The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper's blog on all things related to Alabama politics and state government, featuring the writings of Sebastian Kitchen and Markeshia Ricks
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Veteran state senator Preuitt drops reelection bid
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Veteran state Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talladega is dropping his campaign for a sixth term.
Preuitt had switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party to run this year. But he announced Tuesday evening that his heart is not in the race.
The 75-year-old Preuitt was to face Democrat Jerry Fielding of Sylacauga in the Nov. 2 general election.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard said he respected Preuitt's decision and would seek guidance from the Alabama secretary of state's office on the possibility of selecting a replacement candidate.
Preuitt called the decision one of the most difficult of his public life.
Below are some quotes from President Barack Obama's address to the nation on the end of combat operations in Iraq that were sent out in advance by the White House:
"But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that our future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century."
"At every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families."
"Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq's Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq."
"Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest - it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people - a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page."
"Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President."
Montgomery lawyer Joe Hubbard, the Democratic candidate for House District 73, appears to be fighting back against what he believes is a push poll funded by the Alabama Republican Party. He is seeking to unseat state Rep. David Grimes, R-Montgomery. A spokesman for the GOP has said it stands behind the poll and said the party does not conduct push polls. Hubbard does not address issues in the ad, but pokes fun at Republicans trying to connect him to liberals.
The Alabama Republican Party had a few choice words for Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright over his comments about the possible demise of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But the state GOP was by no means sticking up for the oft vilified lawmaker from California.
State Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, urged voters in the 2nd Congressional District, which Bright represents, to be wary of what he called in a statement "Bright’s spineless response."
“We are facing the largest deficit in American history as well as a liberal Congress that is undermining the entire process by forcing government mandates like Obamacare,” Hubbard said in the statement. “And Bobby Bright is so scared of his fellow Democrats in Congress that he can’t even answer the question on whether or not he’ll give the gavel back to Pelosi? That’s pretty pathetic.”
“Alabamians are tired of the liberal power grab, they are tired of being told what to do by Obama and Pelosi, and they are fed up with wasteful spending and looming tax increases,” Hubbard went on to say in the statement. “The hardworking folks in the 2nd Congressional District need someone who will fight for them and help bring new jobs to their communities, not an empty suit who can’t even answer the easy questions.”
“You ask Republican Martha Roby (Bright's Republican opponent) if she’ll support Pelosi and you’ll get a ‘no’ every time, but ask Bright and you’ll get an answer cloaked in cowardice,” Hubbard said.
Former Montgomery mayor and freshman U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright created an uproar with comments he made jokingly earlier this week about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During a question and answer session following his speech to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Bright was asked about his support for Pelosi. After a laundry list of reasons why Pelosi might not be in the running for speaker, Bright said "heck, she might even get sick and die." The comments, made to the audience and repeated by Bright to Montgomery Advertiser reporter Cosby Woodruff, were first reported on the Advertiser’s political blog, "South Union Street," but have received attention from the Washington Post, the Drudge Report, the Associated Press, CBS News, Rush Limbaugh, and a variety of Websites and blogs. "South Union Street" had received more than 325,000 hits by 7 p.m. Thursday. The chamber audience laughed at the comments. Bright also reiterated to Woodruff after the speech that he was joking. Bright, who is facing a tough reelection campaign against Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby this fall, joked during the breakfast that Pelosi might lose her own election, decide not to run for the speaker's job or otherwise not be available. "I don't like to cross bridges until I get to them," Bright said when answering the question about Pelosi at the Eggs and Issues breakfast. "Maybe she won't even be a candidate." Bright, a Democrat, has voted with Republicans on most major issues and has been labeled as one of the most independent members of Congress, but has been criticized by Republicans in his conservative district for voting for Pelosi as speaker. "Bobby Bright's statement yesterday was an undisciplined comment at a time when America needs a disciplined approach to get our economy back on track, stop runaway Washington spending, and remain focused on creating jobs," Roby said in a statement. A spokesman for Bright said Thursday that "we're not commenting any further." Auburn University Montgomery political scientist Brad Moody said he didn’t think that Bright's comments would have much effect on his quest to be re-elected to a second term in Congress, though his opponent is clearly running against Pelosi. Moody said he does have some other things working against him including a political climate that is anti-incumbency and an economy that is still struggling. "To me that is going to hurt a lot more," he said. Moody said Bright has voted conservatively as a Democrat, but his position on the issues are not clear. "We know what he's against, but what is he for," Moody asked. "I think that's a whole lot more important than whether he will or will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for another term as speaker of the House." Bright is the first Democrat since the 1960s to represent the conservative district, which includes parts of Montgomery and southeast Alabama. His reelection battle is expected to be one of the most competitive this fall. With Bright voting with Republicans on most major issues including the health care and banking overhauls, the GOP has turned to criticism of him voting for Pelosi as speaker. Bright has refused to answer whether he would vote for Pelosi again as speaker. In 2008, he refused to answer which candidate he would vote for for president, vowing not to burn bridges and to work with whoever was elected, and would not say if he would vote for Pelosi, but did say he would prefer a conservative Blue Dog Democrat as speaker. Roby, a Republican, is in her second term on the council. "Clearly Bobby Bright will say anything and do anything to get out from under the tanking popularity of Nancy Pelosi and her job-killing agenda," Roby continued in her statement. " ... There's only one way we can put an end to the Pelosi agenda, and that’s by changing the party running Congress, starting right here in Alabama's 2nd District." One of Pelosi's most frequent critics is calling on Bright to apologize to her. "Bobby Bright's comments -- even if made in jest -- are indefensible," said Andy Sere, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement. The last time an Alabama congressman received so much attention because of something he said about Pelosi wasn't all that long ago. Last year, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks referred to Pelosi as "crazy," "mean as a snake" and "Tom DeLay in a skirt," because of what he believed was her partisan leadership of the Democratic majority. "I personally think she's crazy," Rogers said of Pelosi, eliciting chuckles from a group he was speaking to at Auburn University Montgomery. His comments, like Bright's, were first reported on the Advertiser's "South Union Street" blog and then picked up nationally. The post garnered hundreds of thousands of comments from people all over the country, mostly supporters of Rogers' view on Pelosi. The head of the Alabama Democratic Party, Joe Turnham, immediately issued a press release demanding that Rogers apologize to Pelosi. "At some point, you have to maintain professional decorum and at least reach out and try to work with folks ...," Turnham said at the time. "She is the speaker of the House of Representatives." No such demands for an apology were issued Thursday.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen, Markeshia Ricks and Cosby Woodruff
Elected officials and activists angry about the crackdown on electronic bingo in the state have organized a Saturday rally with notable entertainment to register people to vote and encourage them to be active in the November election. Musicians John Anderson and The Commodores will highlight a Saturday rally that is intended to draw people to the State House and Capitol to register them to vote. Democratic state Sens. Quinton Ross of Montgomery and Bobby Singleton of Greensboro were among those who offered for people to come to Montgomery on Saturday for the free entertainment. They are part of the 2010 Campaign for Jobs and Justice Committee. The event begins at 3 p.m. behind the State Judicial Building on Washington Avenue and ends at the State House at Union Street. The participants will march from the judicial building, where the Alabama Supreme Court meets, to the State House, where lawmakers have been unable in recent years to pass legislation related to gaming. The organizers are critical of Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Supreme Court. Riley believes, with the supreme court siding with him on most major issues, that the machines used to play electronic bingo are slot machines that are illegal in the state and formed his Task Force on Illegal Gambling to shut down the non-Indian gaming facilities in the state, which are under federal control. The task force raided Greenetrack in west Alabama and the White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County. Operators of VictoryLand in Shorter and Country Crossing near Dothan shut down because of the threat of a raid. Riley has said he is enforcing the law. Operators and employees at those facilities and many Democratic lawmakers have accused Riley of killing thousands of jobs in a slow economy. "It's clear that casino operators are attempting to sign up as many Democrats as they can to go out and vote in November," said Todd Stacy, press secretary for Riley. "They're hoping that if they can just get more Democrats elected, maybe the Legislature will finally legalize their casino empire so they can make millions off the backs of Alabamians." Stacy said the evidence that casinos are a drain on local and state economies is irrefutable. "They squeeze money out of communities and send it to out-of-state gambling bosses," he said. "Places that have legalized casino gambling have paid a high price. They've paid an economic price, losing jobs and exporting billions of dollars from local economies. They've paid a social price, seeing crime rates skyrocket. They've paid a political price, too, as powerful organized gambling bosses have taken a stranglehold on governments. Governor Riley doesn't want to see any of that happen in Alabama." Val Goodson, chairperson of the Campaign for Jobs and Justice and an out-of-work employee from Greenetrack, said raids have forced thousands of hard-working people out of jobs they had for years. Goodson, Singleton and Ross believe that Riley and his task force have stomped on the rights of voters, particularly in Macon and Greene counties, that approved local constitutional amendments to allow bingo. "We have been forced to fight to the ballot box," Goodson said. Riley and his attorneys argue, and the state's high court has ruled, that those amendments allow the "ordinary game of bingo" -- not slots. Along with encouraging people to register to vote, Goodson said there are 400,000 people who voted in the 2008 presidential election that have yet to return to the polls. She hopes for record voter turnout in November. Those at the Thursday press conference at the State House announcing the rally said they were not there to support any particular candidate. When asked who was paying for the rally and how much it cost, Singleton and Goodson said they did not know. Singleton said those involved in organizing include the Alabama Democratic Conference, the Alabama New South Coalition, the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, and displaced workers from those facilities. The senator, who was willingly arrested during the raid of Greenetrack, said the purpose is to register voters and not to raise funds to try to elect candidates who support their cause. "It's not a Democratic or Republican issue," said Pam Breedlove of Elmore County, one of the committee members who declined to give more information about her role or occupation. She said she was fighting for jobs. Goodson, who lives in Tuscloosa and was employed at Greenetrack since 2000, said finding work has been difficult. She said she is substitute teaching and playing piano at church. Goodson said the closure was a "rude awakening" and said she was denied when she filed for unemployment. Goodson said there is also free transportation for people throughout the state, from Mobile to Madison County. She said people can call 866-877-4077 for a ride or for more information. The campaign also has a Website, a page on Facebook and a Twitter account. The Website is www.campaignforjobsandjustice.org.
Eggs and Issues: Bright's Comments about Pelosi Draw Laughter
U.S. Congressman Bobby Bright, the first-term Democrat and former mayor of Montgomery, was heard having a little fun at U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's expense during his recent participation in the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues.
Bright, who is facing a battle against Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby this fall, joked that Pelosi might lose her own election, decide not to run for the speaker’s job or otherwise not be available.
He suggested, jokingly he insisted to his audience, that Pelosi could fall ill and die in coming months. That remark drew laughter from the crowd.
Though he has a reputation as the second most independent member of Congress, he has been routinely blasted for voting for Pelosi to be speaker.
Roby, a Republican, is in her second term on the council.
Bright is the first Democrat since the 1960s to represent the conservative district, which includes parts of Montgomery and southeast Alabama.
His reelection battle is expected to be one of the most competitive this fall.
State Senate candidate Bryan Taylor, a Republican who was policy adviser to Gov. Bob Riley, released another ad on Wednesday that began running in frequent rotation in the Montgomery market. Taylor is challenging longtime Democratic Sen. "Walking" Wendell Mitchell, who is running for his eighth term representing District 30, which includes all or part of Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, and Pike counties.
The Alabama State Employees Association’s Political Action Committee, SEA-PAC, is endorsing Jim Folsom, Jr. for lieutenant governor as part of its endorsed slate of candidates for the 2010 general election.
“I am greatly humbled and honored to once again receive the endorsement of ASEA in the race for lieutenant governor,” said Folsom in a statement. “The productive working relationship I have with Alabama’s hard working state employees is built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect.
"I appreciate the invaluable service state employees provide to the people of Alabama and I am certain that this endorsement will be key to our victory in November,” Folsom said.
Folsom faces state Treasurer and Republican nominee Kay Ivey in the fall general election.
State Senate candidate Bryan Taylor of Prattville said, if elected, he would give the more than $20,000 increase in compensation that lawmakers have received since 2006 and donate it to schools and teachers in the six-county district. Taylor, a Republican who was political director for Gov. Bob Riley, is trying to unseat longtime state Sen. "Walking" Wendell Mitchell, a Democrat running for his eighth term. Taylor is one of several Republican legislative candidates who have made the pay raise an issue in the campaign. Mitchell said he is already giving much of the salary increase away to four nonprofits: AGAPE, Compassion 21, Mexico Mission, and the United Way.Those charities help children who need a home or are in poverty. Mexico Mission takes trips to Mexico twice a year to help residents there with housing, healthcare, and food. "I have been doing that a long time," Mitchell said of donating his raise. Mitchell said he has realized during his travels through the district that the most important issues are jobs, a balanced budget and ethics reform, "all of which I have supported long before my opponent got in this race." Predominantly Democratic legislators pushed through a 62 percent increase in salary and expense allowance as one of their first acts in 2007, the first year of the current four-year term. Lawmakers also included an automatic cost of living increase tied to the U.S. Consumer Price Index. In 2006, before the pay raise, Taylor said lawmakers received a minimum of $30,660 in compensation. Now, with the raise and cost of living increases, lawmakers receive $52,596, according to numbers Taylor received from the Legislative Fiscal Office. Taylor said that increase is now more than 71 percent with the hikes for cost of living. "Legislators are making $10,000 more than half of all Alabama families make in an entire year," he said. He added the lawmakers are only on official business three months of the year. Most lawmakers would quickly point out that their jobs require full-time attention even though they are only in Montgomery three days a week for three months of the year. Mitchell said it was not an increase in pay, but in expense allowance. He said, when he drives, sends out mail, travels or needs to pay for housing, he uses that expense allowance. He said he sometimes drives 400 or 500 miles in a day driving in his six-county district. Mitchell said he knows some senators, who after all of their expenses, clear less than $20,000 a year. The senator said, before the 2007 increase, the last increase was in 1992. Mitchell said he believes members of the Legislature deserve "a reasonable wage for the service they perform. It ought to be commensurate with the work they do. If it needs to be adjusted, I am all for that." Taylor said the pay for legislators has increased while state budgets are strained, while the education budget is in proration, and teachers and parents are paying for supplies out of their pockets. "This is symbolic, but it's also very real," Taylor said. "This is a way to help teachers and schools in the district." Taylor is one of several challengers who have vowed not to take all or part of the pay raise. "The pay raise is just one of those issues that shows that career politicians in Montgomery are out of touch with the challenges facing Alabamians," he said. District 30 includes all or part of Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw, and Pike counties. Taylor, in writing, has also asked Mitchell to participate in a series of town hall-style forums, one in each county. He said they want to hear back from the senator by Sept. 1. Mitchell said he would welcome an open dialogue, looked forward to discussing issues, will remain accessible to constituents, and would appear at forums with Taylor if his schedule allowed, but "I am not going to be dictated by him when I meet and greet my constituents." When he talked to the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday afternoon, he said he made six appearances in his district in the last 72 hours.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed two Alabama Republican women on Wednesday, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment that opened the voting booth to women. The 2008 vice presidential nominee endorsed Martha Roby, who is running for Congress, and Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who is running for a second term. Roby, a Montgomery city councilwoman, is trying to unseat freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, the former mayor of Montgomery. Both sides expect a competitive race in the conservative district. Bright is the first Democrat to represent the district since the 1960s. Chapman is running against Democrat Scott Gilliland. Palin, in acknowledging the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment, used her Facebook page to endorse several female candidates throughout the nation, including women running for Congress in North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri, and for attorney general in Iowa and Florida. "Martha Roby served on the Montgomery City Council where she fought tax increases and worked hard to reduce government spending," Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "She's now running to represent Alabama's 2nd Congressional District with a strong message of reform to get our country back on the right track." Roby is still a member of the city council, where she is in her second term. "I am very grateful for Governor Palin's endorsement and her kind words," Roby said in a statement. "She is an important leader in the conservative movement, and like many others I was inspired and motivated by her leadership and grace when she took the national stage in 2008." Palin has not endorsed any other secretary of state, according to Chapman. "That is quite a vote of confidence and a great show of support for which I am grateful," Chapman said. Palin and Chapman have met twice and recently worked to try to elect former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was running for governor there. She lost in the Republican primary to former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal. Chapman, who also served a term as state auditor, said the endorsement is a boost to her campaign.
Former gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, who last month lost in the Republican primary runoff to Robert Bentley, has joined the law firm of Jones Walker as a partner. Byrne, who is also a former state senator, chancellor of the state's two-year college system and member of the state Board of Education, will work in the firm's Birmingham and Mobile offices in the Business and Commercial Transactions Practice Group, according to a release from the firm's New Orleans office. "When considering my return to the practice of law, I was impressed with the attorneys at Jones Walker, the complexity of the firm's practices, and the wide range of clients they serve. I chose to join Jones Walker because of the firm's strong reputation of serving business clients, the firm's commitment to improving the community, and particularly, the firm's commitment to Alabama, as demonstrated by Jones Walker's phenomenal growth in the state," Byrne said in a statement. As chancellor of the two-year system, Byrne served as chairman of the State Workforce Planning Council, overseeing Alabama's workforce development efforts. He was also the candidate of choice for the Republican establishment, including Gov. Bob Riley and much of the state's congressional delegation, and of the Alabama business community. "He plans to continue his commitment to economic development by working on behalf of the firm's business clients throughout Alabama and focus his practice on assisting with business transactional matters and legislative and administrative advocacy," said William H. Hines, managing partner of the firm. Byrne, who graduated from Duke University and received his law degree from the University of Alabama, has practiced law in Mobile for more than 27 years. Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre L.L.P. represents national and international corporate clients in highly regulated industries through offices in Alabama, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, according to the release.
Republicans are extending their hand to the people of Alabama and asking for control of both chambers of the State Legislature this year.
With GOP elected officials and hopefuls surrounding him, House Minority Leader and Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard said Monday that like the five fingers of the hand, he and his fellow party members have five specific things they would do if they gain control of the Legislature.
What is being called the “Republican Handshake with Alabama” would address job creation and other economic opportunities, measures to stop wasteful government spending, ending corruption in state government, illegal immigration and fighting against the federal government.
The five agenda items also throw their support behind the Republican gubernatorial nominee Dr. Robert Bentley, whom Hubbard said he believes will be the next governor of Alabama.
More specifically the agenda, under these five issues, would do the following:
-- Build on Republican gubernatorial nominee Dr. Robert Bentley’s job-creation tax that was passed successfully during the 2010 legislative session. -- Expand the small business health insurance tax credit for employers and employees who pay for health insurance -- Support Bentley’s creation of a cabinet-level office of small business creation -- Fight to ensure Alabama remains a right-to-work state and the secret ballot is preserved -- Implement a new budgeting process -- Ban double dipping by public officials -- Require lobbyists to report every dime they spend on those officials -- Push for immigration legislation similar to what was passed in Arizona -- Fight back against what Republicans see as the “Washington, D.C. power grab”
“We’re saying, put us in charge and we will pass these things,” Hubbard said. “Give us a chance to do it.”
VictoryLand reopens track, but not bingo and hotel
VictoryLand is inviting people to come to the facility beginning at 5 p.m. today (Thursday) when the greyhound racing and pari-mutuel betting facility reopen. The hotel will remain closed and bingo will not be offered, according to a statement from VictoryLand. "However, their future availability will be evaluated on a daily basis," according to the statement. The casino, in the statement, also contends that "Yesterday, Governor Riley and John Tyson went down in defeat. In Greene County, where they arrested 16 people, they lost every single case." Other comments from the statement:
"The task force they claim is so vital to prevent gambling has not arrested one person on a gambling charge. Yet they have spent millions of taxpayer dollars and filed not one single criminal case."
The statement also commented on the unanimous ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court released on Wednesday that did not allow for an immediate raid of VictoryLand by Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling, which is commanded by Tyson. "Yesterday, the sheriff and the district attorney of Macon County inspected the reconfigured Victoryland and confirmed electronic bingo is not available on the premises, although both men agree that it is and has been legal. As any citizen would, we will enforce the constitutional rights which protect our homes and businesses from illegal invasion and entry." Tyson and the task force have prevailed in almost every other ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Taylor launches first video in general election bid to unseat Wendell Mitchell
Bryan Taylor, the Prattville Republican who resigned his job as policy director for Gov. Bob Riley to run for state Senate, released his first video of the general election on Wednesday. He is running for the District 30 seat occupied by Sen. "Walking" Wendell Mitchell, the Democrat who is running for an eighth term. The ad is titled "Service" and references Taylor's time in the military and as a Boy Scout. He also vows never to vote himself a pay raise. Despite previous well-funded attempts to unseat Mitchell, the popular Democrat has been reelected overwhelmingly to District 30, which includes all or part of Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Butler, Pike and Crenshaw counties.
Southern governors, top administration and oil spill response officials to meet in Alabama
Governors from throughout the region, a top Obama administration official, the incoming head of BP and key figures in responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will converge on Alabama later this month. The annual meeting of the Southern Governors' Association will be at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort just outside of Birmingham in Hoover from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30. Gov. Bob Riley, the chairman of the association, announced the conference would be in Alabama on Tuesday. The key topics will be the economy of the South and the oil spill in the Gulf. Participants are expected to include: Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama; Navy Secretary and Gulf Coast recovery chief Ray Mabus; and Wilma Lewis, assistant secretary for Lands and Mineral Management with the U.S. Department of the Interior. Admiral Thad Allen, national incident commander for the spill, has not confirmed, according to the governor's office, but has indicated he will attend. Bob Dudley, the incoming chief executive officer of BP, and Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the oil spill compensation fund, are scheduled to appear at the meeting for a panel discussion on Gulf Coast recovery. Riley said southern governors, four of which have states directly affected by the spill, must play a leading role in dealing with issues surrounding why the oil spill occurred and what must be done to restore and enhance the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. "We have a responsibility to use this year's annual meeting as a platform for a constructive conversation with key leaders within the oil industry, as well as with state and federal decision makers," Riley said in a statement. He said the panels will be enlightening and productive with the participation of White House officials and BP. The association includes governors from 18 states and territories in a region that spans from Texas to Maryland.
Former U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, who served eight terms in the U.S. House district that includes parts of Montgomery and the Wiregrass, is endorsing fellow Republican Martha Roby in the November election for his former seat. Roby, a Montgomery city councilwoman, faces freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, the former mayor of Montgomery. "I thank Congressman Everett for his support and his guidance," Roby said. "He is a public servant in the best sense of the word and served this district well. I am grateful to have him stand with me in this campaign, and I look forward to working with him in the coming months." Everett's endorsement is not a surprise. He endorsed Bright's 2008 opponent, state Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery, and recorded commercials for Love that were critical of Bright and spoke critically of the then-mayor during the campaign. Bright was able to narrowly defeat Love in 2008 to become the first Democrat to represent the district since the 1960s. "We need to restore conservative leadership in Washington," Everett said. "Nancy Pelosi doesn't represent the values of southeast Alabama. We need to send someone who will fight for our conservative values every day. Martha Roby will do that." Bright voted for Pelosi as speaker of the House, but has voted with Republicans on almost all other major issues.
South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.