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Daily News Digest – October 29, 2019

Good morning!
Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, October 29.


1. Sessions explores Senate run

  • Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering a run for his old seat in the U.S. Senate seat, according to those who say they have knowledge of Sessions’ plans.
  • The sources – three Republicans who say they were privy to phone calls Sessions made exploring a bid – spoke anonymously to AP reporters Kim Chandler and Alan Fram.
  • A similar report was posted by Politico at about the same time last night.
  • These rumors have been going on for a while. What apparently changed over the last week was that Sessions apparently made these phone calls to test the water and multiple people were willing to tell reporters about them. Plus, Club for Growth told Politico on the record they are actively encouraging a Sessions run.
  • This would obviously be a huge development in an already interesting Senate race. The deadline for qualifying is next Friday, Nov. 8.
  • Read the full story from Kim and Alan HERE.



2. Let’s talk about a possible Sessions run…


  • For the last two or three weeks, speculation has steadily grown that former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will enter the race to win his old Senate seat back.
  • It started slowly at first, with just a handful of eager politicos bending my ear about what they were hearing. Now, it’s out in the open, with full on media reports on the speculation.
  • You’ve seen the news, now time for the analysis. Why would Sessions run? And, perhaps more importantly, what would happen if he does?
  • I tackle those questions in my latest column.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“So how about the real question: what would happen if Sessions actually got in? Nine months ago, before any candidate announced for the Senate, I’d have told you that Sessions would clear the field and win his old seat back pretty easily. Come to think of it, I think I did tell some of you that. But as it stands now, that’s not exactly the case. In fact, I think Sessions would have a tough slog in this GOP primary, and there is one reason why…”
  • Read the full column HERE.


3. House to hold impeachment vote

  • More than a month after Democrats launched a multi-committee impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the full House of Representatives will vote on a resolution formalizing the process.
  • In a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote this week on a resolution to “affirm the ongoing, existing investigation” and lay out procedures for open hearings and the next steps going forward.
  • The move comes amid White House criticism that the probe is illegitimate. Republicans have pointed out that in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, the House first voted to proceed with an inquiry before hearings and depositions were taken.
  • The White House has used the lack of a formal vote as one reason to block certain officials from testifying before committees.
  • Pelosi said this week’s step is being taken “to eliminate any doubt” about the process as the administration tries to block witnesses and withhold documents. There has been a lot of back and forth between Congress and the Executive Branch about what testimony is required, and it could all end up in court. That’s probably why Democrats are proceeding with a formal vote.
  • Democrats have 234 members in the House and only need 218 for a majority, so you’d think they have the votes.
  • Read more HERE.


4. Jeff Coleman launches Congressional bid today

  • Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman is set to formally launch his campaign for Congress today.
  • Coleman will rally supporters at a campaign kickoff event in downtown Dothan, affirming a hold on his Wiregrass “home turf.”
  • After first confirming his “all-in” candidacy to Alabama Daily News on August 1, Coleman has been quietly building a campaign war chest. The latest campaign finance reports showed he has almost $1 million cash on hand – half from funds that he raised and the other half self-contributed. That kind of cash will buy a lot of radio and television ads in AL-2’s relatively inexpensive media markets, to say nothing of direct mail and digital.
  • The 2nd District race to replace Rep. Martha Roby is quickly becoming a big one to watch.
  • The other candidates include former Attorney General Troy King, former Enterprise State Rep. Barry Moore, Current Prattville State Rep. Will Dismukes, and Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor.


5. This AlaDems chair race…

  • State Rep. Chris England’s sudden announcement that he will run for chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party upended an already complicated race.
  • The other candidates in the race – Will Boyd, Tabitha Isner and current Chairwoman Nancy Worley – all say they are staying in and want to win the job.
  • Complicating matters further, there are now two competing dates for party elections.
  • One election will be held this Saturday. That’s the one agreed to by those trying to reform the state party and elect new leadership. It’s also the one seen as legitimate by the DNC.
  • The other election will be held Nov. 16. That’s the one Worley, Joe Reed and the current Democratic leadership set. The DNC does not acknowledge that meeting/election.
  • Read more about the race from Mike Cason HERE.
  • Oh, one more complicating factor. Now former State Rep. Patricia Todd says she will run for vice chairman of the Democratic Party. That’s according to Brian Lyman, who has an updated story on the race worth your time this morning.
  • I think we’re going to need some flow charts at some point.



News Briefs

Student arrested for school violence threat remains detained

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — A high school student arrested on charges that he threatened violence at his north Alabama school will remain detained until December.
  • The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office tells the Decatur Daily that the boy, younger than 16, has been ordered to remain in a Tuscumbia juvenile detention facility until his next court date. The juvenile was arrested Thursday, charged with making a terroristic threat.
  • The Brewer High School student is accused of creating what school officials called a “hit list” with names of multiple students. The school is near Somerville, southeast of Decatur.
  • Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. says he didn’t know how many names were listed or what the student intended to do. Hopkins says the student was indefinitely suspended and families of listed students were being contacted.

Inmate accused of trying to kill officer escapes from jail

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate with a violent history of eluding law enforcement is on the run again.
  • The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says 30-year-old John Kaleb Gillespie escaped from the jail in Decatur on Sunday.
  • Sheriff’s officials say another inmate helped Gillespie climb over a recreation yard wall.
  • Officials say Gillespie tried to run over an Alabama state trooper in Lawrence County in November 2018 as officers fired on his truck.
  • Gillespie eluded officers other times before he was captured at a Decatur house following a five-hour standoff.
  • The sheriff’s office is urging anyone who sees Gillespie to not approach him, but to instead call police.
  • Gillespie’s recent arrest history includes attempting to promote prison contraband, drug trafficking, failing to register as a sex offender and probation violation on second-degree rape.

Police say man pointed gun at officers before shooting

  • MADISON, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was shot to death by police in north Alabama pointed a gun at officers before the shooting.
  • News outlets report that the Madison County Sheriff’s Office says 39-year-old Dana Sherrod Fletcher was shot to death by Madison police on Sunday.
  • A statement from the sheriff’s office says officers have video that shows Fletcher fighting officers and holding a gun. But both the sheriff’s office and the city are refusing to release video of the shooting.
  • Fletcher was shot to death outside a gym where someone had reported that a man and woman were videoing people.
  • Madison Police Maj. John Stringer has said the man didn’t follow orders from officers. Five officers have been placed on paid leave, and two reportedly fired shots.

Dream Center aims to offer help and hope in Shoals region

  • FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — A new facility in northwest Alabama has opened with the aim of reducing poverty and its effects on families.
  • The Shoals Dream Center is envisioned as a hub for an array of services to aid the area’s families, The TimesDaily reported.
  • Among them: Providing food; academic tutoring and mentoring for at-risk kids. The center also plans to offer addiction recovery resources and life skills training.
  • The Shoals Dream Center is an extension of the Chapel church.
  • “God gave us this location for the purpose of helping people find hope for today and dreams for the future,” Chapel Pastor Bobby Gourley said at a recent ribbon cutting.
  • “This center is about helping people to move out of the poverty cycle, changing that generational tree,” Gourley added. “It’s about giving people a hand up, not a hand out.”
  • The social services components will offer after-school programs where students can engage in learning and developmental training, activities and games three days per week, said Toyia Gourley, the director of the Dream Center Academy.
  • The food distribution is set up in the style of a supermarket, allowing clients the opportunity to shop for items their family needs, the newspaper reported.
  • The Gourleys came to the Chapel in 2014 after moving to Alabama from Tennessee and their home church, Cornerstone Nashville.

Fencing along causeway helps endangered Alabama turtle

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An animal expert says fencing erected by the Alabama Department of Transportation is helping to protect an endangered turtle species.
  • University of South Alabama herpetologist David Nelson tells the number of Alabama red-bellied turtles killed on the Mobile Bay Causeway dropped by more than 80 percent after fencing went up alongside it in 2008.
  • In 2001, Nelson counted 580 Alabama red-bellies that were killed while crossing the causeway. Most of those were females traveling to or from nest sites or hatchlings.
  • Transportation officials have also put up signs during the turtle’s peak nesting and hatching seasons that encourage drivers to be cautious.
  • The turtle is also found in Mississippi.

Libertee Belle, early Alabama LGBTQ activist, dies

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A drag queen who was an early advocate of LGBTQ rights in Alabama has died.
  • The performer known as Libertee Belle was among the organizers of Central Alabama Pride in the 1980s and served as grand marshal of Birmingham’s gay pride parade at least once.
  • She often performed at shows to benefit gay rights organizations and was among the highest-profile members of the state’s LGBTQ community.
  • The activist was born Ronald Norman Simoneau Jr. His sister, Debi Simoneau, says he was 61.
  • Simoneau says the Navy veteran first performed in drag in Massachusetts and later got active in the gay community in Alabama.
  • Simoneau was found dead in his apartment on Thursday. A cause of death hasn’t been released.
  • His sister says a memorial service is being planned for November.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Sources: Jeff Sessions exploring possible Ala. Senate run
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Will he or won’t he? Sessions Senate speculation runs wild
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House will vote on impeachment inquiry
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Brian Rell joins Balch & Bingham’s Washington office
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Tax fix needed to allow cooperatives to serve their communities
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – October 28, 2019
AL.COM  – Race for Alabama Democratic chair: 4 candidates, 2 dates
AL.COM  – Report: Jeff Sessions ‘strongly considering’ run to reclaim old Senate seat
AL.COM  – Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa running for Alabama Democratic chairmanship
AL.COM  – Columnist Roy Johnson: As Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney rests, we cannot
AL.COM  – Mosquito-borne virus kills 1 in Alabama: What to know about EEE
AL.COM  – Alabama LGBTQ activist Libertee Belle dead at 61
Montgomery Advertiser – Former Autauga probate judge Al Booth pleads guilty to ethics charge, gets community service
Montgomery Advertiser – Prattville woman runs from police, snaps her leg during chase, exposing the bones
Montgomery Advertiser – Police find missing woman’s vehicle in Montgomery apartment complex parking lot
YellowHammer News – Montgomery native named communications director for U.S. Rep. Martha Roby
YellowHammer News – Former Aderholt chief of staff to lead Birmingham-based Balch & Bingham’s federal practice
YellowHammer News – Flounder fishing prohibited in November
Dothan Eagle – Edwards urges board to request tax increase from Dothan
Dothan Eagle – U.S. Rep. Roby vows commitment to 2nd Congressional District in final year in office
Dothan Eagle – Georgia man dies after opening fire inside Waycross Walmart
Tuscaloosa News – AP sources: Jeff Sessions exploring possible Alabama Senate run
Tuscaloosa News – Victim in critical condition after shooting near Monnish Park
Tuscaloosa News – PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Can lisinopril cause lung cancer?
Decatur Daily – Authorities continue search for Morgan jail escapee
Decatur Daily – UPDATE: Lawrence jail escapee captured
Decatur Daily – Carnegie Carnival lured developer to 2nd Avenue
Times Daily – Tuscumbia hosts Trunk or Treat event downtown Thursday
Times Daily – ‘American Idol’ winner appointed to Alabama Music Hall of Fame board
Times Daily – Police: Help identify persons of interest in Brass Monkey shooting
Gadsden Times – Cub Scouts bring dogs, rockets to Thompson Elementary
Gadsden Times – Authorities seek suspect in slaying at party near Attalla
Gadsden Times – Kayaker killed at Little River Canyon identified as Sylvania man
Anniston Star – Man charged with attacking man, woman in Weaver
Anniston Star – Jacksonville council delays new zoning ordinance
Anniston Star – Oxford gives more money to private EMS service
Troy Messenger – ‘Cradle to Career’ round two to focus on actions, outcomes of local education
Troy Messenger – A new day: Pike Liberal Arts improving gym, adding new wooden floor and air conditioning
Troy Messenger – Commission approves road resurfacing, new ambulance regulations
Opelika-Auburn News – Camp Hill man killed in accident on U.S. 280
Opelika-Auburn News – Mayor Anders holds State of the City Address
Opelika-Auburn News – OPD raises wages to combat nationwide officer turnover
Daily Mountain Eagle – Atypical Oakman school day yields positive results
Daily Mountain Eagle – Author: Weird tourism can mean big bucks
Daily Mountain Eagle – Library boxes installed in Oakman, Carbon Hill
Trussville Tribune – Mayor shares plans for new Office Park in Trussville
Trussville Tribune – Sources: Jeff Sessions exploring possible Ala. Senate run
Trussville Tribune – Trussville Police arrest Ragland woman on shoplifting charge
Athens News Courier – The tip, the raid, the reveal: The takedown of al-Baghdadi
Athens News Courier – California declares state of emergency over fires, winds
Athens News Courier – John Conyers, longest serving black congressman, dies at 90
Sand Mountain Reporter – MVAC final fall concert, costume contest slated for Halloween
Sand Mountain Reporter – Car crashes into Old Mill Park
Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville Museum details city’s haunted history
WSFA Montgomery – Inmate with violent history escapes Morgan County jail
WSFA Montgomery – Timeline of Aniah Blanchard’s disappearance
WSFA Montgomery – Tips surface in Elmore County missing persons cases
Fox 6 Birmingham – Missing college student’s home town distributing blue ribbons in her honor
Fox 6 Birmingham – Family celebrates terminally ill man’s possible final birthday and raises awareness about neurological disorder
Fox 6 Birmingham – Losing sight to gain insight: diners eat meal blindfolded to understand more about visual impairment
WAFF Huntsville – Inmate with violent history escapes Morgan County jail
WAFF Huntsville – 1 person dead, investigation underway in New Hope
WAFF Huntsville – How school officials handle active shooter training with students
WKRG Mobile – Haunted Gulf Coast History all day on Halloween
WKRG Mobile – Mobile County Sheriff: West Mobile homicide victim shot in head
WKRG Mobile – AP sources: Jeff Sessions exploring possible Ala. Senate run
WTVY Dothan – These tips from Dothan police will deter car burglars
WTVY Dothan – Police: Woman charged in son’s death breaks into vehicle
WTVY Dothan – ECHS students remember their classmate
WASHINGTON POST  – House to take first vote on impeachment inquiry of Trump, forcing lawmakers on record
WASHINGTON POST  – S&P 500 hits all-time high on strong earnings, global trade optimism
NEW YORK TIMES  – The Border Between Red and Blue America: With suburbia now split in two parts, we needed a more precise method to distinguish them
NEW YORK TIMES  – Possible Impeachment Trial Could Complicate Congress’s Spending Debate
NEW YORK TIMES  – Before First Federal Execution in Years, Family of Victims Dissents
NEW YORK TIMES  – General Motors Sides With Trump in Emissions Fight, Splitting the Industry

Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)





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