By MOLLEE BRELAND, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Rep. Andrew Sorrell of Muscle Shoals and pastor Stan Cooke of Kimberly are trying to convince new voters why the State Auditor is a critical role in Alabama government and why they’re the best person for the job.
The GOP primary runoff is June 21. No Democrat is running for the office.
Sorrell, in his first term in the Alabama House of Representatives, received 39.46% of the vote in the May 24 primary, Cooke received 32.79%.
While former state lawmaker Rusty Glover didn’t make the runoff, he was the top vote getter in several high-population counties, including Baldwin, Mobile and Lee. Sorrell and Cooke did well in their home and surrounding counties and are now trying to expand their reach prior to the June 21 runoff.
Sorrell recently planned to campaign in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Sorrell believes he is well positioned to take his case to the Glover voters.
“If you like Rusty Glover, then you like Andrew Sorrell because Rusty Glover was also in the Legislature, was a very conservative state senator for 16 years and honestly did a great job.”
Cooke was recently endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation’s political action committee.
“I believe they will also help me reach areas we did not do well in, the Wiregrass, the Mobile area and other places,” Cooke told Alabama Daily News. “And we are going to work real hard in the areas where Mr. Glover did very well.”
Recent bills in the State House proposed to do away with the State Auditor’s Office and transfer its duties to the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts Department. This year, the bill was approved in the Senate but died in the House on the final night of the session.
The auditor’s position is created in the state’s constitution, so abolishing it would have to be approved by Alabama voters through a constitutional amendment.
The auditor’s office reports to the governor receipts and disbursement of revenues collected and paid into the treasury. It’s also responsible for the accounting of state property costing $500 or more.
Meanwhile, the Examiners of Public Accounts Department’s authority is more extensive. It can audit the books, accounts, and records of all state and county offices, officers, bureaus, boards, commissions, corporations, departments, and agencies and to report on expenditures, contracts, or other audit findings found to be in violation of law.
Whomever is elected in November will likely need to continue to defend the position’s existence.
“The State Auditor’s Office is very important,” Cooke said. “It is a constitutional office that allows the citizens of the state to look through the window of transparency to keep an eye on the government. This is their only way to have a watchful eye on how the politicians spend taxpayer money without this office.”
Sorrell said he fended off attempts to do away with the office, specifically the last day of session in April.
“The bill passed the Senate with only one no vote,” Sorrell said. “The bill came down to the House and it hit the floor on the last day of session, and I went around and explained it to every House member I could, I mean I had several hours to do it, the importance of the State Auditor’s office and why we didn’t need to get rid of it and how valuable it could be for taxpayers, and we were able to kill the bill.”
Both candidates believe their past experiences make them a better option on the ballot.
Cooke has many years of experience as a warehouse manager, inventory control manager, property manager, which he says is almost exactly the job that the state auditor does to control the inventory of the state.
Sorrell touts his experience as a business owner and lawmaker.
“I’ve started three successful companies at age 16, 28 and 35,” he said. “I’ve managed a staff of up to 40 people. Second, I have the most conservative voting record in the Alabama State Legislature for the last three years.”
Sorrell has spent more than $621,000 on his campaign, compared to Cooke’s about $94,000, according to campaign finance records.