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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. Alabama Democrats dividing an ever shrinking pie
Alabama Democrat Party Chairman Mark Kennedy and long-time Democrat Party power broker Joe Reed are increasingly at odds according to sources close to the Party. “My expectation is cooler header will prevail, but ouster is possible. The friction is real. It’s mostly related to Kennedy ignoring Reed.” one of the sources told Yellowhammer.

Simmering tensions boiled over recently when Kennedy fired Democrat Party field operative Felix Parker without checking with Reed first. Kennedy blamed the firing on the Party’s dire financial situation. What’s interesting though is that the Party Board turned around and doubled a travel budget from $15,000 to $30,000 and hired a new staffer. It’s widely believed that the Party is having serious financial problems, so it’s unclear where the money came from.

Reed is generally believed to control a majority of the Democrat Party Committee, so if he wants Kennedy out badly enough, he has the votes to pull it off. Birmingham attorney Giles Perkins is said to be a possible candidate for next Party chairman — whenever there’s a vacancy.

“Reed is in an interesting position right now,” a lobbyist told Yellowhammer over the weekend. “He could realistically make a move inside the Party or inside the AEA. With the Party crumbling, I’d be looking over my shoulder if I were Mabry.”

2. State-funded liability insurance for teachers?
The fine folks over at the Alabama Education Association are going all-in against a bill that would provide state-funded liability insurance for teachers. They’re telling people that it failed in 2011, and that it will fail again. But there are a couple of key differences this time around. First of all, the liability insurance provision is tied to this year’s proposed teacher pay raise. Secondly, the AEA has spent the past month attacking Republican legislators by name all over the state. “AEA didn’t scare them, they just made them mad,” one Montgomery insider told Yellowhammer Tuesday night. It goes without saying that the union reps are not finding many sympathetic ears in the GOP caucuses right now.

3. Religious Liberty Act ready to pass out of committee
After a brief hold up it looks like the Religious Liberty Act will pass tomorrow out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The bill allows employers who are religiously affiliated or motivated to exclude health insurance coverage for contraceptives or abortifacient drugs to its employees. It passed out of the House back in February by a vote of 67 to 28. After a lengthy discussion in committee prior to spring break, all signs point to it passing out tomorrow without much trouble. It will then head on to the full Senate for final passage.

4. Long-time Democrat angling for GOP statewide primary?
Here’s a quick flashback to Rumors & Rumblings from July 18 of last year: “Crenshaw County Probate Judge Jim Perdue is rumored to be considering a run for Secretary of State in 2014. The long-time Democrat is weighing a run as a Republican. ‘He knows he can’t win statewide office as a Democrat,’ a source with knowledge of Perdue’s thinking told Yellowhammer.”

Flashback to the present… Perdue is expected to announce today that he is switching parties. Will he follow that announcement up by revealing his 2014 intentions? We shall see.

State Representative John Merrill is the only Republican at this point who has thrown his hat in the ring for Secretary of State, and he’s done a pretty good job of clearing the field. It’s unlikely that Perdues entry into the race would erode much of Merrill’s early support from his House colleagues and other interested parties in Montgomery.

5. Radio silence…for now
The ad war sparked by the Alabama Accountability Act has gone quiet for the time being, but don’t expect it to last long. AEA reps have told radio stations they’re waiting to see what Republicans do next. With the liability insurance provision included in the teacher pay raise bill, radio silence probably won’t last long. In the mean time, unconfirmed rumors are that the proponents have built up a 6-figure war chest as a result of their fundraising push.

What else is going on?
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2. How Business-Friendly Are Alabama’s 50 Largest Cities?
3. Chapman Will Not Seek Elective Office in 2014
4. BCA & NRA Square Off
5. Rep. Joseph Mitchell: Some white people have the power to kill us