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
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sheriffs endorse Sparks
Almost four dozen Democratic sheriffs in Alabama stepped forward on Wednesday to endorse their party's candidate for governor, Ron Sparks, whom they said they trust from their work with him as commissioner of agriculture. Forty-six sheriffs from Alabama's 67 counties endorsed Sparks, with several of them appearing with the commissioner on Wednesday at his Montgomery headquarters. Those sheriffs include D.T. Marshall of Montgomery County, Chip Williams of Lowndes County, Harris Huffman Jr. of Dallas County, and David Warren of Macon County. Sheriff Mike Blakely of Limestone County said they trust Sparks and have all had the opportunity to work with him and the agriculture department during his two terms. He said Sparks, who was a DeKalb County Commissioner, also understands local issues. Blakely said he has never been more excited about a campaign during his 28 years as sheriff. He said he knew of Republican sheriffs who said they would vote for Sparks, but could not endorse him because they would be kicked out of the party. Sparks said he has worked with the sheriffs on issues including theft and cattle rustling, but that most of those crimes are related to drugs. The Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Sparks' opponent, Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa. Sparks also responded to questions about Bentley referring to him as the most liberal Democrat to run for governor, criticizing the commissioner for being pro-choice and for supporting the government overhaul of health care. Sparks said "liberal" is a catch-phrase that they try to tag people with during election years and said that, unless helping farmers and consumers is considered liberal, that he does not have a liberal record at the agriculture department. The commissioner criticized Bentley for talking about issues in Washington and not issues in Alabama. Sparks said that while he is behind in the polls and in fundraising, he would have enough money to get his message out and that polls in the primary had him and Bentley trailing. Sparks said he feels good that polls show him gaining ground on Bentley. Recent polls have shown Bentley with a 13-point to 20-point lead, but Sparks said the latest poll from the Capital Survey Research Center shows him cutting Bentley's advantage from 22 points to 13 points.
Bryan Taylor releases new ad, continues to hammer on pay raise
Republican state Senate candidate Bryan Taylor has released another ad and continues to go after the more than 60 percent pay raise lawmakers voted for themselves almost four years ago. He faces longtime Democratic state Sen. "Walking" Wendell Mitchell.
The campaign of Democrat Ron Sparks has released what is intended to be the first of a series of "Bentley's Blunders" videos, which has the Republican candidate for governor in his own words. The men face each other in the November election. Bentley talks about why he opposes mass transit in Birmingham.
Democrat Ron Sparks is touting his gains in the latest poll conducted in the race for governor, even though he is still 13 points behind Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley. Bentley leads the popular two-term agriculture commissioner 52 percent to 39 percent in the latest poll released by the Capital Survey Research Center, the polling arm of the Alabama Education Association. In the last poll by the CSRC, Bentley was ahead by 22 points, according to Sparks' campaign. Sparks credited the gain to his first ad, which attacked Bentley for his stance on an education lottery. The latest poll was completed Sept. 21, according to Sparks. Nine percent of people are undecided. "This is important news because it shows that as more people hear our message more people understand the differences between me and my opponent, driving us closer to victory," Sparks said in an e-mail to supporters. Bentley believes he has a larger lead. The Tuscaloosa dermatologist cited a Rasmussen telephone survey of likely voters that has him with 55 percent of the vote. In that poll, Sparks has 35 percent of the vote. "We are pleased with the results of this latest poll, but we know there's a lot of work still ahead. We are about 40 days away from the election. The only poll that matters is when the voters make their choice on Nov. 2," Bentley said in a statement. The legislator said he also believes voters are seeing the difference.
Calling him a solid defender of the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association-Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) has endorsed Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright's campaign for re-election, according to a press release.
“His record proves he will stand up for the rights of gun owners in Alabama and across the United States,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-PVF said in a press release. "On Nov. 2, I urge all Alabama NRA Members and gun owners in the 2nd (Congressional) District to vote Bobby Bright for Congress
Bright, who faces Republican nominee and Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby in the November general election, said in a statement that he was honored to receive the endorsement.
“I have a proven pro-Second Amendment record in Congress and will always defend our right to keep and bear arms," Bright said. "Growing up in the Wiregrass, gun ownership was a way of life taught to us at a young age. As long as I serve in Congress, I will work to make sure it stays that way and fight any attempt to take away our Second Amendment rights."
The 'Fire Nancy Pelosi' Bus Tour will roll through the state on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with stops in Montgomery and Huntsville.
The bus will pull into the at the Montgomery County GOP Headquarters, 2801 Vaughn Plaza Road, on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Tuesday. ALGOP Chairman Mike Hubbard will hold a press conference with representatives from Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby's campaign and other local officials and Republican candidates.
Roby, the Republican nominee for congressional District 2, faces incumbent Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright in November and she is hammering hard at his vote to put Pelosi in the speaker's chair.
According to the 'Fire Nancy Pelosi' bus tour Website, the Republican National Committee put the tour on as a grassroots effort to get rid of "out-of-touch Democrats" on Nov. 2. The big red bus is rolling into more than 115 cities throughout the country.
With election season officially upon us, political hopefuls are racking up endorsements. Here's the latest.
Ron Sparks, democratic candidate for governor, received the nod from the Alabama New South Coalition once again. They supported him in the primary too.
Sparks said in a statement, “I can't tell you how grateful I am to have the support of the Alabama New South Coalition in the general election," Sparks said. "The support of New South and its members in the primary was a tremendous help and gave me the momentum I needed to win in June. And now with their support I can go and win the general election on Nov. 2.”
Both the Alabama chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association have endorsed Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.
Folsom said he's always worked closely with police officers in the state and was grateful to have their endorsement.
“We all owe a debt of immeasurable gratitude to the brave men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day," Folsom said in a statement. "The support of law enforcement was critical to my victory in 2006 and I am grateful that the law enforcement community is choosing to stand with me in this year’s election.”
Democrats weren't the only ones getting the support from key organizations that influence how people vote. The National Federation of Independent Businesses/Alabama Save America's Free Enterprise Trust has endorsed Montgomery businessman Dick Brewbaker in his quest to become the next senator of state Senate District 25.
Brewbaker, a Republican hoping to replace long term Sen. Larry Dixon who is retiring, said in a statement, “I truly appreciate the support of NFIB/Alabama. I believe small business is the foundation of our state’s economy. By helping small businesses, we can help all of Alabama.”
Ralph Stacy, an executive with the Business Council of Alabama, died unexpectedly on Tuesday. "We are profoundly saddened by Ralph's death," BCA President William Canary said in a statement released by the council. "He was an important part of our senior leadership team, and everyone in the BCA, both staff and membership, as well as his extended network of personal and professional friends in The Partnership, will miss him. Our prayers are with Ralph's family as they suffer this loss." Stacy has served as the senior vice-president for strategic communications at BCA since January. He also served as executive director of The Partnership, an organization that links more than 120 local chambers of commerce statewide and their nearly 50,000 business members with BCA. Stacy was also the founding president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The Georgiana native recently received "America's Champion of Small Business Award" from the National Coalition of Capital and received the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama's Jamie Wallace Award for lifetime achievement in 2009. "Ralph's contribution to the BCA, The Partnership, and their respective memberships went far beyond his daily professional work there," said BCA Chairman Sandy Stimpson. "He was our spiritual and temporal cheerleader, a constant, enthusiastic presence who urged us to do and believe the best of ourselves and our efforts. He will be missed." He is survived by his wife, Angel Stacy, and his daughter, Savannah, both of Montgomery. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.
Democrat Ron Sparks enlisted a retired four star general on Wednesday in his battle to become the next governor of Alabama. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who also ran for president in 2004, and Sparks talked about a state lottery to fund college scholarships, protecting military jobs here and the Democratic nominee's plan to create more jobs. Sparks faces Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley, a Tuscaloosa dermatologist, in the November election. Clark, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during military activities in Kosovo, flew to Montgomery, Dothan, Mobile, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville with Sparks. Sparks said one of his goals is to ensure Alabama is preparing for the next round of proposed changes at Alabama military bases by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission or BRAC. He said he is committed to having someone advise him in future rounds of closures and realignments to ensure Alabama is in the right position to gain rather than lose jobs. "We're going to start working on that immediately because that is jobs," Sparks said. The commissioner said there is infrastructure, especially roads, that need to be completed in north and south Alabama to help with additional personnel from the last realignment. Sparks said he talked to local leaders in Huntsville on Tuesday. Alabama gained jobs in the last round of BRAC. "BRAC is extremely important. If we don't start building the infrastructure to accept those individuals that are coming to Huntsville, then we might not be in position in 2015 or whenever it comes back around to be as successful as we have been in the past," Sparks. "I am going to have someone extremely close to me in a high level position that starts working on BRAC immediately and starts working on the importance of our military installations in the state and the services we provide and the technology that we have." Clark, who said some of his oldest Army friends are from Alabama, said he would certainly be there as a resource for Sparks. "I have the best of the best when it comes to advising me on military affairs in this country," Sparks said of Clark. Clark said Sparks has programs to bring jobs back to the state and to boost education. "I think, in Ron Sparks, the people of Alabama are fortunate that you have the right man at the right time for a tough job," he said. Sparks argues Alabamians are spending millions on lottery tickets and in casinos in neighboring states and that money could be used to educate children and to help senior citizens here. He said the money is needed to help high school graduates attend college. "I want to put a lottery in Alabama like you have in Arkansas," Sparks said to the general. Clark said some people opposed the lottery in his home state, but that "if they want to play on the numbers then let them play on the numbers and let that go to some greater good." He said the money has funded scholarships in the state. In a statement released by his campaign, Bentley said voters would have to approve a statewide lottery through a constitutional amendment after it was approved by the state Legislature. "I will allow a true up or down vote of the people on this and other gaming issues. I trust the people of Alabama," Bentley said. During an August debate in Arab, according to The Birmingham News, Bentley said he did not support a lottery and pointed out to those in attendance that Alabama voters shot down a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman a decade ago. "I remind you we have a governor sentenced to jail as a result of things he did connected to that lottery. I'm personally against it. It's not the answer," said Bentley, according to The Birmingham News. Clark campaigned for Sparks in 2006 when he was running for his second term as agriculture commissioner and swore him in after his resounding victory. Former President Bill Clinton will speak at a fundraiser for Sparks in Birmingham on Thursday. People must contribute at least $1,000 to attend and the media cannot attend the event.
Below are more photos from the Montgomery stop of Gen. Wesley Clark endorsing agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, the Democratic nominee for governor. Sparks faces Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley in the November election.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark flew throughout the state on Wednesday in support of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ron Sparks, who faces Republican Robert Bentley in the November election. Below are photos from the stop at Montgomery Aviation.
People can click below to see the latest ad from Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley, a state legislator from Tuscaloosa. Bentley faces Democratic nominee Ron Sparks, the state's agriculture commissioner, in the November election.
ALGOP releases ad attacking Democratic aristocracy
The Alabama Republican Party, as part of its Campaign 2010 to try to take control of the Legislature from Democrats for the first time in more than a century, released the following web ad, which features images of Sens. Roger Bedford, Lowell Barron and Zeb Little, House Majority Leader Ken Guin and Rep. Terry Spicer:
The following is a statement released by state Sen. Jim Preuitt on deciding not to run for another term, a decision that has shocked some people after he switched parties this year and was running as a Republican.
"After weeks of careful thought, I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my public life and that is to not seek reelection to the Alabama Senate. I have been both honored and blessed to serve in public office in several capacities for almost three decades. My family has always supported and believed in my public service and I will always appreciate the sacrifices they made so that I could serve. It is my hope that my service has resulted in a better quality of life for the people I have represented. No doubt everyone I represent has at times disagreed with positions I have taken, but I believe my constituents know that I have always made decisions based on what I thought was the right thing to do. Some have even called me stubborn when it comes to sticking with what I believe in. Through the years I have been involved in some of the toughest and hardest fought legislative battles and certainly some of the most hotly contested and expensive elections. The reason I have been successful in the public arena is because I have believed in a cause, gave it all I had and have always known in my heart it was what needed to be done.
The simple truth is that my heart is not in this race. Some of my fondest memories are from my campaigns, but campaigns are hard work. My age and my health are not what they once were. The time is right to slow down and enjoy time with my family.
I cannot in good conscience continue in this race and ask people for their support if my heart is not in it. The people of this district deserve 110 percent from those that represent them and if I cannot provide that level of commitment I cannot ask for their support. Rona and I cannot begin to express our gratitude to the people of this district for the great honor of not only serving and working with them, but also knowing them. It is my request that the local election officials work with the secretary of state of Alabama so that a replacement candidate can be selected for my position on the ballot. The people of this district deserve to have a choice and there is no reason this cannot be accomplished."
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.