2 years ago

These are the politicians eyeing a run for Alabama’s highest offices in 2018

The 2016 election cycle is in full swing, but outside of a potentially competitive congressional race in Alabama’s 2nd District, there’s not a lot of action in the Yellowhammer State this year. However, if you think it’s too early to start looking toward the impending electoral chaos of 2018… Well, you’re probably right. But make no mistake, Alabama’s most ambitious politicians are already jockeying for position.

Yellowhammer released a list of the “Top 20 potential 2018 Alabama gubernatorial candidates” earlier this year. It included a pretty good number of long shots and individuals who probably won’t actually end up running, and that list did not include any of the other statewide offices that the political climbers are keeping an eye on.

So let’s take a quick look at some of the politicians who are already eyeballing the state’s highest offices that will be up for grabs in 2018.


Slade Blackwell: The Mountain Brook senator strengthened his conservative bonafides this year by being a member of the “Gang of Nine,” the group of rock-ribbed senators who opposed every proposed tax increase. His extraordinarily successful business career places him a position to pump a substantial amount of his own money into the race, if he chose to do so. But he may not need to; he’s also a prolific fundraiser. The business community loves him, and his record as a fiscal conservative in the senate would help him make a strong case to grassroots conservatives as well. The only question is whether he’d pull the trigger on a statewide campaign with three young kids still working their way through school.

Young Boozer: The two-term state treasurer has a sharp business acumen and impresses with his creative thinking on complex fiscal issues. His career in banking, finance and investments has taken him from Citibank in New York and Crocker National Bank in Los Angeles, to Coral Petroleum in Houston and Colonial Bank in Montgomery. With Alabama’s budgets in perpetual disarray, Boozer could make a strong case that he’s got the background to lead the state toward a longterm solution. But will his style connect with Alabama’s more rural, populist conservatives?

Del Marsh: The Senate President Pro Tem has been a steady hand at the helm of the Alabama Senate since Republicans took control in 2010, but indications are that this will be his last term in the Senate, whether he runs statewide or not. From a leadership and management standpoint, Marsh is head and shoulders above most of his colleagues. For that reason, he is one of the few individuals who will have major players in the state’s business community asking him to run. It usually works the other way around.

John McMillan: The Agriculture Commissioner started his career in public service in 1969 on the Baldwin County Commission. Almost 50 years later, he may look around as the gubernatorial field begins to emerge in 2017 and say to himself, “Why the heck not?” Agriculture is Alabama’s largest industry, but the current likely field does not include a candidate the state’s farmers would look at and immediately say, “He’s one of us.” McMillan is a sixth generation farmer, a past Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, past executive VP of the Alabama Forestry Association, and a two-term Ag Commish. He’s built up a statewide grassroots network over the years, which could come in handy if he decides he’d like to take a crack at the state’s top job.

John Merrill: The first-term Secretary of State is a relentless campaigner who has probably been mapping his course to the governor’s mansion since he beat “The Machine” to become University of Alabama SGA President in 1986. He is a political animal whose relentless campaigning led to him burning through several sets of tires on his personal vehicle during the last election cycle. He is a resident of Tuscaloosa, a town that has essentially become the hub of political power in Alabama, with the sitting governor, a U.S. senator and the State House Budget Chairman all hailing from Title Town. Merrill’s gunning to be next.

Greg Reed: The Alabama Senate Majority Leader has quickly risen through the ranks of the Republican caucus after first being elected just five short years ago. No one doubts that he is eyeing another move up. However, as tempting as it might be to jump into the gubernatorial fray, he is so well positioned to succeed Marsh as Pro Tem, it may not make sense for him to risk it. His calculus probably goes something like this: Do I pursue the 15 percent chance of emerging from a crowded field to become governor, or do I stay on my current track and have a 95 percent chance of rising to become one of the state’s two most powerful legislators?

Martha Roby: The 2nd Congressional District representative has managed to move up the ladder in Washington fairly quickly, landing a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee. She has proven herself to be an able defender of the District’s large military and farming communities, but has taken some shots from grassroots conservatives for not bucking congressional leadership on tough votes. The Montgomery resident with young children undoubtedly sees the appeal of not having to travel to D.C. during the week, but if she wins re-election to a fourth term in Congress, would she give up a relatively safe seat and jump into the mass chaos of a gubernatorial run?

Luther Strange: The Attorney General is almost certainly running for governor. He has already met with at least one potential campaign consultant and has signaled to some close allies that he plans to run. It is probably not the job he really wants — he’s had his eye on the U.S. Senate for a long time. But with Senators Shelby and Sessions both still going strong, the prospect of suddenly being out of public office is a non-starter for Strange. He would likely start as a favorite to make the runoff in a crowded field, by virtue of the fact that he has already run statewide three times (lost a bid for Lt. Governor, won two for AG), so the voters know “Big” Luther’s name.

Wealthy guy no one is thinking about: Never forget this guy. He’s out there. He can self-fund. And he can throw a kink in even the best-laid plans.


Rusty Glover: The low-key and well-liked state senator from south Alabama has already gotten word out around Montgomery that he plans to run statewide in 2018. Democrats stripped much of the power from the Lt. Governor’s office in the late ’90s, but the fact remains that the Senate’s presiding officer is a mere heartbeat away from the top job. Glover is a retired school teacher who’s successfully ran for both the House and Senate. We’ll see if he adds Lt. Governor to that list.

Mary Scott Hunter: The state school board representative from north Alabama has made inroads with some key players in the business community as the board’s foremost advocate of Common Core State Standards. But that could hurt with grassroots conservatives who’ve labeled the standards a big business and big government takeover of public education. Hunter’s résumé is bolstered by a military record that includes stints in the Air Force, Reserves and the Alabama Air National Guard. Her dad is Scott Hunter, former University of Alabama and NFL championship quarterback, which never hurts in football-crazed Alabama.


Steve Marshall: The Marshall County District Attorney has expressed interest in a statewide run, but would face an uphill battle against other potential candidates who already have a built-in fundraising and political operation. Marshall became a Republican in 2011 after being elected in 2004 and 2010 as a Democrat. He is a past president of the Alabama District Attorney’s Association, so he has presumably built relationships around the state that would be beneficial if he jumps in the race for AG.

Arthur Orr: The Senate Budget Chairman has had the unenviable task of crafting the state’s beleaguered General Fund for the past five years. However, the scuttlebutt around Montgomery is that he and Senate Education Budget Chairman Trip Pittman will switch positions ahead of the next legislative session, placing Orr atop the state’s largest pot of money. Speaking of money, Orr is a fundraising dynamo. And being a budget chairman all but ensures he would receive big checks out of Montgomery, in addition to significant support out of his north Alabama Senate District, if he decides to run statewide. He is currently Vice President and General Counsel for Cook’s Pest Control and his legal background also includes a stint at a prominent Decatur law firm.

Cam Ward: The Shelby County State Senator was the odds-on favorite to be the next attorney general before a DUI arrest and a stint in rehab earlier this year. It is hard to imagine voters electing someone who had that big of a lapse in judgement to be their state’s top law enforcement officer and lawyer, but crazier things have happened. Ward maintains the support of many in Montgomery and in his district. He doesn’t appear to have even considered taken a step back from politics, but is weighing whether he should resurface for a statewide run or batten down the hatches and try to return to the Senate.


This is not a statewide elected office, but it is worth considering for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is among the state’s most powerful positions, alongside governor and speaker of the house. Secondly, it is such an attractive position that it could influence who ends up running for the posts mentioned above.

Consider this:

If current Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh suddenly switches directions and decides to serve another four year term, that could compel Sen. Greg Reed to take a more serious look at governor. If Marsh leaves, Reed is almost certainly going to be his successor, which likely bumps him out of the governor’s race. But if Marsh leaves the senate and Reed runs for governor, the race for pro tem is wide open.

It could lead Sen. Ward to abandon his attorney general ambitions and try to rally support among his colleagues to give him the job. That, in turn, would give Sen. Orr — who may have at one point wanted to be pro tem himself — an even clearer path to AG. It could also open up an opportunity for a young leader like Sen. Clay Scofield to rise quickly. The scenarios are almost endless, but they all hinge on senators Marsh and Reed.


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26 mins ago

DeVoe, Clemson rout cold-shooting Auburn to reach Sweet 16

Clemson isn’t all about football.

The Tigers are pretty good at basketball, too, and are going to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 21 years.


Gabe DeVoe scored 22 points and Elijah Thomas had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Clemson, which closed the first half with a 25-4 run that helped it beat cold-shooting Auburn 84-53 on Sunday and advance to the Midwest Region semifinal.

“I think it’s a statement game,” Clemson guard Marcquise Reed said. “I think we showed how hard we can compete defensively. I think it’s a real good game for us moving forward.”

In a matchup between Southern schools better known for football — Clemson won the national championship two seasons ago — the No. 5 seed Clemson Tigers proved far more adept on the hardwood than the No. 4 seed Auburn Tigers.

The blowout win put Clemson (25-9) into the Sweet 16 for the fourth time overall and the first since 1997, earning it a spot against Kansas in the regional semifinal.

It was a humbling end for Auburn (26-8), which played this season under the cloud of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball.

The final 10½ minutes of the first half were a nightmare for Auburn, which made only 6 of 33 shots (18.2 percent) in the first half and 17 of 66 overall (25.8 percent).

“I really don’t know where we lost our focus,” Auburn guard Bryce Brown said. “All I can really honestly remember is they had a few stretches where they came down and knocked down shots and we had a few stretches where we came down and took kind of bad shots at times and that led to easy fast breaks for them.”

Jared Harper made a jumper with 10:33 before halftime to pull Auburn to 18-15. The Tigers then missed their next 18 field goals as Clemson raced to a 43-19 halftime lead.

Clemson scored 17 straight points, highlighted by 3-pointers by Anthony Oliver II and DeVoe, to make it 35-15.

Chuma Okeke made two free throws for Auburn, but the Tigers still couldn’t hit a field goal. They got two more free throws by Mustapha Heron with 1:20 to go.

Auburn finally snapped the drought from the field when Bryce Brown hit a 3-pointer 44 seconds into the second half. All that did was pull the Tigers within 21 points.

“I felt like they had a couple of good looks and they weren’t able to knock them down,” DeVoe said. “But we play well defensively like that. The easy looks don’t go in all the time. I think pressure and our defensive intensity really bottled them up offensively.”

The drought “was just bad for us early and it affected what we could do offensively and defensively,” Auburn’s Jarred Harper said.

“We just got away from playing offense together and playing defense together,” Davion Mitchell said.

Heron and Bryce Brown scored 12 points apiece for Auburn and Horace Spencer had 10.

Reed added 16 for Clemson and Shelton Mitchell had 10.

The rout was so complete that Clemson subbed in two walk-ons for the final two minutes.


“I don’t know how long since we’ve been to the Sweet 16, but I know for a fact this won’t be the last time,” Oliver said. “We have a special group of guys, not only for this year but for next year and the year after that.”


Clemson made 10 of 26 3-pointers. DeVoe made 6 of 9.

Auburn heads into an uncertain offseason. Assistant coach Chuck Person was indicted as part of a federal investigation that cost two of Auburn’s best players their eligibility. Person was accused of accepting bribes to steer players to a financial adviser once they turned pro and funneling money to the families of Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy. Neither played this season.


The 25 wins ties Clemson’s school record. … This was Clemson’s largest margin of victory in the NCAAs. The previous largest was an 83-70 win against Saint Mary’s in 1989.


Clemson plays top-seeded Kansas on Friday in Omaha.

(Image: NCAA March Madness/YouTube)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

56 mins ago

Is the GOP staring at another 1930?

After the victory of Donald Trump in 2016, the GOP held the Senate and House, two-thirds of the governorships, and 1,000 more state legislators than they had on the day Barack Obama took office.

“The Republican Party has not been this dominant in 90 years,” went the exultant claim.

A year later, Republicans lost the governorship of Virginia and almost lost the legislature.


Came then the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in ruby-red Alabama.

Tuesday, Democrats captured a House seat in a Pennsylvania district Trump carried by 20 points, and where Democrats had not even fielded a candidate in 2014 and 2016.

Republicans lately congratulating themselves on a dominance not seen since 1928, might revisit what happened to the Class of 1928.

In 1930, Republicans lost 52 House seats, portending the loss of both houses of Congress and the White House in 1932 to FDR who would go on to win four straight terms. For the GOP, the ’30s were the dreadful decade.

Is the GOP staring at another 1930?


Unlike 1930, though, the nation has not endured a Great Crash or gone through year one of a Great Depression where unemployment hit 10 percent in June, when the Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed.

Today, the economy is moving along smartly. The labor force is larger than it has ever been. Workers are re-entering and seeking jobs. Black and Hispanic unemployment are at record lows. Confidence is high. Our Great Recession is 10 years in the past.

The problem for Republicans may be found in a truism: When the economy is poor, the economy is the issue. When the economy is good, something else is the issue.

A good economy did not save the GOP in the 18th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, where the party’s tax cut was derided by Democrat Conor Lamb as a wealth transfer to the rich. Nor did Lamb hurt himself by implying Republicans were planning to pay for their tax cut by robbing Social Security and Medicare.

Republican candidate Rick Saccone reportedly stopped using the tax cut as his major issue in his TV ads that ran closest to Election Day.

Other factors point to a bad day for the GOP on Nov. 6.

Republican retirees from Congress far outnumber Democratic retirees.

Democratic turnout has been reaching record highs, while GOP turnout has been normal. And even in the special elections Democrats have lost, they are outperforming the Democrats who lost in 2016.

Relying upon hostility to Trump to bring out the resistance, savvy Democrats are taking on the political coloration of their districts and states, rather than of the national party of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

There is, however, troubling news from Pennsylvania for Nancy Pelosi.

Lamb promised voters of “Deerhunter” country he would not support San Francisco Nancy for speaker. Look for Democrats in districts Trump carried to begin talking of the “need for new leaders.”

Trump seems fated to be the primary target of attack this fall, and not only in districts Clinton carried. For an average of national polls shows that disapproval of his presidency is 14 points higher than his approval rating. And this is when the economy is turning up good numbers not seen in this century.

At the national level, Democrats will turn 2018 into a referendum on the Trump persona and Trump presidency. For while the Trump base is loyal and solid, the anti-Trump base is equally so, and appreciably larger.

Lest we forget, Hillary Clinton, not the most charismatic candidate the Democrats have put up in decades, beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes. And while Trump pierced the famous “blue wall” — the 18 states that voted Democratic in every presidential election between 1992 and 2012 — the demographic trend that created the wall is still working.

White voters, who tend to vote Republican, continue to decline as a share of the population. Peoples of color, who vote 70 to 90 percent Democratic in presidential elections, are now nearly 40 percent of the nation.

Mass migration into America is re-enforcing that trend.

Moreover, millennials, who have many elections ahead of them, are more liberal than seniors, who have fewer elections ahead and are the GOP base.

But if Republicans face problems of demography, the party of “tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect” appears to be reaching the end of its tether. Federal deficits are rising toward trillion-dollar levels.

The five largest items in the budget — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, interest on the debt — are rising inexorably. And there appears no disposition in either party to cut back on spending for education, college loans, food stamps, housing assistance or infrastructure.

If the Fed did not retain the power to control the money supply, then the fate of New Jersey and Illinois, and beyond, of Greece and Argentina, would become our national destiny.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

(Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr & Wikicommons)

(Creators, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

Alabama man charged in connection with 91-year-old woman’s death

Police in Alabama say a man has been charged in connection with the death of a 91-year-old woman.

Dothan police said in a news release Sunday that 58-year-old Joe Nathan Duncan was charged with capital murder in the death of 91-year-old Mabel Fowler.


Police say they received a call of a possible death at a residence Saturday. Once officers arrived, it was apparent that it was a crime scene.

Throughout the course of the investigation, police located, interviewed and charged Duncan. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

(Image: Dothan Police Department)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

7 Things: Democrats want to hire disgraced FBI deputy, storm trackers enter Alabama ahead of severe weather, bill to allow teachers to carry to get a floor debate, and more …

1. Democrat Congresspersons want to hire the disgraced FBI Deputy Director just to stick it to Trump (and taxpayers)

— Democrats are offering him jobs in their offices in order to help him make it to his retirement date, his retirement is worth $1.8 million dollars.

— Another Democrat, and Trump critic, Adam Schiff says McCabe’s firing “may have been justified”.

2. Now former-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fired two days before his retirement for lying to investigators

— McCabe was fired after Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe misled investigators about his role in directing other officials at the FBI to speak to the media about the corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

McCabe is claiming this is all an attempt to silence him, which makes little sense, and an attempt to discredit the Mueller probe.

3. Renowned storm trackers have entered the state of Alabama, which could foreshadow a rough weather day ahead

— The “national Storm Prediction Center” says there is an “enhanced risk” of severe storms for Nashville, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa.

— School districts are already announcing school closures to prepare for the weather.

4. Bill that would allow some teachers to conceal carry will get House debate, no movement in the Senate

— A bill that would allow approved teachers to carry  in schools could spark an intense debate Tuesday in the Alabama House of Representatives.

— House Speaker Mac McCutcheon questioned the idea of arming teachers, but he said it could be a bigger piece of school safety.

5. Not only did Russians meddle in our election, they also can play with our power grid

— After last week’s acknowledgment that Russia played in our election, the Trump administration has blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure, potentially causing issues with power delivery.

— A House committee also found that Russian-backed trolls “targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.”, in order to sow discord.

6. State School Board member Mary Scott Hunter responds to State Rep. Harry Shiver’s comments on female teachers

— Shiver said, “our ladies” need the legislature to protect them and that female teachers “are scared of guns”, which was mocked last week.

— Hunter, who is also a State Senate candidate who supports the idea of allowing teachers to carry, tweeted that “ladies carry weapons just fine”, and included photos of her shooting weapons from her military service.

7. Social media company under scrutiny for doing data analysis on Americans, known in the past as targeting voters

— A company hired by the Trump campaign used Facebook data supplied by Facebook users to build profiles of users to better target them, Facebook has suspended the firm.

— 270,000 people downloaded an app that allowed the creator to see their likes, the creator passed that data was Cambridge Analytica and used to target Facebook users during the election.

2 hours ago

Alabama man who was found with stab wound has died

Police say a 41-year-old Alabama man who was found with a stab wound has died.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that police responded to the 2600 block of Endicott Drive shortly after midnight Friday to find George Tucker suffering from a stab wound.


News outlets report that Tucker was taken to Baptist Medical Center South and was later pronounced dead.

Montgomery police Capt. Regina Duckett said in a release that their investigation indicates that the stabbing occurred during an argument over a woman.

Police said no arrests have been made.

(Image: File)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)