prepared to spend up to $200,000 on the recount. He said the campaign will begin requesting recounts in individual counties this morning beginning with the most populated.
The candidate said the 25 most populated counties in the state account for 85 percent of the population so the campaign will have at least those counties recounted. He said the campaign might request recounts in additional counties depending on resources.
A candidate has 48 hours after votes are canvassed at the county level to request a recount so James has until Thursday to make his request to counties. James said he will also petition state Rep. Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, and the secretary of state’s office requesting the recount.
"The Alabama Republican Party will proceed with the certification of the vote totals for all primary races to the secretary of state by Friday at noon, as required by law," Hubbard said. "The party respects the decision of any candidate to request a recount to ensure every vote has indeed been counted, and counted correctly. Should a recount be requested, the party will follow the guidelines set forth by the secretary of state and in accordance with Alabama law. We will work through the process in an orderly and lawful manner. Once our gubernatorial nominee is selected by the voters on July 13, we look forward to working closely with the campaign to ensure victory in November."
James said he had not heard about any irregularities during voting.
He said he is in a virtual tie with Bentley for the second spot.
Bentley has declared he is the other Republican in the runoff and is moving forward with his campaign.
"Now that every vote has been counted, I am honored to declare victory and move forward with the runoff campaign," he said. "I congratulate Tim James for waging a hard fought campaign, but am ready to debate the key challenges facing Alabama with my runoff opponent."
Bentley said he will reach out to the supporters of his primary opponents and earn their votes.
James said he wants to see the process move forward as soon as possible, expecting it to be done by Monday or Tuesday, so the winner following the recount can campaign in the runoff.
He said the runoff needs to be done cordially and with integrity to avoid animosity that could hurt the party. James said there were no disagreements about the procedure during a Monday meeting between all of those involved.
With a recount, he said the accuracy should improve and reduce the margin of error.
James, his father and former Gov. Fob James, his mother, wife and other family members were at his campaign headquarters in east Montgomery on Tuesday watching the numbers come in from the counting of the provisional ballots.
Bentley, a dermatologist, finished 208 votes ahead of James after the initial count. He remained in the second spot after county officials looked through the provisional ballots, which were questioned because of various reasons such as the voter not having proper identification.
The winner of the July 13 runoff will face state agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, the Democratic nominee.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Republican Count Puts Bentley in the runoff, James to ask for recount

The Alabama Republican Party has received the final vote total, including provisional ballots, from all 67 counties for the governor’s race in the primary rlection, according to a release sent Tuesday.

The Republican Party will certify the votes with the secretary of state on Friday. The new vote count remains unofficial until the votes are certified by the secretary of state.

Should a recount in the Governor’s race be requested, the party will leave open the possibility of amending these results based on the outcome of that recount. Tim James announced at 5 p.m. press conference that he would ask for that recount.

The unofficial final vote totals, including provisional ballots, from the Primary Election for Governor are as follows:

Bradley Byrne: 137,448 votes, 27.89%

Robert Bentley: 123,960 votes, 25.15%

Tim James: 123,793 votes, 25.12%

Roy Moore: 95,163 votes

Bill Johnson: 8,362 votes

Charles Taylor: 2,622 votes

James Potts: 1,549 votes

Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, released the following on the process moving forward:

“The Alabama Republican Party will proceed with the certification of the vote totals for all primary races to the secretary of state by Friday at noon, as required by law. The party respects the decision of any candidate to request a recount to ensure every vote has indeed been counted, and counted correctly. Should a recount be requested, the party will follow the guidelines set forth by the secretary of state and in accordance with Alabama law. We will work through the process in an orderly and lawful manner. Once our gubernatorial nominee is selected by the voters on July 13, we look forward to working closely with the campaign to ensure victory in November.”

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Bentley says he's in the run-off, James to speak at 5 p.m.

Dr. Robert J. Bentley, a Republican candidate for governor, issued a statement Tuesday saying that he agreed with Attorney General Troy King's opinion that state law does not provide for an automatic recount in a Republican primary election.

King issued the opinion at the request of Secretary of State Beth Chapman who had recently issued guidelines on the counting of provisional ballots and the possibility of a recount in the Republican Primary and who would pay for it.

Bentley and fellow Republican candidate Tim James, are only separated by a couple hundred votes, with Bentley being the favored candidate at this time. One of the men will ultimately face Bradley Byrne. Bentley said in the statement that he is that man.

"Many hard-fought campaigns are close, but there can be only one winner," he said. "I won and am in the run-off."

Bentley said he looks forward to reaching out to James supporters and those of his other primary opponents to further their understanding of his vision for the state before the July 13 run-off election.

"The people of Alabama are hurting," he said. "The last thing they need is to be footing the bill for a process that will not change the outcome."

James will hold a 5 p.m. press conference at his campaign headquarters in Montgomery to discuss "moving forward" after provisional vote counting. James has said in recent days that he would ask for a recount.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Boles drops out of GOP runoff for Senate seat, endorses Taylor

Ray Boles dropped out of the runoff for state Senate District 30 on Tuesday and endorsed Bryan Taylor, who finished ahead of two other Republicans in the primary, but did not have a majority of the votes.
Taylor, former policy director for Gov. Bob Riley, will face longtime Democratic state Sen. Wendell Mitchell in the November general election.
Boles' move allows Taylor to save his resources for the general election.
The third place finisher in the race, Ken Barnett, previously endorsed Taylor, who was 130 votes short of winning the primary without a runoff.
Boles said, after considering his options, he wanted to avoid a costly, lengthy and unnecessary runoff.
"I got into this race for one reason: We need to elect someone to the state Senate who will look out for the people and not the politicians," Boles said. "I've gotten to know Bryan pretty well over the last six weeks, and I can tell you that's why he's running too. The people of District 30 deserve their vote back, and I'm supporting Bryan Taylor so we can finally win it back once and for all."
Taylor said the race to bring conservative leadership to the Senate started Tuesday.
"We'll never change the Legislature until we change who we send to the Legislature," he said.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Republican candidates for governor meet with party about runoff

State Rep. Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, met with the potential runoff candidates for governor on Monday to talk about how the process will work and to try to ensure there will be transparency.
"Given the circumstances, and due to some confusion regarding the process, we felt that it was imperative to bring all of the parties involved to the table and have an open and honest discussion," Hubbard said in a statement. "The party understands that this situation must be addressed with the highest degree of transparency, out of fairness to all candidates and to the voters."
"Our goal is that when the vote is finally certified, everyone will be confident that the candidates in the runoff were chosen by the voters, and not the party."
Former two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne secured a spot in the July 13 runoff, but the men who finished second and third are separated by 208 votes.
State Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, who is in the second spot behind Byrne, and Greenville businessman Tim James are waiting for the results of the Board of Registrars counting provisional ballots in their respective counties, which is expected to be completed Tuesday.
Secretary of State Beth Chapman also attended the Monday meeting.
Hubbard and Chapman have said that protocol must be followed, according to a release from the state party. He said each of the three campaigns understood the "importance of protecting the sanctity of the electoral process, and that the party will follow the law as it relates to any recount."
"We appreciate the willingness by each of the candidates to come together and agree to at least protecting the best interest of the party, and that of the electoral process," said Hubbard. "The party's role moving forward will be to ensure that any recount is carried out appropriately, and in accordance with the law."
The winner of the runoff will face Democratic nominee Ron Sparks in November.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Barnett endorses Taylor in District 30

The man who finished third in the Republican fight for the District 30 seat in the state Senate has endorsed Bryan Taylor, who finished well ahead of the pack but did not have the majority necessary to avoid a runoff.
Taylor, former policy director for Gov. Bob Riley, will face Ray Boles in the July 13 runoff. Boles is a member of the Prattville City Council.
Ken Barnett, who works for the Alabama Department of Revenue, endorsed Taylor a day after the primary.
"Bryan Taylor is by far the better candidate, and I urge my supporters to vote for Bryan in the runoff," said Barnett, who finished with 18 percent of the vote on Tuesday. "Bryan is a conservative who will fight for our values. Ray Boles is not a conservative. Ray Boles either pretends he doesn't have a grasp on the issues, or he just really doesn't have a grasp on the issues. I'm proud to be supporting the real conservative, Bryan Taylor, in this important race."
Taylor finished with 49 percent of the vote.
The winner of the runoff will face longtime Democratic state Sen. Wendell Mitchell in November to represent the district, which include all or part of Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw and Pike counties.
With the support, Taylor said he is confident he will win the runoff and continue to victory in November.
Barnett, Boles, and Taylor all lives in Prattville.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Sparks begins general election campaign

With Republicans still in limbo over who will be in a runoff next month to decide its nominee for governor, Democratic nominee Ron Sparks moved forward with his campaign on Wednesday talking about taxing bingo, passing a lottery, holding BP accountable and criticizing state Republicans who have already attacked him.
The popular two-term agriculture commissioner addressed the media at his Montgomery headquarters just hours after soundly defeating U.S. Rep. Artur Davis for the Democratic nomination.
Sparks finished with 62 percent, claiming his third impressive statewide victory. He won his second term as agriculture commissioner in 2006 with victory in 62 of the state's 67 counties.
Sparks talked about taxing gambling, the most predominant issue he pushed in the primary, about how Davis helped prepare him for the general election, and how Republicans began their attack "before the ink dried."
He vowed to run a positive campaign, but he criticized the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, state Rep. Mike Hubbard, for being so quick to attack him. The party released a statement soon after Sparks claimed victory on Tuesday, chastising him for supporting the health care overhaul passed by Congress and connecting him to two convicted felons, including former Gov. Don Siegelman, who endorsed Sparks.
If the Republican Party wants to use those tactics, Sparks said "the people of Alabama will know Mike Hubbard" by November.
Sparks said he has supported health care as agriculture commissioner and believes people deserve the opportunity to receive affordable health care.
While there is a lot of rhetoric and emotion surrounding the health care issue, he said "there's nobody in Alabama who’s read that 2,000-page document."
Sparks said people should give the law a chance and work to change portions that are not effective.
Sparks, still enjoying his lopsided win the night before, said he has won Republican votes before.
"There are Republicans who are hurting," he said.
Sparks was asked why he believed voters would approve a state lottery when it was defeated soundly in 1999, when Siegelman was governor.
He said the cost of tuition has almost doubled since then to about $30,000, the cost of health care has continued to rise, foreclosures are up, the unemployment rate is higher, and the banking system and auto industries collapsed.
"The environment is totally different," Sparks said.
The commissioner said he would not support a proposal that directed money to areas other than pre-kindergarten and scholarships.
Sparks said the lottery has been successful in Georgia and helped thousands of children attend college.
"The average family will not see their child's dream come true if I am not elected," he said.
Sparks said he would call a special session after the inauguration, if he was elected, to push legislators to tax and regulate bingo.
"There's too much money laying on the table ... ," he said. "There has been gambling in Alabama for 30 years. We need to get our head out of the sand and (stop) pretending there's not gambling in Alabama."
"The bottom line is the people of Alabama are hurting."
He has proposed using the revenue from taxing gaming to help fund education and Medicaid, which he said would he in a hole without the help from the stimulus money from Washington.
Since early in the campaign, Sparks has said the "people of Alabama deserve the opportunity to vote."
Sparks said his administration would be more accountable. He said he would hire an inspector general to ensure "every dime is spent wisely."
Sparks said he has reached out to Davis, who asked Democrats to support Sparks in his concession speech on Tuesday."
He said his Democratic rival helped prepare him for the general election by working hard and keeping the campaign on alert with tough shots.
"He is a good congressman. We welcome his advice," Sparks said.
Sparks credited his win to his support from black political organizations, 28 sheriffs, labor unions and a variety of other groups.
While other people are attacking organizations, he said he would ask "everyone for their vote."
"A governor brings people together," Sparks said.
While Republicans are battling in a runoff to determine who faces Sparks in the general election, the commissioner said he hopes to organize and raise money. He said there were a lot of endorsements he did not receive, but said he and his staff worked long days.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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