1 year ago

Rumors and Rumblings 2nd Ed. Vol. V

“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.

Enjoy.

1. The Republican U.S. Senate primary is still a two-person race, but expect that to change in the weeks ahead. Yellowhammer News first reported that freshman State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) was exploring a run, and now we can confirm that he is seriously weighing jumping in. Today, Dismukes is in Washington, D.C. meeting with groups – potential benefactors – that include Club for Growth, which has let its anti-Bradley Bryne sentiments be well known.

With Mo Brooks telling Talk 99.5’s “The Matt & Aunie Show” today that he is not running in 2020 (he has long maintained it would take a “seismic” event for him to change his mind) and Gary Palmer still looking unlikely to enter the Senate field, Club is frantically looking for a horse to back.

Brooks also newly introduced the possibility of State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) or former State Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) running.

A source has told Yellowhammer News that Mooney, 68, could be set to announce for the Senate next week. Mooney would definitely start with the lowest name ID in the field. He is telling people that he has the Club endorsement locked up and that he is going to hire national political players to handle the campaign: Fred Davis for media/advertising consultant, Jordan Gehrke to be the general consultant and Public Opinion Strategies to do polling. Gehrke was the GC for Brooks in 2017. Davis is recently best known for handling the media for John Kasich’s 2016 presidential bid.

Based on a conversation with someone familiar with Pittman’s thinking, his interest in running is fueled by a desire to inject serious issues of fiscal responsibility into the debate. Pittman had always been a fiscal hawk throughout his time in the Alabama legislature and was known for forcing tough decisions when he oversaw the budget. He is a big-thinker who it sounds now is being stirred to run by trillion dollar deficits and renewed interest in socialist policies. Pittman and Byrne hail from the same area of the state so dual candidacies could mitigate any geographic advantages in the Republican-heavy area.

Secretary of State John Merrill very well might announce a Senate candidacy in the next month or so, and he certainly seems like an option for Club. However, do not discount the possibility that the D.C. organization could still back Tommy Tuberville.

Finally, don’t sleep on Robert Bentley. Appearing on “The Jeff Poor Show” last week, the former governor sounded like a guy who truly wanted to run.

2. The Alabama House Minority Caucus and the Black Caucus have a pivotal decision to make on State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham), who managed to make his viral abortion remarks even worse with follow-up comments on Donald Trump, Jr.

The Minority Caucus leadership was already set to throw Rogers under the bus before he dug himself a deeper hole, and Black Caucus Chair A.J. McCampbell was in utter disbelief when he heard Rogers’ remarks about Trump, Jr.

House Democrats, in a superminority, have been working diligently and purposefully behind the scenes since Election Day to slowly build good will and political capital that they can leverage behind the scenes in negotiations about select priorities, including healthcare and Medicaid discussions.

Rogers’ actions could very well set them – and their state party – back at least another election cycle from having a meaningful seat at the table on the issues most important to them.

However, taking forceful action against Rogers (including asking for his resignation), comes with the risk of angering the Democratic base. In a state where primaries are king, there will be House Democrats afraid of their most strident voting blocs. Rogers is a longtime fixture in Democratic state politics and was already at odds with Caucus leadership over their decision to walkout on Tuesday’s abortion debate. The leadership risks making him an enemy in a place where they already have few friends, and Rogers could take a few Caucus veterans like State Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) with him.

3. One potential big winner in the 2019 legislative session is David Bronner of the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA). As the pension systems’ head man, Bronner once again tops the list of highest-paid state employees and has leveraged his position to enjoy an enviable lifestyle. He is also, perhaps, the most feared man in Montgomery.

As CEO of RSA, Bronner oversees a pension system into which more than 300,000 people have paid or are currently paying. This means that he has a communication pipeline to names, addresses, phone numbers and emails for 300,000 Alabamians with a vested interest in engaging the political process. Priming that pipeline with a message advantageous to him allows Bronner to quickly whip up an educated constituency when the time comes to apply pressure to members of the legislature on issues affecting the pension system.

Thus, it is no surprise that the legislature seems poised to pass a bill sweetening the pot of pension benefits for state employees. Proponents of the legislation believe it will help state government attract and retain its employees. As a credit to Bronner’s near total control over pension policy, there are no opponents. The bill passed the House on a 100-0 vote.

The cost of the increased benefits comes in at a paltry $2.53 billion over the next thirty years. While Bronner has voiced his displeasure in the past over the reluctance of Alabamians to raise taxes, and advocated for the legalization of marijuana and gambling so it can be taxed, the issue of funding for this measure seems to be of no concern.

As a result, the work done by RSA in the 2019 legislative session may go down as one of David Bronner’s greatest achievements.

1 hour ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

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“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@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.

12 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

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Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

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

14 hours ago

Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) sent a letter on Tuesday to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, advocating for the SEC to allow its member institutions to proceed with the 2020 college football season this fall.

The letter came the day that the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel their fall seasons. Of the Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have yet to announce if they will play football this year.

To try saving the season, a player-led #WeWantToPlay movement has popped up in the past few days, quickly gaining momentum nationally.

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent leaders in the world of college football have advised that most players want to play, and that players will very likely be safer following enhanced safety protocols developed by their teams rather than being back at home or left to their own devices on campuses all fall.

For example, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) head coach Bill Clark on Monday tweeted that his team had tested all 176 people in the school’s football building for COVID-19, with all tests returning negative.

“In addition to the [SEC]’s Medical Advisory Group providing a medical clearance for gameplay this fall, I have faith in the various health and safety guidelines being adopted by the Conference’s member institutions, who have themselves relied on the vast expertise of the medical professionals on their campuses and within their respective university systems,” Reed wrote to Sankey.

He added that on top of “the heightened health and safety protocols in intercollegiate athletics, each member institution has created health and safety guidelines campus-wide.”

“I have a tremendous amount of trust in the decision making of institutions such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University and wholeheartedly believe that every decision made by their respective administrations will prioritize the health and welfare of their students, faculty, and staff over all other considerations,” Reed continued.

“Member institutions and student-athletes have worked tirelessly to get back on the field this fall,” the senator said. “Depriving opportunities for student-athletes to succeed on the field will long lasting and potentially devastating consequences for their futures, with many student-athletes aspiring to compete professionally.”

Reed concluded by asking the SEC to “hear the calling of their member institutions and student-athletes and commit to competition this fall.”

You can read the full letter here.

Shortly after Reed sent his letter, the SEC via Twitter released a statement from Sankey.

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

15 hours ago

Lawsuit challenging statewide mask order dismissed by judge

A Montgomery County Circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to challenge the legality of Alabama’s statewide mask mandate.

The suit was brought by three Jackson County residents who thought the mask order, first ordered by Governor Kay Ivey in mid-July, was outside the bounds of what the government could put in place.

Seth Ashmore, the attorney handling the lawsuit, said on Tuesday his clients plan to appeal the ruling.

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Judge Greg Griffin handled the case at the circuit court level and made the decision to dismiss the suit shortly after a hearing conducted on Tuesday afternoon.

Both Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, in their official capacities, were named as defendants in the suit.

The persons suing Ivey and Harris argued the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and a “deprivation of liberty.”

Lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General’s office argued in their motion to dismiss the suit that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gave the Governor “ample authority” to require the wearing of masks by individuals when they are in public.

Both the lawsuit and motion to dismiss have been made available to the public by Mike Cason, a reporter for Alabama Media Group.

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

16 hours ago

Alabama HBCU students chosen for Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED internship program

Birmingham-based Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED has held the 2020 edition of its annual “Pay It Forward” program, which aims to provide black college students with opportunities to celebrate achievement and further their success.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students from 16 schools throughout Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED’s six-state footprint submitted applications earlier this year.

Now in its fifth year, the program was promoted actively across participating HBCU campuses. Coca-Cola reviewed the applications for the program, selecting 25 students total based on their impressive applications. This included seven students from Alabama HBCUs:

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Micah Hardge and Marion Brock IV, Alabama State University
Michael Howard, Miles College
Olivia Sarley, Stillman College
Jasimen Collins and Ayala Seaborn, Talladega College
Nia Reid, Tuskegee University

Normally, this program is a week-long, in-person experience; however, this year due to COVID 19, selected students participated virtually. These students engaged with Coca-Cola Company teams to learn more about the organization and how to conduct business most effectively during a two-day, informative development session held last week.

“Although we will not be able to meet these students in person this year, we are excited to get to know this remarkable group of ‘Pay It Forward’ interns,” stated John Sherman, president and CEO Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED. “Our intent through the two-day program is to encourage these young adults and help enable them to further develop career goals as they plan for the next phase in life.”

During this internship, students reportedly gained experience in a wide range of roles at Coca-Cola, including sales, production, marketing, pricing, event planning, packaging, philanthropy and community relations. The program exposes participants to real-world work situations, including business practices and protocols, how to network and other important skills that will prepare them for the job market.

Over 100 students from Coca-Cola’s partner HBCUs have participated in the Pay it Forward internship to date.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., founded in 1902 and headquartered in the Magic City, is the second-largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States. Now with its fifth generation of family working in the business, the Yellowhammer State company has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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