The Wire

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

3 weeks ago

Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer calls Sarah Sanders’ restaurant treatment a ‘borderline civil rights violation,’ but is it?

(G. Palmer/Facebook)

In an interview with Matt Murphy of the Matt & Aunie show, Rep. Gary Palmer made clear his view of a Virginia restaurant owner’s decision to refuse service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, due to her association with President Trump.

“I think it’s a borderline civil rights violation,” Palmer said. “This is really going to lead to a bad place.”

Palmer has it right. This is going to lead to a bad place and will likely incite more hatred and vitriol.

He may even be right that it merits the legal label of a civil rights violation. I don’t, however, think that it should be a civil rights violation.


I must preface this opinion by saying that I’m not a legal scholar but that I am persuaded by arguments that promote a business owner’s right to refuse service to a customer for most reasons, particularly within the framework of business so defined:

Business transactions have long been thought of as voluntary associations, as they should be. A business has something that I, a patron, wants, and I have something that it wants in return.

Though often unspoken, when one patronizes a store or restaurant, assent occurs. A store or business operates on a de-facto voluntary basis, meaning if its doors are open, it basically assents to selling its product or service to you. This circumstance is the typically understood one.

However, business owners are not expected to serve those who are judged to be disrespectful, or who have a history of bad interactions with the employees, simply because they enter the store, nor should they be. The store’s leadership has domain over the store’s property and ought to be allowed to accept an exchange or not.

These terms are general, and I do think that circumstances matter. Refusing service to customers based upon their race or religion is clearly illegal and ought to be, as a measure of promoting fairness and equality.

Those characteristics, as ones protected by the Constitution, are far more concrete and historically bound to our societal cooperation than political beliefs.

The question is, should you have a civil right to voluntarily enter into a business agreement with another party if the other party doesn’t wish to do so?

It should, in almost all cases, be no.

That doesn’t mean it’s proper social behavior.

What the Red Hen’s owner did deserves a proper title of rudeness, but it should hardly be a considered a “borderline civil rights violation.”

3 weeks ago

Sen. Doug Jones ‘progressive-splains’ Alabama conservatism

(W.Miller from D. Jones/Facebook)

A recent lengthy and, at times, quite flattering profile of Sen. Doug Jones by FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone offers little breaking news – aside from the interesting revelation that Jones believes he would have beaten Roy Moore by a wider margin had sexual misconduct allegations not been raised against Moore.

The story is worth reading, though, because it offers Alabama conservatives an opportunity to look at how an Alabama progressive evaluates their political conservatism.


Jones tells Malone about Alabama conservatives, within the context of a constituent asking him about why the Affordable Care Act is a good thing: “They see the federal government as not being good and don’t really fully appreciate the fact that their public officials need those federal dollars to help their roads, to help their schools, to help save their hospital.”

Many conservatives certainly do think as Jones describes but a more proper conservative position, in my view, is seeing many of the current functions of the federal government as not being good.

Sen. Marco Rubio recently sat down with David Axelrod, who worked for President Obama, where he made that critical distinction when Axelrod asked him about running for the Senate as a Tea Party candidate in 2010.

“There was a feeling that government had overreached in the issues of healthcare, stimulus spending and the like, but… I’ve always said, including during that campaign, that I’m not an anarchist. There is a role for government to play.”

Rubio continues, “I think it’s over-regulation that you’re against but in terms of these transitions, there is a role for government to play.”

In both Jones’s and Axelrod’s framing, there is little distinction in these questions of public policy between the primary institution of government and the actions of government. Therefore, when a conservative criticizes something like Medicaid expansion, his criticism becomes framed by progressives as a criticism of government itself, that he’s anti-government, though he really may be opposed to government in that sense.

“True conservatism,” as Rubio frames it, fears the reaches of social democracy. A true conservative fears what Alexis de Toxqueville imagined – indeed prophesied – in 1840, that the modern welfare state would develop into:

“a society consumed with such a malaise, in which government, compassionate toward its subjects, provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, makes rules for their testaments, and divides their inheritances… it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born.”

Some of these have become realities more so than others, but conservatives could certainly find that in some sense, they have all been born out, and to our detriment.

Jones, perhaps without meaning to, reminds us with his characterization that the whole of politics is a conversation about, and an effectuation of, government’s role in our lives. That’s what we’re ultimately fighting about.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 weeks ago

Alabama AG race latest: Troy King calls Steve Marshall ‘missing in action,’ Marshall hits back

(Steve Marshall, Troy King for Attorney General / Facebook)

Republican candidate for attorney general of Alabama Troy King lashed out at his GOP competitor on Friday, saying Marshall is not adequately tending to his duties as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

“Last week, we gathered in Montgomery to look for Attorney General Steve Marshall,” King said at a press conference this morning at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. “We went to the place where you would most expect that we would find the attorney general of Alabama, at his office. Of course, we learned that he was not there.”


“We come to the airport today, a place that we are most likely to find Steve Marshall, because these weren’t isolated events,” King said, with revving jet engines as background noise.

King began to argue that Marshall has spent too much time away from his post, such as at a recent meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RACA) in Kiawah, South Carolina, where King said attendees – state attorneys general and their lobbyist friends – were “bought and paid for” while they did yoga on the beach and went on dolphin tours.

King referred to this report published by CBS News on Tuesday, which lays out the agenda of RACA’s retreat meeting.

“This idea that someone’s bought and paid for is rich coming from Troy King,” Marshall told Yellowhammer News, citing King’s relation to the gambling industry.

Marshall said that King attended the same RACA meetings when he served as attorney general. He also challenged King’s characterization of the business interests in attendance, saying the notion that their interests are wholly other than the interests of Alabamians is misguided.

“One of the things we attempt to do, on behalf of not only the people of Alabama but on matters of constitutional importance is to make sure that we are upholding the rule of law,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, among the issues that RACA set off to address at their April conference were the leftovers of President Obama’s regulatory environment, health care and campus free speech.

King also accused Marshall of wasting time on a trip to Africa last year, which was sponsored by the Conference of Western Attorneys General, saying Marshall was “missing in action.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall’s campaign challenged King’s claims.

“Steve was on a short trip last year to the Republic of South Africa to participate in a legal seminar with his counterparts there,” the statement said. “This trip was not a vacation of any kind and was focused on fighting human trafficking, a hallmark of Steve’s platform.”

The primary runoff election is July 17.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 weeks ago

Big day for Alabama’s Rep. Roby as Trump endorses her, blasts opponent

Rep. Martha Roby has received the president’s seal of approval, a tweet of endorsement in her Republican primary runoff bid for reelection to represent Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Trump’s endorsement queued all the buzzwords which have dominated conversations around the race, particularly by addressing Roby’s fidelity to his “Make America Great Again” agenda and by hitting Roby’s runoff opponent, Bobby Bright, as a “recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat.”


Bright supported Nancy Pelosi’s speakership when he represented the district from 2009 to 2011, before Roby unseated him.

Why this matters: It’s usual for a president to endorse incumbents of his own party but this endorsement is big news, considering that Roby’s inability to win outright in the June 5 primary has been widely attributed by national media to her strong rebuke of Trump following the “Access Hollywood” tape’s release.

The question of Roby’s loyalty to Trump was raised repeatedly by her primary challengers, state Rep. Barry Moore and Roy Moore ally Rich Hobson. The two even mentioned Roby’s de-endorsement of Trump as part of what motivated them to challenge her.

“As a resident of Alabama’s 2nd congressional district, my prayer is that whoever wins this seat will work with President Trump as we continue to make America great again,” Barry Moore told Yellowhammer at the news of Trump’s endorsement of Roby. “Obviously this election has not turned out the way I had hoped, but, everything else has—my small business is busier than ever.”

“I spoke to President Trump this morning and thanked him for his endorsement in my primary runoff on July 17,” Roby said today in a statement. “As I’ve said many times, my voting record on behalf of the people of Alabama’s Second District reflects my commitment to a shared conservative agenda with this administration. I’ve enjoyed a positive working relationship with the White House and Republicans in Congress as we fight together to get our conservative priorities over the finish line for the American people.”

Trump has shown a tendency to endorse those Republicans who have rebuked him publicly, including Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Alabama’s primary runoff is July 17.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 weeks ago

Far out: Univ. of Alabama astronomer helps discover a new type of black hole

(UA, Pixabay)

Astronomy news is always old news because of, you know, light years and such.

About 750 million years ago, in a galaxy far, far away (queue the Star Wars intro), a black hole consumed a nearby star in an event that has revealed to astronomers the existence of something new: a mid-sized black hole.

Dr. Jimmy Irwin, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Alabama who is part of the team that discovered this new type of black hole, explained the revelation in an interview with Yellowhammer News.


Astronomers have established with good evidence the existence of “low-mass” black holes, which are judged to be between 3 and 30 times more massive than the sun, as well as “super-massive” black holes, one of which has been discovered in our own galaxy to be 4 million times more massive than the sun.

“We know that low-mass black holes form and we know that high-mass black holes form,” Dr. Irwin explained, “but between these two book ends, it’s not clear whether there’s a mechanism in nature that allows black holes to be formed with, say, a mass above one hundred times the mass of our sun and below one million times the mass of our sun.”

There’s pretty good evidence now, though, that such medium-sized black holes do exist.

As Dr. Irwin explained, when a black hole rips up and consumes a star, its debris becomes very hot and emits x-ray radiation, creating data that becomes observable over time.

“There’s already a built-in time lag, based upon the distance of the object,” Irwin said.

The observations that led to this discovery were made through what Dr. Irwin described as a detective-like process.

The astronomer who began the project, Dr. Dacheng Lin, was actually a post-doctoral researcher under Irwin in years past. Dr. Lin began looking back at data recorded by a variety of telescopes in Europe and the United States between 2003 and 2006 and discovered an observable change at a particular spot in this far-away universe.

“There was a bright x-ray source in one observation and it was dimmer in the next one,” Irwin explained.

“Piecing together the history he was able to discover that this probably happened, or at least this radiation reached the earth’s telescopes, probably sometime in 2003,” he said.

Irwin stressed that we’ve known about black holes for a long time, but not of this type.

“This idea of stars being torn apart isn’t a new idea,” he said. “What’s new is that we’re seeing stars ripped apart by one of these mid-sized black holes.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 weeks ago

The Pauline passage doesn’t address the justice of penalties for breaking laws


Scholars and pundits have made their thoughts well-known on the Trump Administration’s biblical arguments for “zero-tolerence” immigration enforcement.

Here I offer one more targeted to the structure of the argument that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made last Thursday.

For review, here are his words, which have enticed the most responders.


Sessions shapes up his parameters as “to discuss some concerns raised by our church friends about separation of families.”

He continues: “Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, it should be and must be, if we’re going to have a legal system and any limits whatsoever. People who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. If you violate the law, you subject yourself to prosecution.”

Sessions then invokes St. Paul, whose instructions to the church in Rome he summarizes as to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

Here is my primary observation:

The Romans 13 passage is far too broad to address the justness of separating families. St. Paul’s guidance does perhaps provide a defense for the prosecution of illegal immigrants but certainly does not imply that should one break a secular law, any consequence is permissible, simply because a secular authority sanctioned it.

Truly, Paul speaks nothing of the justice of such consequences in this passage. As a result, the only piece of the immigration enforcement puzzle given any measure of justification by St. Paul is the notion that those who have entered illegally have broken a law.

In short, Sessions ventures from making a case for the justness of separating the children from their parents to making a much broader case that laws ought to be applied because God gave secular authority to enlist them.

Sessions’s use of the Pauline passage would not be completely useless for making a broad case for immigration enforcement but considering his starting point, the passage simply does not extend to imply what he implies which is that the result of prosecution, namely the separation of families, is just.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

On IG report, Sessions speaks like a long-time law man, Trump like a politician

(Fox News, TIME/YouTube)

The amount of personal and political separation between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increased since yesterday, though no more directed swipes have been taken.

Both responded to the much-anticipated Department of Justice’s Inspector General report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation with criticism of the bureau, but their words demonstrate that what is ultimately responsible for the division between them is how differently they operate in the political sphere.


In his response to the report, Sessions offered a definite reproof of the Department of Justice.

“The Inspector General’s report reveals a number of significant errors by the senior leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI during the previous administration,” Sessions said in a statement yesterday.

“Accordingly, this report must be seen as an opportunity for the FBI — long considered the world’s premier investigative agency — and all of us at the Department to learn from past mistakes. The Department is not above criticism, and it is accountable to the Chief Executive, Congress, and most importantly, the American people.”

Even so, he spent near as many words both praising and encouraging the institution.

“I have worked alongside the agents and employees of the FBI for decades, and it is my honor to serve with you as Attorney General,” Sessions said. “In offices throughout the country and the world, you embody the fidelity, bravery, and integrity that is your motto. Continue your mission. Achieve excellence. And understand that your work – protecting the American people at home and abroad – is your greatest legacy.”

Trump responded to the report this morning with tweets targeting former FBI director James Comey and FBI Agent Peter Strzok.

In an impromptu appearance on “Fox & Friends” this morning, Trump reinforced those criticisms while offering his support, and accepting the support, of the rank and file.

“The people in the FBI are incredible,” he told Steve Doocy. “I would bet if you took a poll, in the FBI, I would win that poll by more than anyone’s ever won a poll.”

For Sessions, all of this demands an effort to preserve the Department of Justice.

For Trump, all of this offers an opportunity for self-preservation.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Amazing story: 18-year-old elected as Geneva County Commissioner

(W. Spivey/Facebook)

On May 18, Weston Spivey graduated high school from Ridgecrest Christian in Dothan.

In the June 5 primary elections, he beat incumbent Geneva County Commissioner Bryan Hatton for his District 1 seat.

“A lot of no’s and a lot of ‘there ain’t no way you can win this race with who you’re running against,’” the 18-year-old commissioner-elect characterized responses to his candidacy in an interview with Yellowhammer News.

Those attitudes motivated rather than discouraged Spivey.

“You have to take that motivation and go out and knock on doors,” he said.


In early 2017, Spivey was approached by some community businessmen who encouraged him to run for probate judge.

He figured he wasn’t ready for that, in part because he wasn’t old enough to qualify, but he did become interested in the prospect of running for office.

“I think county commissioner is a good place to start,” he said.

It’s a good place to start, especially because the commission has a lot of power over things that affect business, one of Spivey’s primary interests.

Spivey and his grandfather raise buffalo and sell the meat to vendors in Alabama and Florida. In the last two years, Spivey has undertaken the role of finding new wholesale vendors, among others.

His success, as well as his willingness to learn, gained him the confidence of his fellow businessmen.

“I went to the guys in my community that have won big in business and asked for their advice,” Spivey said. “I kept them in the loop of my business’s finances and what me and my grandad were doing. They got to see me do a lot of work, as far as progressing our company.”

Geneva County is a rural county sitting on the Alabama-Florida border that, according to Spivey, has three major needs: infrastructure improvement, economic development and accountability from county government.

“Infrastructure is by far my number one concern,” Spivey said. “It means so much for our future, for our safety. We’ve got to have safe roads.”

Good roads also foster more investment, which Spivey prioritizes.

“I think people now in our county, more than ever, understand the need for people who understand economic development and understand what it’s going to actually take to progress our county,” he said. “Economic development is all we have going for us, really. We’ve got to have jobs. We’ve got to have more people looking at our county saying, ‘We want to move to Geneva County.’

That’s important for the county’s entire population, young and old.

“I don’t want our high school students to have to leave Geneva County, Alabama when they get out at 3:00 and go to Houston County to have a job,” he said. “I want our students to be able to be employed here, to have a job here.”

Finally, Spivey said his constituents in Slocomb, Malvern, and Fadette deserve to know what he’s doing.

“I want people to know that I’m out working for them,” Spivey said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to stay out there with the people who put me here and to give them progress reports and show them how we’re putting their tax dollars to work.”

Spivey has all the confidence a politician needs, but he balances it with a good measure of humility because he knows his age.

“I believe it’s going to be important, for me as a young man, to have my ears open and to listen to people who have been involved in politics, and to take the advice of people who have been in my position,” Spivey said.

“I’ve got to be willing to listen and learn.”

Spivey has no general election challenger and will assume office on Nov. 13.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Seattle repeals head tax, avoids more ‘misinformed philanthropy’


The ever-progressive Seattle City Council yesterday repealed a head tax that it unanimously passed just a month ago tomorrow.

The tax would have cost Seattle’s largest corporations $275 per full-time employee, revenue which would be utilized to combat the city’s homelessness issues.

I was in Seattle when the council voted on May 14 to approve the “Amazon tax,” and it was the literal word on the street.

As my wife and I passed a downtown bus stop, one uniformed man talked with another about his former volunteer efforts with the city’s homeless, a conversation that I presume began about the tax. Our waitress at McCoy’s Firehouse raved against it, as did one of our Uber drivers.


Even The Seattle Times’s editorial board, which is quite liberal, wrote a scathing rebuttal to the tax, calling on Seattleites to “respond with an initiative” to overcome its harmful effects.

“In affirming its hostility to employers with a punitive job tax, the Seattle City Council is causing major harm to the city’s economic stability and long-term prosperity,” the board published on May 16.

The council’s reversal was undoubtedly influenced by threats from Amazon to cease development in the city, but also because regular people campaigned hard enough against the tax to force a referendum in November.

Mayor Jenny Durkan revealed that much.

“What changed is listening to people in the last month,” Durkan said on Tuesday when asked about her broken promises. “I heard people. It was time to take a pause, to hit reset, and to win back some of the confidence of the people.”

The head tax would have been yet another case of “legal plundering,” aka “misinformed philanthropy,” as 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat characterized taxation.

Even without the head tax, Seattle is going to spend some $70 million this year on homelessness, according to the Times.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Nasty language – the feel good vice of politicking


My favorite research of the past ten years – mainly because it, at least to some degree, defends my verbal reaction to spilling hot coffee – is the finding that using foul language has health benefits.

“The words themselves don’t help us to better tolerate pain – but the emotional and physical reaction that we have by saying the words triggers the fight or flight response, which then gives us that burst of energy to make it through the difficult or painful task,” Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim, psychologist and author of Working With Difficult People, said in a recent interview with NBC News.


Painful tasks – such as not liking someone or, in celebrities’ case, living under a President Trump.

If talking nasty didn’t make them feel better, Bee, De Niro, Barr, Peter Navarro, even the president, and countless others like them would be less likely to continue doing it publicly, despite the personal consequences of having to apologize or getting fired, or the corporate consequence of inciting more intramural, American hatred.

In a recent “Meet The Press” appearance, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan offered a compelling take on the Rosanne/Samantha Bee story that extends and addresses the recent comments of Robert De Niro about President Trump and of Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who said “there’s a special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I would think, look, part of the problem is public figures having a hard time being public figures,” Noonan said.

“When you are lucky enough in America to be a public figure your celebrity is not only your pleasure it is your responsibility. What is that responsibility? Don’t make it worse. Don’t make it ugly or don’t make it sicker. Samantha Bee doesn’t seem to understand that responsibility. Roseanne didn’t understand it. I am very glad to see a certain amount of backlash against them almost as if the American people are saying, ‘Stop it already. This is terrible. You’re making it worse.’”

Rather than attending to that responsibility, these figures attend to their feelings and, no doubt, the feelings of millions of other Americans.

In that course, they make it all worse, make it all nastier.

The base opinions that Trump is a bad president, or that Trudeau did a bad thing, are not necessarily entirely objectionable.

It’s the manner in which those opinions are expressed that is objectionable … even if it feels good to express them.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

President Trump: Alterer of scales, especially in Alabama

(Donald Trump/Instagram)

In a little more than three years, a single man has altered the dynamics of Republican politics drastically enough to change the scale by which candidates and voters determine the viability of their potential GOP representatives.

Republicans’ fidelity to conservatism is no longer framed in terms of how conservatively they vote, but by how little they challenge, or have challenged, President Trump.

In March 2015:

– Two months into his role as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell leads an unofficial but coordinated campaign against President Obama’s energy policies, encouraging states to take the Feds to court over coal-crushing regulations.

– Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs into a law a bill that prevents government from “substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion,” amid debates and lawsuits over same-sex wedding cakes.


– Republicans’ fidelity to conservatism is judged by how well they combat big government progressivism.

– The words “Donald Trump” and “president” are just starting to be used together with some measure of frequency, as Trump announces his presidential exploratory committee.

In June 2018:

– Republican candidates for office use their loyalty to President Trump as the buttress of their campaigns.

– Headlines following primary elections across the country read: “Proof that Republicans oppose Trump at their peril” and “Alabama congresswoman who disavowed Trump in 2016 forced into runoff.”

The headlines above are about eight-year incumbent Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), whose failure last week to win the Republican primary outright is attributable to her un-endorsing President Trump following the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape.

Roby wasn’t forced into a runoff because she isn’t conservative enough. Her voting record is as conservative as any member of Republican leadership.

She was forced into a runoff because she didn’t see it fit for the leader of America’s “family values” party to get away with talking about women that way.

Two of Roby’s Republican challengers openly admitted that her withdrawal of support for Trump led them to enter the race and made that a chief argument against Roby’s re-election.

“I think it showed where her mindset was and showed she did not support the Republican nominee,” Rich Hobson told Mike Cason of before the primary. “And that did open the door for folks to be able to run, and I know it opened the door for me.”

“I was the first in the nation to endorse Trump,” Barry Moore said in an interview on WOPP AM 1290 in Opp. “Our current congressman, she threw him under the bus, so the Trump guys called me that night and said would you at least consider.”

Neither Hobson nor Moore made the runoff, but together they got almost 27 percent of the vote by making few substantial arguments against Roby’s policymaking.

That one individual has been able to make himself the political measuring stick is one of the more lamentable realities in politics currently.

1 month ago

Alabama Attorney General runoff: A case of good polling, and what’s to come

(Steve Marshall, Troy King for Attorney General / Facebook)

The results are in.

Attorney General Steve Marshall and former Attorney General Troy King will face each other again next month in a Republican primary runoff, the winner of which will go up against Democrat nominee Joseph Siegelman in November’s general election.

Here are a few thoughts on what happened last night, and on what’s to come:

Name recognition seems to have significantly benefitted the candidates.


Both King and Marshall had high name ID among those in the Republican candidate field, according to a poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in late April.

King’s name ID was at 61 percent among the polled primary voters, and Marshall’s was at 43 percent.

The runoff will be close.

Marshall got 28.3 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, and King got 27.9 percent.

Polling of this race was spot on, predicting the matchup between Marshall and King.

The same WPA Intelligence poll found that King’s and Marshall’s favorability among those surveyed were 26 and 24 percent respectively.

There will be attacks.

This sounds pretty sinister but it’s only to say that, in anticipation of such a close race, Marshall and King are going to have to create some separation. The way to do that in politics is typically not very nice.

Other than the candidate vs. candidate stuff, the nastiest attacks will likely come from outside sources, unrelated to the campaigns.

A recent ad put out by Fair Play Alabama, which is not associated with Troy King, accuses Steve Marshall of being the cousin of head of gaming for the Poarch Creek Indians, implying that he is tied to the tribe’s gambling interests.

Earlier in the cycle, an anti-King website posted pictures and links to old blogs attempting to low-blow smear King.

It’s gotten pretty ugly so far, so expect more mud.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Alabama GOP primary: A last second look at the governor and attorney general races


The first half of election season nears its resolution today as voters choose their party’s candidate for November.

Here’s what the polls tell us may happen at the polls:

Governor’s race

Polling demonstrates that Gov. Kay Ivey has a commanding lead – 58 percent in the most recent poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group. Tommy Battle, mayor of Huntsville, polled at 18 percent in that survey, while evangelist Scott Dawson and State Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile were at 7 and 5 percent respectively, with 12 percent undecided.


Ivey’s lead in the polls has grown over recent weeks. At least one poll, conducted by Leverage Public Strategies in late April, put Ivey’s support at 47 percent, with support for other candidates spread widely. Tommy Battle polled at 11 percent, Dawson at 9 percent, and Hightower at 4 percent, with 30 percent undecided.

Ivey is virtually guaranteed to win the most votes today but support for the three other candidates, coupled with a predicted turnout of 25-30 percent, could force a runoff election.

What is expected: Ivey will either win outright, or she will end up in a runoff with Tommy Battle.

Attorney General’s race

Unlike the race for governor, the race for attorney general is close.

A survey conducted by Leverage Public Strategies from April 20-30 had Attorney General Steve Marshall leading former Attorney General Troy King by one point. Of the 600 likely Republican voters polled, 14 percent supported Marshall and 13 percent supported King. Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin polled in third at 10 percent and Chess Bedsole at 4 percent, with 59 percent undecided.

Earlier polling by WPA Intelligence showed King had a slightly higher favorability than Marshall, at 26 to 24 percent, but King’s unfavorability was higher, at 15 percent to Marshall’s 5 percent.

What is expected: Based merely upon the polling, Marshall and King will end up in a runoff.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

1 month ago

Alabama politics ‘for dummies’: A primer on the executive department


It’s common for even the most educated of voters to know little about the candidates on their ballots.

It’s perhaps even more common for voters to lack a general understanding of the offices which those candidates want to occupy.

Here’s a quick summary of the duties of each member of Alabama’s executive department.


The governor is the state’s chief executive. He or she has the abilities, defined by Alabama law, to sign and veto legislation, to call the legislature to convene a special session on “extraordinary occasions,” to commute sentences and grant pardons, to control state property, to accept and distribute federal grants, among others.

Gov. Kay Ivey is running for re-election against Republican primary challengers Tommy Battle, Bill Hightower, and Scott Dawson.


Lieutenant governor

The lieutenant governor is the “vice” governor, so to speak, and takes over the office of governor upon its vacation. Then-Lieutenant Governor Ivey fulfilled this duty when Robert Bentley resigned the governorship in April 2017.

There are many similarities between lieutenant governor and vice president of the United States. Like the vice president, the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate body and has the ability to cast tie-breaking votes.

Unlike the president and vice president, the lieutenant governor does not run on the same ticket with the governor in Alabama, though in many other states, they do run together.

The Office of Lieutenant Governor is currently vacant. Running for the Republican nomination are Will Ainsworth, Twinkle Cavanaugh, and Rusty Glover.

Attorney General

The attorney general is the state’s top legal official. He or she defends the state in lawsuits and represents the state in other court proceedings. The attorney general also has the power to sue the federal government in federal court. Another of the attorney general’s primary functions is to review and opine on the constitutionality of enacted laws and proposed laws.

Attorney General Steve Marshall is running for re-election against Republican primary challengers Alice Martin, Chess Bedsole, and Troy King.

Secretary of State

First among the secretary of state’s duties as listed in the Code of Alabama is to “keep the state seal, the original statutes and public records of the state.” The secretary of state functions in much the same way as an office secretary. He or she is to maintain and keep in order official documents, deeds, and other public records.

Most importantly, the secretary is the state’s chief election official. He or she maintains election records and certifies election results.

Secretary of State John Merrill is running for re-election against Republican primary challenger Michael Johnson.

State Treasurer

The Code of Alabama lays out the treasurer’s primary duty as “to receive all moneys due the state and deposit them in the proper accounts” He or she is also responsible for paying interest on state debt and managing other financial programs, such as college savings programs.

Treasurer Young Boozer is not running for re-election. Running for the Republican nomination are David Black, Stephen Evans, and John McMillan.

State Auditor

The auditor is required to “make a full and complete report to the governor showing the receipts and disbursement of every character, all claims audited and paid out, and all taxes and revenues collected and paid into the treasury,” as the office’s website summarizes.

The auditor also sits on several key boards, including the State Board of Adjustment and State Board of Appointments for Board of Registrars.

Auditor Jim Zeigler is running for re-election against Republican primary challengers Stan Cooke and Elliott Lipinsky.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Army veteran Clayton Hinchman looking to upset Rep. Mo Brooks in Tuesday primary

(C. Hinchman/Facebook)

#TakeTheHill is Clayton Hinchman’s version of the popular Drain The Swamp mantra.

The hashtag resonates with Hinchman’s military experience, which he has used as a point of focus in his campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.

Hinchman announced in May of 2017 that he would be running to represent Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

“We’ve been told, and what I’ve heard, is the fact that the 5th District needs a leader who’s willing to listen to the people and then take that message to Washington,” he said at his campaign launch, which took place at the Madison County Veterans Memorial.


Hinchman has said that much of his motivation for getting into this race was the government shutdown of 2013.

“We had our Congress going on TV saying, ‘We’re sticking it to the president,’ and our congresspeople are talking about how they’re fixing the deficit,” Hinchman said in a recent interview.

“I took offense to Congress, I took offense to the swamp, I took offense to all the people who couldn’t work together to solve a problem,” he said.

Hinchman speaks often about the intersection of government, business and defense.

He was the Honor Graduate of his class from U.S. Army Ranger School, and gained his Airborne and Air Assault wings.

As part of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and Special Operations Task Force 17, Hinchman went on a night raid in May 2008 that changed his life, when an IED critically wounded him. The attack led to the amputation of his leg.

Hinchman medically retired from the Army as a Captain and began finding his way back into civilian life.

He moved to North Alabama and founded USi, a cyber and information technology solutions firm, which has since been acquired by Ignite.

Aside from his personal story, Hinchman is utilizing the en vogue political strategy of the year for Alabama Republicans, and making his case partly about fidelity to Donald Trump.

One of Hinchman’s recent campaign ads paints Brooks as “the original Never Trumper.” The ad plays clips from an interview that Brooks did before the Republican primaries in 2016, in which he speaks negatively of Trump.

“I don’t think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says,” Brooks says in the interview.

“Clayton Hinchman has stood with Donald Trump from the beginning,” the ad concludes.

Brooks recently announced he received Trump’s endorsement, in which Trump said Brooks “… fought by my side to secure our border, rebuild our military, cut your taxes, repeal ObamaCare, and build the wall!”

If Hinchman were to win the primary and the general election, he would join the unique ranks of Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), and Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts), all 30-somethings who fought in the Iraq War and are now members of Congress.

The primary election is Tuesday, June 5.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Bill Hightower: A different sort of Alabama conservative

(B. Hightower/Facebook)

Plato’s greatest contribution to western civilization was not his ruminations on the soul, nor his analogy of the cave, but his idea of the philosopher king.

Don’t tune out yet.

The concept basically argues that the best ruler is a philosopher, or “lover of wisdom,” in the original Greek.

It’s to say that society benefits best from leaders who concern themselves with big ideas, who wrestle with the big questions.


I’m not ready to call Bill Hightower, Republican candidate for governor, a philosopher king, but his form of politics is rooted in, well, the roots, the big ideas, of modern conservatism.

In his response to the first question on the Alabama Policy Institute/Yellowhammer News candidate questionnaire, Hightower wrote that his first interactions with conservatism were in reading National Review magazine. William F. Buckley, National Review’s founder, is arguably the voice who has shaped modern conservatism more than any other.

Hightower continued to name specific intellectuals who he reads or follows, including the economists – Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman – who developed modern free market economic policy.

All of this attribution shows that Hightower is not only familiar with, but interested in exploring further the intellectual foundation of conservatism. ‘Conservative’ is more than a buzzword that he expects to attract team voters. It’s a tradition of ideas and principles that have developed through years of intellectual and spiritual reflection on human nature.

Further, he is the one Republican candidate for governor who has tended to go beyond political tropes and self-congratulation and to make systematic arguments about policy.

Just about every response Hightower gave to the candidate questionnaires is three times longer than his opponents’ and three times more thoughtful. Depth doesn’t necessarily accompany length, but in Hightower’s case, it does.

Hightower has also prioritized certain issues, the importance of which other candidates have overlooked.

For example, he has devoted significant attention to making the case for budget reform, arguing that having a General Fund Budget and Education Budget is bad for Alabama.

He wants to see earmarks banned and has promised to propose a Sexual Harassment Commission for state employees.

No candidate is without weaknesses. Hightower’s position on civil asset forfeiture is notably disappointing, as he puts little pressure on law enforcement to ensure that innocent people don’t have their property seized and never returned.

Even still, Hightower has made his case for the governorship by making it larger than himself, or any series of things done under his leadership as a business owner and state senator.

What a candidate has done – or has taken the credit to have done – is secondary to what informs the candidate, and Hightower is committed to informing himself by conservatism.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

State and local elections suffer low voter turnout because they don’t inspire


State and local elections are like the Terms & Conditions of your new app: you know they’re extremely important, but you don’t really have the time to familiarize yourself with them.

While the importance of state and local elections has been demonstrated in columns a million times over – “it’s the state and local policies that affect your day-to-day lives” – voter turnout is always down, especially in primaries.

They just don’t inspire us.


Here are a few reasons, I think, why:

— They lack comprehensive news coverage.

State and local media – which always seem to be lacking both resources and personnel – often do a good job of covering campaign events, but there is usually either a lack of analysis or way too much editorializing, making it difficult for voters to parse the issues.

— They lack the entertainment factor.

Cable news pioneers revolutionized news consumption habits. They made news a new medium of entertainment. As the public’s attention continually shifts toward the more entertaining national political scene, it continually shifts away from less covered and less entertaining local political scenes.

Occasionally, a pro wrestler runs for mayor or a professional musician with hometown connections appears at a local campaign event but typically, the candidates simply don’t entertain.

— The function of some offices is misunderstood or unknown.

Public Service Commission, Place 2. What on earth does that person do? It’s not a scientific observation, but I would venture to say that many registered voters don’t know what the lieutenant governor or attorney general do, not because they are stupid, but because their offices are typically given little public attention. Following them closely requires subscribing to email newsletters or liking Facebook pages, and many voters simply don’t have those offices on their political radar.

— A voter’s involvement in the political process is determined by his level of inspiration. 

And local candidates can’t provide that because of scale. The issues that local candidates are determined to solve are not important enough to enough people.

Moreover, casting a vote in local elections doesn’t arouse feelings of patriotism because this or that probate judge can’t save the country like a candidate for president or Senate can.

All of these things contribute to lack of voter motivation and could be overcome by better media coverage, better civic education, and enhanced voter desire to fulfill societal duties.

Easy enough, right?

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

What electoral politics is vs. what it should be

(W. Miller/YHN)

Election season reminds us – as if we had forgotten – of what politics usually is rather than what it ought to be.

I’ve often heard Nick Saban and other coaches talk about the ability of their teams to “find a way to win,” meaning it doesn’t matter how the win is secured, as long as it’s secured.

Electoral politics is like that and in Alabama, it’s probably because Alabama Republicans are homogenous in many ways. Their ideas tend to come from the same small pool.

Although candidates occasionally express ideas unique to themselves, they usually reiterate vagaries about rebutting political correctness, ending corruption, and fighting the establishment.


Candidates have to gain the electoral edge in some way, and so they try by producing goofy ads like the one Rep. Will Ainsworth recently did.

“Career politicians might not wear masks, but they’re just as dangerous,” he says, as masked intruders enter the scene.

He goes on promising to “fight the Montgomery crooks and career politicians to save Alabama’s future.”

They all say that. Does it really tell us, the voters, anything particular about Ainsworth or how he would govern?

“I am the most effective job creator in the state,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle touts, as if Huntsville didn’t have a rich and pre-existent job environment before he was elected mayor.

“Over the last 10 years I have created more jobs than all other Alabama counties combined.”

Battle’s desire to find a way to win blinds him to the fact that he’s undercutting a key conservative principal in framing his record: Government doesn’t create jobs, businesses do.

It’s encouraging to see Sen. Bill Hightower respond to questions about how he would foster job creation by providing a lengthy argument in favor of the flat tax, while his opponents say “I create all the jobs.”

It demonstrates a trust in the value of ideas, and a trust in the ability of ideas to achieve electoral victory.

The slogans, ads, and self-aggrandizement often entertain and might even persuade, but they don’t edify, nor do they tell voters what the candidates are really about.

Or, maybe they do.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

High-level incumbents likely won’t help civil asset forfeiture reform


Stories like Frank Ranelli’s – a Birmingham-area businessman whose more than 130 computers were seized by Homewood police in 2010 on suspicion that some were stolen – were what drove Alabama’s legislators and interest groups to attempt reform of the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws during this year’s legislative session.

Significant reform gained early momentum when a bill that would require a criminal conviction before assets could be seized passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it quickly lost much of that momentum due to pushback from law enforcement and district attorneys, and a lack of support from the state’s top officials.

Gov. Kay Ivey put little effort towards achieving civil asset forfeiture reform during the session. She has put less political stock in it as a campaign issue.


Though she has spoken in favor of reform, saying in her response to the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News candidate questionnaire that she supports reform “to protect personal property and due process rights of all Alabamians,” she has campaigned and governed mostly as a job-recruiter and appears unlikely to invest much energy in an issue that’s largely invisible.

Attorney General Steve Marshall has spoken strongly in favor of the state’s current asset forfeiture laws.

“As Attorney General, and as a prosecutor for over two decades, I have used and directed the use of civil asset forfeiture where appropriate and find it to be a vital tool for law enforcement that must be preserved,” Marshall responded to a question about civil asset forfeiture in the same questionnaire.

“Like U.S. Attorney General Sessions, I believe that the state has a rightful interest in removing the fruits and instrumentalities derived from crime,” he said.

Though Marshall has said he supports making asset forfeitures more transparent, he believes that current asset forfeiture policy provides for adequate due process.

Artur Davis, the former Alabama congressman who worked on reform efforts during the recent session as part of the Institute of Justice’s team, rightly called Marshall “the lone defender of the status quo” among candidates for attorney general.

Gov. Ivey, too, is easily described as a defender of the status quo. If either incumbent wins, Alabama may have to wait a few more years for civil asset forfeiture reform.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Civil asset forfeiture: What attorney general candidates think

(Campaigns Facebook)

Those vying to be Alabama’s top lawyer generally agree that criminals shouldn’t be allowed to keep the gains of their crimes, but the debate about law enforcement’s ability to seize the assets of suspected criminals pits Attorney General Steve Marshall against his Republican and Democrat competitors.

In their responses to an Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News questionnaire, candidates for attorney general offered their thoughts on Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow law enforcement to take personal assets from those suspected of being involved in criminal activity, even without a criminal conviction.

Attorney General Steve Marshall strongly defended the practice in its current form.


“As Attorney General, and as a prosecutor for over two decades, I have used and directed the use of civil asset forfeiture where appropriate and find it to be a vital tool for law enforcement that must be preserved,” Marshall said. “Like U.S. Attorney General Sessions, I believe that the state has a rightful interest in removing the fruits and instrumentalities derived from crime.”

Alice Martin, one of Marshall’s Republican challengers, also “support(s) the seizure of criminal ill-gotten gains,” but Martin adds an important condition separating her position from Marshall’s, which is that she supports the ability to seize “where there is a criminal conviction.”

Republican Chess Bedsole said civil asset forfeiture “is a necessary tool for law enforcement” but that he “would support legislation providing more transparency to the process.” He did not offer any more specifics about what he would like to see changed.

Marshall conceded that more transparency would be good for increasing public confidence but argued that forfeiture policy under Alabama law provides adequate due process.

“… I would support efforts to make the forfeiture process more transparent to increase public confidence. Further, though due process does exist under Alabama’s forfeiture laws, I would be willing to establish within my Office a process of review for alleged abuse of civil asset forfeiture.”

Martin does not see the state’s forfeiture laws as providing adequate due process protections.

“… In matters where there is no conviction or even a charge, reform of existing law would ensure that a presumption of ‘guilt’ does not flow to an innocent property owner,” Martin said. “There needs to be a protection of due process rights for innocent property owners and safeguards of transparency and reporting to protect against so-called ‘policing for profit.’”

Democrat Chris Christie, like Martin, also wants to see the forfeiture process reformed on due process grounds.

“As to due process, legislative reform is needed,” Christie said. “If no conviction has been yet obtained, the state should promptly have to establish in court why a seizure was appropriate and why a criminal conviction should not be required, and individuals should not be in the position of having to initiate and pursue court actions to have their assets returned.”

Christie also suggested that reform efforts ought to consider changing who keeps the forfeited assets. Currently, law enforcement receives 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds, creating an ostensible incentive structure.

“We also need to consider whether funds from forfeited assets should continue to go to the law enforcement agency or instead into the general funds of state and local governments,” Christie said. “Such a change would remove the arguable profit motive from law enforcement.”

Neither Republican candidate Troy King nor Democrat candidate Joseph Siegelman responded to API/Yellowhammer’s questionnaire.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Civil asset forfeiture: What GOP candidates for governor think


Civil asset forfeiture is a useful tool, but it needs reform.

That sentiment is unanimous among Republican candidates for governor of Alabama.

Civil asset forfeiture is the legal process by which law enforcement seizes the property of those it assumes to be involved in criminal activities. The seizures are allowed by law to occur even without criminal convictions, creating scenarios in which individuals suspected but not convicted of crimes may lose their property and never get it back.

Responding to questionnaires sent by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News to all candidates, the candidates spoke in favor of asset forfeiture as a way of combating illicit behavior, with a caveat that the practice has been abused and needs some reform.

The question was: Do you support the use of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement and the provision that allows agencies to keep the proceeds of seized property?


“People who commit crimes should not benefit from ill-gotten gains; those funds should go to the use of public safety,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

“However, the abuse of this system must stop,” Battle continued. “We can find middle ground by freezing the assets of those accused of a crime and if they are found ‘not guilty’ their assets should be returned. However, if those accused are convicted then their assets should be forfeited to law enforcement.”

State Sen. Bill Hightower showed favor for the practice and defended it as “not an un-checked process.”

“For instance, the DA must approve such actions by law enforcement and there are reasonable tests in place to determine this,” Hightower said.

Still, Hightower said he would support measures that would require law enforcement to report their seizures and improve transparency, adding he is “not yet ready to eliminate law enforcement’s ability to use this as a tool in their arsenal against crime.”

Gov. Kay Ivey and Scott Dawson also spoke in favor of protecting individual rights, while supporting a reformed process that in Ivey’s words, “… balances individuals’ protection of personal property and the flexibility necessary for law enforcement to hold criminals accountable.”

“I support reform to protect personal property and due process rights of all Alabamians,” Ivey said. “This year, the state legislature took an important step by starting the conversation. It is my hope that we can build upon the foundation that was laid and implement real reform…”

Dawson looks to other states as examples of reform.

“I believe that basic transparency and accountability are prerequisites to considering additional reforms and I’d like to see Alabama following the lead of 37 other states to enact stricter reporting requirements,” Dawson said, “answering questions like: How were the assets seized? What was the assumed violation or crime? Was there a later conviction in the case? How were the assets used by the agency? This data should be published in a timely manner for optimum transparency and accountability.”

During this year’s legislative session, Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham) sponsored the Forfeiture Database and Reporting Act, which would have created a central repository of data on asset forfeitures, but the bill did not pass.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Alabama’s gubernatorial candidates’ disagree and agree on how to create jobs


Alabama’s workforce won big earlier this year when Toyota-Mazda promised to create 4,000 jobs in the Huntsville area, though the number of tax dollars that state and local coffers will not see, due to abatements granted by authorities at both levels, is in the millions.

Some candidates for governor see such tax breaks as a poor way to invite job creators into the state, as indicated by their responses to recent questionnaires created by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News.

When asked how the candidates would foster job creation that rivals our neighboring states, Scott Dawson, a Republican candidate for governor, responded in part:


“… We all have to remember that when we bring in a company from out-of-state, the incentives that we utilize to draw them are based on giving away free taxes. The takeaway is that we can do all of the recruiting that we want, but if we’re not making Alabama a sweet home for the businesses or would-be entrepreneurs that are already here — which pay Alabama taxes — we aren’t being financially responsible! I’m a conservative who knows that free market capitalism works.”

Democratic candidate State Rep. James Fields’ ideas are somewhat similar to Dawson’s.

“I will work to end the failed, short-sighted strategy of squeezing government, giving away the farm, and cutting taxes for corporations with the expectation that an economy will suddenly prosper,” Fields responded to the same question.

State Sen. Bill Hightower, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, criticized special tax carve-outs but made his argument more a critique of Alabama’s tax code rather than case-by-case incentives.

“More than 25 states across the nation have embarked on significant tax reform in the last few years,” Hightower wrote in his response. “It is apparent that each of them realize they are in a competition for jobs and growth. By improving their tax policies, they create a business and family-friendly environment which lends itself to prosperity…. But here in Alabama, special interests and career politicians have spent years rigging the tax code with special interest tax carve-outs. I want to make Alabama’s tax code simple, low, and effective in order to compete with neighboring states. ”

Hightower, along with the Democratic Mayor of Tuscaloosa, Walt Maddox, also stressed the importance of developing Alabama’s workforce as a way to attract investment, though the two disagree on a funding mechanism for the skills training. Maddox supports a lottery, while Hightower does not.

Gov. Kay Ivey, who is currently the race’s front-runner, responded broadly in favor of improving infrastructure, education, and workforce development, as did Maddox. She also wrote, “In only a year, more than $6 billion have been invested, 13,000 jobs have been created and we have achieved record low unemployment.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also touted his record, calling himself the “most effective job creator in the state” and responding: “Over the last 10 years I have created more jobs than all other Alabama counties combined. That’s 63% of all jobs in the state of Alabama. I have created 53% of the jobs in this state announced while Governor Ivey has been in office.”

Battle has elsewhere advocated both infrastructure and workforce development as ways of attracting businesses.

Democratic candidate Sue Bell Cobb did not respond to the questionnaire.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Alabama voters may elect controversial Jim Bonner because they think he’s someone else

(Facebook, Wikicommons)

Winning elections requires a strategy, and few strategies garner results like having a famous name.

Jim Bonner, a controversial candidate for Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 1, is showing promise as he leads his 6-year incumbent competitor among some Alabama voters, particularly those who used to be represented in Congress by Jo Bonner of Mobile.

Recent data published by Cygnal, a Montgomery-based polling firm, indicates that Jim Bonner leads current commissioner Jeremy Oden 28 percent to 6 percent in the Mobile area.


“What makes this particular race so interesting is that Jim Bonner is benefiting greatly from having the same last name as the former Congressman Jo Bonner and his well-known sister former Judy Bonner,” Cygnal’s president, Brent Buchanan, said in a press release.

Jim Bonner has no apparent relation to Jo Bonner, but that doesn’t matter much.

“It appears from the data that this PSC race is within the margin of error strictly because of name confusion,” Buchanan said. “Jim Bonner is competitive across the state despite the fact that he has spent no money on advertising or building his name ID. Given what is expected to be a low turnout election, Jim Bonner would be favored to win this race if it were held today.”

In his own media market of Huntsville, Oden leads Bonner 25 percent to 9 percent, reinforcing the evidence that Bonner’s name “recognition” down on the coast is helping him in the polls.

What also makes this particular race so interesting, perhaps more so than the wonky polling data, is Jim Bonner himself.

On Monday, Alabama Political Reporter published this story including some of Bonner’s Facebook posts, wherein he makes a joke about the Holocaust and some unsavory comments about, presumably, an unnamed woman.

In response to the Reporter story, Bonner apparently deleted the posts and took to Facebook, writing, “Looks like my facebook posts have made some liberals mad.. NEWSFLASH : All my facebook posts are intended to make liberals mad !”

The highly-questionable posts add another layer of meaning to the conclusion that Alabama probably doesn’t know what it’s getting if it elects Jim Bonner.

Cygnal conducted its survey of 623 likely Republican primary voters between May 14 – 16, 2018.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 months ago

Anatomy of a joke: Alabama media tries its hand at satire

(’s ‘Reckon’ has nudged its way into the political satire business, with a recent short film called “Life Cycle of an Alabama Politician.”

The video features Reckon’s Managing Producer, John Hammontree – who also sits on’s editorial board – acting as a stumping Alabama politician who recites all the lines about his intentions to “right the ship of state” and “rid Montgomery of corruption.”

Each change of scene brings a wardrobe change, in which he progressively comes to be dressed as a cartoonish criminal.

It’s kind of funny. Hammontree’s southern drawl is pretty good, and he acts a good politician.


But the trope of the corrupt Alabama Politician has passed its prime, and if it’s going to be invoked in a satirical way, it must be unique and specific.

Satire is funny because its jokes are, in some (often obscure) way, closely aligned with some reality. The best political satire is fresh, quick and targeted.

Take this Onion headline: “Cambridge Analytica Offers 75% off all Facebook User Data For Blowout Closing Sale.”

The joke uses a very particular and recent news development, creating a situation in which user data is treated like Trees ‘n’ Trends patio furniture. It’s funny because that isn’t how user data is sold, but it does perhaps reflect the attitude with which Cambridge Analytica treated it.

A good Alabama corruption joke could have played to the fact that state Rep. Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) was recently being confused by some media and Facebook users with Rep. Jack D. Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), who was arrested on corruption charges last month.

Or something like, “Gov. Ivey leaves key legislators in her office to play with BP money while she works.”

It doesn’t take much to parrot the general corrupt Alabama politician stereotype. Even the corrupt Alabama politicians do that.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News