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Bill would stop political parties barring candidates based on contributions

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A bill in the Alabama House would prohibit state political parties from banning candidates from the ballot because they accept campaign donations from certain groups. 

House Bill 186, sponsored by Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Green Hill, is in response to a 2023 rule by the ALGOP allowing it to disqualify candidates for state and local  school boards and county school superintendents who accept donations from the National Education Association or the Alabama Education Association.

Pettus told Alabama Daily News the bill is important because “a small group of people should not decide  to take you off the ballot based on contributions you receive for your campaign.”  

Currently, political parties set the qualifications for individuals desiring to run for office as a  candidate of that political party. The 2023 change was sponsored by ALGOP Chairman John Wahl who said “the Alabama Republican Party is strongly committed to protecting our children  from indoctrination in the classroom by left-wing groups like the NEA and its affiliated  organizations.” 

Pettus said the bill is an  attempt to ease concerns that the ALGOP may further set rules on who lawmakers can accept  donations from.  

“I think the voters should decide,” he said. “If they don’t think you should take the money from a certain campaign contribution, then it is up to the voters  to decide. If they don’t think you should then they should vote against you.” 

Alabama Daily News previously reported that in 2022, the AEA spent $2.9 million on State House races. Most of that money went to Republicans.

Jeannie Negrón Burniston, spokeswoman for the Alabama Republican Party, said it is keeping a close eye on Pettus’ bill.

“Obviously this is a bill that the party  has serious concerns with and we will be watching it as the session moves forward,” she said.

The bill has not yet received a committee vote.

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