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Daily News Digest – July 25, 2018

Good morning!  Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

1. Maddox challenges Ivey, again. 

  • Walt Maddox yesterday issued a formal debate challenge to Gov. Kay Ivey.
  • By my count, this is the fourth day in a row Maddox-challenges-Ivey-to-debate stories have churned in the news cycle, which is a PR coup for Team Maddox.
  • What made it news this time was the official letter and the response from Ivey’s campaign, which was…

“Walt Maddox refuses to say if he supports Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, it’s impossible to get a straight answer from him on gun rights, and he’s all over the map on abortion. It seems the person Walt Maddox should be debating is himself,”

  • At first glance, I thought this was a mistake by Team Ivey. Gives the story life in the news cycle, doesn’t answer the question, etc.
  • But, thinking about it, the response gets two wedge issues that benefit Ivey (Supreme Court, abortion) into news stories all over the state.
  • Reminder: Politics 101 teaches that you never debate an opponent if you don’t have to. In other words, if you’re winning and the risk of debating outweighs the risk of not debating, you don’t debate.
  • It’s why Ivey didn’t agree to debates in the primary and why former Gov. Robert Bentley never debated Democratic challenger Parker Griffith. It only stood to help their opponents.
  • It will be up to Team Maddox to change that equation by raising the risks of not debating.
  • Read Caroline Beck’s story for Alabama Daily News and Kim Chandler’s report for the Associated Press.

2. Razor thin wins. 

  • Two races for the Alabama Legislature were so close they came down to the counting of provisional ballots.

House District 38 (Chambers, Lee Counties)

  • Debbie Wood has won the GOP nomination in House District 38. She led by six votes after election day, but there were 52 provisional ballots cast.
  • Of those 52 ballots, only 11 ended up counting in the race. Wood got six and opponent Todd Rauch got five. So Wood won by a margin of SEVEN votes.
  • She’ll face Democratic nominee Brian McGee in November.
  • Stories from WLTZ’s Marlena Mumma HERE and the Opelika Auburn News’ Kara Coleman HERE.

House District 102 (Mobile County)

  • Down in Mobile, Shane Stringer led Willie Gray by 25 votes on Election Day with 58 provisional ballots cast.
  • Of those 58 ballots, 29 were deemed valid and counted in the race. Stringer got 16 to Gray’s 13, and increased his win total to 28 votes.
  • WKRG’s Peter Albrecht has that full story HERE.
  • Complicating matters was the fact that 25 voters were mistakenly given ballots to cast votes in the HD 102 race when they shouldn’t have.
  • Read Mike Cason’s story for more on that.

A message from Troy University

  • Each week TROY students meet in the kitchen to do their part to eliminate hunger in Pike County.
  • Learn more about their amazing work and how it helps make the TROY family so special HERE.


3. Amid tariffs, an Ag bailout. 

  • The tweets above, sent 13 hours apart, kind of sum up where we are on tariffs. That is to say, nobody knows.
  • Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it would dip into the Commodity Credit Corporation to authorize more than 12 billion to help farmers who are losing business as the trade conflicts escalate.
  • When the U.S. slapped tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, the Chinese retaliated with tariffs of their own on soybeans, pork and other agriculture products, making it more expensive for American farmers to sell their products to Chinese buyers. 
  • Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue characterized it as a “short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals,” and “not a bailout.”
  • Some Republican lawmakers in agriculture-heavy states aren’t too happy about the situation. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said his farmers “want trade, not aid.” Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said “America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world.”
  • Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana is wondering where the bailouts are for other affected industries, like the automotive sector.
  • This morning, President Trump is calling those who would question his trade strategy “weak.”
  • Read the full story HERE.

Real quick about Gray television

  • In covering this story for their local news stations, Gray Television interviewed several lawmakers all on Capitol Hill.
  • Why does that matter? Gray just acquired/merged with Raycom, which owns many market-leading stations in Alabama.
  • Gray has invested a lot into its coverage from Washington, D.C. and even has a Capitol Hill bureau led by Jacqueline Policastro with several reporters.
  • I think Alabama stands to gain from this Gray-Raycom deal by way of more/better coverage of our Congressional Delegation.

4. Polls and Predictors.  

“Full bake” poll not good for Trump

Who cares?

  • Why does it matter where President Trump’s poll numbers are? He’s not on the ballot for another two years.
  • One word: Midterms.
  • House Republicans are fighting to keep the majority. At a time when the House is increasingly looking up for grabs, the last thing they need is the president acting as a drag on the ticket in purple districts.
  • According to the Cook Political report‘s latest ratings, 10 current Republican seats are “likely” or “lean” Democratic pick-ups. 25 GOP seats are toss-ups.
  • Sparing you the math, that means the House majority will come down to 15 races in places like California, Virginia, Illinois, Florida and Pennsylvania.
  • And if Democrats succeed in winning the House majority, get ready for a hearing and subpoena bonanza.

5. Heard on the Hill.

Marsh to DC Wednesday

  • State Sen. Del Marsh, President Pro Tem of the Alabama Senate, will be in Washington, D.C. today meeting with the Alabama Congressional Delegation at their monthly lunch.
  • Marsh is going up to talk to the Republican ones about voter outreach and GOTV efforts for this November. After the Doug Jones/Roy Moore election, he doesn’t want his legislative candidates to get caught flat footed amidst a blue wave.
  • Of course, Marsh is also said to be considering a bid for U.S. Senate to challenge Jones, so I’m sure that might come up while he’s in town.
  • Congressman Bradley Byrne has been openly talking about a Senate run and Congressman Gary Palmer is thought to be considering it as well.

Shelby moving Appropriations 

  • Sen. Richard Shelby continues to build momentum in his effort to fix the appropriations process in the Senate.
  • On Tuesday, Shelby brought another multi-faceted appropriations package to the floor. He shepherded a previous package to passage a month ago.
  • This might seem normal, but it isn’t. Some of these appropriations titles haven’t seen floor debate in several years.

“So what changed, Madam President?  What changed was the mindset of appropriators on both sides of the aisle who embraced a willingness to sacrifice partisan riders and priorities outside the committee’s jurisdiction for the good of the process,” Shelby said on the Senate floor.

“Together we committed to do what’s good for the process because we want to do what’s right by the American people.  This approach has yielded meaningful results thus far.”​

Alan Hansen to USDOT

  • Congrats to Alan Hanson who is set to be the new Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Alan worked on Capitol Hill for almost 20 years, serving in top roles like Legislative Director to Sen. Jeff Sessions and Chief of Staff to Sen. Richard Shelby.
  • Most recently, he’s been running the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
  • So now Alan can go from all of us asking him for DOJ grants to all of us asking him for highway money.
  • Congrats, Alan!

Bonus: Skip Tucker

  • Skip Tucker is back this week with an engaging piece about his time as a student at the University of Alabama.
  • The 60s saw lots of racial unrest on college campuses, particularly in the South.
  • Skip harkens back to one such event and tells the story of what he saw and what he learned.
  • Personally, I think Skip is too hard on himself, but it does leave me interested in knowing the next chapter to the story.
  • Read Skip Tucker: A Candle in the Wind.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Maddox challenges Ivey to debate ahead of Alabama election.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey responds to Maddox’s debate challenge.  

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Black female pilot makes history in Alabama National Guard.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – U.S. Supreme Court to hear case of Alabama inmate.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump tempers Iran rhetoric, says he’s ready for new deal.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House GOP launches push for permanent individual tax cuts.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US announces billions to help farmers hurt by Trump tariffs.

ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Skip Tucker: A Candle in the Wind. 

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Why a startup guru says Montgomery’s greatest strength is bureaucracy.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – 42nd Air Base Wing has a new commander.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Trial set for former school resource officer facing three sex crimes.

 TUSCALOOSA NEWS – Editorial: Ivey taking state’s voters for granted.

ANNISTON STAR – Hard lessons: Teachers visit Anniston on civil rights tour.

ANNISTON STAR – The president’s love affair with tariffs.

ANNISTON STAR – Editor Phillip Tutor: The debategate blues for Maddox.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Wood gets GOP nomination for House District 38.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Maddox challenges Ivey to debate ahead of Alabama election.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Examining the data: Are Alabama politicians truly among the country’s most corrupt?

AL.COM – Roy Moore set to announce new lawsuit about Senate race.

AL.COM – Conservation groups, officials oppose EPA rollback of auto efficiency standards.

AL.COM – East Alabama House race decided by six votes; Mobile race by 28.

AL.COM – This Alabama district has nation’s highest opioid prescription rate, study says.

AL.COM – Publication names Alabama nation’s best business climate.

AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson:  Though vote on BJCTA executive may be delayed, job description, process set bar way too low.

AL.COM – 2nd Amendment grants right to carry guns openly, appeals court rules

AL.COM – Despite not making venue cut, Birmingham isn’t giving up on World Cup 2026.

AL.COM – Trump plans billions in aid for farmers hurt by tariffs.

AL.COM – Maddox challenges Ivey to debates; governor says he should debate himself.

AL.COM – Sponsor says Tennessee case prompted Alabama abortion amendment.

AL.COM – US Supreme Court sets hearing date for Alabama Death Row inmate.

AL.COM – Sen. Doug Jones tweets back at Trump: Tariffs are the ‘worst’.

AL.COM – Mazda Toyota restarts construction after endangered species concerns.

AL.COM – Civil rights activist, Republican businessman kept historic black newspaper going.

AL.COM – Columnist Cameron Smith:  The political fantasyland of American trade policy.

WASHINGTON POST – Transcript of Cohen tape suggests Trump knew about model’s deal to sell story of alleged affair.

WASHINGTON POST – White House readies plan for $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in Trump’s escalating trade war.

WASHINGTON POST – Trump administration to freeze fuel-efficiency standards and fight states.

WASHINGTON POST – House votes to repeal medical device tax.

WASHINGTON POST – House Republicans ready new tax-cut package, aim to advance it ahead of midterms.

WASHINGTON POST – Black female pilot makes history in Alabama National Guard.

WASHINGTON POST – Why some Christians don’t believe in gun control.

NEW YORK TIMES – Upheaval All Around, but U.S. Businesses See Smooth Sailing

NEW YORK TIMES – New Emails Show Push by Trump Officials to Add Citizenship Question to Census

NEW YORK TIMES – A Vote Expanded Medicaid in Maine. The Governor Is Ignoring It.

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