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Rumors & Rumblings

“Rumors and Rumblings” is a weekly feature that runs each Wednesday. It includes short nuggets of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week. Have a tip? Send it here. All sources remain confidential.

1. State House insiders are rumbling that a House freshman will likely be landing a committee chairmanship ahead of the 2013 session. This is an unconfirmed rumor. House Speaker Mike Hubbard typically plays committee chairman appointments close to the vest so no one really knows until it’s a done deal.

2. Yellowhammer pointed out late last week that radical environmental groups have made the Alabama Public Service Commission ground zero for their war on Alabama’s energy producers. Since posting that article, we’ve received dozens of emails from conservatives around the state asking for more info.

After doing some more digging, two separate sources with close ties to the PSC told us this week that Commissioner Terry Dunn’s Chief of Staff David Rountree has become the radical environmentalists’ biggest advocate inside the PSC.

Insiders informed us that Rountree recently took a day off from work at the PSC to attend a day-long event hosted by the leftwing Alabama Environmental Council. The event included speeches by the man-made global warming crowd and the rest of the usual suspects. Rountree’s attendance at the event and his behind-the-scenes wrangling on behalf of the enviros has raised some eyebrows among conservatives and led to another round of unanswered questions as to where Commissioner Terry Dunn stands.

In case there’s any question where CONSERVATIVES stand on this issue, we want an ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE energy policy. Any moves against Alabama’s coal industry and the 5,000 jobs it provides in our state will be met with immediate and sustained push back from the conservative community.

3. Things are already picking up steam in the Senate District 35 special election to fill the seat vacated by Ben Brooks.

Insiders say that Rep. Jim Barton looks to be on pace to raise over $200,000 by the end of the year. Barton has wide name ID in the district and considerable fundraising ties due in part to his role as a powerful budget chairman in the House.

Businessman Bill Hightower also qualified for the SD 35 race and is rumored to be pursuing a largely self-funded effort. Hightower is President of Tower Strategies, Inc. and his background includes stints at multiple Fortune 100 companies. He was appointed by Governor Bentley to serve on the Alabama State Health Planning & Development Agency, and also serves on the Alabama State Health Planning Special Services Committee.

Retired Marine Colonel and airline pilot Nick Matranga is the third Republican to have qualified for the race. He’s a Mobile County native but his military service included stops in Japan, Korea, Philippines, and Taiwan. He is well-liked and extremely active in the community.

The SD35 special primary election is Jan. 29. If none of the candidates receive a majority of the vote on the 29th, a runoff will be held on March 12. No Democrats qualified for the race.

4. Republican fundraising powerhouse Kate Anderson, L.L.C. will close out 2012 having raised $5.75 million for Republican candidates and groups in Alabama. Anderson and her sidekick Blakely Logan led successful fundraising efforts this year for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the House and Senate Republican caucuses, numerous Alabama Congressmen and others. Not too shabby for their first year in operation.

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