OPINION: Sellers sells-out in attempt to get elected in HD74
There are elected officials and candidates who are respected greatly, even by people who don’t agree with them — leaders with the courage of their convictions, individuals with a backbone.
Just look at what Ted Cruz has done in recent months.
Even James Carville, the Democrat consultant who led Bill Clinton’s political operation, called him “the most talented and fearless Republican politician of the last 30 years.” Carville doesn’t agree with Cruz, not by a long shot, but he respects him. “He ain’t squishy, not in the least,” Carville said.
Then there are politicians who will tell people whatever they want to hear to get elected or to accomplish their agenda once in office.
One national publication devotes an entire section of their website to fact-checking these folks. They rank their lies or misstatements using “pinocchios.” Little white lies get one pinocchio, whoppers like some of President Obama’s recent comments get up to 4 pinocchios.
Enter Heather Sellers, Republican candidate for Alabama House of Representatives in HD74. She has vowed to make cutting crime a top priority in Montgomery and attacked her primary opponents for being soft because “the word ‘crime’ fails to appear anywhere on the candidates’ websites or brochures.”
We’ll give Sellers one pinocchio for that one.
The legislature has very little to do with local crime issues, and she knows that, but chose to make it a center piece of her campaign anyway, attacking her opponents along the way. However, to her credit, the word “crime” does not appear on her opponents’ websites. It’s not exactly a lie, but it’s not entirely ingenious either.
Then Sellers attended a candidate forum hosted by the Alabama Education Association (AEA).
She promptly stated during the left-leaning group’s event that she would do away with Republicans’ school choice reform bill. Not only that, she said she would repeal the Rolling Reserve Act, a bill that caps spending, forcing the government to live within its means. Alabama’s Education Budget has avoided proration and painful mid-year cuts because of that bill, and gone on to repay hundreds of millions of dollars to the Education Trust Fund’s Rainy Day Account.
Running as a fiscal conservative and education reformer while opposing those two conservative positions? That’ll get you at least two, if not three pinocchios.
Both of Sellers’ positions outlined above are AEA-endorsed positions. Yellowhammer has written extensively about AEA’s fights against conservatives and their partnerships with national liberal groups, including the Obama Administration’s political wing, Organizing for Action.
So, why in the world would Sellers, a Republican primary contender, suddenly go all-in with the state’s most prominent liberal force?
To put it simply, the Sellers campaign saw a chance to take advantage of the AEA’s hatred of one of their opponents.
Sellers and fellow Republican candidate Charlotte Meadows have been neck and neck in recent polls. AEA despises Meadows because of her advocacy for school choice, and has spent roughly $50,000 over the last several weeks attacking her on TV and in mailers. Sellers saw an opening, and has totally sold-out to AEA to take Meadows down and skate through to the runoff.
Conservative groups have taken notice over the last week an tried to come to Meadows’ aid. The Alabama Forestry Association, which Yellowhammer named one of the Top 5 Conservative Groups in the state, has endorsed Meadows, as did David Keene, past president of the NRA and longtime Chairman of the American Conservative Union.
I called Sellers over the weekend in hopes of asking her about her recent campaign decisions and newly-announced policy positions. Before I had a chance to ask her any questions, she politely asked for a few minutes to take care of some things at home and said she would call me right back. That was the last I heard from her.
A little over a week ago I received a phone call from Sellers’ husband, Rick, who is running her campaign. He was upset over this paragraph from a previous Yellowhammer article:
Meadows is under fire from the AEA because of her support of the Alabama Accountability Act. She is running against fellow Republicans Heather Sellers and Dimitri Polizos, both of whom have said they would not have voted for the bill — either for policy reasons or because of concerns with the process by which it was passed.
Rick felt that Yellowhammer had unfairly portrayed Heather as sympathetic to AEA’s cause. He explained to me that their family has done as much, or more, than anyone in the state to fight the AEA over the years. I disagreed that Yellowhammer had been unfair to Sellers, but took the criticism to heart. The conversation ended on a positive note, and I honestly thought that I may have read their campaign wrong.
But over the last week, everything I suspected has been confirmed.
I have a lot of respect for the Sellers’ political activism over the years, and I believe they have by and large been a positive force for Republican and conservative ideals. I also think they are good and decent people.
But something has happened in this race. The Sellers have sold-out in an effort to get elected. Any attempt to say otherwise deserves the maximum, four pinocchios.
Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims