Rumors and Rumblings, 2nd Ed. Vol. IX
“Rumors and Rumblings” is a regular feature on Yellowhammer News. It is a compilation of the bits and pieces of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week.
1. Twinkle for…? Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, president of the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC), fired off a tweet earlier today indicating that she will be on the ballot as part of the 2020 election cycle.
— Twinkle Cavanaugh (@TwinkleforAL) May 31, 2019
What makes this tweet curious is the fact that she did not identify the office for which she was running. Cavanaugh defeated Democrat Lucy Baxley in 2012 to take over the presidency of the PSC. At the time, Baxley was the last-remaining Democrat to hold statewide office. Cavanaugh’s current term concludes in 2020, so it may be that she is seeking re-election to her seat on the PSC.
Like many other prominent Republicans in Alabama, though, Cavanaugh is known to have performed some amount of due diligence on what a candidacy for the U.S. Senate might look like. No female has announced for the seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). The entrance of a well-known conservative woman — a description which fits Cavanaugh — into the race would completely change its complexion. One Republican political consultant told Yellowhammer News that if a strong, conservative female jumped in, then you could probably pencil that person into the run-off.
Cavanaugh has been a zealous advocate for conservative causes for many years. And as recently as 2018, she served as co-chair for the Alliance for a Pro-Life Alabama, which helped pass the state’s pro-life constitutional amendment.
Efforts to reach her at the time of publication were unsuccessful.
Cavanaugh’s Twitter handle is @TwinkleForAL. That much we know, at least.
2. “It’s easier to stay out than get out.” Mark Twain’s pearl of wisdom could easily describe the predominant political calculation of many considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Secretary of State John Merrill has said he is going to make a decision on the race this week or next. Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) has not ruled it out, yet, and has told people he will make a final decision at the end of the summer — which would lend to the notion that he is not running.
We have learned that State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) now fully intends to get into the race. We have reported previously that Dismukes was giving it strong consideration and had begun getting his feet wet campaigning in parts of the state outside of his district. In addition, he has spent time in Washington gauging potential support from interest groups and others in the nation’s capital.
As is the case with announced candidate State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs), beginning a high-profile statewide race from the relatively small footprint of a State House district presents a significant challenge.
3. Follow the money. Yellowhammer News alerted its readers earlier this week to the fact that the House of Representatives had drastically cut funding for rural broadband in its version of the budget. The budget passed by the House cut the program’s funding by 73%.
Senate leaders Del Marsh and Arthur Orr had long made ramping up rural broadband efforts a priority so it was no surprise to see them dig in and fight for that number to climb back up to an acceptable level during conference committee negotiations on the budget. When all was said and done, the conference committee adopted a 150% increase in funding over the House-passed version of the bill, increasing the broadband appropriation from $8 million to $20 million.
The timing of that funding increase was critical given the passage of certain legislation this session. Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville), widely-recognized as the father of the rural broadband initiative, passed a bill to strengthen the program even further. His was one of two bills aimed at fueling economic development and increasing quality of life through expanding internet access in rural areas.