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3 months ago

Are Democrats making too much of the Doug Jones Effect?

A long-suffering minority party pulls off a major upset in a special election for the U.S. Senate, fueling hopes among partisans of major gains in the upcoming midterm elections.

Alabama and Doug Jones?

Try, Massachusetts and Scott Brown.

Like Democrat Jones in 2017, Republican Brown in 2010 stunned the political establishment by beating a candidate from the long-dominant political party.

Whatever hopes Republicans had that Brown’s victory signaled a partisan realignment in the Bay State quickly evaporated, however. Despite an extremely favorable political environment nationally for the GOP and an unpopular Democratic president, politics in Massachusetts snapped back to normal by the time the November election rolled around.
Although Republicans picked up 63 seats in the House of Representatives that year, the party went zero for 10 in Massachusetts. The Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, won re-election and the party actually gained a seat in the state Senate. (Republicans did pick up 17 seats to give them 32 in the 160-seat state House).

Brown, himself, lasted only until the next election — in 2012, when he lost to current Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Will it be any different for Alabama Democrats? Political experts are skeptical.

“Because of Doug Jones’ win, you don’t reclassify Alabama as a competitive state,” said Jess Brown, an emeritus political science professor at Athens State University in north Alabama. “Alabama is still crimson red.”

Eric Ostermeier, a political researcher at the University of Minnesota and founder of the Smart Politics blog, said parties even in one-side states occasionally can pull off upsets under the right circumstances. But they usually prove to be outliers, he added.

“In general, most of the states where one party is in power for a long time, there is a normal pullback,” he said.

Parallels between Alabama in 2018 and Massachusetts in 2010 abound. Before their special election breakthroughs, the party of power in both states had not cracked a Senate seat in a long time.

For Alabama, it had been since 1992, when Sen. Richard Shelby — now a Republican from Tuscaloosa — won re-election as a Democrat. In Massachusetts before Brown, it had been even longer since a Republican had won— 1972.

Both Brown and Jones faced opponents who, despite having won statewide office before, carried liabilities into their special elections.

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, of course, had a controversial career because of his strident stands on social conservatism and then found himself the target of late-breaking allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with teenage girls when he was a young prosecutor in the 1970s.

Jess Brown said it created a perfect storm for Jones that is not easily replicated.

“His victory was the product of simply a very weak candidate,” he said. “The Alabama Republican Party practically could have picked a name at random out of the phone book and he would have won.”

Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, meanwhile, did not have anywhere that level of baggage, but she generally was regarded as a lackluster campaigner who committed some high-profile gaffes on the campaign trail. She went on to later lose a gubernatorial election to Republican Charlie Baker.

Alabama Democrats are undeterred, however. Everywhere you turn, the party is bubbling with excitement. Large numbers of Democrats signed up to run for office, including in Republican strongholds where the party in past years has not even bothered to field candidates.

Democrats tell each other and the world that the victory in December by Jones has them believing they can win.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley stops short of predicting a Democratic sweep in November.

“But I think the chances are good at getting other Democrats to follow Doug Jones’ winning mode,” she said. “He certainly inspired a lot of excitement.”

Worley said the party’s “unprecedented success” at recruiting candidates is going to result in many tight races, even if the Democrats don’t win them all.

“Quite frankly, the records of a lot of Republican legislators are going to be looked at closely,” she said.

But in the first test of the Jones Effect, a Democratic candidate came up short last week in a special election for the state House of Representatives in a district that Jones won in December with 57 percent of the vote.

Worley depicted the glass as half full, noting that Republican Rex Reynolds was well-known as a former Huntsville police chief and city official. Yet, Worley noted, Democrat Terry Jones kept the race much closer than he did in 2014 when he ran against incumbent Republican Jim Patterson.

“He stands a very good chance of winning in the fall,” she said, noting that the two candidates will square off in a rematch in November.

Jones, himself, seems much more cautious about imputing excessive meaning in his victory.

“Not in a sense from flipping a state from red to blue,” Jones told FM 106.5 radio talk show host Sean Sullivan last week in Mobile. “I don’t think that that is going to happen, and frankly, I don’t think it should happen in that context. What I’m hoping to see out of our election is people are now starting to focus on issues rather than party.”

But Jones, the Athens State political science professor, said the Jones win has energized a party badly in need of new life. That attracts volunteers and candidates who can lay the groundwork for gains down the road, he said.

“You’ve got to keep people believing victory is possible. … That’s the way you continue to grow,” he said. “That’s what Republicans did to become competitive.”

Ostermeier, the University of Minnesota political scientist, noted that of the 16 special Senate elections held in off years across the country in the last 70 years, the party trying to defend the seat lost a majority of the contests.

In four of those races, the winning candidate’s party went on to electoral success in the following election — Democrat William Proxmire in Wisconsin in 1957; Republican John Tower in Texas in 1961; Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas in 1993; and Democrat Ron Wyden in Oregon in 1996.

All four saw their parties pick up congressional seats in the next election.

So, Ostermeier said, short-term success is possible.

“That’s sort of the best-case scenario you could paint,” he said.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.


32 mins ago

Man arrested in connection to triple murder in Alabama

Police say a man has been arrested in connection to a triple murder in Alabama.

Guntersville Police told WAFF-TV that 52-year-old Jimmy O’Neal Spencer was arrested Tuesday on four counts of capital murder.


The bodies of 74-year-old Marie Kitchens Martin and her 7-year-old great-grandson, Colton Ryan Lee, were found in a home on Friday, and 65-year-old neighbor Martha Reliford in her home.

Spencer was taken to the Marshall County Jail.

The body of a missing man, James Michael Baker, was found near the crime scene. Investigators have not determined his death to be connected.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

President Trump congratulates Rep. Martha Roby on her runoff victory

President Trump took to Twitter Wednesday to congratulate Rep. Martha Roby in her House District 2 primary runoff victory against former District 2 congressman Bobby Bright.

Trump expressed that his endorsement contributed to Roby’s “landslide victory.”


There were questions, particularly among national news commentators, about whether Roby would be able to overcome the stigma of de-endorsing President Trump in the 2016 election, but his support for her put that question largely to bed.

“I’m honored and humbled that the people of Alabama’s Second District have again placed their trust and confidence in me, and that I will have the opportunity to continue to do this job on their behalf,” Roby said in a statement, in part. “On behalf of my family and me, thank you to each person who went out to the polls today to support me.”

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been a great privilege to be a part of the conservative momentum and to work alongside my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to push some very important priorities over the finish line. We are in a unique position to accomplish even more, and I’m eager to continue the fight,” she also said.

Roby faces Democrat Tabitha Isner in November.

4 hours ago

Rex Lumber Co. to build new facility, bring more than 100 jobs to Alabama

A lumber company is investing $110 million in a new facility in Alabama’s Pike County, bringing more than 100 new jobs.

WSFA-TV reports Rex Lumber Co. announced Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony that the new facility will be located 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Troy in the Harmony Community. It expects to employ around 110 people.


Officials say the Southern Yellow Pine sawmill is expected to be operation by June 2019.

Currently, Rex Lumber Co. operates sawmills in Graceville and Bristol, Florida. They also have a site in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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About last night: Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

North Alabama has spoken.
When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.


Both candidates hail from Marshall County and both effectively energized their bases in the Fourth and Fifth Congressional Districts. This is particularly evident when you look at their margins of victory in those north Alabama counties compared to the performances of their opponents in their own base counties. Ainsworth and Marshall won big at home.

With Ainsworth and Marshall the presumptive winners in November (more on that below), north Alabama could have the Speaker of the House, the Lt. Governor and the Attorney General in positions of power.

Keep an eye on this dynamic in the 2020 race for the U.S. Senate.

Several months ago, a fashionable narrative developed among some that Democrats were going to move the needle in November 2018. In fairness to the delusional, much of this was borne out of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the Moore-Jones election.

However, these runoff elections are a culmination of months now during which no one is seriously talking about Democrats — let alone their chances in November.

Even the ultra-liberal New York Times, which is an arm of the Democratic Party, posted this statement as part of its updated Alabama primary election results on June 11:

“In deep-red Alabama, the Republican primary almost certainly determined the general election winner.”

Democrat candidates up and down the ballot — from Walt Maddox in the Governor’s race to Democrat legislators like Johnny Mack Morrow — will tilt at their windmills. But they won’t be able to escape Nancy Pelosi and their own party’s dysfunction.

Expect big Republican wins in November.

It’s time to change Alabama’s runoffs.
South Carolina holds their runoffs three weeks after the primary. Alabama puts six weeks between its primary and its runoff.

In South Carolina’s top race, there were only 24,000 fewer votes in the runoff than there were in the primary. That was only a 6.5% decrease.

In Alabama’s top runoff race, there was a nearly 200,000 total vote difference between the primary and the runoff. That’s a 37.5% decrease in participation. Undoubtedly, those three extra weeks, which bring the runoff deep into the summer, contribute significantly to voter apathy.

South Carolina has established an efficient process for handling military absentee ballots within its three-week runoff. Alabama should do the same.

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5 hours ago

7 Things: Trump backtracks on trusting Putin, election results, new permanent tax cuts, and more …

1. President Donald Trump backtracks and tells an absurd lie 

— After stating he believes Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence officials, President Trump backtracked. He received intense criticism from within his own party, from Democrats and from a deranged media.

— In a statement read by the president of the United States, and believed by no one, he states, “The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.'”

2. And the winners are…


— Attorney General Steve Marshall crushes former AG Troy King in a race that wasn’t even close.  Marshall will face former Democrat AG and Governor’s son Joseph Siegelman.

— State Rep. Will Ainsworth squeaks by in the Lt. Gov. race, barely beating the more well-known candidate Twinkle Cavanaugh to be the odds-on on favorite to win the job in November. (Quick: Who is the Democrat candidate for Lt. Gov.?)

3. New tax cuts

— A second round of tax cuts, and a move to make the tax cuts permanent, are being discussed by the White House and Congressional Republicans. The fact they expired was a major part of the complaints by Democrats on the issue.

— Democrats, who still don’t want tax cuts, have filed a frivolous lawsuit with the federal government because blue states taxes are so high and the 1st round of tax cuts capped deductions on state taxes that could be deducted.

4. Toyota CEO continues to sound the alarm on Trump’s tariffs and how they will impact Alabama

— Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama President wrote that a 25% tariff on foreign automobiles will have a devastating impact on manufacturing.

— This is exactly the argument Kay Ivey made earlier this summer when she said, “Import tariffs, and any retaliatory tariffs on American made goods, will harm Alabama, the companies that have invested billions of dollars in our state, and the thousands of households, which are dependent upon those companies for a good-paying job.”

5. After a hate-love relationship with Trump, Congresswoman Martha Roby survives in Alabama’s only real contested Congressional race

— Roby absolutely destroyed former Democrat turned Republican Bobby Bright. Bright was possibly the worst GOP primary candidate if the goal is to point out the divisions in the GOP because he has a vote for Nancy Pelosi on his resume.

— The “can she overcome talking bad about Trump?” narrative should die — it will not.

6. More details emerge about Governor Bentley’s past and present with Rebekah Caldwell Mason

— Bentley continues to deny the affair with his former aide was sexual, which really stretches the bounds of believability.

— The former governor’s love-interest is apparently still working with Bentley at his dermatology office in Tuscaloosa. She is not listed in the staff section of the website.

7. There is a silly notion working its way through the media and Democrats that anyone upset with Trump’s comments must abandon the GOP

—  A Republican Party county chairman in Ohio resigned on Monday after watching President Donald Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin, calling it a “matter of conscience”

— While this continues to be a theme, many Republicans continue to support the GOP because as I wrote for Yellowhammer yesterday, “The economy matters, the Supreme Court matters, controlling our borders matters”.