7 months ago

John Merrill ‘not in a hurry to make a decision’ on U.S. Senate run; Expects decision by Memorial Day

With the field of potential 2020 GOP U.S. Senate candidates beginning to take form, one name that has gotten a lot of mentions in recent days is Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

First reported by IAP News earlier on Wednesday, Merrill was mentioned as a candidate being courted by the conservative Club for Growth to run for U.S. Senate.

In an interview later in the day on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Merrill addressed the possibility of a run for Senate.

“I have had a lot of people that have come to me and have introduced the idea of promoting me as a candidate for the United States Senate,” Merrill said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And I have not indicated my desire to be a candidate for that position. There have been people who have wanted to talk with who I have met with. There have been people who have wanted to promote my candidacy, people who have wanted to give me a financial contribution to allow me to be a serious candidate for that position. And I am thrilled and honored that people would want to do that.”

“But in doing so, I have to make sure it will not interfere with the job that I have — that the people of Alabama asked me to serve them in this capacity, and that’s what I’m currently doing now,” he continued. “So, I’m not in a hurry to make a decision. I feel like this field for the United States Senate will be set by the first part of the summer. And of course, most people say summer begins Memorial Day. But I feel like the field will be set shortly after that because if you’re not in the race by then, you don’t have the financial wherewithal to be competitive, you’re not going to be able to be effective as a candidate.”

Merrill went on to indicate he was looking at a Memorial Day deadline for himself, as well.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s probably the timeframe that I’m looking at based on the information that has been introduced to me and the conversations that I’ve had with my supporters and my friends,” Merrill added.

If Merrill were to announce his candidacy, he would join Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville as the only formally announced candidates.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

Tua needs our support — Guess who else does

His five words hit home.

Five words that could have been uttered by a Tua Tagovailoa teammate, one of Tua’s parents, an Alabama football fan and, yes, you.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

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Who doesn’t feel bad for one of the greatest quarterbacks not only in Alabama football history, but in college football history? Barring an unlikely return to the Capstone for his senior season, Tua is done in Tuscaloosa. The good news? While it will be a long road, team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain expects Tagovailoa to make a full recovery from the hip injury suffered only days ago. Yes, Tua’s NFL future is bright.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

Those five words could have been uttered by anyone, but the man who said it? Head coach Nick Saban. Yes, the tough, demanding, intimidating coach who rarely reveals his most inner thoughts is hurting, and he shared his heart in Tuscaloosa at his weekly media gathering.

Over the last few days, Saban has been a punching bag for many critics and some fans — their take? The coach is to be blamed for Tua’s injury. After all, they say, it was Saban who had the final say in whether or not his quarterback, still sore from the LSU game and a player who 27 days earlier had ankle surgery, would start against Mississippi State. It was Saban who left Tua in the game despite a big Bama lead deep into the first half of the game. It was Saban who is ultimately responsible for the injury, they allege.

I say hogwash. I say that Nick Saban didn’t hurt Tua, football did.

The bottom line here is that Tua Tagovailoa could have suffered an injury getting off the bus. He could have been injured on his first snap, his final snap or anywhere in between. That’s the cruel sport of football, where injuries occur, even when they are not in the least connected to an earlier injury.

As Tua now begins rehab following Monday’s hip surgery, prayers and well wishes continue to come his way. But I’m here to tell you that Tua’s coach could use some support as well. On the exterior, Nick Saban is all business, the man in charge. He spends long hours at work between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. doing what he does. But you can bet that when the coach makes his long, dark drive home late at night, when he tries to fall asleep and when he rises early in the morning, Tua Tagovailoa is on his mind. Is he second-guessing himself? If he is, he shouldn’t be. Do the critics bother him? Remember, even the toughest man on the block has feelings.

Only Nick Saban, Miss Terry and a handful of close friends know what the coach is feeling. As we see a coach who is all business, a coach who has a tough exterior and a no-nonsense flare, I have a strong feeling that Nick Saban is struggling a bit this week. My message? As we pray for Tua and wish him well, perhaps the Alabama football coach can also use our support.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

With those five words, Nick Saban offered us a rare glimpse into his heart. May the Alabama family be reminded that the head of the family can use a few prayers as well.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

2 hours ago

Doug Jones spends big on Facebook ads deriding Sessions

Over the last three weeks, Sen. Doug Jones’ (D-AL) reelection campaign has invested in ads mentioning former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The majority of the advertisements are fundraising appeals viewed by people outside of Alabama.

According to data from the Facebook Ads library, the Jones campaign has spent $12,844 promoting 183 different ads between October 29 and November 15. All but one of the ads mention Sessions, who held Jones’ Senate seat before serving as attorney general, by name and argue that he is too divisive of a figure for Alabama.

Of the $12,844 spent in total, $4,219, or 33%, was spent advertising to Alabamians.

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Nearly all of the Facebook ads include an appeal to donate to the Jones campaign. It would seem Jones’ team believes that the stir created by Sessions’ entrance to the race will have supporters of Jones opening their wallets.

The Jones team adopted a similar strategy when his 2017 opponent Roy Moore entered the race in June. During the time the Jones campaign ran ads about Moore entering the race, they received 338 contributions for a total of $158,877.03, per FEC data.

The Sessions ads make up around 30% of Jones’ Facebook expenditures this cycle. The Jones campaign has spent $42,735 on Facebook ads since May 2018.

The Jones campaign has a much greater reach on Facebook than any of its competitors.

(Yellowhammer/Henry Thornton) (Followers accurate as of noon 11/19)

Sessions formally announced his candidacy for his old Senate seat on November 7, but the news of an announcement actually leaked out in the preceding days.

The ads align with the central theme on the Jones campaign: That Jones wants to be a unifier, while the Republicans running are too extreme.

The majority of the ads tie Sessions to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of whom polling in 2017 showed was unpopular in Alabama even among conservatives. McConnell’s popularity may have ticked up since then as the native Alabamian has successfully led the historic push to confirm conservative judges appointed by President Donald Trump.

(Courtesy of Facebook Ads Library)

The Jones team has not mentioned by name in their ads Coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), Secretary of State John Merrill or State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) — all of whom are also seeking the Republican nomination.

Sessions has won five statewide elections in Alabama, first as attorney general in 1994 and then the U.S. Senate in 1996, followed by reelection in 2002, 2008 and 2014.

Trump nominated Sessions to be his first attorney general. Sessions served in that role from the beginning of the administration in 2017 until the president asked for his resignation in November 2018.

Jones won election to the Senate in a special election in 2017 to fill the open seat created by Sessions’ appointment as America’s top law enforcement officer.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

Violent crime in Alabama: Enough is enough

Kamille McKinney. Aniah Blanchard. Sloan Harmon.

Over the last six weeks, the people of Alabama have been confronted with a frightening reality that very few of our politicians have been willing to acknowledge: Our state has a violent crime problem.

Don’t believe me?

Violent crime in Alabama is up 20% over the last 10 years, despite some improvement over the past year. We have the seventh-highest murder rate in the nation and FBI data indicates that we are the fifth most violent state in the nation. Let that sink in. The kidnapping and murder of a three-year-old, the abduction of a bright college student, and the cold-blooded killing of a 20-year-old National Guardsman — in light of these statistics, these incidents don’t seem quite as unforeseen, do they?

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But who is talking about it?

In Alabama, and across the country, “enlightened” reformists only want to talk (or get paid to talk) about the plight of the criminal. They tell stories about what life is like for those behind bars, but conspicuously fail to mention the crimes that landed the prisoners there in the first place — the havoc they wreaked on a community, the sense of security they took away from the innocent, the parents and siblings they left heartbroken.

The activists would also have you believe that our prisons are full of peaceful pot smokers and inadvertent thieves. But, of course, that is false. Alabama’s prisons are full of violent offenders — 4,200 murderers, 2,500 violent robbers, 1,000 rapists, over 1,200 would-be murderers and the list goes on. The imprisoned “nonviolent” offenders are mostly those that simply refuse to stop stealing or dealing drugs or will not follow the terms of their probation. Only 21% of those in our prisons have committed “low-level” felonies and those offenders aren’t staying long — there’s just always a new offender waiting to fill the spot.

Traditionally, incarceration serves four purposes: retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, and incapacitation. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten the common denominator of all four purposes, and that is public safety. If a disproportionate fixation on any one of these four (like rehabilitation, for instance) leads to decreased public safety, then we are doing it wrong. I fear that that is precisely where Alabama is headed.

For those who think that “criminal justice reform” has a nice political ring to it, let’s examine the most recent reform package to become law — the FIRST Step Act, passed by the U.S. Congress. At the time of passage, the Republican-led Congress was so smitten with the tepid media acclaim surrounding its “progressive” efforts that it refused to heed the warnings of law enforcement and prosecutors from around the country. Now, only one year after passage, we are left wondering what exactly Congress took a “first step” towards? Gang members and other violent offenders have been set free and lives have already been lost as a direct result of the new federal law. [A note of thanks is due to Senator Shelby and all of Alabama’s congressional Republicans who wisely voted against the final bill.] We must ardently oppose similar efforts in Alabama and, believe me, they are coming.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan recognized that “for too long, the victims of crime have been the forgotten persons of our criminal justice system.” It was true then, and sadly, it has become true again. The pendulum in Alabama has swung too far. We have a very real violent crime problem and it won’t be solved by incessantly watering down sentences, expanding extracurricular activities in our prisons, doing away with the death penalty, or, most shamefully, ignoring victims of crime. If we believe that our citizens deserve better than the dangerous lawlessness of today, we must reevaluate our logic and our priorities when it comes to criminal justice. Enough is enough.

Steve Marshall is Alabama’s 48th attorney general

4 hours ago

Tuberville on Chick-fil-A: ‘Isn’t it horrible when liberal activists ruin something good?’

In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, lamented Chick-fil-A’s decision to stop giving money to Christian charities that have come under fire from LGBT advocates.

The two leading charities no longer receiving funds from the Chick-fil-A Foundation are the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

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“We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Reuters broke the story on Monday.

The FCA’s statement of faith says, “We believe God’s design for sexual intimacy is to be expressed only within the context of marriage. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:6-9; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9)”

“The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is not only a good organization, but it positively impacts our state in many ways,” Tuberville wrote on Facebook. “The FCA’s primary mission is to grow faith in young athletes. What a shame it is that our Christianity is under attack. ”

The FCA has not publicly commented on Chick-fil-A’s decision.

The Salvation Army, famous for its bell-ringing holiday volunteers, has long come under fire from LGBT activists. The organization has a history of supporting the biblical definition of marriage, and at one point, more than five years ago, it had links to gay conversion therapy on its website.

In recent years, the Salvation Army has publicly promoted their acceptance of LGBT Americans. The group issued a statement to Reuters, saying, “We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”

With his comments, Tuberville joins other figures on the right expressing disappointment with Chick-fil-A’s decision. Both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee voiced their displeasure on with Chick-fil-A’s decision on Twitter.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

5 hours ago

Boeing donates over $500k to Alabama STEM education in 2019

In a Monday press release, Boeing confirmed that the company is making a $100,000 contribution to make Learning Blade available to every Alabama student in the fifth through ninth grades. Learning Blade challenges students to take on game-based projects that expose them to different aspects of science, technology, engineering and math education – commonly referred to as STEM.

With this contribution, Boeing — through its 2019 global engagement grants — has awarded $525,000 to Alabama communities in support of educational STEM programs for students and workforce development programs for transitioning military, veterans and their families.

The latest venture also exemplifies the importance of public-private partnerships in modern workforce development, as Boeing is partnering with the Alabama Department of Commerce and Governor Kay Ivey’s office to make Learning Blade available.

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This is one of four Boeing community grants that was initially announced October 17 in Huntsville. At that time, the company outlined its joint initiative with the Alabama Department of Commerce to offer Learning Blade, a validated STEM career awareness system, to WIOA youth serving organizations and schools throughout the state. Besides the company’s crucial contribution, the project is funded in part with federal monies made available to the Alabama Department of Commerce by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Trainings Administration.

In a statement, Ivey professed her support for Learning Blade — which continues her historic focus on workforce development, including the Success Plus initiative to add 500,000 more skilled workers to the state by 2025.

“Providing access to college and career exploration is key to developing career pathways for all Alabamians,” the governor remarked. “It is difficult to know what you want to be when you grow up if you have never been exposed to the various options that are out there.”

“Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for Alabamians in many rural areas, and even some of our largest cities, to strive towards the career pathway the best suits their interest and aptitudes because they do not know what is available to them,” she continued. “That’s why I am so proud of the public – private partnership between the State of Alabama and Boeing to provide access to high-quality career exploration through the Learning Blade platform. Through Learning Blade, students of a variety of ages, interests, and aptitudes will be able to explore career clusters and high demand career pathways. This exposure will help individuals persist in academic coursework and workforce training programs.”

The public-private partnership will result in Learning Blade being offered at no charge to students in all Alabama schools with grades five through nine. Learning Blade’s proven tool kit exposes students to the high demand STEM and computer science careers in an entertaining manner in an effort to increase student interest in these fields.

Educators can unlock more than 200 hours of interactive, online activities and teacher lesson plans that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as IT, Cybersecurity, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and more.

“Boeing has been in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers playing key roles in developing the innovative aerospace technologies of tomorrow,” stated Tina Watts, community investor for Boeing global engagement. “It is essential to expose students in the state to the critical skills that will make them successful in STEM — unlocking their futures to opportunities through emerging technologies.”

Additionally, schools can work toward winning a 3D printer if students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade’s 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, is providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to such successful schools.

“We are grateful that so many leaders including the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and others who came together with The Boeing Company to provide resources that will inspire students to envision their future,” concluded Sheila Boyington, president and CEO of Learning Blade. “It is really exciting to be a part of the process to enhance career awareness in the state, and to provide tools to teachers who will show students the many opportunities in STEM and computer science fields.”

Yellowhammer State schools and organizations serving the fifth-ninth grades can sign up for the program here.

RELATED: ‘Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success’ presented to Gov. Ivey

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