The Wire

  • Assistant U.S. attorney to replace Hart in leading Special Prosecutions Division

    Excerpt:

    Multiple sources have told Yellowhammer News that Anna “Clark” Morris, the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, will take over the Special Prosecutions Division of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

    The announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday. Attorney General Steve Marshall accepted the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart, who has led the division for years, on Monday morning.

    Morris served as the acting U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s middle district last year, in between President Donald Trump firing former USA George Beck in March of 2017 and now-USA Louis Franklin being confirmed that September.

  • EPA official resigns after indictment on Alabama ethics charges, replaced by Alabama native

    Excerpt:

    Even with Trey Glenn leaving his post as the EPA’s Region Four administrator, Alabama will still have strong ties to the leader of that office.

    According to The Hill, Mary Walker was named by EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to fill the vacant role in an acting capacity after Glenn resigned on Monday following his indictment on ethics charges in Alabama.

    Walker is a native of the Yellowhammer State and had been serving as Glenn’s deputy.

  • Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine coming to Birmingham in 2019

    Excerpt:

    The Tim Tebow Foundation’s “Night to Shine,” a magical prom night experience for people with special needs, is coming to Birmingham.

    Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church will serve as one of the nearly 500 churches around the world to host Night to Shine on February 8, 2019.

    Night to Shine is an event for people 14 and older with special needs to receive royal treatment. Guests will enter the event on a red carpet filled with a crowd and paparazzi. Once they make it into the building, guests will be able to choose from an array of activities to partake in including hair and makeup stations, shoe shining areas and limousine rides. They can also choose their corsages and boutonnieres.

3 weeks ago

Lake Martin Innovation Center in Alexander City helps businesses get off the ground

(Contributed/Alabama NewsCenter)

Lake Martin has always been known for recreation, and now the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce is also making it a place for incubation.

In addition to being home to the chamber’s offices, the Lake Martin Innovation Center is a business incubator providing low-cost office space and support to young businesses.

The chamber moved into the former bank data center in February 2017 with big plans for the large space. Chief among them was a dozen suites for startup companies to set up and grow in Alex City. Chamber officials visited other business incubators throughout the state to discover best practices.

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“So far, so good,” said Ed Collari, president and CEO of the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce. “Being in a rural community, we faced our challenges. Most of the facilities we toured throughout the state are in the backyards of four-year institutions, so being here in Alex City in rural Alabama we definitely had our issues. But so far, a year and a half in, it’s been a very solid success.”

Collari said the visits to other incubators helped the chamber with its “R&D – ripoff and duplicate” plan. They learned that successful incubators bring in tenants that have expertise in law, information technology and accounting so that they become an in-house resource to other tenant companies.

Lee Williams opened an Alex City office for Birmingham’s Nowlin & Associates Wealth Management in the Innovation Center.

“They’ve done a great job at trying to keep overhead low for new businesses,” he said. “To be able to come into a facility like this and have the resources we have is really, really nice for a company that’s just starting up.”

Williams said the intimate setting at the Lake Martin Innovation Center helps bring tenants together.

“It’s like a small family,” he said. “Even though we don’t necessarily work together, you almost feel like you do.”

Williams said he’s made good friends among the companies and chamber members.

“They’ve got a great group of tenants in here right now,” he said.

Having a business incubator program is uncommon in a town the size of Alex City, Williams noted.

“You could go to a lot of smaller towns and you’re not going to see anything like this. To be able to be a part of it is really special,” he said. “I think it was great timing and I think it’s something that for future new businesses is going to be a great stepping stone and a great platform for them to grow their businesses and get out into the community and be able to make a difference.”

Collari said Lake Martin is a key to the Innovation Center’s success. Not only does it offer the quality-of-life features that young entrepreneurs look for in a community, but it has an important resource that is not so obvious.

“Lake Martin is what we lean on,” Collari said. “We don’t have that four-year college, but what we do have is Lake Martin – not just the financial resources that surround the lake, but the retired executives, the CEOs or the vice presidents who have contacts that we’re able to lean on.”

Collari said a group within the organization includes retired or semi-retired former executives who live on the lake and offer advice on starting, scaling or expanding businesses.

“We utilize those folks with our entrepreneurs to help them grow their business as well,” he said.

Since the Innovation Center opened, seven plus the chamber companies have located within the facility and four spots remain. Those companies range from professional services firms to the local Servpro operator. The businesses have created 50 jobs.

“It’s been a pretty solid success for our community, for new business, for entrepreneurs as well as for our existing chamber members who are also allowed access to this facility,” Collari said. “So, overall, a big win for Alex City.”

In addition to the eight full-time tenants, the Innovation Center has 40 individuals and businesses signed up for co-working space within the facility. Chamber members love using the space for meetings, events and the holiday party this past year.

For a flat monthly fee, tenants get access to the center’s receptionists, the information technology within the facility, utilities other than a telephone land-line, security, cleaning and free coffee.

In addition to Lake Martin, Collari said the small-town atmosphere of Alexander City is paying off for the entrepreneurs in the Innovation Center.

“With the amount of traffic that comes in here from members to business leaders to city officials, they’re able to make relationships, make contacts,” he said. “They know they’re supported.”

Other than the coffee, which can be a big expense for caffeine-fueled entrepreneurs, Collari said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“Overall, it’s probably exceeded our expectations,” Collari said.


Lake Martin Innovation Center tenant companies

Angela J. Hill, Attorney at Law: Attorney focusing on family law, estate planning and criminal defense with a primary focus on children’s advocacy.

Beyond Home Care: In-home, nonmedical caregiving service focused on keeping patients as active as possible in their homes to promote overall health and well-being.

Lee Williams – Nowlin & Associates Wealth Management: Investment, insurance planning and financial planning firm focused on leading clients into the new economy with savings, income, investing and legacy strategies that succeed in unpredictable market environments.

Lowden Street Capital: Private equity firm that focuses on helping rural small business owners find an exit for their business. In only its fifth month of operation, LSC portfolio companies have reached break even and begun generating a small level of profitability.

Servpro of Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa and Chambers counties: Water and fire damage restoration, mold remediation, storm damage restoration, cleaning services.

VuePoint Diagnostics: Mobile radiology and diagnostics designed to make patient examinations and treatment faster, easier and more cost-effective.

WisePoint LLC: Document capture, content management systems, portals/intranets and custom programming.

This article originally appeared in Shorelines magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 months ago

Republican Ritchie Whorton kicks off re-election campaign

(Whorton Campaign)

Incumbent Republican Ritchie Whorton has announced that he is seeking a second term as the State Representative for District 22. District 22 covers the Northeast section of Madison County and parts of Northwest Jackson County.

Whorton is inviting the public to attend his kickoff event and meet and greet
on Saturday, May 5th from 4-7 p.m. at Owens Cross Roads Methodist Church, 9177 Highway 431South, Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Food and live entertainment will be provided and casual dress is encouraged. The event is family friendly.

Whorton’s record consistently ranks him as one of the top conservatives in the Alabama State House of Representatives and he was among the first to call for former Governor Robert Bentley’s resignation from office.

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Whorton said, “It is an honor to represent the people of District 22 and I will continue to work for opportunities to strengthen our economy, create a more efficient state government, and represent their values.”

“Our state has faced many challenges over the past four years and we need to remain focused on creating new jobs, improving opportunities in education for our children, and working to balance our state’s budget.”

A small business owner and a strong advocate for economic development, Representative Whorton brings his experience to the Commerce and Small Business and Economic Development and Tourism Committees. Whorton also serves on the Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee and the Small Business Commission for the State of Alabama.

“There is still work to be done and I am committed to having a positive impact on the future of our state,” said Whorton. “I’ve got deep roots in our district and I will continue to work for opportunities to strengthen our local and state economy. For the past four years, my commitment has been to the people of District 22 and fighting on their behalf.”

Whorton is a co-owner of All-Star Enterprises, Inc. and he and his wife, Shirley, an educator, have been married for more than thirty years. Residents of Owens Cross Roads, the Whortons worship at Owens Cross Roads Methodist Church and are involved with a variety of community activities. They have two daughters, McKenna and Kylee.

“I am humbled and blessed to have the support of this district. I’d like to ask for your support again on June 5th in the Republican Primary so we can continue to move our district forward.”

The Alabama Republican Primary is June 5, 2018. More information about Whorton and his campaign may be found on his campaign website.

8 months ago

Getting to know Alabama State Sen. Bill Hightower — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks education, infrastructure, social conservatism

(Hightower Campaign/Facebook)

MOBILE — As this year’s legislative session winds down, Alabama gubernatorial hopeful State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) finds himself juggling the duties of running a statewide campaign and the responsibilities of being an Alabama state senator with the legislature in a rush to adjourn for 2018.

With the June Republican primary around the corner, the father of three and grandfather of three insists he is running as an outsider despite having served as the senator for Alabama State Senate District 35 since 2013.

From a side room at the Whole Foods Market on Airport Boulevard adjacent to his campaign headquarters, Hightower explained to Yellowhammer News his motivations for running, his governing philosophy and how he would change the status quo to make the state of Alabama better.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

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HIGHTOWER: Well, I’ve been a senator for five years – a state senator. And I’ve always been a student of public policy, but when I saw up there the lack of leadership that is occurring in the executive office. And since I work for businesses – I’ve been a businessman, I know when a company that doesn’t have a properly functioning CEO what happens in those companies, and I think that’s the issue that we’ve had. We’ve not had an executive to lead the state. So, I thought I could make a difference in that regard.

YHN: One of the problems with candidates from Mobile is getting the statewide recognition. You’ve always had that with a Huntsville candidate and a Mobile candidate. What are you going to do differently to broaden your presence in the state?

HIGHTOWER: Well, geographic location might be a factor that you look at. You try to correlate on the probabilities. To be honest, there is no magic city in the state, but I am the only southern candidate. So, I’m not fighting – there’s nobody competing for the people down here.

I’ve got a fairly good platform already politically. My dad was a medical doctor here and in Birmingham. And I have a son that lives in Birmingham.

What I like to say that is different is the message that I have. I’m not just talking about what I’m trying to accomplish in the Senate, but what I plan to do as an executive. I have a 12-point plan that I’m calling “Alabama First.” It is on my website at BillHightower.com.

The ideas, the challenge of reform, and also just having a governor that we can point to and say, “That’s a governor,” somebody like a Nikki Haley, or like a Scott Walker. We haven’t had that, and I think we need that in order to recruit businesses and also deal with some of the fundamental issues that we have in Montgomery.

YHN: When it comes to economic development and recruiting of businesses, what ideas do you have that are different that hasn’t been tried yet, or aren’t already in place?

HIGHTOWER: I want to be strategic about our business recruitment. Georgia is not trying to recruit automotive companies because they know the future of the automotive industry is going to be very, very different.

I think we’ve gotten a good automotive base, but with that comes technology now, and we need to focus on that technology. Artificial intelligence is coming at us at a rapid pace. And we have clusters of competence in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and you know here in Mobile, other cities. And I want to leverage that.

The business recruitment – I feel like we’ve done pretty good, but we’ve had a dermatologist doing our business recruitment. He doesn’t know much about big business. We’ve had a lawyer before that. What could we do if we had a business guy?

My background is working for Fortune 500 companies, globally. I’ve lived overseas. I’ve lived throughout the United States. Those companies taught me the fundamentals of business – about supply chain, contract negotiation, personnel, leadership, leadership development, organizational development.

These companies have budgets the size of the state of Alabama. They have as many employees as Alabama has. So, big organization and leadership is something I am familiar with, and I know how to go in and turn situations around.

That is competency we haven’t had in Montgomery, and that’s one I want to lend to the state.

So, my familiarity with that whole business development-recruitment process comes from two sides. One side is I’ve been in the big business making decisions about where we’re going to put a plant or where we’re going to move a production line to. I’ve dealt with the international companies.

But the other is I’ve been inside the government and know how it is we incentivize those companies to come. So, I will be the one that protects the Alabama investment from those companies that just want to take everything they can get.

I have asked for the Secretary of Commerce to do a third-party review of their recruitment model to make sure that we are getting a positive return on investment. Sen. Trip Pittman and myself required that a couple of years ago. It is an issue that is close to me because I’ve seen both sides of the issue.

That would be what I would do different. We can recruit any company we want if we give them everything they want. The question is you don’t want to give them everything they want. They’ll take all you have. So, I want to try and do it differently.

Also, we’ve got a new age coming at us. Before we didn’t have jobs and we had people. Now we have jobs, and we don’t have people. I want to focus on certification programs in high schools throughout the state — stop assuming that every student is going to go to college. The certification programs goes beyond shop. It goes into cosmetology and bookkeeping certification, or nurse certification.

We’ve let community college – they used to be trade school. Now they are college prep. And with dual enrollment in high schools, that is college prep. And we don’t really it. There is kind of a redundancy there. I want to cause the junior college system – some are very well run, but when the assets are not well utilized, I want to pull that in and focus it on high school so that when a student graduates, they’ll have a certification that enables them to go get a $35,000-$45,000-a-year job.

That’s going to affect juvenile hall. That’s going to affect truancy. That’s going to affect Medicaid. That’s going to affect prisons. It’s enormous.

In New Mexico, they calculated if they can decrease the dropout rate by 2,500 students in high school, they would save $700 million in their budget. There’s an enormous connectivity in the cost of operating state services when people don’t graduate.

But I think the vocational thing will boost that graduation rate. Some cities are doing it already. But I want to get the visibility throughout the state and try to push it much more.

YHN: When you go to the rural counties around the state, the one complaint they sometimes have is the attention tends to be given to Huntsville and Mobile with economic growth, and they feel left out of the mix. This goes back a little to the skills part of the last question, but how do you make these other places around the state a more viable option for business looking to locate in Alabama?

HIGHTOWER: Infrastructure, and what I mean by that is roads, bridges, waterways and Internet connectivity, and improving that because I have a business that I know of in Alabama right now that wants to locate in a rural county that does not have Internet connectivity, and therefore cannot. I want to do that.

Go back to education – right now at Murphy High School, a midtown school here, the students are taking live University of Alabama courses and interacting with a professor there in Tuscaloosa. That’s incredible because we can take that broadband connectivity and we can take our best teachers and run them in schools in rural areas and change the cost model and availability of coursework.

I think the Columbia [Southern University] over in Baldwin County, it is one of the largest Internet schools in the states. You can take Harvard and Yale courses online right now. Why can’t we do high schools?

You can be remote. Outside of Birmingham, there’s a school system that has a virtual school platform, and they’re making money. A public school is making money by enabling students who can’t access the school, whether they’re handicapped or unable or special needs. They can take high school courses at home online.

So, with that Internet connectivity, you can change the education model in the rural areas. If you change the education model, I think you can have a workforce that is more prepared.

You know, I’m not talking about a three-month program here. I think one of the biggest things that we’ve done is we’ve talked in terms of a year or two. But I’m going to try to put the building blocks in place for the next 40 years. I don’t want to just think about a decade. I want to take it by the century.

That’s where artificial intelligence and, I think the expansion of STEM programs in high schools is so critical. The automotive industry, as for instance – driverless cars, fractional ownership, lighter cars, battery-powered cars.

I mean, I think in some places, I would be selling my dealership right now if I were a car dealer owner because it’s going to shift radically.

That’s some of what I would do, but I also want to leverage the strengths of each of the regions because we need to pick a few, not everything – pick a few industries that are very conducive to certain regions in the state, and then we can focus on those industries.

If everything is your priority, then nothing is your priority. So, we’re going to have to pick.

YHN: When you talk about infrastructure, people of think of roads and bridges. Do you have a punch list of projects in mind?

HIGHTOWER: Well, what I want to do is right now, the governor politicizes roadbuilding and shifts the spin around to get legislators’ votes. I want to develop a road, bridge and waterway commission. Might even make it broadband.

See, we’re thinking about roads and bridges. That is what everybody is thinking. But tomorrow is broadband.

And we have the fourth-most navigable waters in the nation. So, waterway maintenance is huge.

What I want to do is put a commission together like Tennessee, like Georgia – that not only develops a 10-year plan, but sticks to it, and therefore take the politicization of the roadbuilding process out.

So then I do two things – I get a long-term view instead of a short-term view. I think everybody agrees to the benefit of that. But I also benefit my road and bridge builders, and waterway maintenance and broadband because they’ll be able to maintain a workforce, and not be jerked off-and-on, left-and-right and north-and-south, and have more of a steady volume. I want to maintain our road and bridge building capacity here in Alabama. We’ve lost maybe 10 bridge builders since 2008.

I don’t want to rely on bridge builders outside the state. I want to have that capability inside the state.

[…]

YHN: Tell us about how you would fund infrastructure.

HIGHTOWER: I think also you know, one of the things I wanted to initiate and that is the sell-lease back.

We own a lot of real estate, a lot of buildings in this state. If we don’t have a five-year purpose for that – if we can’t identify a purpose within five years, we have to sell that land. I pushed some legislation this session that said if you didn’t have a strategic purpose, you had to sell it. That money would then come into a central depository. I want to use that in order to build infrastructure projects and leverage for specific capital purchase projects.

That involves privatizing the DOT. Texas has a budget 10 times our size, Alabama’s size — yet they only have 50 percent more people to execute that budget.

So, I want to outsource as much government where it makes sense.

YHN: Privatizing the DOT – that would probably raise a lot of eyebrows. How would you do that?

HIGHTOWER: I know it can be done. Look at the Texas numbers. We can outsource more of the planning. And when you talk to county commissions, they feel like the Alabama DOT raises their costs by making them over-engineer projects.

But we have a lot of lands and buildings we can sell off if we don’t have a specific purpose for. That would definitely be one of the focus areas. We’ll take that savings and redeploy it in our infrastructure projects. That’s the whole idea. […]

YHN: When you talk about waterways – that seems to be sort of an antiquated means of transit. Talk a little about that as a priority.

HIGHTOWER: We’re moving into a new era with the expansion of the Panama Canal. Now we have post-Panamax vessels, and they have deeper drafts and wider berths. And I’ve gone to the Panama Canal and have seen these ships. They’re amazing.

So that brings a whole other realm of cargo and capability into the state, and our waterways go up through the state. So this isn’t just a coastal issue. This is an Alabama-wide issue. We ship automobile steel. We ship copper. We ship coal. We ship scrap – just enormous amounts through our waterways.

It’s not just for tourism that we have waterways. But it is a tremendous industrial boon to our state as well, and it does reach all the way to Huntsville. It is not just a coastal phenomenon, but it is one that FEMA is increasingly unable to fund.

I think one of the things I want to bring to the state is a focus on making the easy-to business and always have continuous improvement in mind. I am from manufacturing. We have the phrase “continuous improvement, best in class.” And I’m always looking for those to implement.

So, making it easy – but also, the element of tax reform. Thirty states around the nation have revised their taxes, and that’s why for three years, I have tried to implement the flat tax in Montgomery.

My first rendition would take the 5 percent tax rate down to 2.6 percent. It would be revenue-neutral and eliminate the need to file the Alabama state return. I think it would unleash a tremendous amount of economic upside for the state.

But what I’ve found is the Montgomery interests put it down. They won’t let change come.

I’ve also focused on trying to eliminate waste and fraud, and also improve educational funding by addressing the fact that we have the most earmarked budget in the nation at 93 percent. We go every year over the decision to spend 7 percent of the state’s budget, and no state is looking at us as a poster child on how to do it.

So, I introduced a bill that would from here on out if ever you earmark something, or you get a credit exemption or deduction, after seven years it would have to fall off. It wasn’t in perpetuity.

The difficult aspect of how earmarking is that it was done in 1940 and our priorities have changed significantly. We can’t change anything. So, I’ve tried to implement budget reform so that we could have … more dollars in education.

Now I think, part of that … immovability of the Montgomery scene has something to do with term limits. And that’s why I introduced and carried to the Senate floor a term limit that would limit everyone’s service to three consecutive terms or 12 years.

Now what was amazing about that is that a month ago, the Senate and the House passed a joint resolution calling on Congress to introduce term limits in Washington, D.C., part of the Article 5 convention.

So I said if they want term limits in D.C., they ought to have them in Montgomery. So, I submitted a bill to do it, and they killed it. I had nine colleagues stand with me on this.

That was an effort to try to change the landscape. If I did that, then I could get people that hadn’t been there, part of the system – going out to dinner every night with the lobbyists and looking to the lobbyists for the funding and everything – I could change that mentality somewhat, not radically.

Once more about the term limit thing, you know it is a constitutional amendment, so people have to vote on it. Our polling shows 84 percent of the public want term limits – just the fact, they won’t even let it come up for a vote for the public.

YHN: The stranglehold in Montgomery – what else besides term limits would change that culture? It seems like every decade or so, you have some big political shift, and they say, “We’re going to clean up the corruption in Montgomery.” But they have been saying that for a hundred years.

HIGHTOWER: We’ve had some bumps for sure, and I’m not proud of it. I am tired of people outside of Alabama laughing at us. We’ve got a horrible reputation outside of Alabama in some circles.

But we know how Alabama is. We like it here. It’s a great place to live. We got some incredible businesses and incredible people here. I think businesspeople running is a big help. And, I think you’re not going to get any change in Montgomery with people that have worked there for 20 and 30 years are in office. You’re not going to get the reforms that people want.

And that’s what I want — that’s part of my message is I don’t want to maintain. I want to reform. My reforms will be focused on – this may be simple to say, but children. If my focus is on children, I’ll focus on education. I’ll focus on business. And I’ll focus on the future if that is the core issue.

We’ve gotten alternative education possibilities for students now, which I think has helped the low-income tremendously.

Having somebody that has business acumen talk about where you’re going to develop a strategy – when I went to the Senate, I asked the Senate leadership, “What’s the three-year plan here?” They said, “We don’t have a plan for next week. What do you mean a three-year plan?”

So, I want to have a longer-range plan, and I want to work with the legislature on trying to execute that plan. Governor Bentley never came over to the legislature and said, “Guys, let’s pull together, we need to get this done.”

It’s my understanding Bob Riley did. Bentley never did it, and I think that was not the way to operate. You’ve got to lead by example, and you have got to try to serve people.

YHN: The current governor now – what would you do differently from what she has done during her first year or so in office?

HIGHTOWER: I think she took over at a difficult time. And many people are grateful for it. I know Kay Ivey. And I was in the race four months before she ever was. And I determined when she announced after I had been in it four months that Alabama still needs somebody that is a businessperson in order to bring kind of a new level of professionalism and visibility to the state.

I hope it is me, but if it is not me, we need to have a governor that we can be proud of, somebody that can run the right start for four years to really make the changes that we need in Montgomery.

YHN: Social issues – talk about your positions on marriage, abortion, your view of the separation of church and state.

HIGHTOWER: Everybody else can talk about their position on it, but I’m the only one you can actually go and see my record.

Look up my bills. You know, I passed a bill to make it illegal to sell baby body parts. I’ve supported every piece of pro-life legislation, not because it is fashionable. My wife and I have worked in the pro-life movement ever since we were married.

I also want to make adoption easy and at a lower cost for people. We have got to do it right. We have got to make it easy because we have more and more, quote, unquote “orphans” in our society. And the state government can’t take care of that. The community has to help us.

YHN: We’ll wrap it up on this – give me a closing sale’s pitch if you were standing before voters on election eve.

HIGHTOWER: There are four things that I like to point out – my business background. There’s no other candidate – these companies I’ve worked for, they have budgets the size of Alabama. And I’ve had corporate leadership in that. That’s important because they’ve taught me how to turn tough situations around. That is what I want to do in Montgomery.

Two is I am an outsider. People say, “Well wait a minute. You’re a senator.” I am, but when I ran for the Senate, Montgomery spent a million dollars to defeat me. The other candidate was a long-termer, and I spent $100,000, and I beat him. And Montgomery was shocked when somebody they didn’t pick won.

And I’ve remained outside the bubble. I’ve voted against every tax increase that has been proposed – primarily because I want reform before I want revenue. Until we fix our budgetary problem, why add money? It just perpetuates the same problem.

Montgomery has a history of transferring money out of education to other programs. So, we’re already taking from education when education needs more dollars. They need more resources, not less.

[…]

The third is I am conservative. I am not a conservative because it is stylish. I’ve been that way ever since college. I read von Mises, and Hayek, and Friedman – conservative economics. I like that stuff.

But we also know it works. Rudy Giuliani implemented a conservative agenda in New York. He turned New York around. Rick Perry – Texas has been amazing economically.

I’ve been voted consistently in the top three conservatives in the Senate every year I have been there. But look, I don’t want to just be – I tell everybody first I’m a conservative, and second a Republican. I call myself a Bill Hightower Republican because I’m going to vote on what’s right. I’m going to do what’s right.

The Republican Party is something I’ve been a part of. I’m on the county executive committee. I’m on the state executive committee in the Republican Party. But I’m looking for solutions that work, and that’s what I’m going to aim at. So, that’s the conservative, but the record part – the one you can see.

The last thing I want you to walk away with is the leadership. A lot of people in the race are talking about what they have done. I’m going to talk about what I’m going to do. And I’ve got a 12-point plan that I’ve published and made public for everybody.

My biggest concern in this particular race is that people are not going to have the opportunity to vet all of the candidates properly. We need to have debates. We need to get out, all of us so that everybody in Alabama knows the vast bench strength that is being offered here. When a candidate isn’t there, there is not an appropriate vetting procedure. That’s a big concern of mine in this particular race.

YHN: I asked you early about being the “Mobile” candidate. What have you done making the rounds around the state?

HIGHTOWER: I think we put 20,000 miles in four months on the car. My wife and I have driven all throughout the state visiting everybody that will meet with me. But also strategically, people that I know have the values that I have would see me as a valuable candidate – businesspeople, a lot of businesspeople.

As I’ve worked overseas, I’ve done missions work at the same time. And that’s enabled me to be in touch with many, many faith-based organizations throughout the state. But also, I teach at a Christian camp and things like this.

So you know, those relationships have been there long before I ran for office. I’m with Outback America. Outback America does camps out in West Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville. I helped carry that camp out to Poland and to Ukraine. There’s a lot of people in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa that are working with me on that.

Now as far as penetrating it more, [Monday] my commercial hits the airwaves and in that commercial, you’ll see that I talk the whole time. I don’t have a narrator. That’s on purpose. And I touch on the points that I’ve worked on ever since I’ve been in the Senate.

You know, I didn’t bring up these issues like term limits, budget reform, tax reform just this year. I’ve been doing this ever since I’ve been up in the Senate. I certainly don’t want it to be perceived as this is just coming out in the last year. I’ve enjoyed working in the Senate, and I was about to go back into private work and bring that to a close because I never felt I wanted it to be a career. I want to serve and get out like the Founding Fathers did.

But when I looked over across the road … the casual observer – they saw it in newspapers and tweets or Yellowhammer – I saw it up close. I said this is just bad, bad leadership. And I thought I could do better. And that’s when I decided I would offer myself up for this. I don’t have a big group behind me. The incumbent is not really incumbent. She wasn’t elected in.

My fear is Alabama is going to accept something average when they can have something exceptional.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

[Editor’s note: Some changes were made for clarity. The mention of Columbia Southern University was changed for specificity. The earlier use of “post-Panama” was changed to post-Panamax due to a transcription error.

Also, an earlier version left out a key qualifier on Hightower’s position on the buying and selling of baby body parts. The initial version said I passed a bill to sell baby body parts, that should have included “to make it illegal.”]

8 months ago

AUDIO: Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville endorses Tommy Battle for governor

Tuesday on Auburn radio’s WANI, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville gave his endorsement to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in the race for governor.

In an appearance on the station’s “Auburn/Opelika This Morning with Bob Wooddy,” Tuberville explained how he came to the conclusion Battle would be best suited to be Alabama’s next chief executive.

“You know, I got into politics and I came very close to being in that race,” he said. “I just think, Bob, that there’s a lot of people that got to get more involved in politics – not just local, but state and federal. You know, I think we have a lot of problems. But, there’s a lot of good people that can make a difference. You know, I’ve looked at this race, and I think we need something different for Montgomery. I think we need something different for the state of Alabama. I think Tommy Battle is a very, very good candidate for this state.”

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“I think he’s a guy, he’s put together staff, and it’s kind of like being a head football coach,” Tuberville continued. “You put together staffs, you know people who can help you make decisions, and he’s done that in Huntsville.”

Tuberville acknowledged people from the other parts of the state could be unfamiliar with Battle, but he urged them to consider him.

“A lot of people from Birmingham south, you know, Mobile, Dothan, Auburn – those areas,” he added. “They don’t know a lot about Tommy Battle, but Huntsville is one of the most growing parts of the country and not just the state of Alabama. He’s got a big job up there.”

According to the former Auburn coach, one of Battle’s qualities was being from “outside the Montgomery realm.”

“We need somebody from outside the Montgomery realm,” he said. “Kay Ivey is kind of an interim governor, and she stepped in when the other governor moved out. But, I think Tommy Battle is the guy people should look at, and I’m going to continue to look at it.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 months ago

Getting to know Scott Dawson — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks gov’t accountability, social conservatism, improving Alabama’s economy

(Dawson Campaign)

ATHENS — For the last 30 years, evangelist Scott Dawson has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to crowds far and wide. Now the founder of the Birmingham-based Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association is making a foray into the bloodsport of Alabama politics and seeking the state’s top job.

It’s Thursday afternoon at Athens, Ala.’s Square Clock Coffee, a spot off the main square near the Limestone County Courthouse. A few days earlier, the Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate held a rally in Shelby County signifying the formal “kickoff” of his campaign, which also happened to be the formal kickoff for his start in politics.

Since a fundraiser in Birmingham and the rally in Pelham later that day on Monday, Dawson has been from the bottom of the Yellowhammer state to the top, a pattern Dawson is sure to become accustomed to in the coming weeks.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

DAWSON: When the former elected governor, not selected governor, but elected governor had allegations come out, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this can’t happen again.” Two of the last three, three of the last six – you can literally go back to the history of Alabama. We’ve only had two governors serve consecutive terms without being impeached, indicted or arrested. Now George Wallace was the one who set the consecutive terms – so you can go back 50 years and only two, Riley and Wallace – Wallace was one of those that got through without being impeached, indicted or arrested.

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It’s just one of those deals, where I was like this is going to stop. And so I became part of that grassroots. Rick and Bubba joked about it. But they were like, “You need to pray about this.” So that’s what we did. And it was an agonizing journey.

Now they were all-in, but I was like – I don’t want to risk 100,000 people that I spoke to last year. Why would I put that in danger? I’m not bragging. I’m just going that is what I’ve built over 30 years, and 4.8 million Alabamians I think are looking for a leader.

That’s why I’m running.

YHN: Let’s say you are elected, what are some the punch list items you look to accomplish?

DAWSON: I think the first thing I would do is do a performance audit across all agencies. Let’s see where our money is being used, where our resources are being used.

And everybody goes, “Are you talking about firing people?” No. I’m just talking about making sure we’re organized, that we’re effective. You know there’s a difference in being busy and being effective. I know some people that are busy all day long. If you run on a treadmill, you’re busy. But you don’t ever get anywhere. So you have to learn to be effective. And that’s organizing to most effective means possible.

Then you’re looking at, with education, being there for the meetings, leading not only the initiatives of pre-K – we will make it available, but not mandatory. I just don’t think the government can do a better job than parents. I just don’t. So I’m always going to lean towards the family, the parents.

So, education in elementary – I’m going to try to do an initiative where we get volunteers in that classroom to help teachers – that every kid by the time they reach third grade is reading, writing and they have arithmetic – get back to the basics of education, get them prepared for life, not just to take a test.

In middle school, teaching leadership – that every middle schooler is already a CEO because if you are a leader, you act different. There’s just a countenance about you. Not everyone is going to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but every person can realize their potential in life.

I use a quote – Helen Keller. OK, we could discuss her all day long, but you know she lost her sight and hearing … and later on, when they learned to communicate with her, they asked her, “What would be worse than being blind?” And she responded, “To me what would be worse than being blind would be to have sight and no vision.”

And that’s who I speak to almost on a weekly basis, when I speak to student groups and school assemblies – people who can see the color spectrum but have no vision for their life and I think that is the responsibility for us to at least give them the opportunity to dream big.

Now when you get to high school, you start focusing in on drug testing – not so that we can harm kids, but so we can give them help, and do two forms – do state-based drug rehab, which isn’t very effective if you look at the stats. But, open the door for the option of faith-based drug rehab. And I use the word so that we can restore some of these young men and young ladies back into our communities. That would help us with our prison overcrowding situation.

When you look at this, everybody wants to make government the first option. And government was never designed to meet your needs. It can’t. And when you start allowing it to be like that, then you got socialism or communism or anarchy.

There are four levels before the government should get involved. There’s churches, there’s charities, there’s communities, and there’s corporations. Why is it that we make government the first option? Let’s unleash those four areas for communities to work together. If their churches, or you know religious institutions you can call them – synagogues, you know whoever wants to be a part of making Alabama get ahead in life.

But it seems to me in Alabama we always look to the government, either the state or federal. And I’m like, let’s start turning away from that and make Alabama the best it can be by working together. It’s no longer going to be they’re going to do it. We’re going to do it together.

YHN: Would it be fair to say you’re the “social conservative candidate” in this race?

DAWSON: I mean, I don’t know – I haven’t really polled the other candidates. I think anyone who knows me knows I will be fiscally conservative and socially conservative. But I don’t want to wear religion on my sleeve. I think people are tired of that.

I want to tell you this – it’s how we built the ministry. You don’t have to earn the right to speak in our society. I got First Amendment rights. I can go right out there and start screaming to the top of my lungs. No one is going to listen to me.

In America, you have to earn the right to be heard. And I think as we go forth in this campaign, I want to be able to be heard – that people will listen to my ideas and listen to my platform. And then when they peel behind the edges, if they don’t already know me, they go, “Oh hey – wow. And he comes from the faith background.”

Again, I’m not touting it. Jesus is not what I do. He’s changed my life. He is who I am.

And so, again perfection – not by any stretch of the imagination. I’m on a journey just like you are, just like she is, just like he is. For 30 years, I’ve tried to live my life before people consistently since the day we started this.

I get that people are going to look at me and go, “Oh, there’s the religious right.”

You know what – that’s the reason we intentionally brought Mike Huckabee in because Mike Huckabee is the type person I think has earned the right to be heard. And that’s the way I want to live my life.

YHN: Let’s say for argument’s sake that is the label you get in this race. What do you say to Alabamians who say Roy Moore played that role in this last election? Why should we go in that same direction this time?

DAWSON: I don’t want to be Roy Moore. I’m not saying that in a bad way. Honestly, what I want to be is Scott Dawson. I didn’t want to be Billy Graham. I just want to be who I am.

You know, I get the illustration if you go outside tonight and see all the millions of stars, and one falls, and you put your attention on the falling star when all those other millions are so brightly lit, that’s kind of unfair.

And so when somebody says, and I’ll even use this term – people go, “Well, Robert Bentley – Gov. Bentley said he was Christian, said he was called to be governor – that God called him to be governor and look at the debacle.”

And I go, you can’t compare me to other people because how far is that comparison going to go?

YHN: Let’s get back to policy – on infrastructure, what are your planks in that platform?

DAWSON: Well, I’ll tell you this – Fob James was the last governor elected without any prior political experience. You can go to a used bookstore and find a book named “Fob!”

You need to read it. In that book, here’s an interesting fact – in that book, the three most pressing issues – I read it and I screamed out to [my wife], “You’re not going to believe what I just read.” Here’s what it says: In 1978, the three most pressing issues in Alabama were prison overcrowding, education, and roads.

That’s 40 years ago. I go – John Maxwell says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. We’ve been electing the same people over and over again expecting different results.

So when you look at this – that’s the reason why I’ve tried to come out with the drug addiction or the prison overcrowding. It’s supposed to be correctional, not generational. And that’s what happening – second and third generation, education. Let’s get some new ideas.

With roads, everybody wants to talk about the gas tax. “You know, we got to have a gas tax.” I go, “Wait a minute – let’s look at this. Let’s budget our money properly. If you look at ALDOT’s budget, $1.2 billion, $63 million is taken off of the top to go towards ALEA and court costs. Now, they need to be taken care of. But it doesn’t need to come out of ALDOT.

Everybody goes, “What can you do for $63 million?” and I go, “Well, that’s true, but if you do it over 12 years, that’s three-quarters of a billion dollars that could have been done in roads across our state.

What I have come to understand by asking a lot of questions is Alabama has two, not that one is good and one is bad, but we just have two different styles of counties. We have 55 rural counties and 12 metropolitan counties. They want different things. If you live in the metro area, you’ve got different needs than they have in rural.

Part of what you got to do as a governor and as a leader is you’ve got to listen to people, and you’ve got to find out not what they’re saying but what do they really need. What do they want, OK?

So you take these 55 counties – you want to talk about bad roads. You think Huntsville has bad roads? Let me take you over to Fayette County. Let me take you down to Wilcox County, home of our governor.

What Haley Barbour did in Mississippi I thought was a brilliant idea, called the Golden Triangle, where in 10 years a billion dollars-worth of industry came into that Golden Triangle. If we could build consensus and allow counties to work together, private-public partnerships – get those started.

Everybody goes, “Well, you know all the obstacles?” I was like, you know what? If we sit around the table and talk about everything we can’t do, we’re going to have a long conversation. But if we can get around the table and talk about what we can do, and let’s get three counties together and go, “You know what? One of you can’t bring that industry in. But if all three of you can, then all of a sudden we can provide infrastructure. We can provide tax revenue. We can provide opportunities for schools.”

To me, you have just got to get our entire state working together. So, with that, I think we can get some roads done pretty quickly.

YHN: What about other economic development initiatives? Is there anything not currently being done?

DAWSON: Absolutely. Want to know the big one? Everybody is talking about recruiting industry. That’s static noise to me. That’s my job. OK? Hopefully, you’ve seen I have the gift of communication, and you get me in a room with a CEO, and I’ll connect with them, and we’ll get them here.

But what I want is I want to set Alabama businesses free. It’s not a tax issue in our state. It’s regulations and occupational fees, licensing fees – all the different fees that start piling up. Our son tried to start a business while he was at Samford. Basically a landscaper – put some flowers out, cut grass. He to start with going through ADEM. He just finally went, “It’s just not worth it.” He decided not to do it.

Well, here’s what I realize: No one starts a business to hire an accountant and a lawyer. Everybody starts a business because they have a dream, a vision, an opportunity, OK? So, let’s make starting a business as easy as possible – one-stop shop. It should just be a place they get everything they need. Then they move on.

Now you balance that with the current existing business, which I think you and I would both agree 70 percent of our economy is based on our businesses. I was with a CEO in his boardroom, and I’ll never forget this. He’s an Alabama-based business. He said every month we joke around this table we should move our business over to Georgia so Alabama will come and recruit us and give us the incentives that they’re giving everyone else.

And what I realized – again, he wasn’t talking about taxes, he was talking about all the incentives of, “I’m going to make sure this happens for you.”

It’s almost like if you’re a DirecTV customer and you’ve been with them for three years, and they start a new promotion, and you go to them and go, “I want that promotion.” They go, “No, you’re already a customer.”

Alabama has got to realize our businesses are our backbone. So, I created – I say I created – I did and I realized someone else is already doing it. But there is something called “Cut the Tape” that I would love to have an independent council set up. Independent, that if an agency has given a fee or a license or a regulation and they cannot defend it to the independent council once someone complains – if they can’t defend it, then it’s removed from the books. It’s just set free so that if we can incentivize and expand our businesses to export our goods and services and grow, Alabama businesses do something for us.

You know what they do? They pay Alabama taxes. That would set our economy on fire.

YHN: Let’s talk about the campaign. Just in general, how is the campaign going?

DAWSON: There’s been three that I know of, three straw polls or online polls. Though none scientific – let’s go ahead and understand that we are not living in the la-la land as a documentary. We know that it is not scientific. But I keep telling them you can’t win it all if you don’t win at all. So, we’re trying to be out there and do everything we can to the best of our ability. Get the word out, keep the message going.

The rally, you know it was 450 strong in an inclement weather situation. It was on Facebook Live. We probably had another 700 to 800 look at it. Now it’s been viewed over 5,000 times across the state.

You know, it’s one of those where when I announced that day, we had 7,000 Alabamians – the day I announced, 7,000 said we’re going to be a part of this campaign. We now got 23,000 followers on Facebook.

At the very beginning, I knew this was going to have to be a very different campaign. So, you know, I made a budget out. And I shared it that night. It’s a million dollars. I don’t think anyone ever thought because a lot of times, the evangelical candidate can’t raise any money. But, we’re getting very close to seeing our budget fulfilled.

We’re not going to raise as much money as a sitting politician. I am very proud of the fact that most of our donations have come from just ordinary small businesses or families.

I mean, our largest contribution is from Hobby Lobby. It was $100,000. And the reason why – we’ve known Barbara and David [Green] for 20 years. And when we were walking through this, they’re the ones who said, “Hey, we’re all-in because we almost lost our business because Christians were leaving government.”

They were like, “We would be a part of this.” But I knew we didn’t want them to, quote, “buy,” unquote, the election. We just wanted them to be a participant. So a large majority of this is just grassroots-oriented. We’re out knocking on doors. We got lots of college students that are nailing signs up and down the Interstate, side roads and yard signs. It’s just going all over the place.

YHN: Talk about some of the individual counties. Obviously, the rally was held in Shelby County but what are some of the other things you’ve been doing around the state?

DAWSON: We left the rally the next night. We were in Pike County. I’ve been in Covington County today. Tonight we’re in Limestone County.

YHN: You came all the way up here from Covington County?

DAWSON: No, I was in Covington – I want to say Wednesday night. To show you how good Alabama is, Wednesday nights are still the off-night. That goes back to the old church days. You know, you used to have church on Wednesday night. So, very few political events take place on Wednesday nights or Sunday nights.

On Saturday, I will start my day in Covington at the Rattlesnake Rodeo, go to Chambers County, then back to Shelby County.

I want to tell you, on the road, I’ve made some friends. Tommy Battle, you know, he and I are usually at the event. There’s two of us. I’ve seen him more than anybody else. We have fun.

And so, when he promotes his “visited all 67 counties,” and I never say his name. I say, “Some candidates celebrate when they visit all 67 counties.” I’ve been preaching for 30 years to youth camps and youth conferences. I’ve preached in every county.

I’ve either done their youth camp. They come to my conference. I’ve spoken to their high school. The only guy who knows more backroads than me in Alabama is probably James Spann. And I’m going to let him keep that award.

YHN: So, you know the state pretty well. Having that experience in every county, how would that translate in a role as governor?

DAWSON: Because I am an Alabamian. I’ve been here all my life. I’ve never lived outside of Alabama. I’ve traveled this state. I’ve met its people. I’ve stayed in their homes when I was younger and doing all of these revivals.

I know Alabama is full of good people. They want to raise their family. They want to provide for them. They want a roof over their head, and they want to be able to trust.

We all just want to be able to be proud, and not just, “Oh, my gosh.” And every time someone brings up politics, we have to bring up college football. I want us to be able to be like, “You know what, we’re leading.”

All my life, Alabama has been a good place, but we’ve always kind of followed everyone else. Alabama is poised to be leaders. That’s the reason when you say, “Governor, Alabama needs a leader.”

You’re going to hear some people say you need a businessperson. You’re going to hear some people say you need a seasoned politician who can hit the ground running. Alabama needs a leader. Alabama needs someone who can walk in, survey the situation and go, “This is what has got to happen,” and bring people together.

Dale Carnegie would tell you if you’re leading and no one is liking you, they’ll never get anything accomplished. So you have to have that likability. But you also have to have the strategic vision. And I think you have to be able to build that consensus and be like, “This is what’s best,” and convince people this is the direction that we need to go.

If you look at the candidates – you know, I always say, and I didn’t meet everyone, but I was not in this to run for governor. I just wanted to find somebody.

YHN: What would you do differently from Kay Ivey as governor?

DAWSON: Let’s just start at the beginning. She says she has three hours to prepare, but she has been in Montgomery for 40 years. And I think you give respect where respect is due. She says she has stabilized the ship or steadied the ship. My statement is we’re going in the wrong direction. So we have got to turn this thing around.

I think there were a lot of things that were already in place when she became governor. I think in order to get us down the field, it’s going to take a lot of energy, a lot of drive. It’s probably going to be the hardest task I’ve ever taken on in my life. And you got to build relationships. It’s not just what you say. It’s what you do.

I’ve said from the very beginning. I’m not running against Kay. I’m not running against Tommy. I’m not running against Bill. I’m running for Alabama.

And I think the problem has been in Alabama in the past that we run against each other and then Alabama loses in the end. I have been with her several times. Haven’t really had a lot of in-depth conversations with her.

I guess that’s just my personal conviction of going, “Let me talk to her privately because I talk publicly.”

YHN: Finally, give a closing sales pitch about your candidacy. Why should people consider you for governor?

DAWSON: I think Alabama is right now at the crossroad and we deserve better than what we’ve been getting in politics. We deserve better. I mean, the corruption, the absence of someone taking action.

I mean, the one thing I’ve realized in politics, politicians seem to come in and have all the answers. Leaders come in and ask all the questions. I’ve been asking that question over and over again – why? Why is it that in my lifetime, we’ve always seemed to be 48th, 49th, 50th, OK?

Why? Why is that? We deserve better. We can do better. We can do better when we start making decisions based on 10 years down the road instead of 10 years behind us.

We need to do better instead of listening to special interest groups – doing what’s best for the average Alabamian. We can do better if we all just kind of work together.

On June 5, we’ll go to the polls and answer the question, “Do we want to do better?”

And the greatest distinguishing factor that I can give you to myself is to line them up, and Alabama has got a choice between seasoned politicians and me. And everybody goes, “Well, wait a minute – why would you want to give somebody who has no experience as being a head coach?”

Dabo Swinney did a pretty good job when he stepped in his first head coaching position because he had been preparing all of his life. Some candidates will say they only had three hours to prepare. I’ve been preparing for this all of my life.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 months ago

Getting to know Tommy Battle — GOP gubernatorial hopeful talks education, ethics, infrastructure, economic development

(Battle Campaign)

HUNTSVILLE — For the last several decades, Alabama’s northernmost major city has been one of the state’s crown jewels for economic development. From rockets in the 1950s to landing a Toyota-Mazda joint venture manufacturing facility earlier this year, little stays the same in Madison County.

For the last 10 years, a number of Huntsville’s achievements have come under the leadership of Mayor Tommy Battle. The Huntsville Republican thinks he can take his recipe for the Rocket City’s success and apply it statewide as governor.

From his campaign headquarters on the fifth floor of the historic Times Building in downtown Huntsville, Battle explained to Yellowhammer News in a one-on-one interview why he should be elected governor and some of what he would do to improve the lives of Alabamians.

YHN: Why are you running for governor?

BATTLE: I guess the whole reason that you run for public office is to make your community a better place – make your state a better place. That’s your basic bottom line. That’s where you start from, and you build from there.

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Over the last 10 years, we have had a great success in the Huntsville community. We’ve been able to add 24,000 jobs, $3 billion worth of investment. And the question is can you take that same success – the strategy and plan that got us to the place that got us 24,000 jobs and $3 billion worth of investment. Can we take that same strategy and plan and can we do it on a bigger scale in Montgomery and provide jobs and provide an economy for the whole state, not just one section of the state, and provide for people who maybe you already have a job, maybe can get a better job.

That’s the key. To do that, a) You have to education, b) You have to have infrastructure and c) You’ve got to have quality of life, and that quality of life has to be something that makes people want to be part of your community. So we started 10 years ago – we started with a plan and a strategy for the city of Huntsville. That plan and that strategy has proven, has worked very well here. It is a proven plan and strategy. That’s why we got into the governor’s race. We thought we could do something a little bit better than what was being done.

The second thing I think that people are looking for – this is coming from going to all 67 counties and across the state – is they’re looking for good, ethical, honest government. Ethics are very big in this campaign. If you look at our past history, ethics needs to be very big. Honesty is something that has to come to government. And what it basically means is you have got to get government back to where people trust it. And if we don’t have the people’s trust, we can’t make any achievements that we need to make.

Right now, most of the people look at Montgomery as a place where not necessarily good government happens, but government happens. We’ve got to get it to the stage where people believe Montgomery is working for Alabama and the future of this state.

YHN: One of the problems candidates have from this part of the state is that it is hard for someone from Huntsville or Mobile to win statewide. And you talk about going to all 67 counties. What else are you doing to overcome that geographic obstacle?

BATTLE: The interesting thing is we got county organizations throughout the state. Those county organizations are what you call grassroots. You have got to have grassroots to be able to talk to people. With social media nowadays, you can talk to people in any county and talk to them on a regular basis – let them know your plans, your dreams, your visions – what your vision is for the state, and I think that is important.

If you look at where the numbers are – if you remember the old numbers used to be flip-flopped in the old history books. But the numbers are really advantageous for anybody that can capture Shelby County-north.

And capturing that does not mean that you give up on the other portions. But if you get Shelby County-north, you get Mobile, Baldwin Counties, you get the Wiregrass area, Lee County, and Tuscaloosa County areas and you’ve covered the whole state. Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore is a good area. We’ve got grassroots organizations in every one of those areas.

YHN: On Kay Ivey – what is she doing wrong that would suggest, “I need to be in office to steer the ship of state in the right direction”?

BATTLE: I think you got to look at where the emphasis is. We tell everybody we have a track record. Our track record is the last 10 years. Look at the last 10 years. I’ll compare it to Kay Ivey, to Scott Dawson, to Bill Hightower – to every one of them. You look at the last 10 years. What have we accomplished?

We have accomplished jobs. We’ve grown the economy. We’ve added to the job base. In the last 10 years, those 24,000 jobs equal 62 percent of the growth of the whole state of Alabama. That means we have grown more than any place in the state of Alabama. And that’s not to be bragging about it. But it is to say that’s my track record.

For the last eight years, Kay Ivey has been lieutenant governor. And as lieutenant governor, what’s her track record to make the state better? Bill Hightower has been a state senator. What has he done to make the state better? Scott Dawson has been an evangelist. All those people need to have the same questions asked of them. What have you done over the last 10 years to make this state a better place?

What structurally can we look at that makes us understand that that’s a reality that you can do it as governor?

YHN: You mentioned education, infrastructure, and quality of life. Do you have some specific examples?

BATTLE: Education – we built $250 million worth of schools. We added digital education. Every child, every student in our school third grade and up had a laptop that was digitally connected to the teacher, and the teacher could see where the students were going forward and where they needed help.

People say, “What’s so important about digital education?” If you’re working at Walmart today, you’re going to be working on a computer. If you’re working at Jack’s or McDonald’s, you’re working off of a computer system that tells you what the order was and how quick you got it out.

Digital education is the key to the future. Advanced manufacturing requires a digital education. The third thing we did was we put in an accountability system where we tested the first of the year, the end of the year, peer reviews, student reviews with teachers and made sure we had a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

Accountability pays more into school than anything else you can do because you’ve got to make sure your teachers can provide the instruction that you have a year’s worth of advancement from a year’s worth of education. If they don’t, then we need to remediate. We need to team-teach with those teachers. We need to help them to ensure we’re getting a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education.

That is the three pillars of what you got to do in education. And we’ve done it. We’ve done it here and we’ve put together an education system that is the kind that when you want to attract companies like Polaris or Blue Origin or GE Aviation or Remington or even Toyota-Mazda or Aerojet Rocketdyne – all of those tie back to your economic development and the idea that you can develop or add jobs to your community.

YHN: Say you’re elected governor, would you just implement all of these things into the state?

BATTLE: I think your key, or your cache of keys, is you’ve got to have an accountability system in our education system. You’ve got to make sure you have a year’s worth of advancement out of a year’s worth of education. That is key to every system. That means testing at the front, testing at the end – just seeing the advancement of the student from where they started to where they’ve ended up. I think that’s the fairest thing to do for the teacher.

Second, I think you’ve got to start entering some of the essentials of the digital education. That has got to be in place. And third, you’ve got to make sure your school system has an accountable discipline process so that you can have discipline in the schools.

YHN: What are some infrastructure goals?

BATTLE: What we did here – infrastructure is a lot more than just gas, water and sewer. Roads is the main thing. We’ve ended up building $450 million worth of roads in our own area. And $450 million worth of roads means our quality of life is the same today after we’ve grown as it was before. We have an average 18-minute commute to work, an 18-minute commute coming home.

With that average commute, that’s part of your quality of life. Instead of being stuck in traffic, you’re able to get home. Many people we compete against have an hour commute to and an hour commute back home. You’re always asking, “What can you do with an extra hour and 24 minutes of your life? What makes your life better?”

Another part of infrastructure is fiber to the home – either that or working within the system to provide connectivity. That provides for a whole shadow economy. It provides for an economy where parents can work to be home taking care of kids. Also, you can work long distance. We had a young lady here that worked for Disney World in Orlando. She does her CAD drawings. And she gets on her fiber Internet, ships it down to them. They mark it up, ship it back to her. She’ll work on it some more. And at the end of the month, she gets a check from Disney World in Orlando, and it comes back into the Huntsville economy. It is spent in the Huntsville economy.

It is a whole shadow economy that comes out like that. And that’s one of the keys that you’ve got to have the vision for, to be able to look at and to be able to have the vision to be able to move forward with.

YHN: What is your opinion on city-run utilities, like Internet?

BATTLE: You need to be careful. You need to do it in such a way that you protect the taxpayers. That’s what we did. Our utility system put in the fiber and putting in fiber is no more than hanging wire. It is the same thing utilities do on a day-to-day basis. So, we put in fiber to the home for every home in the city of Huntsville – a $60 million cost. Google Fiber came in and leased out some of the dark fiber and is using it to light it up and use it for their connectivity.

There’s still more dark fiber in the system that can be leased out from others, so you have that competition edge in there. But Google Fiber is basically their payment for leasing out that section pays for putting in the fiber in the community.

That’s one of the great things we’re able to get through partnership with business. We’re able to get business to provide that part of the infrastructure to us.

YHN: Social issues tend to be a driving force in Alabama politics. Are you just the typical Republican on social issues – abortion, same-sex marriage, those sort of issues?

BATTLE: I believe in sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage.

I’m a Republican. I’ve been a Republican – gosh, since I started the College Republicans, or initiated a chapter of the College Republicans back in 1976. I was College Republican chairman in 1976.

When we came in, there were the social issues out there, but there was also the fiscal issues – the fiscal issues of balancing budgets and trying to get us back to the stage we spent what we brought in.

I remember back in those days we lamented we spent $200 million more than we brought. And today, we wish we could go back to that with trillion-dollar deficits. We were budget hawks, and we believed fervently that you needed balanced budgets to be able to continue to provide the kind of government we’ve always been able to provide.

That’s I think the key to the Republican Party today – that we have got to provide a government that has sustainability for years and years and years to come. That’s one of the most important things we can provide to people. We can provide defense. We can provide government that will be here for years and years because we’ve all seen what happens to other governments when they’ve spent beyond their means, and they’ve put austerity measures and everything else. They go away from the world scene, and they become countries that aren’t necessarily prosperous moving forward the way we have always seen America move forward.

YHN: When you go to a lot of these small towns in Alabama, and you talk to the locals, they always talk about how Huntsville gets an unfair share of the economic development. What do you say to people around the state that think you ought to grow the smaller towns and put more of a focus on those?

BATTLE: That’s why I’m running for governor. As governor, I can give you the same opportunity as we’ve been able to in Huntsville.

For the past 10 years, we’ve added jobs. We’ve added industry. We added companies to our area. And I want to offer the same thing to the entire state of Alabama. By doing the same practice, the same plan, the same strategy that we’ve been doing, we can do the same thing for the whole state of Alabama.

Is it easy? No, it’s always a hard push to make it happen. But, if we take the proven method and apply it, we can change the state of Alabama.

YHN: A lot of these local county and municipal governments don’t have the luxury that Huntsville has with the tax base and the ability to offer those economic incentives. How do you get that plan in motion in a place like Wilcox County or other places in the Black Belt?

BATTLE: I got a call from one of the county commissioners in Clay County yesterday, and we were talking about how to bring up an area. You’ve got to work off of the strengths in that area. You’ve got to work off whatever is there, and you’ve got to work off the strengths.

One of the things we’ve got to recognize is Boston Consulting Group just put out a study talking about how manufacturing was going to come back to America. And I think there’s some open places that we can go back to and look at the manufacturing we used to do in places – some of the mill manufacturing, some of the textile manufacturing – things that we used to do old days here.

I think we have an opportunity to bring that back. To bring that back it’s going to take work. It’s going to take shoe leather. It’s going to take visiting a lot of executives in a lot of different places. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. If we continue to do it, I think we can see a growth pattern for the whole state.

You will grow from your strengths. The areas that are growing will be part of your strengths, and they will grow. But as they grow, there will be future growths.

Take the Toyota plant that came in – we’re going to have spinoffs from that that go all the way to the Gulf. We bring in containerized parts. We use transportation companies that take those parts from Mobile all the way up to Huntsville.

The second thing that spins off – there are going to be second- and third-tier automotives that are going to be coming in and looking to provide for the plants that are here in Alabama. They’ll provide for Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, Mazda. They will be providing for everybody, and they will locate throughout the state. They want to be 50 miles from a manufacturer.

So they will find places throughout this state – whether it is Jasper, whether it is Hamilton, whether it is the Quad Cities, maybe Russellville or Sand Mountain, or maybe Birmingham. They’ll want to be part of the success we’ve had. There are spinoffs all throughout the state.

There’s multiplier effects for what we do, and if we can bring industry here, there will be multiplier effects that make the whole state – as we call “state of the ship” float. A rising tide floats all ships, and that is surely the case.

YHN: Back to infrastructure – are there any highway projects we as a state need to be focused on?

BATTLE: You know, we’ve got an interstate system that is crumbling right now – I-65, I-10, I-565, I-85 going to Auburn. Each one of those are systems we need to look at and look at seriously. You compare the differences of I-75 in Georgia to I-65. I-75 is six, eight, ten lanes all the way up and down. Every intersection, there’s probably a billion dollar’s worth of business there because they have distribution centers. They have strip centers. They have hotels, motels and restaurants all located there.

Our interchanges may have gas stations, hotel, motel and restaurants. But they don’t have everything else because we don’t have the capacity to make our systems grow. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to start working on from day one.

And the thing that people need to realize is that when you start working on roads, it’s not a quick two-year fix. If you start working on a road today, it takes 10 years to build a road and to ride on the results of that road. So, if we started today in 2018 to expand I-65 to get rid of the slowdown in Calera, we’re talking about 2028 that we’ll actually be riding on that road.

If we want to work on I-10 and fix I-10 where you can get traffic from east to west, and get workforce into Baldwin County – if we start today, it’s probably a 13-year fix. So we’re looking at 2031 before we’re actually riding on that road.

Everybody has got to realize we’ve got to have some vision in this. We’ve got to understand the timeframe in this. The best time to be building these roads is 10 years ago.

YHN: We’ll wrap it up on this – for those people in the other parts of the state, give a closing sales pitch.

BATTLE: I think what people are looking for, and this is just from talking to people throughout the state, they’re looking for honest government that they can believe in. That’s something that we have provided here for 10 years in the city of Huntsville. They’re looking for a government telling them here’s a plan, here’s a strategy and here’s where we’re going to end up.

We’ve been doing that for 10 years because of that. We have trust in our government. People trust us to do things that are necessary to make sure our community is a prosperous community and one that will continue.

We’re offering to do the same thing for the state of Alabama. Come to Montgomery, come to Capitol Hill, work with people throughout this state. Make sure that this whole state is a prosperous state, make sure that this state is going to believe in government again and believe that we’re going to do the right things, honest things that are necessary to be done in government.

And that is one of your first missions when you get down there. You’ve got to re-instill trust, and re-instilling trust is not easy. We have got take it step by step and show people that I’ll work harder than anybody else. Show the people that we have a plan and a strategy and that strategy works. We’re going to have to show people that we have an end-game and that result is we have a better Alabama at the end of this than what we started with.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

(Image: Tommy Battle for Governor)

8 months ago

Evangelist Scott Dawson wins Pike County GOP straw poll in Alabama’s governor’s race

(Dawson Campaign)

Evangelist and gubernatorial candidate Scott Dawson won a straw poll earlier this week conducted by the Pike County Republican Club.

Dawson received 52 percent of the vote from the club’s members, followed by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle with 38 percent, Governor Kay Ivey with 6 percent and State Sen. Bill Hightower with 4 percent, according to a release from Dawson’s campaign.

He recently won another straw poll, taking 39 of the 55 votes cast during a meeting earlier this month of the Tennessee Valley Republican Club in Huntsville.

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(Image: Scott Dawson for Governor)

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8 months ago

Lowndesboro Mayor Rick Pate running for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries

Rick Pate, The Mayor of The Town of Lowndesboro and President of Pate Landscape Co. held a press conference and announcement for his campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, coinciding with The SLE Rodeo at Garrett Coliseum.

Pate is a Cattleman, a successful businessman and an active in many Agribusiness and Civic Associations. He is endorsed by The Alabama Cattleman’s PAC, The Alabama Farmer’s Federation, The Alabama Forestry Association, The Associated General Contractors of Alabama, and The Alabama Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association.

“I’m running for Ag Commissioner to help the agribusiness community in our state flourish,” Pate said. “I’m a lifelong Republican and I want to use conservative values to protect the largest sector of Alabama’s economy from undo regulations, taxes and fees put on them by career politicians in Montgomery and Washington, D.C.”

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Rick is the Vice Chairman of The Lowndes County Republican Party and serves on The ALGOP Executive Committee. He is active in many professional and civic organizations such as Rotary International, The Associated General Contractors, The Alabama Agribusiness Council, The Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and The Alabama Wildlife Federation. He is a member of The Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, and The Business Council of Alabama.

“It is estimated that by 2050 we will have to double food production to meet the needs of the world – it will take visionary leaders who understand that we have to work smarter, not just harder, to achieve these goals,: Pate said. That is the vision that I have for the office of The Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.”

Rick is a 1978 graduate of Auburn University in the School of Agriculture. He married to the former Julie Dismukes, and they have two sons Richard and James. Richard works in the international division of a large construction firm, and James has been accepted to medical school.

(Image: RickPate.com)

8 months ago

Huckabee touts Scott Dawson’s social conservative bona fides, Shrugs off 2017 special election fatigue

PELHAM – Monday before taking the stage at the Pelham Civic Complex to stump for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) offered Yellowhammer News his insight into the upcoming gubernatorial race and why he thought Dawson was the best choice in that race.

Huckabee explained that given the circumstances of disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley’s departure from the governor’s mansion and the disappointment some may felt because of it, the time was right for a candidate like Dawson.

“Obviously the people of Alabama have had some tough times,” Huckabee said. “I understand it because it is very similar to what the people of Arkansas went through. It’s an emotional gut punch to see governors get in trouble. I think Scott is the kind of governor that is not going to disappoint people. He’s got leadership skills. He’s got charisma. But he has something that keeps a person out of that kind of trouble, humility. If you don’t have some perspective and don’t recognize that you’re not being elected to be a king or a prince, but a servant. He’s got a servant’s heart, and I think that’s his greatest asset going in. He knows what he doesn’t know and the person that will get you in the most trouble is the guy who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”

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When asked if voters might be reluctant to participate in this year’s primary or dispirited because of the loss suffered at the hands of Roy Moore, the perceived social conservative candidate, in last year’s U.S. Senate special election, Huckabee dismissed any similarities.

He explained that Dawson’s convictions were not born out of political expediency.

“It’s not the same because you don’t have the scandals,” he said. “You don’t have accusations. You don’t have the controversy that was even unrelated to the scandals of the senate campaign. You have a candidate who nobody has surfaced to say, ‘Let me tell you about this guy.’ And what they have said is, ‘Yes, let me tell you about this guy. I’ve known him since he was a little kid.’ That’s something that very, very dramatically different. He’s a social conservative that has truly lived it.”

“His views and convictions are not because of politics,” Huckabee added. “He’s in politics because of his convictions. That’s very different because I’ve seen guys – they’ve never thought a lot about these issues. But they run for office and then they know they got to take a position because that’s what the voters want them to do. But they really don’t have those core values or deep convictions.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Image: Mike Huckabee — Fox News Channel / YouTube)

8 months ago

Alabama GOP gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson showcases star power at Pelham ‘Kickoff to Win’ rally

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

PELHAM — The threat of severe weather didn’t keep rallygoers from attending Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson’s campaign kickoff rally on Monday.

Before for a crowd of a few hundred at the Pelham Civic Complex, Dawson hosted an event that featured syndicated morning drive talkers Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey of “The Rick and Bubba Show,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a two-time presidential candidate and Fox News Channel personality.

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(Crowd on hand at Scott Dawson kickoff event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Before the event, Dawson told Yellowhammer News about the early stages of his campaign and the reception he had received since announcing his candidacy.

“When I said yes to run for governor, it’s been amazing the people that have come around us,” Dawson said. “It’s friends. I think Rick Burgess says it best. It’s not just endorsing us. It’s vouching for us – lifestyle, character. Character does matter, and character is not built over an election year. Character takes a lifetime. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And I think that’s what Alabama is looking for.”

(Scott Dawson and family at kickoff event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Dawson went to explain he wasn’t running against other candidates, but instead on his accomplishments.

“I think when [voters] look at the candidates, I’m not running against any other person,” he explained. “But I do believe what the Lord has done through our lives — building a ministry. We actually built something, from zero to a multimillion-dollar non-profit organization. We work with Major League Baseball, the National Football League. It is one of those deals where we bring people together. And now more than ever before as Alabama comes together, tonight as we kickoff to win, we’re praying for a big crowd.”

(Bill “Bubba” Bussey and Rick Burgess of “The Rick and Bubba Show” at Scott Dawson event — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Attendees were entertained by Burgess and Bussey and were also treated to a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” featuring Huckabee on bass guitar.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Top image: Mike Huckabee plays bass guitar for “Sweet Home Alabama” cover — Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

8 months ago

Wounded Warrior running for Alabama State House representing Chambers and Lee Counties

Back in 2003, while U.S. Army Specialist Todd Rauch and his buddies were patrolling the streets of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi city made famous by its notorious prison, a remotely-detonated mortar exploded near his patrol. His right shoulder and hand were severely injured in the blast.

Rauch was eventually flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and endured 12 surgeries to save his limbs from amputation.

He is now running as a Republican for the State House of Representatives district representing Chambers and Lee Counties.

So how did this Illinois-native find himself running for office in Alabama?

While recovering at the hospital, Rauch’s roommate was from Fort Payne and “all he talked about was Auburn and Auburn and Auburn,” Rauch told Yellowhammer News.

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Rauch soon recovered from his injuries, and then his plans for a transition to civilian life became all about … Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.

“I applied to Auburn and felt like it was a good place to get a fresh start,” he said

Rauch studied psychology at Auburn University, with the intention of working in veteran services or military intelligence. He then worked for a time as an intelligence analyst and then began working in veterans’ services, helping his brothers and sisters in arms receive the benefits they were promised.

He’s running on a platform strengthening communities.

Rauch has a firm conviction that a community’s representative ought to be more present in the community itself, something he said he hasn’t seen much at the 75 city and county commission meetings he has attended over the last few years.

“I realized that there was no one there who was representing us in Montgomery to take those voices and those issue and those problems to Montgomery,” he said.

Rauch has put improving jobs and education among his platform principles.

He is a stanch supporter of the community college system, of which both he and his wife are products.

“It’s a good and affordable way to get your education and to get experience in college without jumping into a four-year university,” he said.

Rauch also supports expanding broadband access to rural areas. He said it is critical to the development of rural areas that have little internet and cell service.

“You’re not able to do your banking,” he said. “Some of these people aren’t even able to have home security systems because some of that works off of cell service.”

With the campaign motto, “Community. Country. Service,” Rauch said he wants to work to improve life for his constituents, and by extension, the rest of the state and country.

“Focusing on the community creates better environment for the kids, inspires better leaders, and provides better community for our state, and provides a better state for our country,” he said.

The GOP primary is June 5.

(Image: Todd Rauch for Alabama/Facebook)

8 months ago

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby’s reelection campaign endorsed by National Right to Life Committee

U.S. Representative Martha Roby’s re-election campaign was recently endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.

Roby, a Republican from Montgomery, has scored a perfect 100 percent prolife voting record since coming to Congress in 2011, according to the committee’s Legislative Action Center.

“All voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family should vote to return Representative Roby to Congress so that she can continue to work to advance vital pro-life public policies,” the organization said in a statement.

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Roby’s strong prolife voting record includes:

— Cosponsoring and voting in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.

— Cosponsoring and voting in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would establish a permanent, government wide policy against funding abortions or health insurance plans that cover them.

— Voting to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

 I am grateful to the National Right to Life Committee for its unwavering commitment to the pro-life cause,” Roby said in a statement, “I am honored to have the support of this important organization, and I look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves.”

The national committee’s state affiliate is Alabama Citizens for Life, according to its website.

Roby is running in the GOP primary against former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, State Rep. Barry Moore, former Roy Moore campaign aide Rich Hobson, and Tommy Amason.

The primary in June 5.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

8 months ago

Alabama contractors, veterinarians endorse Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh for lieutenant governor

(Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh/Facebook)

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh recently picked up two important endorsements in her bid to become Alabama’s next lieutenant governor, according to a news release from her campign.

The Alabama Associated General Contractors and the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association endorsed her candidacy.

Cavanaugh, who is currently president of the state’s Public Service Commission, already counts significant endorsements from the powerful Business Council of Alabama along with Manufacture Alabama.

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“I am honored to receive the endorsements of job creators across our great state,” Cavanaugh said in a news release. “Having owned several small businesses, I have signed both sides of a paycheck and am committed to sound conservative policies that allow job creators to do what they do best.”

The Alabama Associated General Contractors has more than 1,000 members across the state, and the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association represents about 700 veterinarians statewide, according to the news release.

Cavanaugh is running for the GOP nomination against State Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, and State Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes.

The primary is June 5.

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10 months ago

Judge Debra Jones running for Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1

(Judge Debra Jones Campaign)

(Judge Debra Jones Campaign)

 
 
Circuit Judge Debra Jones has qualified as a candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1. She has been a Circuit Judge in Calhoun and Cleburne counties since 2010. Judge Jones, a Republican, is running for the open seat created by the resignation of Justice Glenn Murdock. The Republican primary is June 5, 2018.

“My judicial philosophy is that judges should follow their oath of office by respecting the rule of law, by strictly interpreting the law according to the constitutions as they are written, and by applying the law without fear and without favor.  As Circuit Judge with years of criminal and civil jury trial experience, I have served with integrity, discernment, and honesty.  I have consistently and fairly applied the law equally to everyone according to the constitutions of Alabama and of the United States.  As an attorney, I have practiced in many areas of the law, particularly in criminal, civil, probate, juvenile, and family law. This invaluable experience will be an asset to the Alabama Supreme Court and the people of Alabama.”

Judge Jones has a distinguished 28 year legal career.  Before her election to the bench, Jones served the citizens by advocating for the rights of abused women and children.  She began her legal career as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office where she founded the Calhoun Cleburne Children’s Advocacy Center.  The children’s center is a professional residential place for children to be interviewed by trained counselors when they have been victims of abuse or neglect. Jones wrote the Sexual Torture Act, which criminalized the sexual abuse of any person with an inanimate object as a class A felony and she wrote the Felony DUI Act.  After forming her own practice, Judge Jones co-founded Daybreak Rape Crisis Center, a free counseling center for rape victims.  She also founded and operated Mercy House, a faith-based domestic violence shelter for women and children.

Judge Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama and of Cumberland Law School.  Jones and her husband, William, have been married 26 years and have five children.  Three children attended Alabama colleges with two having recently graduated and one completing a degree.  Two children are in public high school.  “Alabama is our home.  We were born, raised, and educated in Alabama.  We have lived, worked, and worshipped here our entire lives.  I want to give back to this great State by serving on the State’s Highest Court.”

(News Release/Jones Campaign)

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10 months ago

Pat Thetford to run for place on Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

(Thetford Campaign)

(Thetford Campaign)

 
 

Former Jefferson County Circuit Judge Peyton C. “Pat” Thetford has announced his candidacy for Place 1 on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

Thetford, a Republican, has qualified for the seat currently held by Judge Craig Pittman. Pittman has announced he will not seek re-election.

Thetford, a native of Montgomery, has resided in the greater Birmingham area for the past 27 years. He attended the University of Alabama, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Business Administration. He later graduated with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Thetford graduated from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1988 and practiced civil litigation in Mobile with the firm of Crosby Saad and Beebe, and then in Birmingham from 1994 to 2015, and is currently with Wade S. Anderson and Associates, a staff counsel firm of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Thetford tried and won more jury trials for this firm than any other lawyer in its history, having handled over a thousand cases and having tried over 80 civil jury trials. In 2015, the non-partisan Jefferson County Judicial Commission selected Thetford as a top-three candidate for Jefferson County Circuit Judge of the Civil Division; he was later selected and appointed as the top candidate by Alabama’s Governor. In October 2016, the Birmingham Bar Association voted Judge Thetford the most highly qualified judicial candidate out of 14 Jefferson County judicial races in in its Judicial Qualifications poll.

In making his announcement, Thetford stated “I believe that my background of having over 27 years of experience as a civil lawyer and Civil Circuit Judge makes me uniquely qualified to serve as an Appellate Judge on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. If elected, I will bring vast experience and conservative values to the court. I will work hard to administer justice fairly and equitably, but always grounded in the rule of law.”

Thetford is married to Mary Frances Thetford and is a proud father of two sons. They are members of Canterbury United Methodist Church. Growing up, Thetford had the pleasure of seeing justice in action. His father, the late William Thetford, served 17 years as Circuit Court judge for Montgomery County.

“Experienced and Proven”

(News Release/Thetford Campaign)

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10 months ago

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle officially qualifies with Alabama Republican Party to run for governor

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Hoover, January 2018
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Hoover, January 2018

A week after locking down thousands of new jobs for Alabamians, Tommy Battle, a lifelong Republican, qualified this week with the Alabama Republican Party for the 2018 gubernatorial race.

Battle signed the paperwork surrounded by his family, friends and supporters in a packed restaurant in Hoover. 

“I’m running for governor because we’re in a battle for Alabama’s future, and I’m ready to lead us in a new direction. While the ship of state may be settled, it is time to move it forward. Alabama has been stagnant for far too long, and I’m ready to get us moving forward,” said Battle.

Last week, Tommy Battle secured 4,000 new jobs after Toyota and Mazda announced North Alabama as the location of their new $1.6 billion manufacturing facility.

Battle was elected Huntsville’s mayor nine years ago. In that time, he’s helped recruit and create more than 25,000 jobs. Every day 13 new people are moving to the Huntsville metro area. That job growth has also helped generate more than $4.1 billion in economic investment for North Alabama. Battle wants to bring that same successful plan to the rest of the state.

“We’ve had a lot of success because our plan works. We’re ready to take that plan to Montgomery and work on behalf of all of Alabama’s 67 counties,” said Battle. 

(News Release/Battle for Governor)

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10 months ago

Chief Justice Lyn Stuart will run for reelection

 

 

Chief Justice Lyn Stuart officially qualified to run for re-election as Chief Justice in 2018 last week in Montgomery.

Ms. Stuart issued a powerful statement to begin her 2018 run, “I believe this year we can continue our emphasis on having full confidence in our courts to not only provide a voice for the families of Alabama but also for those who have fought to have their voice heard. I want to bring a sense of security back to the working class that the state of Alabama will protect their rights.”

Chief Justice Stuart has served on the Alabama Supreme Court since 2000 when she was elected to serve as Associate Justice. Ms. Stuart was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2012, serving on the court for over 15 years until her appointment as Chief Justice in 2016.

Stuart was excited to begin her run saying “I am honored to be able to run for this state’s highest judicial office and have an opportunity to show the Alabama people that I am the candidate they can trust to speak for their conservative values. I want to show that we still can find common-sense solutions in today’s age.”

Ms. Stuart has served as a speaker for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, training judges and other professionals on the handling of child abuse and neglect. Ms. Stuart has long been an advocate of child-safety, herself having two sons, Tucker and Shepard, and a daughter, Kelly. She is also the grandmother of two grandchildren, Sophie and Thomas.

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10 months ago

Senator Tom Whatley will seek re-election in the 2018 Republican Primary

 

 

AUBURN, Ala – Alabama State Senator Tom Whatley announced last week that he will seek re-election for State Senate District 27.  Senator Whatley qualified with the Alabama Republican Party in Birmingham the first day qualifying opened.  Senate District 27 covers Lee, Russell, and Tallapoosa Counties.  Senator Whatley is currently serving his second term.   He chairs the Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee and is also a member of the following committees: Banking & Insurance, Confirmations, Finance & Taxation, Education, Health & Human Services, Judiciary, Transportation & Energy, and Veterans & Military Affairs.

Senator Whatley has worked hard to pass several pieces of legislation that help Alabama families, veterans (the Heroes for Hire Bill), seniors, students, and children (the Autism insurance bill and Ava’s Law).  He was instrumental in securing an additional $13 million in education dollars for the nation’s premier Pre-K program.  Recruiting jobs and companies to Alabama like Schmidt USA, Leonardo, Baxter International, SiO2, Viper, Blue Origin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Airbus, Touchstone Precision, VCOM, Arkal, GE Aviation, and Equifax will continue to be a priority.

Senator Whatley also introduced a bill that was signed by Governor Kay Ivey to make our election process more transparent.  The bill stopped party crossover voting and will protect the integrity of our election process giving everyone clear choices no matter the party in November for the general election.

“I am proud of the accomplishments we have made in my legislative career.

We have the lowest unemployment rate ever and our housing prices are increasing for the third straight year along with our economy being the 12th healthiest in the nation.

But there is still work that needs to be done.  I will continue to help move our state’s economy forward by creating and supporting a pro-business environment, and I look forward to working with Governor Ivey and the Republican leadership to improve our roads, ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely, and protect our conservative values and morals,” said Whatley.

Senator Whatley was recently named Legislator of the Year by the National Autism Law Summit.  He sponsored the bill that will allow autistic children to receive intense, individualized therapy that focuses on improved communication and social skills.

“Autism affects thousands of families across Alabama, and it was time that we made sure those families could access affordable treatment for their children,” Whatley said. “There are a lot of dry legislative battles in Montgomery, but this was a fight that was clearly worth it, and it is an honor to be recognized for the small part I played in the process.”

Senator Whatley is a native of Lee County where he was raised on the family farm.  He is an attorney and has served his country in the U.S. Army and has been in the Alabama National Guard for over twenty-nine years.

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10 months ago

Scott Dawson calls on Gov. Kay Ivey and State Legislature to implement Medicaid-to-work program immediately

 

 

“Why isn’t Alabama on this list?”

That’s the question Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Dawson wants answered.

Ten States (Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin) have sought waivers from the federal government to implement work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients, but Alabama is not one of them. Last week, the Trump administration opened the door for state Medicaid programs, who had been asking for permission, to seek a federal waiver which would require work or other community engagement activities, such as volunteerism and job training. Alabama is not on that list.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program providing nearly 70 million Americans with health benefits, making it the largest government health insurance program. Here in Alabama, nearly 1 in 4 people receive Medicaid assistance, or about 1 million Alabamians.

“Government is not intended to meet every need a person requires. It cannot. We should move quickly to implement this in our state and provide opportunities for those who will be invited to participate in the employment opportunities,” said Dawson. “I have always supported a ‘hand-up’ program from government, but when we create lifelong hand-outs, we inevitably find people who get complacent and just live off the system. This isn’t healthy for them or for the tax payers who are providing for them. If there are people who are able to work, and they are not working by choice, then we need to implement a program that will inspire, encourage or even require them to get to work in their community.”

By encouraging more people into the workplace, Dawson says we will not only improve their health and provide them dignity and respect for being a productive member of their community, but we may also get them off costly government programs as they find a job providing health benefits.

“Businesses all over the country are looking at relocating to Alabama and with unemployment falling across the nation, there has never been a better time to find a job. So, we need to encourage– even push– people who might be comfortable in the government programs to get out and find a way back to work,” said Dawson.

Dawson doesn’t intend this to apply to those on disability or mental illness.

“Clearly, there are some who cannot work. We don’t need to make this a punishment of people who will be cut off because they can’t work, nor should we make this a program to shame those who cannot work,” said the candidate. “This is simply a way to get people who have gotten comfortable on a government program, or who fell out of work and didn’t have an incentive, to get back to work on their way to a more productive life, with a possibility to get them off the government programs long- term.”

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10 months ago

Alabama State Representative Danny Garrett to run for reelection

State Representative Danny Garrett
State Representative Danny Garrett

MONTGOMERY–State Representative Danny Garrett (Republican-Trussville) has filed qualifying papers with the Alabama Republican Party to run for reelection as State Representative for House District 44, which includes Trussville, Clay and parts of Pinson. Garrett was first elected to the Alabama House in 2014.

As a freshman, Garrett quickly gained the respect of leadership and his colleagues and has developed a reputation for his conservative principles, his pragmatic approach to legislative matters and his business and financial expertise. Garrett serves as a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee-Education; the Education Policy Committee; the Small Business and Commerce Committee and he was recently appointed by Speaker of the House to the newly formed Fiscal Responsibility Committee.

Garrett also serves as the Co-Chairman of the Joint Task Force on Budget Reform, a group of seven House members and seven Senate members formed in 2017 to make recommendations for improving the state’s budget process. The Joint Task Force presented an Interim Report to the Legislature at the end of the 2017 session and will submit a Final Report early in the 2018 session.

In his three or all businesses, Garrett has been a leading advocate for legislation to reign in predatory lending practices in Alabama and has also co-sponsored legislation to protect citizen’s second amendment rights, traditional values and the life of the unborn. For the past three years, the American Conservative Union has consistently ranked Garrett’s voting record among the most consistently conservative in the Alabama House.

Garrett has been recognized for his ability and willingness to work with both Republican and Democrat colleagues.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon commented, “Because Danny Garrett possesses a special combination of leadership abilities, wide-ranging fiscal experience and outside-the-box thinking, I handpicked him to serve as House chairman of the Legislature’s budget reform committee even though other members had more seniority.  He is deeply committed to fundamentally changing the way Montgomery operates, and our state’s finances will soon be on a much firmer foundation because of Rep. Garrett’s hard work, innovation and conservative reforms.”

Nathaniel Ledbetter, Alabama House of Representatives Majority Leader said, “As the House Republicans have begun streamlining the state budgeting process and saving taxpayer dollars, Danny Garrett’s encyclopedic knowledge of financial matters has proven to ban an invaluable asset. Rep. Garrett is working hard every day to give Alabamians a state government that is as efficient, productive, and conservative as the citizens it seeks to serve. As House Majority Leader, I fully support Rep. Garrett in his reelection to the Alabama House of Representatives.”

Johnny Amari, Trussville resident and member of the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, said, “Danny Garrett has done an impressive job representing our district over the last three years. Danny has performed his duties with honesty, integrity and transparency. He’s definitely earned my vote, my support and four more years.”

Alan Taylor, President of the Trussville City Council, stated, “I wholeheartedly endorse Danny Garrett for reelection as the representative for House District 44. He possesses the leadership skills necessary to move our state forward. His impeccable character and conservative values has served us well, not only in District 44, but throughout the state of Alabama.”

Ronnie Dixon, Executive Director of the Clay-Pinson Chamber of Commerce, said, “Danny Garrett is a very active and a supportive representative for our area. He is always accessible and available. He has represented the interest of Clay and Pinson in Montgomery as if he were a resident. I fully support and encourage others to support Danny’s reelection.”

Charles Webster, Mayor of Clay commented, “I consider Danny a friend and a great representative for our district. He has always been available to talk with us on any issues. He is also a man lead by God and that’s what we need in our leaders. I support Danny in his reelection and encourage others to do the same.”

Vicki Bailey, a resident of Clay who is active in local area politics, stated, “Public servant isn’t a term used when speaking of politicians much anymore, but it is a term used when you live in District 44. Representative Danny Garrett serves his district with a true servant’s heart. Always listening to his constituents, he works diligently on issues to make life better for them, as well as others across the state of Alabama.”

Christian Crawford, a graduate of Clay-Chalkville High School and current SGA President at Auburn University-Montgomery commented, “Danny Garrett is a man of honor and integrity. Our district is fortunate to have him as our representative. In today’s political climate, there are very few statesmen; however, Danny Garrett is a true man of the people. He is a compassionate and Godly leader. I urge everyone in our district to reelect him as our representative.”

Joe Cochran, a former member of the Pinson City Council and the “Voice of the class 6A state champions Pinson Valley Indians,” commented “I am honored to place by trust in Danny. He has stood tall in the face of Montgomery politics and remembered who he represents in all situations. He is a friend to our community and a steadfast representative of his constituents.”

The Republican primary election will be on June 5, 2018.

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11 months ago

Josh Jones reemphasizes statesmanship as he steps away from governor’s race

Josh Jones (Jones for Alabama/Facebook)
Josh Jones (Jones for Alabama/Facebook)

 

 

From the first day Birmingham business executive Josh Jones announced his candidacy for Governor, he had one overarching goal: reshaping a cultural consensus around the idea of statesmanship.

As Jones said when he announced his candidacy:

The people of Alabama are over career politicians. We’re tired of being embarrassed, of waiting for the next scandal, and we’re tired of people running as conservatives and governing as liberals. We need men of character and conviction who possess the ability to govern conservatively and unite legislators without being obligated to special interests.”

Discussing his role in the gubernatorial race, he said:

Naturally, everyone in a political race would like to win an election, but that’s not the only measure of a win, but my greatest burden entering this race is the dearth of trustworthy leadership in Alabama, the glaring absence of true statesmanship among career politicians. That’s why I entered the race with the earnest hope of redefining what it means to be a statesman, and I believe we’ve done that, because now it’s a word routinely used and explained by many of the candidates in this race. In my view, that’s a tremendous win.”

Elaborating on that idea, Jones explained:

As this campaign has progressed, the conversation has increasingly focused on the fact that, above all else, Alabama’s next governor must restore credibility to the office. That starts by having the courage to take a stand against the status quo and the establishment when they’ve lost their way. Today, most every Republican candidate is at least talking about the need to do just that, and I believe that a few of those candidates truly embrace that concept.”

With that said, Jones said that he believes his highest calling at this time is bowing out of the race. Expressing his appreciation to thousands of supporters, Jones said:

Jennifer and I are honored and humbled beyond words at the response to my candidacy from wonderful folks across this great state. From the wiregrass to the Tennessee Valley, and everywhere in between, good people have embraced our message, and responded to our call. You’ve pledged your support, wholeheartedly sharing our belief that Alabama can be great again. The very nature of those beliefs far supersedes any one person or candidate, and that’s why I know you will continue to stand with us in fighting for those ideals, even though I’m withdrawing from the governor’s race today.”

For now, Jones will continue in business and caring for his family, but he stressed his heartfelt appreciation for his staff and his supporters alike.

“It’s difficult to express my gratitude for everyone who’s rallied to this cause to restore a sense of statesmanship and integrity to Alabama politics,” Jones said. “I am so deeply grateful for everyone who has believed in this campaign, as well as every single person who has stood shoulder to shoulder with me on this campaign staff. This was about promoting a cause for the greater good and I want to extend my wholehearted gratitude to everyone who’s been a part of this effort—you’re greatly appreciated.”

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11 months ago

Fraternal Order of Police endorses Reynolds for State House

Rex Reynolds (left) and Local Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 6, President Lieutenant Donny Shaw
Rex Reynolds (left) and Local Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 6, President Lieutenant Donny Shaw

 

The Local Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 6, has unanimously endorsed Rex Reynolds for the House of Representatives, District 21.   Reynolds, a long-time member of the Fraternal Organization sought their endorsement, and is honored to have their support.

Lodge President, Lieutenant Donny Shaw said, “Former Chief Reynolds has always been supportive of the FOP, and he cares about the Law Enforcement agencies and their workforce.  We recognize that Rex has served at the line level; first line supervisor, commander, chief, public safety and city administrator.”  He further commented, “Rex’s understanding of operations across the ranks, administrative and political positions is unmatched by any other candidate.  We need State Representatives in Montgomery that know the needs of our public safety agencies, and truly understands what our men and women of law enforcement encounters and knows the tools they need to be successful”.

Former Police Chief, Public Safety Director, and City Administrator stated, “There is no higher accommodation, than to have an endorsement of your peers”.  Reynolds also noted, “The citizens of Madison County are fortunate to have professionals serving our public safety agencies, and I am fortunate to be in a position to have their support”.

Rex Reynolds is the Republican nominee in the Special General election for Alabama House District 21 which is being held on March 27, 2018.

 

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11 months ago

Alabama politician to give 10 percent of campaign donations to Children’s Hospital

State Senator Gerald Dial
State Senator Gerald Dial

 

 

State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), Republican candidate for Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, this week announced his intention to give 10 percent of all campaign contributions received to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. He challenged all candidates in Alabama to do the same, which would generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for the important healthcare facility.

“Every voter in Alabama is sick of the constant campaigns and incessant political advertising,” Dial said. “The least us candidates could do is give a small portion of what we raise to help out an outstanding institution like Children’s Hospital.”

In 2014, the last state legislative and constitutional office election cycle, candidates for statewide office and the state legislature raised $57,479,285. Instead of spending all that money on flyers, TV ads, and phone calls, Children’s Hospital would have received nearly $6,000,000 in additional funding to care for ill and injured children.

“I’m proud to support Children’s Hospital in their mission to provide the finest pediatric health services to all children,” added Senator Gerald Dial. “If that means less money for my campaign, I trust the voters to realize my campaign funds are better spent improving our state instead of solely promoting myself.”

More information about Gerald Dial and his campaign issues is available at this link.

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11 months ago

Who is this Doug Jones?

(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)
(Doug Jones for Senate/Facebook)

 

During the election now Senator-elect Doug Jones’ supporters couldn’t properly express the candidate’s views on anything. His campaign strategy was basically, “Don’t be Roy Moore.” Now that Jones has seemingly won, he may be taking a turn to the right.

“It doesn’t matter what the issue is. [There’s] always opportunity to find common ground,” Jones said. “I have just resisted trying to put labels on myself.”

Why this matters: Jones knows that in order to be a viable candidate in 2020, he has to be less Elizabeth Warren and more Joe Manchin. Republican turnout on December 12th was significantly down and he still barely won. Jones knows that he cannot win re-election against a non-scandal-plagued Republican in Alabama if he is viewed as a left-wing liberal.

The details:

— Jones was on “Fox News Sunday” and spoke about being a “Doug Jones-Democrat”

— While Jones did not take a stance on the current tax bill, he said he supports tax cuts, including those for corporations but he worries about the deficit.

— Jones tried to literally straddle the fence on immigration, saying he opposes the wall because he believes border security can be achieved without it.

— Most shockingly, the newly elected Democrat does not believe the President should resign over previous sexual harassment allegations.

— If this rhetorical shift manifests itself in Jones’ voting record he may crush the spirits of many Alabama Democrats who voted for a candidate with no real record on the issues.

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