3 years ago

These are the Alabama groups, ideas and individuals who won the biggest on election day

Everyone’s seen who won the races, but now that the dust has settled, here’s a deeper look at Alabama’s biggest winners this election cycle.

School Choice

School choice advocacy groups have flocked to Alabama in the wake of the Alabama Accountability Act — the state’s first ever school choice law — believing that there will be opportunities to further expand education opportunities and to reform the state’s much-maligned-but-improving public education system.

The election’s results ensure that school choice will be one of the top priorities of the ever-growing Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate.

Robert Bentley’s swagger

The results of the Alabama gubernatorial election were such a foregone conclusion that the AP called the race the minute the polls were closed. Bentley cruised to re-election, garnering 63.63% of the popular vote, well ahead of the 57.45% former Gov. Bob Riley received in his successful re-election bid in 2006.

Bentley said frequently throughout his re-election campaign that he does not want to be a “caretaker governor,” and it was clear from his victory speech that he believes the voters have given him a mandate to lead. The governor has been consistently popular since taking office in 2011, but his critics often say he hasn’t asserted himself on tough issues. On Tuesday night, he sounded like a chief executive who wants to really drive the ship.

Although that hasn’t really been his M.O. over the last four years, his election night swagger suggests he might be taking a different approach going forward.

Republican Legislative Leadership

Del Marsh and Mike Hubbard laid claim to their place in Alabama political history in 2010 by leading Republicans to the promised land. But as significant as that was, their second act may supplant it as the more impressive political feat.

In the same anti-incumbent year that saw the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives toppled by an unknown, seemingly-overmatched challenger, Hubbard and Marsh overcame much more difficult circumstances to not only secure their own re-election, but to also lead Republicans to unexpected gains in both chambers.

Within minutes of his win, Marsh was already talking policy priorities for the next quadrennium, clearly signaling that Republican Legislative Leaders feel — similarly to Bentley — that they’ve been given a mandate to lead.


The conspiracy theorist in me sometimes wants to believe that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Parker Griffith’s incessant calls for more gambling opportunities in Alabama were designed to simply make an incremental step in that direction more palatable to the state’s conservative electorate.

Gov. Bentley has already signaled that he’s open to cutting a deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to allow them to expand the types of gambling offered in their three casinos. In exchange, the state would receive tax revenue from the casinos’ operations, which would go toward patching the giant hole in the General Fund Budget.

It would be easy to call the Poarch Creek’s “losers” for dumping $1.5 million into Joe Hubbard’s ill-fated attorney general campaign — ok, yea, they were losers for that — but with higher taxes totally off the table and few realistic solutions for the state’s budget shortfall, it looks like they may end up being winners after all.

Alabama Business Groups

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) got out ahead of other groups in Montgomery by going all-in on the GOP’s efforts to takeover the Legislature in 2010. As a result, they’ve enjoyed a unique relationship with Republican legislators, especially the large freshman class elected in 2010.

Going into the 2014 cycle, BCA huddled with other allied business groups — like the Realtors and Truckers associations — and agreed to coordinate their efforts in an unprecedented way. Most notably, that meant pooling their financial resources. It paid off big time.

With very few exceptions, the candidates backed by the business groups won on Tuesday, once again securing their place as a very influential coalition over the next four years.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead

If a Party Chairman’s tenure is judged solely by his party picking up seats while he was in office, it’s hard to say Armistead’s not a winner.

Internal strife on the Party’s leadership committees has persisted non-stop, and his critics are quick to say they believe Republicans have won in spite of, rather than because of his leadership. But Armistead’s camp put out a steady flow of anti-AEA and anti-Obama messaging throughout the election and avoided any significant public gaffes.

His “pet race” of the cycle — Republican doctor Larry Stutts challenging entrenched Democrat Sen. Roger Bedford — was widely viewed as a fool’s errand, but it ended up being the surprise GOP victory of election night and a nice feather in the controversial chairman’s cap.


We can debate over which individual(s) Alabama voters gave a mandate to on Tuesday night, but it’s obvious that the Yellowhammer State — and even the country as a whole — has rejected President Obama’s leadership and is turning to conservatives to right the ship.

Republicans have an extraordinary challenge ahead of them in Washington, D.C., where they only hold a small majority in the Senate and have to deal with a hostile president for at least two more years.

But in Alabama, Republicans hold every office of significance and enormous majorities in the legislature, giving the GOP a rare opportunity to make their state a true test case in conservative governance.

In other words, all the politicians have to do now is give the people they represent exactly what they’re asking for: genuine conservative leadership.

Do you think it’ll happen? Let us know in the comment section below.

Follow Cliff on Twitter

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8 hours ago

Students: 1 million expected at anti-gun-violence marches

Students from the Florida high school where 17 people were fatally shot last month expect more than 1 million participants in upcoming marches in Washington and elsewhere calling for gun regulations, students said Monday.

More than 800 March for Our Lives demonstrations are planned around the world Saturday, sparked by the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“It just shows that the youth are tired of being the generation where we’re locked in closets and waiting for police to come in case of a shooter,” Alex Wind, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told The Associated Press.


“We’re sick and tired of having to live with this normalcy of turning on the news and watching a mass shooting,” he added.

Since the massacre, Stoneman Douglas students have been at the forefront of a push to tighten gun restrictions and protect schools.

They have led rallies and lobbied lawmakers in Washington and Florida’s capital, Tallahassee. Last Wednesday, tens of thousands of students around the U.S. walked out of their classrooms to demand action on gun violence and school safety. Stoneman Douglas students fanned out Monday to discuss the marches with media outlets in New York, including NBC’s “Today” show and “CBS This Morning.”

The National Rifle Association didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry Monday about the upcoming marches. The group has said any effort to prevent future school shootings needs to “keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Amid the wave of activism, Florida passed a law curbing young peoples’ access to rifles; the NRA has sued to try to block it. Some major U.S. retailers decided to curb the sale of assault-style rifles or stop selling firearms to people younger than 21.

But Congress has shown little appetite for new gun regulations. President Donald Trump at one point proposed raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle to 21 but then backed off, citing a lack of political support.

The Republican president has since released a school safety plan that includes strengthening the federal background check system and helping states pay for firearms training for teachers, while assigning the buying-age issue to a commission to study.

A petition associated with Saturday’s march calls for banning sales of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as tightening background checks.

The suspect in the Parkland shooting, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 assault-style rifle, according to authorities. His lawyer has said he will plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence, rather than possibly facing the death penalty.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that documents show some officials recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation, though the recommendation was never acted upon. Such a commitment would have made it more difficult, if not impossible, for Cruz to get a gun legally.

Beyond making a statement, Saturday’s marches aim to make political change by registering and mobilizing people to vote.

But the students insist their aim isn’t partisan: “We’re just trying to make sure that morally just people are running this country,” Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch told the AP.

As soon-to-be voters, the students say they’re here to stay in the public debate.

“We are not just a presence on Twitter. We are not just some social media fad. We’re not like Tide Pods,” Deitsch said, referring to the laundry detergent packets that recently sparked a dangerous social-media-fueled trend of teenagers eating them.

“We’re trying to push this idea that we have a voice, that people can speak out, and that that voice should be heard,” Deitsch said.

(Image: ABC News/YouTube)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

Deborah Edwards Barnhart is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center may teach visitors about space vehicles that defy gravity, but for its CEO and Executive Director Deborah Edwards Barnhart, the center itself has proved gravitational – pulling her into its orbit several times throughout her four-decade career.

Barnhart, who will this month be honored as a Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, began working in public affairs and marketing at the Space and Rocket Center in the early 1970s when she was in her final year at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, according to a 2012 U.S. army article detailing her background.


After some time away, she returned to manage publicity when the center added the space shuttle.

“That’s when I became interested in satellites,” Barnhart told Army.mil reporter Kari Hawkins. “At that time, the Navy was in charge of all satellite programs. My father had been a Navy Seabee in World War II and my brother attended the Naval Academy. So, at the age of 27, I joined the Navy to work on satellites.”

Barnhart would serve 26 years in the military — achieving the rank of Navy captain and becoming one of the first 10 women certified to serve aboard Navy ships — before returning to the Space and Rocket Center in 1986 to serve as the director of Space Camp and Space Academy.

She went on to hold leadership roles in three major aerospace and defense companies including Honeywell International, United Technologies Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas. She also raised two children and earned graduate degrees from the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in strategy and supervision from Vanderbilt University.

Barnhart had retired from Honeywell and moved to Florida, where she did consulting and owned and managed two thoroughbred training centers, when she was recruited to take her fourth role at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center – this time as its CEO.

Since taking the position in 2010, Barnhart is credited with restoring the center’s financial health after it struggled for years with a staggering amount of debt racked up in the late 1990s.

Last year, the center saw an 11 percent increase in revenue and an 18 percent increase in camp revenue, as well as all-time record attendance, helping it maintain its spot as Alabama’s top attraction, according to a 2017 annual report.

“The Center is financially sound, engaged with our community, and focused on our mission of lighting the fires of imagination,” Barnhart wrote in the report.

Nearly 16 million people have toured the center since it opened in 1970. It is the largest spaceflight museum in the world.

Barnhart received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest non-government recognition, and last October she was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, along with Gov. Kay Ivey and two other women (the first time a class of inductees has all been female).

Barnhart will again be honored with Gov. Ivey in an awards event March 29 in Birmingham. The Yellowhammer Women of Impact event will honor 20 women making an impact in Alabama and will benefit Big Oak Ranch. Details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

9 hours ago

Talladega Superspeedway lands sponsor for October’s main event

Talladega Superspeedway announced today that the company 1000Bulbs.com would sponsor its October NASCAR Monster Energy Cup, which is one of sanctioning body’s 10 “playoff” events that determine who is the champion of its premier series.

The event scheduled for October 14 will be known as the 1000Bulbs.com 500. In previous years, the event had gone with the “Alabama 500” moniker without a primary sponsor.

The sponsor, 1000Bulbs.com, in a Texas-based company that focuses on specialty lighting. According to a release from the track, the company started with two employees and had grown to more than 240 people and “has over 2500 orders daily from 30,000 new customers each month.”


“We can’t wait for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 to get here,” Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch said in a statement. “What a company 1000Bulbs.com is to partner with, one that strives for excellence with cutting-edge technology and so many incredible lighting products to take care of their customers’ needs. Our fans know that when they come to Talladega, we will do everything in our power to make sure they have an incredible time. We are the most competitive track in all of NASCAR, and we welcome Kim and his staff to the Talladega Superspeedway family.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Image: Talladega Superspeedway, View from O.V. Hill South Tower — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

10 hours ago

Hillary Clinton’s ‘clarification’ is actually a doubling-down on yet another foolish statement

During the election, Hillary Clinton whined about “deplorables”, blaming the hate-filled monsters who would never vote for a woman for her surprising loss. In her mind, and the minds of her supporters, the only person we can’t blame for her loss is Hillary Clinton. Her most recent silly gaffe was last week, where she spoke in front of an adoring crowd in India and called out white women, whose votes were effectively split, for being tools of their bosses, husbands and (somehow) their sons.

The media will tell you she has had a change of heart, some are even calling it an “apology“:

“As much as I hate the possibility, and hate saying it, it’s not that crazy when you think about our ongoing struggle to reach gender balance — even within the same household. I did not realize how hard it would hit many who heard it,” Clinton wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.


Why this matters: That’s not an apology or a clarification, she clearly thinks she is right. She cannot accept the fact that she was the worst presidential candidate of all time. Her real problem goes much deeper, she has been surrounded by a group of sycophants in her political orbit and in the media. We shouldn’t be angry at Hillary Clinton, we should pity her.  At this point, we might as well just start rattling off the people Clinton hasn’t blamed for her loss to Donald Trump, but that list would only have one entry: “Hillary Clinton”.

The details:

— As much as Clinton tried to imply white women voted as a homogeneous block, white women were far more split in their presidential choice than any other sub-group.

— 52 percent of white women voted for Trump and 43 percent voted for Clinton, this is hardly a monolith that you can group as all in for one candidate.

— Even after the election and eight months into Donald Trump’s term, Clinton was still wildly unpopular.

— In fact, Clinton was still more unpopular than Trump, only 30 percent of respondents viewed her favorably.

(Image: File)

Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show from 7-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.

10 hours ago

‘Sex in the City’ star Cynthia Nixon running for governor

Former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon said on Twitter Monday that she’ll challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York’s Democratic primary in September.

Her announcement sets up a race pitting an openly gay liberal activist against a two-term incumbent with a $30 million war chest and possible presidential ambitions.

“We want our government to work again. On health care, ending massive incarceration, fixing our broken subway,” Nixon said in a video announcing her candidacy . “We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us.”


Nixon has her work cut out for her. A Siena College poll released Monday showed Cuomo leading her by 66 percent to 19 percent among registered Democrats, and by a similar margin among self-identified liberals. Nixon did a little better among younger and upstate Democrats, but didn’t have more than a quarter of either group.

The poll of 772 registered voters was conducted March 11-16. The margin of error is plus-minus 4.0 percentage points.

Nixon has in recent months given speeches and interviews calling on Democrats nationally to run “bluer” in 2018 and carve out a strong, progressive liberal identity rather than being merely “the anti-Trump party.”

It’s a left-flank strategy that has had success against Cuomo in the past — nearly unknown liberal activist and law professor Zephyr Teachout garnered a surprising 34 percent of the vote in the 2014 Democratic primary.

“It could be a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party in some sense,” said Baruch College political scientist Douglas Muzzio.

Nixon, a 51-year-old Manhattan mother of three, is a longtime advocate for fairness in public school funding and fervent supporter of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has frequently clashed with Cuomo. Her video shows her walking her young daughter to school as she talks about being a proud public school parent.

Last month, at the annual New York gala of Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Cuomo on, she took a backhanded stab at the governor’s record: “For all the pride that we take here in being such a blue state, New York has the single worst income inequality of any state in the country.”

More recently, she has been delving into issues of keen interest to New York City, the main blue stronghold in a state where suburban and rural towns upstate tend to run red.

One of those issues is transportation policy, which contributed to a plunge in Cuomo’s popularity last July amid his “summer of hell” forecast for New York City commuters facing ongoing transit breakdowns and delays.

The 60-year-old Cuomo had no immediate comment on Nixon’s candidacy. But recently, he mocked the celebrity status the Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner could bring to the race.

“Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor,” Cuomo told reporters earlier this month. “If it was just about name recognition, then I’m hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race.”

While Nixon has strong political connections and name recognition in the city that was the backdrop for her Emmy Award-winning role as lawyer Miranda Hobbes in the HBO comedy “Sex and the City,” her star power among upstate voters is less certain.

Jefrey Pollock, pollster and political adviser to Cuomo and other prominent Democrats, said that celebrity isn’t likely to trump governing experience in the voting booth.

“Over and over in our research, Democratic primary voters say they’re not looking for an outsider because they look to Washington, D.C., and see what the outsider has meant to this country,” Pollock said.

Nixon won’t be the only celebrity candidate on the New York ballot. Former “Law and Order: SVU” actress Diane Neal is running for Congress as an independent in a Hudson Valley district.

The first task for Nixon, Muzzio said, is to launch a listening and talking tour.

“She can’t be the celebrity glamour girl,” he said. “She’s got to get out there and get exposure upstate.”

(Image: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York/Flickr)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)