In writing this list I realized something people may find surprising: there aren’t that many well-organized, well-funded conservative groups in the state of Alabama.
Think for a moment about some of the Top 5 liberal groups in the state, which Yellowhammer covered earlier this week.
The AEA’s board of directors has appropriated $4 million to be spent on Alabama elections over the next year. The Southern Poverty Law Center has seemingly unlimited resources at their disposal. And AARP’s Alabama wing has the backing of their national organization which will receive an estimated $1 billion in extra profit over the next 10 years thanks to ObamaCare alone.
Alabama seems to be ignored by most of the national conservative organizations with deep pockets, but that hasn’t stopped the groups below from thriving.
5. Alabama Forestry Association
“Forestry,” as they’re known around Montgomery, is probably the most consistently conservative interest group in Alabama politics. Going all the way back to the fight against Gov. Riley’s Amendment 1 tax hike, the Forestry Association has been a pretty reliable advocate for conservative policy positions.
Forestry is one of the only groups on this list with significant financial resources. They played a huge role in the Republican takeover of the state house, and will continue being one of the most influential players in the legislature moving forward.
4. Alabama Free Market Alliance
AFMA Chairman Paul Reynolds is also Alabama’s National Committeeman on the Republican National Committee. He’s used his national position to promote Alabama’s interests, including a recent resolution calling on the President & allied groups to stop their “war on coal.”
Back here at home, Reynold’s group fills a void for Alabama conservatives looking for content online, especially on Facebook where the group has over 6,500 “likes” and posts a steady stream of infographics and articles.
Article titles that will give you a sense of what to expect from AFMA include, “ObamaCare regulations are 8 times longer than the Bible,” “Attention Alabama AARP: stop pushing Obama’s environmental agenda,” and “Stop promoting ObamaCare in Alabama’s schools.”
AFMA publishes a “Watch List,” that is somewhat of a counter to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate list.” Groups who made the AFMA Watch List include the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Alabama Association for Justice, Alabama Arise and the Alabama Environmental Council.
3. Rainy Day Patriots
The Birmingham-based Rainy Day Patriots tea party group bussed conservative activists into swing states during the 2012 presidential campaign. They also work closely with Americans for Prosperity, drawing the ire of Alabama liberals who accuse them of having ties to the (gasp!) Koch Brothers.
Last year RDP’s “Legislative Watchdogs” were omnipresent in the halls and committee rooms of the Alabama state house. Common Core was the biggest issue of the last session for a lot of grassroots conservative groups, but RDP stood out by engaging on a broad range of issues thanks in large part to their commitment to learning the legislative process.
Central Alabama Republicans go out of their way to keep the lines of communications open to their region’s most active grassroots group.
2. Wetumpka Tea Party
Anyone who questions this River Region grassroots organization’s effectiveness should look no further than their “Don’t bust the trust” campaign against Amendment 1 last year. While the amendment passed by a huge margin statewide, Elmore County, where Wetumpka is located, was one of a very small number of counties where the amendment was voted down.
Wetumpka Tea Party founder Becky Gerritson gained national notoriety after giving emotional testimony before the House Ways and Means committee after being targeted by the IRS.
The organization has become so well-known that deep-pocketed Montgomery special interest groups have worked to covertly plant members in the group to affect their thinking.
1. Alabama Policy Institute
Few people realize how influential the group has been in helping Alabama Republicans form their legislative agenda. Numerous successful policy initiatives have been hatched during API president Gary Palmer’s private meetings with GOP leadership.
The group’s effectiveness could increase this year as they will for the first time have an in-house lobbyist in Montgomery working to build relationships with rank-and-file legislators and making them aware of the issues API is working on.
(full disclosure: I serve on API’s Associate Board of Directors)
Quick side note: clearly there are tons of other groups that could have been included on this list, as well as the top liberal groups list. Take it easy on my email inbox, the “rankings” are just for fun. But don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims