2 years ago

Quin Hillyer: Mitch McConnell helped create this mess in Alabama

Mitch McConnell (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

 

If ever there is legitimacy to playing a “blame game,” it exists right now with regard to the mess Alabama Republicans face in a special U.S. Senate election that should not be occurring in the first place.

In order of approximate chronology rather than of seriousness, here are all the places the blame lies – with the obvious caveat that by far the largest part of the blame lies with Roy Moore, if the allegations against him are even close to being true.

1) Luther Strange. I am reliably informed that numerous people, wise and experienced, advised Strange not to allow his name even to be considered for appointment to the Senate under the unique circumstances then existing. If he wanted to be the senator, he should have run under his own power, not as the selection of the very governor Strange was supposed to be investigating on criminal charges. The appearance of a conflict of interest was too obvious and too appalling.

2) Robert Bentley. Of course the governor should not have done any of the things that compromised himself in the first place – but, having done so, he should never, ever have considered Strange for the appointment. See above.

3) Mitch McConnell and his minions/Political Action Committees (henceforth: MMMPACs). MMMPACs, having failed to learn the lessons of earlier interferences in state elections (for example, opposing Marco Rubio in Florida, Ben Sasse in Nebraska, and others who proved to be excellent senators), decided to waste some $9 million on behalf of the un-re-electable Strange. Even worse, MMMPACs tried to act as bully-boys, threatening candidates and campaign consultants that if they opposed Strange, they would never work in/have no future in Republican politics ever again. Potentially strong candidates – ones who could have defeated both Strange and Moore – were thus bullied out of the race.

4) Governor Kay Ivey. She was wrong, both practically and I believe legally, to call for the special election this year. Practically, a cash-strapped state should not be spending $15 million to run an election when there would really have been no harm in waiting until a regular election in 2018. Also practically, the unique circumstances of the Bentley scandal meant that the political waters were too roiled to allow the public a “normal” and thoughtful consideration of the potential candidates, with too little time for some potentially good candidates to get organized enough to make the race. Finally, while nobody challenged her in court, I am convinced that once Bentley had called the election for 2018, nothing in state law allows a governor the power to unilaterally change a duly called election date. In short, this election should not have been held until November of 2018.

5) Mo Brooks. This is the least of these blame points but it warrants inclusion on this list. The conservative with the best chance of sneaking past Strange into the runoff with Moore chose an ill-conceived tactic that blew up in his face, by airing a TV ad with video of Brooks being interviewed at the scene of the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Scalise’s staffers themselves were outraged, and were quoted complaining that Brooks appeared to be trying to profit politically from the assassination attempt.

6) Strange and MMMPACs. Together, they ran one of the most despicable campaigns I have witnessed in more than four decades involved in or covering politics. They poisoned the well with harshly negative, even vicious, and at least somewhat untrue attacks against both Moore and Brooks. (The worst was the one insinuating that Brooks somehow was weak against ISIS!) And when they weren’t wrongly attacking their opponents, they were running ads for Strange that were so trite they insultingly played into national stereotypes about supposedly simple-minded Alabamans. So obnoxious were their tactics that, if basing the judgment on the campaign alone, neither Strange nor McConnell should ever hold office again.

7) Donald Trump. He, too, should have stayed away from a state’s party primary. By jumping in before the first primary, he helped (at least at the margins) Strange ward off the challenge from Brooks. Well, if the national pooh-bahs wanted “anybody but Moore,” the only way by then to stop Moore was for Brooks to edge past Strange into the runoff. As I said the very day qualifying for the race closed, Strange had no chance on God’s green Earth to defeat Moore in a runoff if those were the two candidates who emerged.

It is time for a hard and fast new rule: National party committees and so-called “Leadership PACs,” and their affiliates, should avoid all direct financial involvement in party primaries. Sure, they can and ought to try to recruit good candidates, but their recruiting pitch should be this: “We can help line you up with good strategists and workers and policy briefings, and we will commit to raising X amount of money for you if you emerge as the nominee. But aside from that, winning the nomination is up to you; we are holding our money and our clout for use against Democrats in the general election, not to trash fellow Republicans in a primary.”

Mitch McConnell, Luther Strange and company utterly screwed up this whole election. They should hang their heads in shame.

Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.

11 hours ago

University of North Alabama adopting new tuition plan

The University of North Alabama is switching to a tuition plan that officials say will result in increased costs for some students but not others.

Officials at the school in Florence say they are reducing the total number of student fees from seven to one, and fees will be included in the overall tuition cost.

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A statement says students taking 15 hours will see a maximum increase in expenses of 4.1%.

But some could pay less, and costs will not change for others.

School officials say a lag in state funding is a continuing problem.

North Alabama’s vice president for business, Evan Thornton, says the school has deferred maintenance and capital needs totaling more than $160 million.

The school has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,200 students.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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11 hours ago

Nathan Lindsay joining governor’s office from BCA

Another high profile staffer from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is joining Governor Kay Ivey’s senior level team.

The governor on Monday announced that Nathan Lindsay will join her office as director of appointments effective July 1.

This position is charged with spearheading the meticulous work that goes into Ivey meeting her duty to appoint qualified, representative and appropriate people to positions on the state’s various boards and commissions.

A press release from the governor’s office outlined that Lindsay assumes the role with an extensive background in state government and the private sector, which uniquely qualifies him to advise the governor in this capacity.

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Most recently, through his work in political and governmental affairs at the BCA, Lindsay interacted with members of the business community throughout the Yellowhammer State, which significantly adds to his ability to identify and select candidates for various appointed posts.

Additionally, Lindsay’s early career included time in then-Governor Bob Riley’s office where he served as aide to the governor from 2006 to 2011. Lindsay also worked in the governor’s communications office as deputy press secretary and advised Riley on education policy.

“Nathan brings to our team a wealth of knowledge that I know will serve the state well,” Ivey said in a statement. “In addition to his expertise and insight, Nathan is a man of character. The men and women of my staff must have a strong work ethic, a depth of knowledge and a heart for public service. Nathan certainly embodies all of these characteristics.”

Lindsay earned his bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University. During his time at Faulkner, he served as SGA president and later, in 2018, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“As governor, I have the important responsibility of appointing qualified individuals to serve on the more than 450 boards and commissions in our state. These men and women must not only be highly-qualified, but they should also be a true reflection of our great state,” Ivey added. “I am confident we will continue to find the best people to serve our state, just as I am certain Nathan will serve my Administration exceptionally well in this position. His experience speaks for itself, and he shares my goal of moving Alabama into a better future.”

This comes weeks after Leah Garner departed BCA to become Ivey’s communications director.

Mark Colson also left BCA to become head of the Alabama Trucking Association recently.

Update 5:55 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt released a statement commending Ivey on the hire of Lindsay.

“Nathan’s background and expertise in political affairs combined with his political acumen uniquely qualify him to serve the governor and the state in this capacity,” Britt said. “I have no doubt Nathan will do an outstanding job, and I commend Governor Kay Ivey on this excellent addition to her staff.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Alabama listed as one of the top 20 most patriotic states in America

A WalletHub report released Monday revealed Alabama to be on of the top 20 most patriotic states in America.

Ranked 19 overall on the list, with a score of 47.43, Alabama ranked first for the “Civics Education Requirement.”

The report “compared the 50 states across 13 key indicators of patriotism” and “ranges from share of enlisted military population to share of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election to AmeriCorps volunteers per capita.”

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With one as “Most Patriotic” and 25 as “Average,” Alabama received the following rankings:

  • 5th – Average Number of Military Enlistees per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 30th – Active-Duty Military Personnel per 100,000 Civilian Adults
  • 17th – Veterans per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 1st – Civics Education Requirement
  • 12th – Share of Civilian Adult Population in Military Reserves
  • 10th – Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Primary Elections

Alabama also ranked eight overall for ‘Military Engagement.’

The report, which compared red states to blue states in terms of patriotism, found that red states were more patriotic. Red states received an average rank of 23.67, while blue states received an average rank of 28.25.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

12 hours ago

Brooks: ‘Really dumb’ for Democrats to elect candidates mainly on ‘skin pigmentation or their chromosomes’

In an interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show”on Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) lamented that many Democrats have become more interested in racial and gender identity politics than the welfare of America.

Coming off of her much maligned comments comparing American immigration facilities to “concentration camps,” host Dale Jackson asked the north Alabama congressman if he believes that Democrats in Congress will allow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to continue to serve as their “de facto face and leader.”

“Yes,” Brooks answered succinctly, promoting a follow-up request for his reasoning.

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“Well, she is where she is,” Brooks explained. “She’s got a lot of political power. She’s got a lot of support — surprisingly.”

“There are large, large numbers of American citizens who have bit off on this socialist stuff, who have bit off on this victimization stuff, who have bit off on thinking that the most important criteria in determining whether to elect someone is their skin pigmentation or their chromosomes — which is really dumb, OK,” he continued. “We oughta be electing people based on their character and based on their public policy positions.”

“But, notwithstanding that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the Democratic Party in many different respects, and she does have great influence as evidenced by the presidential candidates on the socialist Democrats’ side who are trying to cultivate her support,” Brooks added. “They want her endorsement.”

Listen, starting at the 8:25 mark:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Democrats hope it’s 2017 all over again, Republicans just want the nightmare to end

In 2017, Roy Moore won a Republican primary run-off against an extremely flawed Luther Strange. Strange wasn’t just a regular candidate — he had the cloud of his appointment, and he was dogged by former Gov. Robert Bentley’s investigation, impeachment and resignation.

Alabama Republicans, outside of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), were reluctant to criticize Roy Moore because they knew doing so would hand the Senate seat to now-Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

But this is different.

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State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) told the Montgomery Advertiser that he blamed the GOP establishment in 2017, but still thinks Moore can’t win in 2020.

He stated, “I do not believe, with the numbers I look at, that Roy Moore at the end of the day can get the nomination.”

State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) dismissed Moore when asked about the candidates, saying, “If you look at the candidates, you got Roy Moore. I don’t think we need to say more there.”

Later, he all but endorsed U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) by saying Byrne “would do the best job.”

Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential future Moore opponent, believes Moore has an uphill battle against Jones.

“I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for Judge Moore to be successful in a general election campaign against Senator Jones,” Merrill outlined.

He added, “I also think it would be difficult for Judge Moore to secure the Republican nomination.”

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who endorsed Moore in 2017, has already endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and is on record saying former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions would be a favorite.

“I do believe that Jeff Sessions would clearly be number one in the poll rankings, based on his having been such a great senator on three principle issues: free enterprise versus socialism; deficit and debt; and border security,” he explained.

Say what you will, but you do not usually see these kinds of pronouncements from Republicans in the middle of a primary.

Democrats hope 2017 is going to be repeated in 2020, but there are many different factors that will matter.

Roy Moore is already fatally flawed as 300,000+ Republicans voters abandoned him in 2017 and stayed home. Many of those voters will vote in the primary in 2020, but will not vote for him.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) expressed a similar sentiment on CSPAN last week.

“I personally don’t think Roy Moore is going to be our nominee, but whoever our nominee is will prevail in November because you’ll have the full complement of Republican voters turning out turning out to vote,” he said.

This is not 2017.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.