Subscription Preferences:
2 months ago

Who’s running? Previewing Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate Election

Alabama has been stuck in what seems like one endless election cycle since 2015. And it’s not going to end anytime soon.

As signaled by the start of Governor Ivey’s first television buy ahead of the November 6 General Election, the summer political lull –  a seeming oasis of respite from wall-to-wall political advertising that turned out to be a mirage – lasted a mere 16 days after the July 17 Primary Runoff. That’s 1.6 Scaramuccis for those keeping track at home.

This respite, however temporary, still might be one of the longer political advertising breaks Alabama experiences before December 2020. Besides the upcoming local, statewide and Congressional midterm races that are now gearing up ahead of November, the 2020 U.S. Senate Election looms large on the horizon. Potential Republican candidates and savvy power brokers have already started the behind-the-scenes jockeying that will set the table for defeating incumbent Sen. Doug Jones 27 months from now.

We still have a long way to go before knowing who will go on to defeat Sen. Jones, but serious and wannabee contenders are already emerging from the pack.


Mayor Tommy Battle

Advantages: Battle proved that he has a stronghold of votes in and around Madison County. For both fundraising and turnout, Huntsville’s reliance on federal dollars and policies will be a big boost for him. By staying positive in his television advertising this year, Battle fostered good-will amongst some of the Republican Party faithful and built a base of statewide name identification and favorability for this future run.

Challenges: It’s unclear how Battle will fare in a statewide race in which multiple candidates will be throwing jabs at him, probably all from the right. His social conservative bona fides will come under attack, and pivoting to economic development talking points will not work with the vast majority of Republican primary voters.

Things to consider: Battle’s run for governor became an expensive trial balloon for a future campaign once Governor Ivey assumed office and righted the ship of state. His team was and still is playing the long game.

Rep. Bradley Byrne

Advantages: In what is sure to be a crowded primary field, candidates with strong geographic bases like Byrne’s in vote-rich Baldwin and Mobile counties will have a leg-up as they seek to make a primary runoff. Byrne also has experience running statewide, a resulting name I.D. advantage over Alabama’s other seven members of the U.S. House, economic development success stories to tell, and proven big-league fundraising ability.

Challenges: Byrne will have to prove that he has learned from his 2010 upset defeat and better message to base Republican primary voters.

Things to consider: If Byrne does indeed run for the Senate, this will leave his First Congressional District seat wide open. Expect outgoing state Sen. Rusty Glover, state Rep. Chris Pringle and outgoing state Sen. Bill Hightower to lead a lengthy list of hopefuls for this would-be opening.

Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh

Advantages: This will be a free shot for Marsh, as his sixth term in the State Senate will not end until 2022. His prolific fundraising ability is well-known, but he also has the means to self-finance his campaign, which could give him a significant cash-on-hand head-start on the other elected officials on this list. Marsh’s entrepreneurial successes and experience will also sell well on the campaign trail.

Challenges: Members of the state legislature simply do not have much, if any, name recognition outside of their relatively small districts. Marsh does get some statewide press as Sen. Pro Tem and ran television advertising in the Birmingham television market this primary cycle, but he still has a long way to go in building the necessary name I.D. The silver lining – money and time, two things Marsh has on his side, can accomplish this.

Things to consider: Expect to see Marsh continue advertising on Birmingham television, Alabama’s largest media market, this cycle as he plans a possible 2020 run. Jockeying in the State Senate and the upcoming legislative session will unfold with the future in mind.

Secretary of State John Merrill

Advantages: As a statewide elected official, Merrill has broader geographic name recognition than U.S. Reps. and members of the state legislature. He is also quite possibly the best retail politician in the state and will outwork just about anyone on the campaign trail.

Challenges: While his name recognition is relatively broad in terms of geography, it still isn’t very high. The lesson here is that television and television only can get your name identification up past a certain point. Merrill will need to find a large amount of money to spend on advertising to build on his solid name identification in order to be competitive against better-funded opponents. He does not yet have the type of ready-built fundraising machine necessary to win a big-league statewide race.

Things to consider: This would be a free shot for Merrill, as his second term serving as Secretary of State will last until January 2023. He could use this opportunity to build towards a 2022 run for Governor or another opening a couple years down the road.

Rep. Gary Palmer

Advantages: If no other serious candidate from the Birmingham metropolitan area enters the race, Palmer would have the potential to collect a sizable vote from his district. As a member of the House Freedom Caucus and given his tenure at the Alabama Policy Institute, he will have significant grassroots and Republican base appeal. Palmer not only knows conservative issues, he knows how to message conservative issues. He will be able to raise money competitively from the Birmingham business community and as a sitting Member of Congress.

Challenges: Palmer’s low name identification outside of his district could hurt him.

Things to consider: This would be a risky play for Palmer. He’s in a safe House seat, and the odds of him winning the Senate race might not be high enough to leave a sure thing. If Palmer does try to make the leap to the Senate in 2020, this opens up his House Seat to another 2014-like scrum. Expect former state Rep. Paul DeMarco and former state Sen. Scott Beason to be in the mix again, along with the likes of outgoing state Sen. Slade Blackwell, state Sen. Cam Ward and Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington.

Rep. Martha Roby

Advantages: Roby is likely to be the only woman with name recognition in the race, and would do well to capitalize on her natural lead with female voters. Alabamians also tend to elect candidates who have the potential of acquiring and leveraging seniority in the Senate. Having just turned 42 last week, Roby could serve for forty years if elected.

Challenges: Even though the runoff was a landslide victory, do not forget that Roby’s support in the Second Congressional District has diminished since 2016. Her triumphant runoff showing, against a Democrat and after being endorsed by President Trump, still only amounted to 48,000 votes – which would’ve amounted to a 51 percent razor-thin victory if turnout from the primary held. What should be a major advantage for Roby has turned into a liability – she has the weakest foothold with her geographic base out of all of Alabama’s Representatives. If Roby is interested in running for the Senate, or even keeping her seat in 2020, she needs to spend much more time in her district repairing her image in the coming year.

Things to consider: If Roby runs for the Senate, there are plenty of viable contenders in Montgomery and the Wiregrass who would be interested in running for her open seat. Outgoing State Treasurer Young Boozer, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and state Rep. Paul Lee immediately come to mind.

Jeff Coleman

President and CEO of Coleman World Group, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, and former Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama, Coleman has the background and authentic charisma that would make for an ideal U.S. Senate candidate. He would have a steep name recognition hill to climb, but he has all the tools to do it.

State Rep. Bill Poole

A practicing attorney in Tuscaloosa, Poole will be serving his third term in the Alabama House of Representatives when the 2020 race for Doug Jones’ seat unfolds. He has chaired the House Ways and Means Education Committee since 2013 and is widely respected for his fiscally conservative policy expertise. Poole is the state’s preeminent rising young political star and has the potential to serve Alabama on the national level in a major way, in the mold of Sen. Richard Shelby.

Jimmy Rane

Better known as “the Yella Fella,” Rane is the richest man in Alabama and a gregarious one to boot.  He has long considered a run for office and has the perfect self-financed-outsider credentials to mount a competitive bid. His close friendship with Gov. Ivey would be an interesting factor, too.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Never say never. Out of all the crazy Alabama political storylines, even just recent ones, this would not even rank as a surprise. If Sessions did run, he would immediately become the frontrunner and clear out most of the field.

Former Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Glenn Murdock

And a bunch of not-gunna-happen state legislators. A free shot is always appealing, though.

Rep. Robert Aderholt

If Aderholt does run, he will be a serious contender. However, he is in line to be Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and will not leave the House if this holds true. There are two factors that need to be resolved first:

If Republicans lose the House in November, Aderholt is stuck being the ranking minority member on the committee. He would have to decide whether he wants to play the long game by waiting until the Republicans win back the majority again or take a gamble by running for the Senate.

If the Republicans maintain control of the House in November, Aderholt still has some political maneuvering ahead of him. The Texas Congressional Delegation has promised their votes to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid in exchange for control of the appropriations committee. For what it is worth, I expect that the vice president will be working behind the scenes to deliver the chairmanship to Aderholt. However, if Aderholt loses this battle, he may very well decide to leave the House and take a shot at the Senate seat.

Former Rep. Jo Bonner

If Rep. Byrne does not run, that opens up a lane for Bonner to be a serious contender.

Rep. Mo Brooks

Likewise, if Mayor Battle for some reason doesn’t run, Brooks has a serious foothold in the Fifth Congressional District to run from. The likelihood of Alabama losing a Congressional seat also factors in here, because Brooks could be drawn out of his current job and on the hunt for a new one.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson

Same situation as Bonner. If Rep. Byrne doesn’t run, that opens up a pathway for Stimpson.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Alabama sets new record for number of jobs, number of people employed

Alabama has once again broken employment and job records during Governor Kay Ivey’s tenure.

According to data released on Friday, wage and salary employment in September reached a new record high, as did the number of people counted as working, for the fifth month in a row.

“Not only are we experiencing record high employment, this month we’ve also broken another record – our economy is currently supporting the most number of jobs in history!” Ivey said in a statement. “September’s job count of 2,048,000 bypasses the previous record of 2,045,800, which was set in December 2007.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington stressed that the state’s booming economy has been over-performing experts’ expectations.

178

“In January, economists predicted that Alabama would see job growth of 27,000 in 2018. I’m pleased to say that, year-to-date, we’ve already seen job growth of 47,000, surpassing that prediction by 20,000 jobs, and we still have three months left to grow,” Washington said.

Wage and salary employment increased in September by 9,100, and, over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 26,800.

Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. This rate represents 2,117,027 people working, which is also a record high. In August, 2,112,099 people were counted as employed, and 2,082,085 were counted as employed in September of last year.

“This is the fifth month in a row that we’ve announced that more people are working in Alabama than ever before. Alabama’s businesses are hiring, Alabamians are working, and wages are rising,” Ivey added.

Average weekly earnings increased over the year by $53.82. Manufacturing weekly earnings increased by $27.18 over the year, and construction weekly earnings were up $55.08 over the year.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Republicans draw big crowd for Fairhope rally as Election Day nears

FAIRHOPE – Complacency may be a concern for Republicans in some parts of Alabama as Election Day approaches, but it isn’t as prevalent of a concern in ruby-red Baldwin County.

With several hundred on hand at Fairhope’s Oak Hollow Farms, Rep. Bradley Byrne and Gov. Kay Ivey rallied attendees that offered the impression of being engaged and motivated to show up at the polls to vote on November 6.

The event, a fish fry, was put on by the Baldwin County Republican Party and featured other candidates running for statewide office, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Alabama Supreme Court chief justice hopeful Tom Parker.

503

Parker said it was his impression that Republicans, not just in Baldwin County, but throughout the state, were fired up based on the Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court associate justice confirmation process.

“Republican voters are so incensed post-Kavanaugh after they saw what the Democrats did and what they condone,” Parker said to Yellowhammer News. “And we’re just trying to remind the people of who they have running against the Republican officials. They are the people getting money from Soros, Planned Parenthood. They condone violence. They are advocating anarchy. And we do not need that in our judiciary. We need the rule of law and respect for law rather than judges who will bend things in order to accomplish political goals. We need people who will protect Alabama values, which are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-Constitutions.”

Parker said that Baldwin County was part of a campaign effort that included county fairs, local events and Republican events.

“All I’m hearing is anger post-Kavanaugh generated because of those Democrats who were paying to protest,” he added. “And then when they did acts of violence, they wouldn’t condemn it. They’re condoning it. That’s so uncivil and so un-American.”

Daphne native Matt Simpson, the Republican nominee for the State House District 96 election, who is heavily favored in his contest against Democratic nominee Maurice Horsey, explained that having Gov. Kay Ivey making an appearance in Baldwin County generated excitement.

“We’re excited,” Simpson said. “Anytime we can get the governor in this area in south Alabama, we’re excited. We expect a good turnout in Baldwin County. Baldwin County is a very red county, one of the reddest in the state. We think the voters of the area are motivated. We think there’s going to be an opportunity for people to show just how motivated they are to support Republican principles and to make sure we keep Republicans in office.”

Simpson also echoed what Parker had said about the so-called Kavanaugh effect, noting that the backlash against the Democratic Party’s tactics would be on display when Baldwin County voters head to the polls.

“I think complacency has taken a backseat,” he added. “The Kavanaugh hearings have really fired up the Republican base. I think you saw what Democrats will do once they get in power and how they will try to take power from Republicans through the lies and the smears that they’ve done. And I think people are excited to show that’s not how we run things. That’s not what we want as a general public. We want our voice heard, and we won’t accept that type of behavior.”

Simpson said the I-10 bridge was the biggest issue on the minds of Baldwin County voters given its impact on the local economy, tourism and residents’ way of life. On the national level, he said Baldwin County voters were firmly in support of President Donald Trump given the success of the economy and how Trump’s leadership showed that if free market principles were implemented, the economy could flourish.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 hours ago

Public Policy Foundation: ‘Amendment 4 would save Alabama taxpayers millions’

The Alabama Public Policy Foundation (APPF) issued a press release on Thursday in an effort to educate voters about the virtues of voting “yes” on Amendment 4 on the November 6 general election ballot.

Rosemary Elebash, an APPF board member and state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), explained that the amendment would save Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars by eliminating costly special elections when a regularly scheduled election is already imminent.

“Under current law, the governor must call a special election to fill legislative seats vacated due to death or resignation, even if there are only a few months remaining in the term,” Elebash outlined. “Each legislative special election costs from $90,000 to $900,000 per county, based on the number of voters and polling locations. These sometimes occur when candidates already have qualified for the next general election or when the Legislature is not scheduled to meet again before the end of the term.”

APPF noted that money spent on late-term special elections could be used for other services important to Alabama taxpayers. In addition to the wasteful cost, Elebash said back-to-back balloting can create fatigue and confusion for voters.

141

“In recent years, we’ve seen candidates win special elections and immediately begin campaigning for a regular primary election a month or two later,” she said.

Amendment 4 would allow Alabama Senate and House of Representatives seats to remain open if vacated on or after Oct. 1 of the third year of a four-year term. The longest a seat would remain vacant would be 14 months. The amendment only applies to these state legislative seats, and the governor would still be required to schedule special elections for vacancies occurring earlier in a term.

You can read the objective Fair Ballot Commission’s explanation of Amendment 4 here.

APPF is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization “created to promote educational, social, financial and economic policies to enhance the well-being of Alabama citizens.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Kay Ivey: Walt Maddox ‘misguided’ on calls to expand Medicaid

FAIRHOPE – Gov. Kay Ivey isn’t necessarily buying into the notion that the expansion of Medicaid could be a win-win for Alabama, as her Democratic opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has portrayed it.

Medicaid expansion has been a key component of Maddox’s campaign, and it has been something Republican lawmakers have resisted given its potential future cost to state taxpayers.

Thursday night, before taking the stage at Baldwin County’s Oak Hollow Farms for a political rally, Ivey fielded questions from reporters, one of which dealt with the expansion of Medicaid.

126

She expressed her support for quality health care, but described Maddox’s push as “misguided.”

“It’s important that we have the availability of quality health care for our people,” she said to Yellowhammer News. “That’s for sure. But at the same time, we’ve got to be sure we’re doing all we can with the Medicaid program, and nobody has come up with how we’re going to pay back the high cost if we expand it. So, I think my opponent is misguided again.”

In recent weeks, Maddox has been pushing Medicaid expansion on his bus tour of Alabama, and on Thursday, his second TV ad began airing across the state that doubles down on the proposal.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

6 hours ago

7 Things: Illegal immigration argument in the WH, libs complain about pot enforcement costs, Maddox demands Ivey prove his smear, and more …

7. 2020 is definitely underway, with Sen. Kamala Harris proposing a straight-up giveaway to every person making less than $100,000 a year.

— Sen. Harris says she wants to provide Americans whose wages haven’t increased a “basic income” to “keep up with cost of living increases.”

— The proposal has absolutely no chance of becoming law, but this is more about her appealing to the Democrat base before she enters the primary for President.

589

6. As Canada legalizes marijuana, a new report tells how much marijuana costs Alabama.

— The Southern Poverty Law Center is claiming the enforcement of pot laws cost the state $22 million dollars a year, clogs up forensic labs, and as a kicker, they also claim that drug laws are racist.

— Madison County District Attorney dismisses the claims of racism and says law enforcement is just doing their jobs, “I can tell you law enforcement officials on the street do not care what color you are, they do not care whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re breaking the law, they’re going to address it.”

5. Nick Saban endorses an old friend in West Virginia; Alabama liberals want him to endorse Walt Maddox here.

— Sen. Joe Manchin’s campaign in a red state looked to Saban, a native son and life-long friend, for a boost to swing voters in the state President Donald Trump won big.

— Every election year people wonder if Nick Saban will wade into Alabama politic; he never does even though some people fake it.

4. A Speaker Nancy Pelosi would make you pay if you disagree with her; an Alabama Democrat won’t support her if she is elected.

— Former Speaker Pelosi knows there is a good chance she will get her hand on the gavel again, and if she does there may be some pain. Pelosi said, “If there’s some collateral damage for some others who do not share our view, well, so be it, but it shouldn’t be our original purpose.”

— In what is becoming a bit of a ploy for Democrats looking to distance themselves from the national Democratic Party, Mallory Hagan who is running for Congress in Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers 3rd District, has declared she isn’t voting for Pelosi. Hagan said, “Sixteen years is too long for Mike Rogers and too long for Nancy Pelosi.”

3. George Soros involvement in Alabama elections is not as complicated as some are pretending.

— After a report that George Soros donated $200,000 to Tuscaloosa PACs this week, PACs that have given Mayor Walt Maddox $600k+ overall this cycle, people are equivocating, saying the PACs donated to Ivey in the past.

— The fact is PAC funding is a mess, the pass-through process is a joke, but the idea that Soros is giving Ivey money is comical deflection that no one with any scruples would try to make and Ivey’s response is perfect: “Bottom line is [if] George Soros puts $200 [thousand] in Alabama elections, for sure it’s not for conservatives like I am.”

2. Phase two of “The Governor is sick” rollout is underway, Maddox allies allege a cover-up, and he then demands it be explained.

— Phase one of this sad charade included revisiting a previous smear that Governor Kay Ivey is secretly-ill, but adding a twist of a grudge-holding former state employee who is also Maddox’s friend.

1. There was a shouting match at the White House over the plan to actually enforce our borders.

— White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton got into an argument over a proposed policy to step up border enforcement in the lead up to the election. Trump sided with Bolton and threatened to send the military to the border to stop a caravan of future illegal aliens.

— Trump’s threats of military action and cutting foreign aid payments have apparently pushed Mexico into attempting to stop the flow at their southern border; they are sending federal police and reaching out the UN for help.