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AEA-backed Republicans strategize to take Speaker’s office

Rep. Jim Carns hosts a group of Republican legislators and incoming freshmen for a strategy meeting at Jim & Nicks BBQ Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014
Rep. Jim Carns (far right) hosts a group of Republican legislators and incoming freshmen for a strategy meeting at Jim & Nicks BBQ Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

The battle lines in Rep. Jim Carns’ (R-Birmingham) bid to unseat Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representative perhaps became a bit more clear Thursday evening at Jim & Nicks BBQ in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood.

Carns, who launched his campaign for the gavel within minutes of the news breaking that Hubbard had been indicted on public corruption charges, met with a small group of current House members and incoming freshmen who do not face a General Election opponent on Nov. 4, most of whom have ties to the Alabama Education Association (AEA). The AEA has spent upwards of $10 million in teachers’ dues this election cycle and borrowed $4 million from Regions Bank in an effort to unseat Republican incumbents.

The House GOP has been planning an organizational meeting for Nov. 6, two days after the upcoming General Elections. At that meeting, they plan to come to an agreement on who they will all back for Speaker and discuss other caucus business.

But last week, Carns began trying to rally his colleagues for a meeting Oct. 30 to win their support going into the full caucus gathering.

Carns huddled with the small contingent of AEA-backed members and candidates on Thursday evening, including:

Several incoming freshmen —
Corey Harbison (R-Good Hope) won Primary, unopposed in General (received $104,070 from AEA this cycle)
Issac Whorton (R-Valley) won Primary, unopposed in General (received $53,531 from AEA this cycle)
Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) won Primary, unopposed in General (received $46,666 from AEA this cycle)
Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery) ran unopposed in Primary, unopposed in General

Two members elected in recent special elections who have tended to vote with AEA —
David Standridge (R-Hayden) elected in Special Election in 2012
Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) elected in Special Election in 2013

And two slightly more veteran members of the body who were willing to hear his pitch —
Dickie Drake (R-Leeds) elected in Special Election in 2011
Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) elected in 2006

Yellowhammer asked each of the individuals present at the end of the meeting if they would like to comment on their plans or what was discussed, but they all politely declined.

The overwhelming majority of House Republicans have pledged their support to Hubbard. However, AEA is spending big in the closing days of this cycle, not with any chance of breaking the GOP’s supermajority, but with the long-shot goal of eroding it just enough that their handful of loyal Republicans can either send Hubbard’s caucus election into chaos, or even potentially strike a deal with Democrats to oust him from the Speaker’s chair. It seems extremely improbable at this point, but it will definitely be worth watching.

Colbert


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