8 years ago

Power & Influence: Names 31-40

The Yellowhammer Power & Influence 40 is a list of the 40 most powerful and influential players in Alabama politics. For a more in-depth explanation of the list and how it was compiled, click here. To see last year’s list click HERE.

Here’s the schedule of when the names will be released:

Monday, Feb. 18: Names 31-40
Tuesday, Feb. 19: Names 21-30
Wednesday, Feb. 20: “Who’s Next?” a preview of the next generation of power players
Thursday, Feb. 21: Names 11-20
Friday, Feb. 22: Names 6-10
Monday, Feb. 25: Names 1-5



John Ross | Partner | Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross

Ross has quickly built a reputation as one of the hardest working lobbyists in the game, but his political work is what sets him apart from most of the other folks walking the halls of the State House. His time as Executive Director of the ALGOP and his subsequent campaign work make him one of the most seasoned political operatives in the state. On top of that, his relationship with House Speaker Mike Hubbard is as close as anyone’s. “In some ways, he’s Hubbard’s closest confidant,” one insider told Yellowhammer. “The Speaker trusts him implicitly.”



Philip Bryan | Chief of Staff | Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh

Bryan is now in his his third year running the Pro Tem’s office. His influence is enhanced by his craftiness and political savvy, skills he honed during his time as communications director at the ALGOP. Information is the grease that keeps the State House wheels turning, and Bryan has positioned himself as a one-stop-shop for intel on issues of politics, policy and Senate operations. He makes sure the trains are running on time on the 7th floor.



Angi Stalnaker | Political Adviser | Governor Robert Bentley

Very few people exercise their power and influence as much as Stalnaker. As the Governor’s political adviser, she’s in the game almost every moment of the day. She’s working the phones constantly, and when she calls people know the weight of the governor is behind her. She has been intensely loyal to Bentley since long before he rose to the Governor’s office. Now she’s the go-to person for his day-to-day political operation. She’s also become the conduit between the administration and grassroots conservatives across the state.



Johnny Johns | CEO | Protective Life Corporation, Chairman | Birmingham Business Alliance

If you’re looking to run for statewide or federal office, or if you’re a prominent elected official launching a major initiative, Johnny Johns is one of the first people you call. The longtime Birmingham area CEO has been a staple in Alabama politics for years. He’s one of a handful of Alabama businessmen who has unfettered access to any politician in the state. His network of business leaders is second to none. He’s also getting more and more involved with the University of Alabama system, something that will likely continue.



John McMahon, Jr. | Chairman | Ligon Industries, Board of Trustees | University of Alabama

McMahon has his hands in every major political issue in Alabama. He continues to keep an eye on the courts where he played a major role in years past in the effort to flip them Republicans. Like other business leaders on this list, it’s challenging to quantify his political power and influence — and he probably likes it that way. But we can at least know this for certain: when McMahon calls, people always answer.



Nick Sellers | Vice President of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs | Alabama Power

Sellers is a fast riser inside Alabama Power with a wealth of experience in both politics and public policy. He worked under Joe Perkins at Matrix and was Governor Siegelman’s policy director before becoming the power company’s federal legislative director. He also previously worked for the Alabama Republican Party, making his political background extremely diverse. Those who know him or his work say his Party affiliation is neither D, nor R — it’s A, as in APCo. Because Alabama Power is a regulated utility, his current role overseeing regulatory affairs is one of the most important at the company. He’s developed good relationships with federal and state elected officials along the way, and has a reputation for knowing every nook and cranny of APCO’s business. “He’ll continue to rise,” one insider told Yellowhammer. “Don’t forget, [APCO CEO] McCrary once held this same title.”



Clay Ryan | Head of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs | Maynard Cooper & Gale

Since serving as Governor Bentley’s transition coordinator, Ryan has been a central player in the Bentley Administration. At the time we published last year’s Power & Influence 40, he was Special Counsel to the Governor. Since that time, he has returned to private practice, where he represents a blue chip list of corporate clients. Ryan coordinated the successful Sept. 18 referendum and the Jobs Amendment campaigns on behalf of the Governor. Bentley political world is heavily influenced by a group of Tuscaloosa confidants with whom Ryan interfaces on behalf of the Governor. He also continues to be an important bridge to the Birmingham business community for the Governor and other elected officials. Campaign season may propel Ryan up next year’s list as his role inside the Bentley re-election effort will be significant.



Roy Moore | Chief Justice | Alabama Supreme Court

Judge Moore defeated two big names to reclaim his old job as Chief Justice. However, his appearance on the Power & Influence 40 is less about his position as head of the judicial branch, and more about his unique appeal to the conservative base and his national profile. Although he’s had mixed electoral success, he has gained a well deserved following among evangelicals and grassroots conservatives who view him as the foremost authority on religious liberty and other social issues. Judge Moore is one of only a handful of people in Alabama politics who can take their message directly to the people and move the needle. That’s a different type of power than most people on this list carry.



Dave Stewart | Senior Advisor for Government Affairs & Economic Development | Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings

Stewart’s time as Governor Bob Riley’s chief of staff gave him the opportunity to establish relationships with people in seemingly every government agency. He’s extremely effective for his clients when dealing with executive branch agencies and in influencing the budget process. Stewart maintains close ties to Republican leadership in the legislature — and their staffs — which keeps him in the mix on both the 5th and 7th floors of the State House.



Anita Archie | Senior Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Advocacy & Legal Advisor | Business Council of Alabama

Archie is the head of governmental affairs at the BCA, which was named Yellowhammer’s top Association in 2012. Her relationships on both sides of the aisle make her one of the most liked and respected people at the State House among both legislators and her fellow lobbyists. Her time at the two year college system, which is one of state government’s most wide-reaching agencies, provided her with a vast network and gave her significant experience on education and workforce development issues. BCA’s Progress PAC continues to be one of the largest contributors in state level politics.

5 hours ago

Jim Zeigler considering ‘exploratory’ effort for Alabama governor in 2022

After much speculation, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her intentions to seek another term as governor in 2022 earlier this month.

Despite what were perceived to be controversial positions on pushing the Rebuild Alabama Act that raised the gasoline tax, her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining what could remain open and closed and a failed Mobile Bay/I-10 toll bridge proposal, Ivey is still riding high in polling with strong approve-disapprove numbers.

However, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, whose term as auditor will be over after 2022 and is ineligible to run again because of term limits, told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he was considering a run for governor in 2022.

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“I believe it’s very important for Alabama taxpayers, for the state government, for our future to have a viable opponent who has been raising issues and trying to hold the Ivey administration accountable,” he said. “And that is why I am considering myself setting up an exploratory campaign to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Who else is there — who else took the lead in blocking the toll bridge over Mobile Bay? Who else took the lead in blocking Amendment One that would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and have them all appointed by the Governor? Who else took the lead in blocking this prison rental plan that would have had us paying over $3 billion over 30 years and then owning zero equity in the prisons, a terrible business plan?”

“I don’t know,” Zeigler continued. “If not me, then who?”

If Zeigler runs against Ivey in 2022, it would not be the first time the two of their names appeared on a ballot in a race against one another. In Alabama’s 2020 Republican primary, Zeigler took on Ivey in a race for state delegate for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ivey prevailed with 7,182 votes to Zeigler’s 1,729 votes — a margin of 80.6% to 19.4%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”

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(ADOL)

“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

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“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

10 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.

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The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

11 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.