The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 weeks ago

Ainsworth launches reelection bid — ‘We will continue Alabama’s positive momentum long into the future’

(Ainsworth 2018 campaign)

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) on Friday evening officially launched his reelection campaign at a packed kickoff event featuring special guests, family, friends and supporters at Guntersville Civitan Park’s Jeff Cook Performing Arts Stage.

Guests included Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL), Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and country music star Riley Green, who performed at the family-friendly event.

Ainsworth was first elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and will now seek a second term in the 2022 election cycle.

In a statement, he outlined that he is running for reelection to keep Alabama moving forward, so future generations can thrive right here at home.

“I love Alabama, and it’s an honor to be able to serve as our lieutenant governor,” the Republican from Marshall County said. “I’ve been blessed in life, and this isn’t a career for me – it’s a true calling.”

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“I ran in 2018 to stand up to the career politicians in Montgomery,” Ainsworth explained. “Three years later, we have successfully taken our Christian conservative values to the State House, protecting the unborn, safeguarding the integrity of our elections, supporting our tremendous law enforcement officers, banning vaccine passports, ensuring fairness for female athletes, and much more.”

Ainsworth previously served one term in the House of Representatives from 2014-2018. He is a small business owner, currently the proprietor of Ainsworth Real Estate.

Support for small businesses, workforce development and the aerospace and defense sectors have been hallmarks of Ainsworth’s tenure in the state’s #2 position. He also serves as chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association.

“One of my greatest prides as lieutenant governor has been helping lead the charge to grow Alabama’s footprint as a critical contributor to our national security,” Ainsworth advised. “As chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association, it has been my pleasure to advance Alabama’s military, defense and aerospace sectors – which are major generators of good-paying jobs across our state.”

“As chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, I have also fought relentlessly for small businesses in every corner of Alabama,” he continued. “We are working to foster a 21st century economy in which every Alabamian has the opportunity to be successful, and a 21st century workforce is necessary to make this a reality. One of the highlights of my brief tenure as lieutenant governor was forming the 21st Century Workforce Commission, which released a report on how our state can achieve this bold goal.”

As Governor Ivey highlighted this week, Alabama has boomed with Ainsworth serving as lieutenant governor. Since 2018, Alabama has seen 44,000 new jobs created, $19 billion in new capital investment generated and the best business climate of all 50 states. Additionally, Alabama has recorded its lowest unemployment in state history, as well as records for the highest level of funding for our schools and pay for our teachers.

“Alabama is working again, but we’re just getting started,” Ainsworth concluded. “We undoubtedly live in the greatest state in the greatest nation on Earth, and we have a duty to preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy. I’m running for reelection for my kids — and your kids. I want our children and their children to be proud to always call Alabama ‘home.’ With your prayers, support and partnership, we will continue Alabama’s positive momentum long into the future.”

For more information about Ainsworth, click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

‘The best is yet to come’: Gov. Kay Ivey makes it official, will seek reelection in 2022

(Kay Ivey/YouTube)

Governor Kay E. Ivey (R-AL) on Wednesday announced she will seek reelection to a second full term in 2022.

Ivey, currently on the executive committee of the National Governors Association, became Alabama’s 54th governor in 2017 when she was sworn into office following the resignation of former Governor Robert Bentley. Ivey was overwhelmingly elected to a full term of her own in 2018.

She officially launched her reelection bid with a press release and a video announcement.

“Alabamians have shown the rest of the nation that our faith, resilience and common sense are what makes us and drives us forward to a promising future. I am proud to be your governor and would be honored to serve you for a second term,” Ivey stated. “Alabama is working again, and the best is yet to come.”

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The Camden native’s tenure leading the state has been marked by record-low unemployment, landmark milestones in job growth and historic economic development wins. Ivey’s governorship has coincided with over $18 billion in new capital investment in the Yellowhammer State, as well as 44,000+ Alabama jobs created.

Even after the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama has begun to emerge strongly, with the Southeast’s lowest unemployment rate for three consecutive months and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country.

Ivey is Alabama’s second female governor and first Republican female governor.

Abbeville’s Jimmy Rane, who is chairing Ivey’s reelection campaign, added, “Alabama’s historic achievements are a direct result of Governor Ivey’s effective leadership. She has not only delivered results; she has proven that she can make the tough decisions to do what is right and best for the people of Alabama, leading this state to have one of the strongest comebacks in the country. There is no doubt that in a second term, Governor Ivey would continue leading with optimism, determination to tackle challenges head on, and she will keep Alabama growing and thriving.”

WATCH:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Ainsworth to announce reelection bid on Friday at Guntersville event featuring Riley Green

(Will Ainsworth/Facebook, YHN)

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) will kick off his reelection campaign on Friday in Guntersville, his campaign has announced.

Members of the public are invited to join Ainsworth and special guests for the celebratory occasion, including Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL), Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and country music star Riley Green.

Ainsworth was first elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and will now seek a second term in the 2022 election cycle. He served one term in the House of Representatives from 2014-2018. The Marshall County resident is a small business owner, currently the proprietor of Ainsworth Real Estate.

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Support for small businesses, workforce development and the aerospace and defense sectors have been hallmarks of Ainsworth’s tenure in the state’s #2 position. He also serves as chairman of the Alabama Small Business Commission, chairman of the Alabama Military Stability Commission and national chairman of the Aerospace States Association.

The kickoff event is scheduled for June 4 at 7:00 pm CT at Guntersville Civitan Park’s Jeff Cook Performing Arts Stage. There will be live music, food, drinks, fireworks and fun for the whole family, all free of charge.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

‘Not Done Yet’: Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s reelection ad touts successes while underlining forward momentum

(Stimpson for Mayor/YouTube)

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s reelection campaign on Tuesday launched its first TV advertisement of the cycle, highlighting Stimpson’s record of success leading Mobile’s revitalization, economic development and infrastructure improvements.

The 30-second ad, entitled “Not Done Yet,” features major city successes that Stimpson spearheaded while outlining that Mobile’s momentum continues to surge forward under his leadership.

According to the campaign, the ad will run on broadcast stations in the Mobile DMA and will be supported by digital and print advertisements, as well.

“Mobile has made tremendous strides over the past eight years,” stated Stimpson. “From now through the election, you’ll see our campaign run a positive race that highlights Mobile’s momentum, successes, and future. We are building a safer, more business and family-friendly city, and as we look forward to a new downtown airport, a waterfront park at Brookley, and increased connectivity throughout Mobile, it’s clear that big things are on the horizon. We are not done yet!”

WATCH:

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The ad features shots of the following Stimpson administration accomplishments, per his campaign:

Economic Development: Mayor Stimpson’s leadership has led to major economic development projects – including the relocation of the Mobile Airport to Brookley Field, the deepening and widening of the port’s shipping channel, and incentivizing both major businesses like MTC Logistics and small businesses like restaurants and breweries to move to or open in Mobile. The Stimpson-led return of Carnival cruises to Mobile also adds nearly 200,000 visitors to the city each year.

The Stimpson administration also created Mobile’s first Supplier Diversity Program, which creates and implements programs, policies and procedures to assist minority, women, and service-disabled veteran small businesses increase their access to City procurement opportunities and resources to help them grow.

Public Safety Investments: Under the Stimpson administration, Mobile has replaced a significant amount of public safety equipment, from fire and police trucks to new fire stations and technology to combat gun violence.

In addition, Mobile is the first city in Alabama where all sworn law enforcement officers will wear body cameras – a landmark step to increase transparency, accountability, and trust between police and Mobilians.

Park and Public Space Revitalization: The Stimpson administration has spent more than $70 million on parks and recreation opportunities since 2013. Notable improvements shown in the ad include the creation of Mardi Gras park, an overhaul of Medal of Honor Park, the city’s first synthetic turf multi-purpose sports field at Mims Park, and a new Parkway Senior Center on Dauphin Island Parkway.

Downtown Revitalization: The Stimpson administration has led downtown’s revitalization, from the revitalization of St. Louis Street to an increased public safety presence, to incentivizing new businesses, condo and apartment buildings like the Meridian at the Port, and more than 60 restaurants to open downtown. Under Mayor Stimpson’s leadership, the City of Mobile has also increased investment in public spaces, leading to cleaner, safer green spaces and new programming for the public to take advantage of these enhanced opportunities.

New Infrastructure Investments: Under the Stimpson administration, the City of Mobile has spent roughly $30 million per year on infrastructure improvements, divided evenly across all City Council districts – a necessary sum following decades of neglect.

The city has also utilized federal grant funding to increase connectivity with sidewalks, green spaces, and bike lanes on Water and Broad Streets. The Broad Street roundabout, recently completed, is indicative of the result of the Broad Street redevelopment project, slated for completion this year. In addition, the Three Mile Creek Greenway will connect neighborhoods, parks, commercial districts, and provide access to Mobile’s unique natural resources.

St. Louis Street Redevelopment: The Stimpson administration has led the revitalization of downtown’s St. Louis Street. In addition to a revitalized streetscape, St. Louis St. also hosts the Innovation Portal, as well as new restaurants and businesses like Old Majestic Brewing and the Cheese Cottage, and an upcoming Greer’s Downtown Market.

The mayoral election will be held August 24, 2021.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 weeks ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Ag Commissioner Rick Pate for reelection

(Rick Pate/Contributed, YHN)

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate’s (R-AL) 2022 reelection bid.

Pate, currently serving his first term as commissioner after being elected in 2018, announced his GOP reelection candidacy earlier this week.

“Commissioner Pate has done an outstanding job leading the Department of Agriculture and Industries over the last few years,” stated AFA president Chris Isaacson. “He has been a tireless advocate for Alabama’s agricultural community. We are honored to stand with Rick in his bid for a second term.”

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During Pate’s term as commissioner, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has implemented the innovative statewide branding program “Sweet Grown Alabama,” increased funding for the Alabama Farm to School Program and successfully administered Alabama’s first industrial hemp program.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioner also fought to keep agriculture listed as critical infrastructure, delivered essential personal protective equipment to processing facilities across the state and kept the department functioning strongly.

Pate was previously served as mayor of Lowndesboro for 14 years. He founded Pate Landscape Co., Inc. and spent 38 years running the company. In 2020, Pate was elected as an RNC delegate and one of the nine Alabama Electoral College Electors for former President Donald J. Trump. He currently serves as chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party and on the statewide Alabama Republican Executive Committee.

A member of the Lowndesboro Baptist Church, Pate and his wife, Julie, have been married for 33 years and have two adult sons.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 weeks ago

Alabama bans curbside voting — ‘Strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world’

(Governor Kay Ivey/ Contributed)

Governor Kay Ivey’s office on Wednesday afternoon announced that she has signed two additional bills following the conclusion of the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session last week.

Ivey has newly signed HB 285 and HB 314.

Sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), HB 285 bans curbside voting. Previously existing Alabama law did not currently provide for curbside voting, however, the practice was also not explicitly barred.

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This past year, that unclarity led to multiple rounds of litigation when Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall deemed the practice illegal while activists pushed to have curbside voting instituted at the last minute in certain counties.

HB 285 now codifies the interpretation of Marshall and Merrill.

Allen is running for secretary of state in 2022. Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) carried HB 285 in the Senate.

Sponsored by Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield), HB 314 revises the process for voter change-of-address updates, which maintains the integrity of voting rolls.

“Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote, and a strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world. I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Rep. Allen and Rep. Scott to ensure Alabama’s election process remains free, fair and highly ethical,” Ivey said in a statement.

Both HB 285 and HB 314 take immediate effect.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 weeks ago

Republican Greg Cook officially announces Supreme Court bid

(Greg Cook Campaign/Contributed)

Greg Cook on Tuesday announced that he is running for the Supreme Court of Alabama in 2022. He is currently general counsel for the Alabama Republican Party, in addition to being a practicing attorney with 30 years of experience in the courtroom.

A release from his campaign underscored that Cook identifies as a constitutional conservative. He is running for the associate justice position currently held by Justice Mike Bolin, who is not running for reelection.

“Judges should not legislate from the bench, but should apply the plain meaning of the written law. Judges should be like neutral umpires – just calling the balls and strikes – not favoring one side over another,” Cook said in a statement. “Instead of calling balls and strikes, activist judges can deliver home runs for progressive policies. We can’t have that in Alabama. We need justices who will follow the law and fairly rule on the cases before the Alabama Supreme Court.”

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“I’m a conservative grounded in principle, who believes a judge is there to apply the law as written. This might sound boring and predictable, but it’s who I am,” he added.

Cook is a native of Florence. After high school, he attended Duke University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and then served our country in the Air Force, reaching the rank of Captain. In 1988, Cook was admitted to Harvard Law School where he worked on the Federalist Society’s Journal of Law and Public Policy alongside future Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

After finishing law school, Cook moved back to Alabama to begin practicing law in Birmingham. Over the next three decades, he established himself as an active member of the Republican Party, volunteering in elections since 1992. In 2000, he served as a volunteer attorney for the Bush vs. Gore legal battle in Florida, where Cook helped supervise the hand recount of the famous hanging-chad ballots. Locally, he has served on the Jefferson County Republican Steering Committee, Executive Committee and as Legal Counsel to the Jefferson County GOP for almost two decades. Cook also served on the statewide Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee for almost 15 years including the past four years as general counsel for the ALGOP.

Cook has been married to his wife, Kimberly, for 33 years. They have three children and attend Dawson Baptist Church, where he is ordained as a deacon and has served as a volunteer student minister for over 20 years.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

Republican Rick Pate to seek second term as Alabama Ag commissioner

(Rick Pate/Contributed)

Commissioner Rick Pate (R-AL) on Monday announced that he will seek reelection in 2022 leading the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Pate is currently serving his first term as commissioner of Agriculture and Industries after being elected as a conservative outsider and businessman in 2018.

During his term as commissioner, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has implemented the innovative statewide branding program “Sweet Grown Alabama,” increased funding for the Alabama Farm to School Program and successfully administered Alabama’s first industrial hemp program.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular commissioner also fought to keep agriculture listed as critical infrastructure, delivered essential personal protective equipment to processing facilities across the state and kept the department functioning strongly.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve as your Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries,” stated Pate. “In my first term we accomplished so much, but more work is to be done. This includes keeping our food supply safe, abundant, and sustainable while helping our farmers and rural communities prosper. The agriculture stakeholders have been wonderful partners with me over the past few years.”

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Pate was previously served as mayor of Lowndesboro for 14 years. He founded Pate Landscape Co., Inc. and spent 38 years running the company. In 2020, Pate was elected as an RNC delegate and one of the nine Alabama Electoral College Electors for former President Donald J. Trump. He currently serves as chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party and on the statewide Alabama Republican Executive Committee.

A member of the Lowndesboro Baptist Church, Pate and his wife, Julie, have been married for 33 years and have two adult sons.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Kenneth Paschal in HD 73 special election

(Kenneth Paschal for State Representative District 73/Facebook, YHN)

The Alabama Forestry Association on Monday announced its endorsement of Republican Kenneth Paschal in the special general election in House District 73, which covers a portion of Shelby County.

Paschal is a 21-year U.S. Army veteran and has lived in Shelby County for the past 14 years. He is a member of the Shelby County GOP Executive Committee.

“We are proud to endorse Kenneth Paschal for House District 73,” stated Alabama Forestry Association President Chris Isaacson. “He served our country honorably for more than two decades and we are convinced that he will continue to fight to protect the freedoms we enjoy and will be a strong voice for conservative values in the state legislature.”

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Paschal’s platform includes respecting the U.S. Constitution, economic development, limited government and protecting Alabama’s children. He also strongly supports private property rights and low taxes, per a release from the Alabama Forestry Association.

“I’m very thankful to receive the endorsement of ForestPAC,” Paschal said in a statement. “Forestry is a very important industry in Alabama. It employs thousands of people across Alabama, including many in Shelby County. I appreciate ForestPAC’s support.”

The Republican nominee will face Democratic candidate Sheridan Black in a special election on July 13.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

Republican Marcus Paramore to seek Alabama House District 89 seat in 2022

(Marcus Paramore for Alabama House District 89/Contributed, YHN)

Troy City Council President Marcus Paramore on Thursday announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for the House District 89 seat in the Alabama Legislature.

The seat is currently held by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), who has announced that he will run in 2022 for the Office of Alabama Secretary of State. HD 89 represents Pike County and part of Dale County.

Paramore, surrounded by a crowd of approximately 70 supporters on the steps of Troy’s City Hall, advised he was running to “focus on economic development and the protection of traditional conservative values in Pike and Dale counties.”

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During his tenure on the city council, Paramore has been heavily involved in recruiting industries including Kimber and Rex Lumber as well as a number of national retailers. Paramore said that he believes that companies, large and small alike, need to hire employees but that current federal government unemployment benefits are incentivizing people to instead stay at home.

“We absolutely must stop giving able-bodied people incentives to stay at home and not go to work,” Paramore stated. “There are great jobs available throughout District 89 and filling those jobs will be essential to getting our economy back on track.”

He also promised that he will protect traditional conservative values and that his campaign will be focused on family, faith and hard work.

“I want to work every day to make District 89 a great place to live and to raise children and grandchildren,” Paramore added. “I am so proud to live here and to have raised my family here. I know that we have so much to offer and that we can continue to grow while keeping our conservative values.”

He and his wife, Leigh Ann, have two adult sons. They are members of the Park Memorial United Methodist Church.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 weeks ago

‘Run Katie Run’: Conservative activist CJ Pearson calls for Britt Senate candidacy

(@TheCJPearson/Twitter, BCA/Contributed)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) and former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard are currently the only two candidates in Alabama’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, however prominent conservative activist CJ Pearson hopes that field will soon grow to include a fresh face.

Pearson is president of the Free Thinker Project and a student at the University of Alabama. He is known nationally as a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Pearson said, “The Left hates strong women. It’s why they despise conservative women.”

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“It’s why I’m so glad to see so many conservative women running for office, and we need more. They’re taking that narrative head on and taking names,” he continued.

He then expressed his support for Republican Katie Britt running for the U.S. Senate.

Britt was instrumental in identifying and confirming strong, young conservatives to the federal bench in Alabama and on the 11th Circuit when she served as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL); she also notably worked on behalf of Alabamians to help confirm now-Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Britt is now the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama — a role in which she is one of the state’s top advocates for small businesses and led the Keep Alabama Open campaign that began last year.

Pearson concluded, “I hope @KatieBoydBritt is considering. #RunKatieRun”

In an interview last week on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Britt was asked by guest host Jay Town (the former Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama) whether she was considering a Senate bid.

“First off, for you to ask this girl who grew up in Coffee County if she would consider running for the United States Senate is just an incredibly humbling moment for me,” she said. “I will say: I get on my knees every night and pray.”

Britt advised that she and her husband, former Crimson Tide football star Wesley Britt, “have been praying very diligently about this for the last several months.”

“It is certainly something on my heart and on my mind,” she concluded. “I see what’s happening in D.C. I am disgusted by it. And I feel like we have to have someone who will stand up for our Christian conservative values, that will fight for the country we love, will fight for our freedom, and who will also be effective for Alabama and will make sure we have a seat at the table.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Gov. Kay Ivey: ‘Alabama stands with Israel’

(Gov. Kay Ivey's Office/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

As terrorist group Hamas continues to escalate rocket attacks from Gaza, Governor Kay Ivey says Alabama is standing firmly with Israel.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on Wednesday warned the worsening violent conflict could move “towards a full-scale war.”

Militants in Gaza have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel since Monday, killing or injuring hundreds of civilians. While Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system has intercepted many, some rocket attacks are still getting through. Approximately 130 rockets hit Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, even forcing Israel’s main international airport to close.

The violence comes as the Alabama Department of Commerce conducted a long-scheduled virtual trade mission with Israel that began on Monday and concluded Wednesday. The Department is set to conduct an in-person trade mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem later this year.

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“At a time when businesses face continued challenges globally and domestically, we are looking to deepen and strengthen ties with our long-term ally, Israel, which is a logical choice for a virtual trade mission,” explained Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield earlier this year.

“We have found that virtual events leading up to an in-person trade mission can be very beneficial in that they allow companies to make initial contacts, learn more about the market to be visited and pave the way for a more productive trip,” added Hilda Lockhart, director of the Office of International Trade for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Alabama and Israel are established trading partners. Alabama’s exports to Israel in 2020 totaled $49 million, an increase of nearly 27% from 2019, per the Department of Commerce.

Private sector partners in Alabama have also put an emphasis on greater trade relations with Israel in recent years, as discussed in the 2019 “Doing Business with Israel: Opportunities for Alabama-Israel Technology Partnerships” forum in Birmingham. Key target sectors for U.S. exports to Israel include safety and security, health care, information and communication technologies, and defense.

In February, Governor Ivey also hosted newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan for a visit at the Alabama State Capitol. Erdan’s Alabama trip was his first official trip to the United States. He also visited with Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, as well as making stops at Montgomery’s Rosa Parks Museum and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“I had the distinct honor of hosting Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the US. He is on a learning tour and will visit many of AL’s historic sites. As a Jew whose family was lost in the Holocaust, he is focused on civil rights of all people. Shalom, Mr. Ambassador!” Ivey tweeted in February. “I told him my trip to Israel several years ago was most memorable, and my Christmas and Easter celebrations have more meaning than ever. I hope he joins us again very soon.”

On Wednesday, Ivey tweeted her continued support for Israel.

Gina Maiola, spokesperson for Ivey, reiterated the governor’s support for Israel in a statement to Yellowhammer News.

“Governor Ivey and the state of Alabama have long been friends to Israel. Recently, the governor hosted Ambassador Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, in her office,” Maiola outlined. “His visit to Alabama was part of his tour of the southeastern United States, which was focused on civil rights. Ambassador Erdan and Governor Ivey had a great, free-flowing conversation.”

“Alabama was the first state in the country to recognize Israel as a country, and the governor has long been a supporter,” she noted. “In fact, she has been to Israel twice with her church, and she says that her visits were certainly eye opening, saying that being there helps connect the dots to stories she reads in the Bible.”

The spokesperson concluded, “Sure, she is not at the State Department or working in foreign affairs, but it is appropriate with Alabama’s longstanding relationship with Israel that she reaffirmed our position as an ally and friend. As Governor Ivey said this morning, Alabama stands with Israel.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Alabama State Senator Andrew Jones running for reelection

(Andrew Jones/Facebook)

State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) on Tuesday announced he will seek reelection to a second term in the 2022 election cycle.

As a freshman member of the legislature’s upper chamber, Jones currently serves as chair of the Children, Youth, and Human Services Committee.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last 2 ½ years,” he stated. “I ran for the State Senate because I had seen first-hand as a business owner and farmer how government impacts hardworking Alabamians. I have worked hard to be the people’s voice in the Alabama Senate and bring much-needed resources back to the people of Etowah, Cherokee, and DeKalb.”

Jones will kickoff his reelection campaign at respective events in Etowah and Cherokee Counties on May 25 and June 3.

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Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) offered his support for Jones’ reelection bid.

“Senator Jones has quickly learned to navigate the ins and outs of the Alabama Senate. He is known by his colleagues as a capable and effective Senator who will do whatever it takes to fight for his district. Andrew is not afraid to take bold, decisive action to meet the challenges our state faces,” Reed said.

Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) echoed Reed’s comments.

“Andrew has been a key voice in our Republican caucus for conservatives policies to improve the lives of everyday Alabamians,” Scofield commented. “Senator Jones is a champion for his local folks, but at the same time he has also won the respect of his colleagues. He has the full support of our caucus in his reelection effort.”

Elected in 2018 in his first run for public office, Jones campaigned on economic development, infrastructure, education and protecting Alabama values. Progress has been made, he now says, on all of those fronts.

“During my campaign, I talked about three infrastructure projects in my district. The U.S. 411 expansion project between Etowah and Cherokee Counties is currently underway, which is a $43 million project. We also recently secured $2 million for the engineering design of the I-759 Eastern Connector, and we are working with local leaders on multiple applications for funding for the Southside Bridge project. Last year, that same application made it to the final round,” Jones advised.

The freshman senator also touted a $2.7 million investment at the Etowah County Little Canoe Creek Megasite through the Growing Alabama Tax Credit Program, an investment which was made possible through an amendment that Jones negotiated to prioritize megasite properties over 1000 acres. He has also supported broadband expansion, incentives for small businesses and workforce training efforts in the Senate, as well as education initiatives to expand pre-K, provide teacher raises, and recruit math and science teachers. Additionally, Jones has backed pro-life legislation, election security measures and Second Amendment protection bills.

In the Senate, Jones has also authored legislation to support the military, incentivize adoptions, promote small farm wineries and repeal the grocery tax, among various other causes. Locally, the Republican has led an effort to repeal occupational taxes in five Etowah County municipalities. In 2020, voters approved a local constitutional amendment sponsored by Jones to designate surplus prison food funds for law enforcement purposes, including school resource officers.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Republican Wes Allen announces 2022 candidacy for secretary of state

(S. Ross/YHN)

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) on Thursday announced that he will seek the Republican nomination to be Alabama’s next secretary of state in the 2022 election cycle.

Allen made the announcement in front of the State House, with a crowd of family, friends, fellow legislators and local elected officials from Pike County behind him.

He is currently serving his first term in the House of Representatives after being elected in 2018. Allen previously served as the probate judge of Pike County for nearly a decade, a position through which he was responsible for managing the county’s elections. In remarks, Allen stressed that this role would give him local elections perspective as secretary of state, which oversees the state’s elections system.

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“My entire career has prepared me for this position. As a Probate Judge, I ran 18 elections without a single error or problem,” Allen stated. “It is that type of error-free elections that our probate judges, circuit clerks, absentee election managers, boards of registrars, sheriffs and poll workers strive to achieve over and over. It is that standard that the people of Alabama deserve every time they go to cast their ballots.”

“I have been on the ground on Election Day and I understand the mechanics of how elections work” Allen explained. “I will be there to support hardworking election officials across this state, both Republican and Democrat, to do everything possible to assist them and to ensure that we have the most secure elections in this country,” he added. “I want every legal Alabama voter to know that their vote is important, it matters and it will be protected.”

During his time in the legislature, Allen has served as vice-chair of the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee and has sponsored several bills, including a proposed ban on curbside voting which is currently pending Senate consideration.

Allen is a graduate of the University of Alabama and a member of the First Baptist Church of Troy. He and his wife, Cae, have been married for 21 years and they have two children.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Woodfin shatters Birmingham mayoral fundraising record due to grassroots support

(woodfin/file)

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s reelection campaign on Thursday released information about a record-breaking month of fundraising.

Driven by grassroots email and text-banking efforts by staff and volunteers, the campaign raised a total of over $110,000 from 747 individual contributors in April. Impressively, 93% of donations were less than $100 and 89% of donations were less than $50.

The Woodfin campaign has now raised over $1.3 million so far this cycle, the most of any Birmingham mayoral candidate in history.

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In addition to strong grassroots fundraising, more than 300 people signed up to volunteer for the first time last month, 98% of whom were from Birmingham.

“Last month’s success in grassroots fundraising reflects the growth of energy and enthusiasm from the people of Birmingham to continue the work we’ve started,” said Woodfin in a statement. “Our supporters and volunteers are getting involved because they recognize the importance of our mission: reimagined public safety, renewed commitment to our neighborhoods, and realized economic potential.”

Other Birmingham mayoral candidates include former Mayor William Bell, Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales and local businessman Chris Woods.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Judge Mary Windom opts against Alabama Supreme Court bid in 2022

(Judge Mary Windom for Supreme Court/Facebook)

Judge Mary Windom on Monday announced via a social media post that she will not seek election to the Supreme Court of Alabama in the 2022 election cycle.

“After prayerful consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided that I will not seek election to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2022,” she wrote.

“I will focus on spending time with my family and on my work as Presiding Judge of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals,” Windom concluded. I thank the many wonderful people across Alabama who have encouraged me to run.”

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Windom has served as presiding judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals since 2012, after first being elected to that court in 2008. The Republican is the wife of former Lt. Governor Steve Windom (R-AL).

Judge Windom was viewed by many as the frontrunner for the Supreme Court race that will be open due to popular Justice Mike Bolin being age-limited out from running for reelection. Insiders tell Yellowhammer News that Judge Chris McCool, a freshman member of the Court of Criminal Appeals, is now the likely frontrunner for the Supreme Court slot, although attorney Greg Cook could also mount a serious candidacy.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Yellowhammer News presents the 2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40

(YHN)

It would stand to reason that one of Alabama’s most influential media outlets would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.

That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.

Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.

Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.

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40. Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels has seemingly done the impossible in the Alabama House of Representatives. As House Minority Leader, he has increased his power and influence in the lower chamber despite a reduction in numbers within his caucus.

Sometimes in the House, it is harder to lead that smaller number of people because personalities and agendas become magnified. But Daniels has deftly handled his current leadership position.

Possessing a natural intellect for legislative process and politics, Daniels has figured out how to best channel his caucus’ energy to leverage a permanent seat at the policymaking table.

The Rocket City can count Daniels among its growing list of powerful and influential politicians in state government.

39. Greg Butrus

What we said in 2019: It’s impossible not to learn something during a conversation with Butrus. Once a Senate staffer for legendary Alabama political figure Howell Heflin, Butrus displays the type of personality rare among the silk stocking law firms in downtown Birmingham.

The question is not “what does Greg Butrus know about legislation, ethics opinions and campaign finance laws?” Instead, the question usually asked by Alabama political insiders is “what doesn’t he know?”

This Balch & Bingham attorney has incomparable knowledge in the areas which matter most to lobbyists and principals trying to navigate the Alabama political waters.

His ability to be such a valuable resource among power players makes him one of their peers.

38. Greg Jones

Anyone who thinks bipartisanship is dead has never encountered the governmental affairs practice of Greg Jones.

Possessing an innate ability to connect with policymakers of both parties and all backgrounds, Jones has built one of the most durable practices in Montgomery. This experienced lobbyist and entrepreneur has set up a firm ready to engage on a wide range of issues at all levels of government.

A former Arkansas State defensive back, Jones’ ability to see the entire political field keeps his services in high demand.

37. Sommer Vaughn

What we said in 2019: Vaughn has hit her stride as a lobbyist who consistently delivers results for her clients. No issue is too big or too complex for her to handle.

Being a lobbyist comes naturally to Sommer Vaughn. An ingrained interest in public policy and an ebullient personality allow her to get locked into the decision-making process on any issue in state government.

Perhaps just as important for getting work done in politics is that hint of “don’t mess with me” that Vaughn possesses. Being able to evoke a tinge of fear in people behind an otherwise relatable personality is what delivers results for clients and amounts to longevity in the industry.

The ingredients are there for Vaughn to maintain her power and influence for decades to come.

36. Jeremy Walker

While his members have enjoyed a stellar year in the real estate market, Jeremy Walker has worked to position them well in the realm of Alabama politics.

Walker leads a thriving business association which now has more than $2.5 million in its political action committee. Coupling his ambitious leadership style with those resources will make Walker and his association one of the most impactful players during the upcoming 2022 election cycle.

An attorney and former football player for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Walker should continue to widen his trail of power and influence.

35. Bobby Singleton

Bobby Singleton could teach a master class in how to maximize the power and influence available to an Alabama state senator. He squeezes every ounce of available juice out of his position from start to finish each legislative session.

A commanding presence at the microphone in the well of the chamber, lobbyists and staffers – as well as many of his fellow senators – never quite know whether he is speaking from the heart or with the wink of an eye.

That ability to keep other stakeholders off balance, and a willingness to utilize his influence, necessitates their inclusion of Singleton throughout the policymaking process.

“Let’s work!”

34. Josh Blades

What we said in 2019: The depth of his work in the executive and legislative branches of government provides him the institutional knowledge to service his clients, but his influence comes from having the relationships to bring about results.

When Josh Blades’ clients gain his representation, they get way more than just a guy who walks up and down the hallways of the Statehouse.

Blades has an ability to think about issues and their impact more globally than most, and he could just as easily be running a business or an organization as he could be doing his present job as one of Alabama’s top lobbyists.

It is fascinating to think of how much is left out there for a talent like Blades to accomplish even with how much he has done already. Yet, his work is just beginning.

33. Ben Patterson

What we said in 2019: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable governmental affairs professional in Alabama than Ben Patterson. And there’s a good reason for this…Patterson holds a doctorate and quite literally taught classes in state and local government, as well as American politics, at the University of Alabama.

Lobbyists come in varying forms. One type is the lobbyist who can open a door and get a meeting scheduled but has no idea what their client actually needs. Another, although somewhat rarer, is the lobbyist who understands the issues but not the personal and political nuances that must be taken into account.

Ben Patterson is the perfect mix of what is good from both of those scenarios.

Patterson is a scholar and able to easily grasp complicated issues. He is also a relationship-builder by nature and has connected with the state’s power players on a personal level.

Being able to leverage that combination of influential traits puts Patterson in a unique position in Montgomery.

32. Paul Pinyan

What we said in 2019: With an impressive phone banking and polling operation, along with the best grassroots network in the state, Pinyan has the top tools at his disposal to continue increasing his power and influence.

Paul Pinyan has drawn up the blueprint for becoming powerful and influential at a business association in Montgomery.

A native of Holly Pond, Pinyan was appointed in 2010 by former Alabama Farmers Federation president Jerry Newby to replace legendary executive director Mike Kilgore. Since that time, Pinyan has effectively consolidated power both within his own building and externally.

Pinyan is particularly proficient in the art of subtle influence in advancing his cause and that of current president Jimmy Parnell, who relies heavily upon Pinyan’s guidance and counsel.

Pinyan’s organization has a little more than $750,000 in its state political action committee. With that tidy sum, the trust of his members and a variety of campaign tools at his disposal, Pinyan has the opportunity for continued success.

31. David Cole

What we said in 2019: Cole is a natural people’s person, someone adept at building genuine relationships and making real connections. In the governmental affairs world, these traits are hard to find.

Few have seen their stock shoot up in recent legislative sessions the way David Cole has.

Cole transitioned from a single industry constituency to the diverse industry interests of the Business Council of Alabama a little more than two years ago. He has thrived under that change of scenery.

Cole came charging out of the gate as senior vice president of governmental affairs at BCA. He was the tip of the legislative spear on the business community’s support for the Rebuild Alabama infrastructure package.

There is no question he will be at the forefront of many legislative fights in the future. All Cole needs is a white board and a phone and he will relentlessly pursue votes on behalf of his group.

Meanwhile, his stock continues to climb.

30. Mike Cole

What we said in 2019: He’s a big-game hunter when it comes to clients. Cole counts some of the state’s largest employers among his client base. His roots in Huntsville have allowed him to serve as a go-to connection in Montgomery for many of the state’s tech leaders.

It feels as if every year we utilize this space to describe in some way the stealthy nature by which Mike Cole goes about his business of influencing the political process in Alabama. Then, throughout the subsequent 12 months, we discover more previously unknown issues or situations through which he is moving the needle on behalf of his clients.

This is one of the surest measures of determining someone is in the upper echelon of the industry. Very quietly being a serious mover and shaker keeps the competition off-guard and creates a clearer path for your clients to achieve success.

Look closely enough, and you will find that Cole delves into everything from health care to utility regulation to economic development to county and municipal issues.

With his vast experience, and the manner in which he goes about his work, Cole will remain one of Alabama’s power players for as long as he so desires.

29. Clay Scofield

Clay Scofield is becoming a regular on lists in Alabama politics.

He first appeared earlier this year on a list assessing the likelihood of potential U.S. Senate campaigns. At the time we wrote, “He is still young with plenty out ahead of him, but the man is a pure political animal.”

The reality is that the newly-installed Senate Majority Leader will see himself included in any sort of list judging stature among the Yellowhammer State’s political leaders.

Scofield has championed the cause of rural broadband expansion, one of the state’s most pressing public policy needs. He also relishes both the operational aspects of politics and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering required to gain traction in the legislature’s deliberative body.

Regardless of whether he maintains his track on the state level or diverts to the federal level, Scofield will have “plenty out ahead of him.”

28. Dave Stewart

What we said in 2019: Dave Stewart has laid out the blueprint for how a law firm’s lobbying practice can prosper and leverage influence in every corner of state government. In doing so, he has led his firm’s governmental affairs practice to entirely new heights.

One would think there is not a whole lot left for Dave Stewart to conquer.

He has been successful in business, on Capitol Hill, as chief of staff to the governor of Alabama and now heading up the governmental affairs practice for one of the Southeast’s largest law firms. And, still, Stewart has shown an unwavering focus on delivering for his clients and moving his home state of Alabama forward.

Tackling economic development, tax laws, education policy and more on behalf of international businesses and local initiatives, there is no issue or corner of state government out of Stewart’s reach.

At this point in his career, Stewart has the expertise to solve almost any problem a client brings through the door with his eyes closed. That’s how someone keeps a standing reservation on a list like this.

27. Steve Raby

North Alabama is riding a hot streak, and Steve Raby is emblematic of its rise in recent years.

The Huntsville-Madison area is home to the Speaker of the House, as well as his trusted confidante and savvy political operator – Raby.

Unsurprisingly, Raby represents some of the key entities in the area and has ensured their priority status in the policymaking process.

One of Raby’s strengths is his ability to convey to legislative leadership the electoral implications of each of their major moves. And his work on state-level House races puts him in an exceptional position relative to his peers in the industry.

Putting together that special combination of relationships and added value makes Raby an extraordinarily powerful and influential figure.

26. Steve Clouse

What we said in 2019: This veteran cat wrangler oversees one of state government’s biggest annual headaches – the general fund – for the House.

Serving as chairman of the General Fund Committee brings with it the requisite power and influence to receive the label of top-shelf power player. The general fund is a $2.4 billion state budget, and Clouse shepherded through his chamber the largest-ever version of it this session.

Clouse carries all the qualities of a statesman. He is patient, prudent and experienced.

However, he also knows when to draw the line and tell a stakeholder, agency head or fellow legislator to take it or leave it.

Those traits keep him among the state’s most powerful and influential year after year.

25. Ted Hosp

What we said in 2019: Hosp has probably written more pieces of legislation that are now Alabama law than anyone in the statehouse would like to admit.

Practicing lawyers generally do not have the best grasp of politics and the policymaking process.

Ted Hosp has been an exception throughout his career. He has an acute understanding of what it takes to protect or advance a client’s interest in what can be a complex web of personalities and methods.

And this is the reason why he has gone from serving as the lead partner for the Maynard, Cooper & Gale governmental affairs practice to vice president of governmental affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, a company that has 3 million members and employs 3,600 people.

As Hosp has gotten busy delivering wins for Blue Cross, his position in politics continues to strengthen.

24. Ginger Avery-Buckner

What we said in 2019: Gifted with a friendly, engaging personality, she can flip to all-business mode in a hurry in front of someone whose issue contains the wrong color-code on her legislative spreadsheet.

Maybe this has been stated before: “Practicing lawyers generally do not have the best grasp of politics and the policymaking process.”

In fairness to Avery-Buckner’s Alabama Association of Justice members, politics is not their business. They are litigators. Their expertise lies in their ability to operate within the civil justice system.

But, goodness, have they found the right person to represent them inside the political process.

Channeling her tenacity towards advocacy and awareness of anything which could affect her members, Avery-Buckner has exactly what it takes to run the state’s leading legal organization.

The impact of Avery-Buckner’s work continues to be felt throughout Alabama politics and its court system.

23. R.B. Walker

What we said in 2019: Walker’s profile could easily have been something drawn up in a lab. He is tenacious in pursuit of results, disciplined in his approach and never distracted by the noise that can often consume the energy of others in the world of state governmental affairs.

R.B. Walker is well on his way to indelibly stamping his name into Alabama political lore the way several others on this list already have.

Walker is driven to succeed. There are no days off for him. Frankly, there may not even be any hours off. The number of leaders and influencers with whom Walker has built a lasting relationship could fill Bryant-Denny to the brim.

And the quantity of information Walker absorbs in a day exceeds that which most governmental affairs professionals gather during an entire legislative session. It’s how he is essentially able to capture satellite imagery of the political landscape and properly equip Alabama Power to make policy decisions.

Subsequent generations of political players are going to talk about Walker and his power and influence.

22. Clay Ryan

What we said in 2019: The University of Alabama might soon need to make room for another star in its “Where Legends Are Made” lineup.

Clay Ryan’s inclusion on this list of the state’s most powerful and influential political figures was one of the easiest calls.

When any serious candidate decides to run for political office in the Yellowhammer State, it does not take long before they are attempting to gain an audience with Ryan.

And the text of his title as Senior Vice Chancellor for External Affairs does not even do his role proper justice. Ryan is the gatekeeper for one of the state’s largest employers when it comes to all things related to politics and economic development. Also charged with oversight of the System’s public relations effort, there are times when carefully crafted messages come directly from him.

Ryan will undoubtedly return to his position on this list on an annual basis.

21. Dax Swatek

What we said in 2019: In the same way Frank Stitt rolls up his sleeves when asked to plan a seven-course meal, Swatek is the guy people come to when they want to know all the ingredients to success and stay six steps ahead the whole time.

Dax Swatek is committed to the process.

Whether earlier in his career when he was a sought-after campaign consultant, or in the succeeding years as he built an impressive lobbying practice, his strength has been found in a natural ability to chart a path for success on behalf of his clients.

Swatek’s experience has allowed him to occupy some rather exclusive territory when it comes to merging electoral politics and public policy.

He is skillful at interpreting complex polling data and using it to gain the upper hand in a policy fight. Through his campaign experience, he has developed a knack for sharp messaging which has proven vital to clients and sets him apart from many other lobbyists.

Armed with a high-profile client list and the smarts it takes to deliver, expect Swatek to continue being a major player.

20. Houston Smith

What we said in 2019: From his position on Yellowhammer’s Power and Influence 40, Smith can look up and see some of his predecessors. Given his ambition and rare intellect, he would be well-served to prepare for a similarly steep career trajectory.

If there were ever a public servant in the private sector, it is Houston Smith.

Take his mindset toward service and blend it together with Alabama Power’s sustained strength in the governmental affairs realm, and you get one of the 20 most powerful and influential people in the state.

Smith has extraordinary vision and a genuine desire to see his home state of Alabama reach new heights.

Having worked to build relationships that matter like so many of his peers on this list, Smith’s ability to think big and apply that vision presents a differential trait. His persistent focus on concepts for growing the economy and enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians has become second nature. In examining Smith’s approach, one cannot help but recall Isaac Newton’s remark: “If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.”

The state of Alabama has benefitted from Smith’s role in politics and public policy in recent years, and in the process, he has become entrenched on this list.

19. Twinkle Cavanaugh

Twinkle Cavanaugh has built one of the most trusted brands in Alabama politics.

In 2020, she received 1.38 million votes, the most by a non-presidential candidate in Alabama history. Few things send a stronger signal of a formidable statewide presence than that kind of stout vote tally.

It is also evidence of how Yellowhammer State residents have gone from viewing her as the woman with the memorable name to one they can count on.

Never someone to back down from a fight, Cavanaugh believes that acting in the best interest of her beloved state and the people she serves will inevitably require making someone mad. Most often, she draws the ire of out-of-state lawyers and activists during their annual pilgrimage to the Alabama Public Service Commission.

This is a good lesson for aspiring elected officials: taking a hard stand only makes you stronger.

Farmers, miners, manufacturers and main street Alabama are among those who call on Cavanaugh’s leadership to help keep the state’s economy humming.

There will be no shortage of options for her to build upon her statewide electoral achievements.

18. Nathaniel Ledbetter

What we said in 2019: His rise to power has been almost meteoric. Elected to the House in 2014, he became the Republican leader in the chamber almost two full years before the end of his first term. A former mayor of Rainsville, this DeKalb Countian has carved out his role as a staunch conservative and tireless champion for rural Alabama.

Yellowhammer began receiving some pretty strong returns on Nathaniel Ledbetter following the 2019 legislative session.

Statehouse insiders recited instances of the House Majority Leader flexing his muscle to ensure the success of some of the legislature’s biggest priorities in recent memory, including Rebuild Alabama and broadband expansion. Those who witnessed his work spoke with some amount of awe and a heavy dose of respect.

Maybe everyone should have seen Ledbetter’s ascent coming, but that’s not the way he would have wanted it. He goes about his work not looking for any fanfare, only endeavoring to take care of the people in his Tennessee Valley district and to leave behind a better state.

In the interim, he has bolstered the role of the majority leader within the House of Representatives. In recent years it had evolved into a largely ceremonial position. That is not the case under Ledbetter’s leadership.

He has taken a far more aggressive approach and results have followed. A shrewd operator and exceptional strategist, Ledbetter is driving in the fast lane of power and influence.

17. Greg Albritton

What we said in 2019: Greg Albritton is an old-school legislator trapped in a second-termer’s body. He is particularly clever in how he goes about working his issues and navigating the legislative process. And he is dogged in pursuit of passing his legislative priorities.

For students of statehouse politics, it’s always a treat to observe Greg Albritton’s wry smile at the microphone, a gesture that usually signals something is amiss.

He is proficient in the art of offering up the rhetorically shiny object, all the while going after what he wants like a boulder rolling downhill or digging in for a long night of trench warfare.

Parliamentary fun aside, Albritton stands out even more so because of his willingness to handle the general fund and the institutional baggage that a chairman has to deal with in the budget that keeps state government agencies in operation. Difficult decisions have to be made in order to efficiently administer the $2.4 billion budget. Those are decisions from which Albritton has not shied.

He’s tough and fair and a conservative reformer at heart. Alabama is in a better place with Albritton in charge of its general fund budget.

16. Steve Marshall

What we said in 2019: A career prosecutor with a true passion for serving as attorney general, he is one of the most real elected officials you will ever meet. From that authenticity comes a level of power and influence that politics cannot manufacture.

It may not be possible for Steve Marshall – or anyone, for that matter – to do a better job than he already is performing.

He is batting a thousand when it comes to decision-making, law enforcement and standing up for Alabama on the national level.

Marshall has challenged the constitutionality of court-packing, fought for religious liberty and against public corruption. He has taken President Joe Biden to task for killing energy jobs and creating a border crisis.

He has surrounded himself with a talented, highly qualified team inside the attorney general’s office, and he is predictably popular in the law enforcement community and among his conservative base. Yet, he is not the least bit scared to take a principled stand in the face of criticism.

The formula is there for Marshall to continue increasing his stature in state politics

15. Steve Windom

What we said in 2019: He is a tireless worker, but the real marvel is his deep, ever-growing network of connections on and around Goat Hill. From administrative support staff to lifelong civil servants all the way up the halls of power, Windom knows just about everybody by name – and works his Rolodex non-stop.

Former elected officials who enter the lobbying world have to overcome the unfamiliarity of being the one in pursuit. Unlike the glamorous (and false) depictions of lobbying activity, the practice involves a lot of standing in line and hanging around. That’s a tough adjustment for some who are used to being the ones who make the lobbyists wait.

That has never been a problem for Steve Windom.

Renown for his work ethic, Windom frequently sends emails and texts at all hours of the night and starts making calls as soon as the sun is up. He is usually one of the first to arrive at the statehouse in the morning and zips around the place like it is his first year on the job.

Then there are his relationships. There is seemingly no one Windom does not know.

Windom’s connections to elected officials are deep given his prodigious fundraising abilities. Go to an obscure office in any state agency, and you will probably find someone whom he knows and with whom he has banked a relationship — just in case.

The former lieutenant governor and state senator has found a worthy running mate in one-time House of Representatives Rules Committee Chairman Blaine Galliher. Together they have changed the narrative about former members and have made their firm, Windom Galliher & Associates, a heavyweight in the Alabama governmental affairs market.

A member of the business community who is not currently a principal recently remarked to us, “If I was going to hire a lobbyist, I would hire Steve Windom.”

Windom flies in some pretty thin air as one of Alabama’s most successful contract lobbyists.

14. Arthur Orr

What we said in 2019: If someone wanted to make a movie about the story of the deliberative upper chamber, Orr might be the best choice to go on the poster. He has an incredible tolerance for details and is methodical in all of his actions. He is representative of the chamber’s approach to governing.

Arthur Orr is one of the two people in charge of the largest pot of money in the state of Alabama.

Orr is the state senate’s chairman overseeing the nearly $7.7 billion education budget. Carrying the weight of that checkbook around in his suit pocket affords him an elite level of power and influence.

Every school district, all of the state’s public institutions of higher education and countless education-related programs depend upon Orr’s fiscal decisions on an annual basis. The steady stream of advocates from those entities marching into his office to state their case for funding is illustrative of why he maintains an elevated position on this list.

The Decatur native and Wake Forest graduate is one of four remaining state senators who served as Republicans in the minority. That experience is still visible in the way Orr conducts his business in the upper chamber.

A bit more circumspect than most, Orr works to avoid getting pinned down on any issue when dealing with his fellow senators and the building’s many lobbyists. He also frequently returns to his roots as one of the original conservative reformers as he chases ABC privatization and welfare reform during most sessions.

Chairing the education budget committee, and years of legislative experience, provide a potent combination resulting in power and influence for Orr.

13. Jabo Waggoner

What we said in 2019: Jabo Waggoner is always the coolest guy in any room. He possesses a magnetism which has served him to near perfection throughout his political career. He’s the gentlemen senator and the smoothest of operators, but mainly people just want to be around him.

The one-man institution that is Jabo Waggoner continues to function in a most impressive fashion.

The Senate Rules Committee chairman is the epicenter of pretty much everything in his chamber. He sets the calendar. If you are a lobbyist, your bill receives no consideration without the approval of Waggoner. That is an immensely powerful and influential place to be if you are him.

The reality is, though, that as much as everyone wants to be like him, none of us are. You can’t force cool. You can’t fake importance. As much as young legislators want to grow up and be like Jabo, it is just never going to happen.

Waggoner is simply one of one.

An Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished Sportsman, Waggoner’s popularity among his colleagues is matched only by that in his over-the-mountain district. One of his constituents contacted Yellowhammer recently and told us, “I’ve been begging Jabo to run again. We couldn’t ask for a better senator than him, and he’s an important asset for our state.”

Waggoner is an all-time great.

12. Robbie McGhee

What we said in 2019: McGhee brings a certain intensity to his representation not prevalent in the everyday machinations of the statehouse. It means something when he walks into the building, and other people know when he is there. That in itself is a sure sign of power and influence.

Whether people want to admit it or not, gambling legislation in Alabama goes through the Poarch Band of Creek Indians – including the 2021 version so heavily debated.

And the person at the center of all that wrangling is Robbie McGhee.

As the elected vice chairman of the Tribal Council, McGhee represents the tribe in what he calls “government-to-government” at the local, state and federal levels.

He has done a stellar job at that.

Prior to becoming a heavy hitter in Alabama politics, he worked in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and Troutman Sanders LLP-Indian Law Practice Group.

Bringing that experience to bear in the state of Alabama has been critical to his effectiveness. And he has the full weight of the Tribe behind him as they have established a thriving international company headquartered right here in the Yellowhammer State. This success has sprung a healthy corporate citizenship through charitable endeavors, job creation and electioneering.

All of these things translate into an uninterrupted presence at the highest levels of state policymaking for McGhee.

11. Bob Geddie

What we said in 2019: It has been said that Joe Fine invented lobbying in Alabama. That being well established, his longtime business partner Bob Geddie may have just perfected the craft. Bob Geddie’s uninterrupted run on the mountain top of the Alabama lobbying world is one for the history books.

Geddie has exhibited every element of a successful lobbying practice for decades.

His tactical lobbying skills are born out of a precise knowledge of the process and the players. He knows every member, every rule and every tactic necessary to pass legislation through the Alabama legislature, and he works just as easily throughout the executive branch.

When he gets a legislator one-on-one for a final pitch on an issue it invariably goes in the Fine Geddie win column.

Recounting such a persuasive encounter, one House member told us, “I’ve been on the receiving end of Bob Geddie’s pitch a bunch of times. He doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer unless that’s the way he actually wants you to vote. I’ve never had anybody quite like him lobby me on issues.”

Unlike many governmental affairs specialists, his clients are practically part of his firm. He is a trusted advisor to some of Alabama’s titans of industry, and they are his friends. Nearly all have empowered him to make campaign finance decisions for them through a network of Geddie-controlled political action committees.

His firm’s client list is the envy of the industry. He has a track record of supreme success.

Bob Geddie lands on the list as 2021’s most powerful and influential contract lobbyist.

10. Quentin Riggins

What we said in 2019: The work Quentin Riggins does outside of politics would probably land him on any list of influential Alabamians. He is a pillar of the community and has involved himself in a myriad of different causes aimed at improving his home state.

Quentin Riggins has charted a remarkable path for himself to reach the heights of Alabama’s corporate community.

He can now point to more than 25 years of experience which has led to his current position as senior vice president of Governmental and Corporate Affairs at Alabama Power.

Riggins has served as a member of a governor’s cabinet, a senior staffer for a Speaker of the House and a senior vice president of the Business Council of Alabama. Then he did what most would do with that impressive resume — he built a private governmental affairs practice.

But Riggins did not stop there.

He instead entered the corporate world where he now leads Alabama Power’s extensive state and federal government relations program. He also coordinates the company’s grassroots and corporate relations effort throughout the state and nation, a critical function for a company with 1.4 million customers.

One of the truest ways to gauge power and influence is to look at how many “so goes this, so goes the state” entities and issues with which someone is involved.

Riggins has many.

The reason is that when leaders want to add heft to their effort and ensure its success, they tap Riggins.

There is a palpable reverence shown toward Riggins by his peers and the next generation of governmental affairs professionals. The fact is that they know power and influence when they see it.

9. Will Ainsworth

What we said in 2019: Ainsworth has displayed poise and wisdom well beyond his years, and the result is a lieutenant governor who has become a kingmaker rather than an afterthought. … His career is still just getting started, and Ainsworth will be elected to whatever job he wants in 2022.

We said it when he took Montgomery by storm after his election in 2018, and we’ll say it again: Will Ainsworth has completely transformed what a lieutenant governor can be — and accomplish — in a role that has largely been scoffed at by insiders over the past two decades.

Already a statesman at his young age, Ainsworth has quietly but rapidly become an out-front leader on some of the policy issues most important to the present and future of the Yellowhammer State. Whether it be chairing the Alabama Military Stability Commission and the package of pro-military bills he spearheaded to enactment this session, leading the charge to reopen the economy last spring, or heading up the 21st Century Workforce Commission, Ainsworth has made a name across Alabama as a pro-jobs conservative willing to tackle thorny, in-the-weeds policy challenges.

However, he has also started to grow a national profile, including as chair of the national Aerospace States Association and by bringing the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting to Alabama for only the second time ever.

The world is his oyster, and it is only a matter of time before Ainsworth makes the leap to serve as governor or a United States senator. He has said that he will not run for the Senate this coming cycle, nor will he run against Gov. Kay Ivey, yet his endorsement will be at the top of the list for any candidate in 2022.

Ainsworth is well-positioned to be one of Alabama’s most powerful and influential people for decades to come.

8. Bill Poole

What we said in 2019: Bill Poole might just be the most powerful non-Speaker member of the Alabama House of Representatives. Ever.

Somehow, Bill Poole has outdone himself again.

As chair of the House Ways and Means Education committee, Poole has inherent power and influence. However, it is how he wields these responsibilities — and how he conducts himself on an interpersonal level — that makes him stand out above every other legislative chairperson, without exception.

We’re going to have more to say about him in the coming weeks, but know this: Bill Poole is in the type of rarified air that few before him have ever walked. Across party lines, by lobbyists and constituents alike, year after year, Poole earns the unquestioned respect and trust of everyone who watches him work for the people of Alabama. And he does it all without fanfare or fuss.

It’s time the University of Alabama, his alma mater, cuts a new “Where Legends are Made” commercial that shows a highlight reel of Poole’s legislative accomplishments — although that would be impossible in a 30-second spot.

This session alone, he has shepherded the largest-ever education budget in state history to passage, sponsored a bill signed into law reauthorizing and improving vital economic development incentivizes, and — through his chairmanship of the Alabama Innovation Commission — is one step away from passing two related bills to help grow the state’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Any time a trade association or principal has a crucial bill that they need pass, their first thought is to see if Poole would carry the legislation. He’s simply the best at what he does.

The only question left about Poole is, “What’s next?”

7. Katie Boyd Britt

What we said in 2019: Britt has brought an energy, an excitement and an optimism back to BCA through her buoyant leadership. Through vision, determination and an undefinable charisma, she is setting the organization and its member companies up for unparalleled successes. However, her personal star also shines brightly. People are mentioning Britt at the very top of the list of contenders to succeed U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, whenever the venerable senator does decide to call it quits.

Well, when you’re right, you’re right.

Britt was thrown into the fire in 2019 when she took the helm as president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. And, like the phoenix out of the ashes, her vibrant leadership has seen the BCA reborn anew, transformed for the betterment of its member businesses and hardworking families across the state of Alabama.

Very quietly, Britt has rebuilt BCA piece-by-piece into an organization that in mission and function is totally different from just three years ago. While still operating as the state’s foremost advocacy organization for businesses of all sizes and sectors, Britt’s BCA has also become more member-facing, now putting an overarching priority on ensuring Alabama businesses have the resources, tools and expertise at their fingerprints to thrive in a 21st-century economy.

Her tenure at BCA has coincided with record bests for Alabama in key economic measurables, including unemployment and businesses confidence.

However, while she has certainly helped make the good times even better when it comes to the state’s recent success, her legacy at BCA might boil down to the past 14 months, as Britt was the tip of the spear when it came to tirelessly advocating for businesses and employees during the historic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the list of initiatives, conversations and meetings Britt was an integral part of on behalf of Alabama jobs this past year or so could fill a chapter in a book, there is one example that cannot be passed up. Britt launched and championed the Keep Alabama Open campaign in November; as other states shut down, this effort led to our state staying open safely and responsibly, allowing hardworking Alabamians to safeguard their lives and livelihoods.

The results are clear. Alabama currently boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and one of the best in the nation. Meanwhile, the state’s COVID numbers are also among the nation’s lowest. We’re open for business and poised to bounce back to reach greater heights than before the pandemic.

Britt is Alabama’s brightest rising star, and regardless of what comes next, her continued leadership is a reason for optimism that our state’s best days are ahead.

6. Greg Reed

What we said in 2019: When you get into the upper echelon of power players, distinguishing traits become even more important. Greg Reed has exhibited many on his way up the tower of influence and into the position of majority leader for the Alabama Senate.

What we said in 2019 no longer holds true for Greg Reed.

To clarify, the part about him having distinguishing traits of a power player is truer than ever. However, Reed has taken that last giant leap in his chamber and now serves as the president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate.

Having assumed the office earlier this year, Reed is now the most powerful member of the legislature’s upper chamber.

None of this is a surprise, either. He is a natural leader who has a discernible presence about him. And now he is running the show.

As pro tem, he oversees every aspect of the legislative process in the Senate. From committee assignments to legislative priorities to the time of adjournment. Reed is in control.

In 2011, a swell of new legislators flooded the halls of the statehouse after having been elected the previous fall. Reed is the first among them to rise to the top of the power structure in their respective chambers.

Hindsight makes it plausible to have pegged Reed as the first to do so. He entered the building confident in his abilities and his having earned the right to be there. But not too confident in the way that would create problems with his colleagues.

Reed understands the political process in a way that few others do. Furthermore, he is highly attuned to the public policy challenges which Alabama currently faces and has a knack for carefully weighing solutions to any problem. He is particularly adept at understanding the state’s economic and workforce needs.

Only a few months into the job, these things probably forecast his leadership style in the years to come. What is certain is that Reed now occupies elite status among Alabama’s most powerful and influential people.

5. Joe Perkins

What we said in 2019: Joe Perkins is unspeakably powerful and influential. So much so – and in such a way – that we probably should not even be speaking about it.

One cannot help but marvel at the depth and breadth of Joe Perkins’ impact on Alabama politics.

It is especially remarkable considering his specialized approach. In practical terms, it is difficult to describe what he does because discretion is so fundamental to his business model.

Perkins is Alabama’s top political and corporate strategist. That much we do know.

While a visible client list exists only behind the tightly secured walls at Matrix, Perkins’ firm which he founded, he is known to represent a variety of interests. These run the gamut from some of the state’s largest companies to individuals who sought him out because they had a problem to solve.

With a reputation for having nearly unlimited intellectual capacity, he is constrained only by the number of hours in a day.

The tools he has at his disposal are both comprehensive and largely uncatalogued. There are entire collections of people, companies and interests which he quietly guides to the ultimate benefit of his clients.

A wide range of campaigns, initiatives and public and corporate policy have been shaped by Perkins’ involvement in recent years even as the man and his methods fall more into the realm of the mysterious.

Perhaps reputation truly is the cornerstone of power.

4. Mac McCutcheon

What we said in 2019: McCutcheon has dedicated his life to the people of Alabama. From protecting and serving as a career law enforcement officer in Huntsville to leading the rambunctious lower chamber of the Alabama legislature, McCutcheon has led with integrity and compassion every step of the way.

The 66th speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives has become a stalwart leader during some of the state’s most trying times in recent memory.

Mac McCutcheon’s ability to project stability and follow a common-sense approach to governing has led to gains for the Yellowhammer State and to his own strengthened position in the speaker’s chair.

McCutcheon is one of the all-time good guys who (oh, by the way) controls coveted committee assignments and the legislative process.

He hails from the technology-rich Tennessee Valley, and he has a healthy respect for the aerospace and defense industry, its benefit to the state and its importance to America.

This may partly explain why McCutcheon feels so strongly about responding to Alabama’s infrastructure needs to keep pace with the demands of a 21st-century economy.

He also listens to his members, though. As speaker of the House, he has been responsive to the needs of his members – a crucial aspect of holding down one of the single most powerful positions in Alabama. That’s why when there are roads and bridges across the state that need attention, or gaps in broadband access, McCutcheon thinks big to fix the problem.

His legacy is beginning to take shape as that of a public servant with a sincere desire to utilize his power and influence for the betterment of his entire state.

3. Jo Bonner

What we said in 2019: There are very few people who have served Alabama in a more exemplary way this century than Jo Bonner. Congressman. Vice-chancellor for the University of Alabama System. And now the immensely powerful and influential chief of staff to Governor Kay Ivey.

Jo Bonner is one of the most gifted power players the state has seen in a long time.

His versatility in the political world is virtually unmatched. He was a five-term congressman from the Gulf Coast and served as vice chancellor in the University of Alabama System.

He could easily be a candidate for a major statewide office. In our analysis of potential U.S. Senate candidates earlier this year, we wrote of Bonner, “He exudes statesman qualities.”

In the next sentence, we wrote, “He has been as active on Alabama’s pressing issues as possibly any chief of staff to the governor, ever.”

Therein lies the reason for his sky-high position on this list and maybe the reason why he would resist a return to electoral politics. Bonner is as powerful and influential as anyone who has been similarly situated inside of a governor’s office.

Governor Kay Ivey’s unwavering trust in Bonner is the foundation of his elevated status. Ivey counts on Bonner to implement her agenda on a daily basis.

Seldom does one person in politics have the skill set Bonner possesses. He has a mastery of political communications and a thorough understanding of public policy. Following years of exposure to national political figures, he is awed by very little.

Known as a stickler for always having a plan of action, Bonner assuredly has designs on his next power move.

2. Zeke Smith

What we said in 2019: One of the most impressive and useful traits that Smith displays is an unmatched capacity. His knowledge of Alabama Power’s massive operation extends to every corner of its business. Layered on top of that is a continual awareness of Alabama’s political climate, its power players and what makes each tick.

In the governmental affairs domain, Alabama Power is at the top of its game.

Zeke Smith, as executive vice president of External Affairs, has overseen the company’s current run of success as the state’s leading corporate citizen in politics and public policy.

Smith is tasked with a vast array of responsibilities all of which have an appreciable impact on his company’s position with policymakers and elected officials. Everything from lobbying to public relations to regulatory affairs to charitable giving falls on Smith’s desk.

Each of those areas of the company’s activity are intertwined with the next which is why handling them requires the type of comprehensive approach that Smith has employed.

The Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inductee has assembled a team of unrivaled talent and installed an aggressive but well-planned process befitting his background.

Smith has an innate ability to see over the horizon and understand the conditions which will impact his company’s mission to grow Alabama’s economy, create jobs and broaden its customer base. Always looking for avenues to improve the state’s competitive advantages, he was appointed by the governor to chair Alabama’s Workforce Council, and he serves on the College and Career Ready Task Force.

He fields a steady stream of calls from those wanting to enhance their own positions on the political ladder. Elected officials and other power players around the state have taken notice of Smith’s leadership on issues they know will help them.

To paraphrase a well-tested maxim, much is to be gained from the dependence of others on one’s power and influence.

1. Kay Ivey

What we said in 2019: Governor Kay Ellen Ivey will go down as one of the most consequential leaders in Alabama history. And she’s not even close to being finished yet. From the second she put her hand on the Bible and became the state’s 54th governor, Ivey has been laser focused on governing and nothing else.

It has been nearly four decades since Alabama has seen a brand as strong as Kay Ivey’s in state politics.

After 20 consecutive years holding statewide elected office, Ivey remains wildly popular and seemingly unsusceptible to attacks aimed at diminishing her standing. Her lofty approval ratings have given her the freedom and confidence to engage on some of the most precarious issues the state is facing.

Ivey kicked off her first full term in office by taking control of a long-awaited infrastructure initiative, tapping into her vast reserve of political capital to pass the Rebuild Alabama Act. She has tackled other thorny issues such as updating the state’s prison system and expanding broadband access. Her handling of the COVID-19 crisis has drawn praise from both ends of the political spectrum.

Ivey has now found her next major undertaking in the form of the comprehensive gambling legislation. Her elevated involvement has been pivotal to the movement of the package through the Alabama Legislature.

There is a long list of individuals who have thought they could get the upper hand on Ivey. It is difficult to even find one of them for whom it ended well. That’s one of the classic traits of a truly powerful and influential person.

With reelection in 2022 all but assured, the Ivey brand is poised to assume a place of high honor in the pantheon of Alabama politics.

2 months ago

Former Trump assistant Army secretary running for Congress in AL-05

Dr. Casey Wardynski, Ph.D., on Thursday announced that he is running in 2022 to represent Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. This seat is an open race due to Congressman Mo Brooks’ (AL-05) decision to run for the U.S. Senate.

Wardynski served as assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs after being originally nominated for the post in June 2018 by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a voice vote in January 2019. He served from that time until January 20, 2021, when Trump left office.

“I’m running for Congress to continue the work President Trump began,” said Wardynski in a release announcing his candidacy.

“Today, we have leftists and weak Republicans who want higher taxes, who promote the cancel culture, and who refuse to fight back against the socialist movement. That must end,” he continued. “We need a fearless conservative who will fight for North Alabama to make that happen.”

More locally, Wardynski is known for serving as superintendent of Huntsville City Schools from 2011 through 2016.

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He also served a 30-year career in the U.S. Army. After graduating from West Point, he entered training as a Special Weapons Officer at Redstone Arsenal. He went on to serve in Germany, the United States and Korea, retiring as a colonel.

“The Swamp set out to destroy President Trump on Day One and block his America First Agenda, but I helped him build the wall and protect our country,” Wardynski remarked. “Now, Congress is run by radicals who want to remake America, but I’m determined to continue the work that President Trump began: defend the unborn, protect the 2nd Amendment, and finish the wall!”

Wardynski is a 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the Frederick S. Pardee Rand Graduate School.

His career also includes service in the private sector. From 2016 to 2018, he served as CFO and then CEO of FISH Technologies, an industry leader in the marketing event technology field. Currently, Wardynski is CEO of Regenesis Stem Cell Center in Huntsville where he focuses on growing the company into a national center of excellence for high-tech regenerative medical solutions for active adults of all ages.

“I’ve served thirty years in the U.S. Army and I built successful businesses. I graduated from West Point where we swore an oath to defend our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Every step of the way, I fought for the country I love. In the Army we run to the fight, not away from it, and I’ll fight Biden, Pelosi, and AOC every day to do what’s right for North Alabama,” Wardynski concluded.

Wardynski and his wife of 34 years, Susan, raised three children. Following the loss of Susan to cancer, he married Karen Lee. Together, they have six adult children and five grandchildren, with a sixth on the way.

Wardynski’s campaign is being run by Strategic Impact’s Scott Stone and Brad Shattuck.

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong is the only other candidate in the AL-05 race thus far.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Kenneth Paschal wins special GOP primary runoff in Alabama House District 73

(Kenneth Paschal campaign/contributed, W.Miller/YHN)

U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Paschal on Tuesday won the special Republican primary runoff election in House District 73.

According to unofficial results provided by the Shelby County probate office, Paschal defeated Helena City Councilwoman Leigh Hulsey by just 64 votes.

The safely Republican seat was vacated by former Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) election to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. HD 73 represents portions of Shelby County, including Alabaster, Helena, Pelham and Montevallo.

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Paschal served 21 years in the Army before retiring in 2006. He is a past commander of the American Legion and a member of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

His primary runoff win all but assures he will become the next representative from District 73. This would make Paschal the first African-American elected as a Republican to the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction.

Current Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford was the last black Republican to serve in the legislature, however he was elected as a Democrat before switching parties mid-term and then resigning before completing that term. He has subsequently become a Democrat again and was never elected to office as a Republican.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl on Tuesday night stated, “The Republican Party was incredibly blessed to have two outstanding, Conservative candidates vying for this position. Only one can be our nominee, but we want to thank both candidates for their willingness to serve. We look forward to working with Kenneth Paschal as we move toward the general election.”

Wahl added that Paschal “will be a great addition to our Republican Caucus in the legislature, fighting for the issues that matter most to the people of Alabama.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Brooks, Blanchard file first fundraising reports of budding Senate contest

(File photos)

The two candidates in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race have each filed their first mandatory campaign finance disclosures with the FEC.

The fundraising reports cover the first quarter of 2021, which ended March 31.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard and Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) reported ending the quarter with a combined total of nearly $6.6 million on hand.

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Blanchard entered the race on February 18. She reported raising $305,736 in the six weeks through the end of Q1 — which included a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. The former Trump appointee loaned her own campaign $5.1 million and ended the period with $5,258,202.

Meanwhile, Brooks began the year with $1,137,501 in his existing House campaign coffers, which he has converted into his Senate account.

The North Alabama congressman during Q1 raised $274,152.

While Brooks was only an announced Senate candidate for nine days during the quarter, his reported fundraising covered the entirety of Q1 because he was still eligible to raise House reelection funds ahead of becoming a senatorial hopeful. His earliest donation during the timeframe was January 2, although most contributions came in March.

Blanchard and Brooks are currently the only candidates in the nascent Senate field, which is expected to grow in the coming months.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Tuberville to Biden: ‘Please tell me where God plays a role in your America now’

(Senator Tommy Tuberville/YouTube)

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Sunday appeared live on “Fox & Friends Weekend” ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series’ GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. In addition to discussing the importance of the event to the state, Alabama’s junior senator also commented on President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Speaking about Democrats holding the presidency, House and Senate, Tuberville decried, “They’re just trying to control our country.”

“You know, I’ve been up there three months, and I have never seen a country be so downgraded as much as it has been by the Democrats, just in three-month period,” he continued. “Look how far we dropped.”

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Tuberville then lambasted Biden for not following through on his promise to be a president for all Americans thus far.

“Look at our border, which is totally out of control,” the Republican senator remarked. “Somebody tell me how we voted a guy in that said he was a moderate, he was going to bring in unity. And what about the  75 million people that voted for Donald Trump? Do we not count anymore?”

“Joe Biden, please tell me where God plays a role in your America now. I never hear you say anything other than when you supposedly go to church on Saturday or Sunday,” Tuberville added. “Folks, we better get our moral values back in this country, and it starts with God. If we don’t, we’re not going to make it as a country as we all know it.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

BCA’s political arm endorses Republican Leigh Hulsey in Alabama House District 73

(Leigh Hulsey for State House District 73/Facebook, YHN)

ProgressPAC, the Business Council of Alabama’s political arm, on Thursday announced the endorsement of small business owner and Helena City Council President Pro Tempore Leigh Hulsey in the House District 73 special Republican primary runoff election.

The seat was vacated by former Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) election to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. HD 73 represents portions of Shelby County, including Alabaster, Helena, Pelham and Montevallo.

Hulsey faces Kenneth Paschal in the runoff, which is scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

“Leigh Hulsey is a proven advocate for growing Alabama jobs, and we are proud to endorse her,” stated Angus Cooper III, chairman of ProgressPAC’s board of directors.

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“Her experience and perspective as a Shelby County small business owner would be invaluable in Montgomery, especially as our state tries to rebound strongly from the pandemic,” he continued. “The business community is committed to building a 21st century economy in which all families across Alabama can thrive, and pro-jobs leaders like Leigh Hulsey will help make this a reality.”

Hulsey has served on the Helena City Council since 2008. She is the owner and operator at CrossFit Alabaster.

“As a longtime small business owner, it is an honor to have the business community’s support,” Hulsey said. “If elected by the people of House District 73, I will bring the commonsense conservative values that have guided me in business to the State House every single day. From improving our education system to roads, bridges and broadband, I will work tirelessly to help make my district – and our great state – the best possible place to earn a living and raise a family.”

The Alabama Farmers Federation has also endorsed Hulsey.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Stan McDonald, Bill Armistead to co-chair Mo Brooks’ Senate campaign

(Mo Brooks/Facebook, YHN)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Tuesday announced two campaign co-chairmen for his 2022 U.S. Senate bid.

Bill Armistead and Stan McDonald, the campaign chairs of the last two Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, will help lead Brooks’ quest to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

McDonald was the original chair of now-U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) 2020 campaign and is a former Limestone County probate judge.

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In a statement, McDonald highlighted Brooks’ career record as a reason the campaign will be successful.

“I’ve known Mo since 1983 and he always does things the right way, never a hint of political antics,” said McDonald. “His record proves he will be a fearless, hard fighting Christian soldier on behalf of Alabama conservative values.”

“The Mo Brooks campaign is very robust because of the quality of conservative support Mo has earned over the years,” he continued. “Mo’s consistent conservative record is unequaled in this Senate race and, as a result, his quality of support from Alabama citizens and national conservative voices is impressive.”

Meanwhile, Armistead chaired the Roy Moore for Senate campaign in 2017; he is a former chair of the Alabama Republican Party and a former state senator.

“I’ve known Mo Brooks for over 30 years and have seen him fight for conservative Republican values as a State Representative, County Commissioner, District Attorney and Congressman,” stated Armistead. ” Mo is conservative to the core and understands the pro-life, second amendment, border security and family values that Alabamians hold near and dear to their heart.”

Brooks welcomed both endorsements with open arms.

“I am honored the campaign chairmen of the last two Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate have joined together to lead my campaign for the U.S. Senate,” the congressman from North Alabama commented. “They continue our great start in a Senate race that may very well determine whether America remains a bastion of liberty and freedom or succumbs to the evil forces of dictatorial Socialism.”

“Patriots who love America are encouraged to help and join our team by going to our website at MoBrooks.com,” Brooks concluded. “The fight for America’s future is on. We will either continue as the greatest nation in world history or, like so many great nations before us, fall into the dustbin of history. Alabama, the choice is yours.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

D.C.-based ‘Senate Conservatives Fund’ endorses Mo Brooks in nascent 2022 U.S. Senate race

(Mo Brooks/Facebook, YHN)

The field has not formed quite yet, but the Washington, D.C.-based “Senate Conservatives Fund” (SCF) has already picked its horse in Alabama’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.

SCF on Wednesday morning endorsed Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) for the seat currently held by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who is retiring at the end of this term.

Mary Vought, executive director of SCF, said in a written statement, “Mo Brooks has a proven conservative record, he’s a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and he’s someone Americans can count on to stand up to the establishment in both parties.”

SCF was founded in 2008 by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). The PAC has raised millions each election cycle since, helping elect candidates including Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2010, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in 2012 and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in 2014.

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DeMint in 2012 left SCF, which was then run by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli until he was nominated by the president to be the director of ICE during the Trump administration.

Cuccinelli and Lee were “Never Trumpers” who led the unsuccessful “Free the Delegates” campaign at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a last-minute attempt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the party’s nominee.

Alabamians may remember that SCF backed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) in the state’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

The endorsement of Brooks comes the week after former President Trump endorsed him.

Vought concluded, “President Trump endorsed Mo Brooks and said this about why conservatives should support him: ‘Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks. Mo is a great Conservative Republican leader who will stand up for America First no matter what obstacles the Fake News Media, RINOs, or Socialist Democrats may place in his path.’ We agree!”

Brooks released a statement in reaction to the SCF endorsement.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the preeminent Senate Conservative Fund,” he remarked. “The Senate Conservative Fund’s endorsement is HUGE! An SCF endorsement emphasizes that Mo Brooks is THE proven, reliable, principled conservative candidate in Alabama’s Senate race. The SCF endorsement means the SCF’s national conservative fundraising base will be mobilized to help the Mo Brooks for Senate campaign. The SCF can raise hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to help principled conservative candidates serve in the U.S. Senate. The impact of an SCF endorsement cannot be overstated, not only for what the SCF does but also because of what an SCF endorsement encourages others to do.”

Brooks this past weekend was also endorsed by Congressman Barry Moore (AL-02).

Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard is the only other announced candidate in the nascent Senate race.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn