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Inside Alabama Politics – January 31, 2022

Qualifying (almost) complete

Candidate qualifying for everything except Congress is now closed. There were some surprising developments in the final days of qualifying as well as some things we expected. Here’s a full rundown, starting with the top of the ticket and working our way down.

U.S. Senate

No other major candidates jumped in the U.S. Senate race, meaning we’ve maintained a three-way race between Mo Brooks, Katie Britt and Mike Durant. Lillie Boddie, Karla Dupriest and Jake Schafer also qualified as Republicans. Four Democrats have qualified to run for U.S. Senate: Will Boyd, Brandon Dean, Lanny Jackson and Victor Keith Williams. You’ll remember Boyd ran for Lt. Governor in 2018 and was his party’s nominee. Jackson previously ran for mayor of Birmingham in 2017. Dean is the former mayor of Brighton, Alabama, and is the youngest African American to be elected mayor in this state.

It goes without saying that the race will be heavily tilted toward any Republican candidate in the general. But getting quality candidates on the ballot matters for Democrats. Just think of what would have happened in 2017 if instead of Doug Jones, Democrats nominated an unserious person (See: Harry Lyon, 2012). Right now Roy Moore would probably be a U.S. Senator instead of in the middle of a defamation trial. The Moore debacle should be a once-in-a-generation political event, but this is Alabama and you never know what could happen before November.


We are going to put a pin in this until the district and qualification situation is clearer (more on that below). However, suffice to say that qualifying for Congressional races is wide open at the moment. And consider this: anyone who is currently qualified for another office could potentially switch over and run for Congress if their new district looked appealing. We could easily have a situation in which a race for State House is missing a candidate because someone decided to run for Congress. Which, again, shows why parties need to get candidates on the ballot just in case.  So, yeah, there’s a lot riding on this redistricting situation.


We have a VERY crowded ballot for Governor on both the Democratic and Republican tickets. You know the usual suspects, but others you might not.

In her own party, Gov. Kay Ivey is being challenged by Lindy BlanchardLew BurdetteStacy Lee GeorgeTim JamesDonald Trent JonesDean OdleDave Thomas and Dean Young. Wait. Is that the Dean Young that ran for Congress in AL-1 a bunch of times and actually got pretty close in 2014? Yes, it is. Hoo boy, this will be fun.

On the Democratic ticket, candidates include Yolanda Flowers, Patricia Salter Jamieson, Arthur Kennedy, Chad “Chin” Martin, Doug “New Blue” Smith and – wait for it – State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier (more on that below).

Lieutenant Governor

No surprise here, but Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth will go unchallenged for reelection. There are no other qualified candidates for the Republican or Democratic parties. Some had speculated whether Ainsworth might be a late entrant into the governor’s race based on a sketchy poll that was going around and his cryptic social media posts, but Ainsworth was never seriously considering jumping in. In fact, when you think about it Ainsworth needs Ivey to win. Should one of her primary foes somehow succeed in knocking her off, Ainsworth’s path to the governor’s office gets more complicated.

Attorney General

Attorney General Steve Marshall was not as fortunate as Ainsworth in avoiding a challenge. Harry Bartlett Still III, a Daphne attorney, is challenging Marshall in the Republican Primary and Wendell Major, the former police chief of Tarrant, Alabama, is running as a Democrat.

Supreme Court

Justice Kelli Wise avoided a primary challenge or Democratic opposition for her Place 5 seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.

Greg Cook and Debra Jones for Place 1 on the Supreme Court is shaping up to be the cycle’s most intriguing judicial race. On paper, it is a classic business versus trial lawyers contest, but those tort issues don’t move voters like they used to. No other candidates qualified for the race. The winner will face Democrat Anita L. Kelly in November.

Secretary of State

The race for Secretary of State will be a crowded one. State Rep. Wes Allen and State Auditor Jim Ziegler are the headliners, but don’t sleep on longtime state elections official Ed Packard and Tennessee Valley Republican Club Chairman Chris Horn. Pamela Laffitte has qualified to run as a Democrat.

State Auditor

This is the other down-ballot race that will be interesting to watch. Stan Cooke and Rusty Glover have both run statewide campaigns before but State Rep. Andrew Sorrell seems to have an inside track with the far right wing of the Republican Party that has a growing share of the electorate. There are no Democrats running. Not that many voters know or care what the State Auditor does, but you’d think the Democrats could have convinced one of the six candidates running for governor to instead fill the ballot for this race. And for that matter, Lt. Governor, Treasurer and Ag Commissioner.

Speaking of, Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate has secured a second term as no Republicans or Democrats will challenge him. The same goes for the once and future State Treasurer Young Boozer, who has avoided competition from either side.


State Senate

There were definitely some surprises on qualifying for legislative races. With so few purple districts remaining, lawmakers mostly love to avoid primary challenges. Senators who were fortunate enough to do that were: Arthur Orr, Garland Gudger, Greg Reed, Larry Stutts, Sam Givhan, Steve Livingston, Clay Scofield, Andrew Jones, April Weaver, Jabo Waggoner, Rodger Smitherman, Bobby Singleton, Will Barfoot, Kirk Hatcher, Donnie Chesteen, Clyde Chambliss, Chris Elliott, Jack Williams, Vivian Figures and David Sessions.


Perhaps the most intriguing race in the works is on the Democratic side, as longtime former Sen. Hank Sanders is trying to win his old Senate seat back. His daugther, Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier has held the seat since 2018. Few would have been surprised if she decided not to seek reelection particularly because she had missed so much legislative action due to her battle with cancer. She hadn’t raised funds ahead of this year’s election and dissolved her campaign account on Jan. 21. But hardly anybody saw a gubernatorial bid coming, and fewer still saw Hank Sanders returning to the Senate. Hank Sanders, who turns 80 this year, said he hadn’t planned to return to Montgomery. “Duty calls,” he told Alabama Daily News.

It’s also intriguing because sources told Inside Alabama Politics that State Rep. Prince Chestnut had been considering running for the District 23 seat if Sanders-Fortier stepped aside. Chestnut is a cousin of the late civil rights attorney J.L. Chestnut Jr., who had what was once of the most known Black-owned law firms with Hank Sanders and his wife, Faya Rose Sanders. The Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders law firm in Selma once had nearly 40 employees and handled high-profile cases but had shrunk dramatically and struggled with financial problems. Chestnut’s family had a legal battle with the Sanders over legal division of legal fees from the landmark Black farmers discrimination case.

But Chestnut said he made the decision not to run separate from the Sanders news.

“I decided that a jump from the House to the Senate would not be best at this time, for my family,” Chesnut told ADN. “It (Hank Sanders’ announcement) actually made it harder for me not to run.”
Now, Selma Mayor Darrio Melton, a former House member, is challenging Sanders in the primary. Other qualifying Democrats are Thayer Bear Spencer and Robert Stewart. And there’s a Republican: Michael Nimmer. This is a race to watch.


SD 2

State Sen. Tom Butler is being challenged in the primary by the former occupant of his seat. Former State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw qualified with the ALGOP on Friday, a move that surprised most Alabama politicos, including Butler himself. Holtzclaw’s intentions are unclear at the moment. After all, he voluntarily stepped aside in 2018. But he was a part of an ultra-conservative block of senators, a mini Freedom Caucus if you will, whose influence within the Senate waned as the rank-and-file tired of their antics. Now with the Alabama Policy Institute acting more like Club for Growth, we may see more of these type candidates take on incumbents.


Sen. Tim Melson is getting a primary challenge from John Sutherland, a member of the Lauderdale Citizens for Responsive Government. That group has sued to block the construction of a new agricultural center that Melson is heavily involved in, so Sutherland’s candidacy is likely at least partly about that.

SD 21 & SD 27

Both senators representing the state’s major college towns are getting primary challenges. As IAP has previously reported, Auburn City Councilman Jay Hovey is challenging Sen. Tom Whatley and Tuscaloosa businessman Tripp Powell is challenging Sen. Gerald Allen. It remains to be seen just how serious the challenges are, but what is clear is that Whatley and Allen are taking them seriously. In fact, Whatley has been on television and radio for a month. The Powell campaign seems a bit more organized. Sources tell IAP that Joe Perkins and Matrix are involved with Powell, which certainly raised our eyebrows.

Open seats

On the Republican side, open seats in SD 12 and SD 31 are the ones to watch. With Sen. Del Marsh retiring, a field of Wendy Ghee Draper, Keith Kelly and Wayne Willis is competing to fill the seat. Kelly seems to have the inside track with the endorsement of Congressman Mike Rogers and other prominent folks around the district. Sen. Jimmy Holley is also retiring. Vying to fill his shoes are State Rep. Mike Jones, Josh Carnley and Stormin Norman Horton (no joke, that’s his name on the ballot). Jones would seem to be the favorite given his name recognition, but things can get wild and woolly in the Wiregrass.

On the Democratic side, Senate District 19 is the one to watch besides the Sanders-Melton affair. Two current House members are running: Reps. Merika Coleman and Louise Alexander. There’s not question Coleman gets more face time in the media given all the issues she’s involved in.

Updated Senate Chart

DistrictIncumbent2022 StatusAnnounced candidates
1Tim MelsonRunningJohn Sutherland (R)
2Tom ButlerRunningKim Caudle Lewis (D), Bill Holtzclaw (R)
3Arthur OrrRunning
4Garlan GudgerRunning
5Greg ReedRunning
6Larry StuttsRunning
7Sam GivhanRunningKorey Wilson (D)
8Steve LivingstonRunning
9Clay ScofieldRunning
10Andrew JonesRunning
11Jim McClendonOpen SeatLance Bell (R), Michael Wright (R)
12Del MarshOpen SeatKeith Kelley (R), Wendy Ghee Draper (R), Wayne Willis (R), Danny McCullars (D)
13Randy PriceRunningJohn Allen Coker (R)
14April WeaverRunning
15Dan RobertsRunningBrian Christine (R)
16Jabo WaggonerRunning
17Shay ShelnuttRunningMike Dunn (R)
18Rodger SmithermanRunning
19Priscilla DunnOpen SeatMerika Coleman (D), Louise Alexander (D)
20Linda Coleman-MadisonRunningRodney Huntley (D)
21Gerald AllenRunningLisa Ward (D)
22Greg AlbrittonRunningStephen Sexton (R)
23Malika Sanders-FortierOpen SeatDarrio Melton (D), Michael Nimmer (R), Hank Sanders (D), Thayer Bear Spencer, (D) Robert Stewart (D)
24Bobby SingletonRunning
25Will BarfootRunning
26Kirk HatcherRunning
27Tom WhatleyRunningJay Hovey (R), Sherri Reese (D)
28Billy BeasleyRunningFrank "Chris" Lee (D)
29Donnie ChesteenRunningNathan Mathis (D)
30Clyde ChamblissRunning
31Jimmy HolleyOpen SeatMike Jones (R), Josh Carnley (R), Norman Horton
32Chris ElliottRunning
33Vivian FiguresRunningPete Riehm (R)
34Jack WilliamsRunning
35David SessionsRunning

House of Representatives

The most interesting development on the House side is State Rep. Will Dismukes qualifying to run for reelection in HD 88. Just a few weeks ago, Dismukes told the Montgomery Advertiser’s Marty Roney that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection as he faced prosecution in Montgomery County.

Apparently he has changed his mind. According to the ALGOP, Dismukes and Prattville City Councilman Jerry Starnes are the two candidates qualified to run for the seat. Asked Sunday night whether he is really running or qualifying for other reasons, Dismukes confirmed his candidacy is for real.

“I’m actually running,” Dismukes texted. “If you qualify you will be placed on the ballot.”

Also of note is that former State Rep. Elaine Beech has qualified to run for her former seat in HD 65. That seat is currently held by State Rep. Brett Easterbrook and he has qualified to run for reelection. There had been talk of Easterbook stepping away for other pursuits, but as of Friday his name was on the qualified list. Dee Ann Campbell has also qualified to run as a Republican. Beech is running as a Republican for the first time. She was previously known as one of the House’s most conservative Democrats before retiring in 2018.

In HD1, Rep. Phillip Pettus, R- Green Hill, has a primary challenger in Maurice McCaney.

Longtime Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, announced this month that he’s not seeking reelection. Four Republicans qualified to run to replace him.  Another crowded contest in the Shoals this year is House District 3. The field to replace Rep. Andrew Sorrell, the Muscle Shoals Republican who is running for state auditor, has expanded to four. There are: Republicans Fred Joly and Kerry Underwood and Democrats Susan Bentley and Wesley Thompson.

Three Republicans and a Democrat are in the House District 10 seat being vacated by Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison.

House District 25 is an open seat because Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, is not seeking reelection. There are now two Republicans and a Democrat in that contest.

In House District 26, there are three Republicans and a Democrat vying to replace Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville.

Former House member Mack Butler, a Republican from Rainbow City who ran for state Senate in 2018, is running for House District 28 this year, challenging Rep. Gil Isbell, R-Gadsden.

In House District 31, three Republicans are vying to replace Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, who is not seeking reelection.

In House District 40, the field of candidates seeking the seat being vacated by K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, has grown to seven. 

Several sitting GOP lawmakers have drawn Democrat challengers, including Rep. Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana, and Rep. Van Smith, R-Clanton. Meanwhile, incumbent Democrats Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, and Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Selma, Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, and have primary challengers. And a second Democrat primary opponent is challenging incumbent Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham.

Four Democrats have qualified for the seat held by Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, who is seeking reelection.

In House District 47, David Wheeler, R-Vestavia Hills, has drawn Democrat challengers. 

Four Democrats qualified in House District 56. Current Rep. Louise Alexander, D-Birmingham, is running for state Senate.

And in nearby House District 57, Democrats Kevin Dunn, Danielle Matthews and Charles Ray Winston III want the seat of current Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, who is running for state Senate. 

In the newly-redrawn House District 74, incumbent GOP Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-Montgomery, will now have two Democrat challengers. Phillip Ensler, a former policy advisor to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, and Malcolm Calhoun, an insurance agent, have qualified to run. The new district is decidedly more Democratic so this will be a race to watch.  Meadows protested changes to her district in the fall reapportionment process when it became Democrat leaning.

In House District 82, Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, has both a primary and general election challenger. 

In House District 91, Rep. Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise, has a primary challenger in Leg Hogan.

Long-time lawmaker Rep. Joe Faust, R-Fairhope, has a Republican challenger, Jennifer Fidler, in House District 94. And in House District 96, incumbent Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, is being challenged by Republican Danielle Duggar.

Other sitting Republicans with primary challengers are House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, Rep. Proncey Robertson, Rep. Ginny Shaver, Rep. Russell Bedsole and Rep. Jeff Sorrells

The field in House District 95 has grown to three: Republicans Frances Holk-Jones and Michael Ludvigsen and Democrat Richard Brackner. Current Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores is not seeking reelection. He’s currently undergoing treatment for brain tumors.

Updated House Chart

DistrictIncumbent2022 StatusAnnounced candidates
1Phillip PettusRunningMaurice McCaney (R)
2Lynn GreerOpen seatJason Spencer Black, (R), Kimberly Butler (R), Ben Harrison (R), Terrance Irelan (R)
3Andrew SorrellOpen SeatSusan Bentley (D), Wesley Thompson (D). Fred Joly (R), Kerry Underwood (R)
4Parker MooreRunningPatrick Johnson (R), Sheila Banister (R)
5Danny CrawfordRunning
6Andy WhittRunning
7Proncey RobertsonRunningErnie Yarbrough (R), Moses Jones Jr. (D)
8Terri CollinsRunning
9Scott StadthagenRunning
10Mike BallOpen SeatDavid Cole (R), Marilyn Lands (D)
11Randall SheddRunning
12Corey HarbisonRunningJames C. Fields Jr. (D)
13Connie RoweOpen SeatGreg Barnes (R), Keith Davis (R), Christopher Dozier (R), Charles Waits (R), Matt Woods (R)
14Tim WadsworthRunningCory Franks (R), Tom Fredricks (R)
15Allen FarleyOpen SeatLeigh Hulsey (R), Richard Rouco (D), Brad Tompkins (R)
16Kyle SouthRunning
17Tracy EstesRunning
18Jamie KielRunning
19Laura HallRunning
20Howard SanderfordOpen SeatJames D. Brown (R), Frances Taylor (R), Angela McClure (R), James Lomax (R)
21Rex ReynoldsRunning
22Ritchie WhortonRunning
23Tommy HanesRunningMike Kirkland (R)
24Nathaniel LedbetterRunningDon Stout (R)
25Mac McCutcheonOpen SeatBuck Clemons (R), Mallory Hagan (D), Phillip Rigsby (R)
26Kerry RichOpen seatBen Alford (D), Brock Colvin (R), Annette Holcomb (R), Todd Mitchem (R)
27Wes KitchensRunningHerb Neu (D)
28Gil IsbellRunningMack Butler (R)
29Becky NordgrenOpen SeatMark Gidley (R), Jamie Grant (R)
30Craig LipscombRunning
31Mike HolmesOpen seatR.T. Barksdale (R), Chadwick Smith (R), Troy Stubbs (R)
32Barbara BoydRunningEvan Jackson (R)
33Ben RobbinsRunningFred Crum Sr. (D)
34David StandridgeRunning
35Steve HurstRunning
36Randy WoodRunning
37Bob FincherRunning
38Debbie WoodRunningMicah Messer (R)
39Ginny ShaverRunningBrent Rhodes (R)
40K.L. BrownOpen SeatGayla Blanton (R), Julie Borrelli (R), Katie Exum (R), Pam Howard (D), Bill Lester (R), Bill McAdams (R), Chad Robertson (R), Jakob Williamson (D)
41Corley EllisRunningChris Nelson (D)
42Van SmithRunning
43Arnold MooneyRunningPrince Cleveland (D)
44Danny GarrettRunning
45Dickie DrakeRunningSusan Dubose (R)
46David FaulknerRunning
47David WheelerOpen SeatChristian Coleman (D), Jim Toomey (D), Republican yet to be named
48Jim CarnsRunningWilliam Wentowski (R)
49Russell BedsoleRunningMichael Hart (R)
50Jim HillRunning
51Allen TreadawayRunning
52John RogersRunningLaTanya Millhouse (D)
53Anthony DanielsRunning
54Neil RaffertyRunningBritt Blalock (D), Edward Maddox (D)
55Rod ScottRunningTravis Hendrix (D), Phyllis Oden-Jones (D), Fred "Coach" Plump (D), Antwon Womack (D)
56Louise AlexanderOpen SeatTereshia Huffman (D), Cleo King (D), Jesse Matthews (D), Ontario Tillman (D)
57Merika ColemanOpen SeatKevin Dunn (D), Danielle Matthews (D), Charles Ray Winston III (D), Delor Baumann (R)
58Rolanda HollisRunning
59Mary MooreRunning
60Juandalynn GivanRunningNina Taylor (D)
61Rodney SullivanOpen SeatRon Bolton (R), Kimberly Madison (R)
62Rich WingoOpen SeatBrenda Cephus (D) Bill Lamb (R)
63Cynthia AlmondRunningSamual Adams (D)
64Harry ShiverOpen SeatAngelo Jacob Fermo (R), Donna Givens (R)
65Brett EasterbrookRunningDee Ann Campbell (R), Marcus Caster (D)
66Alan BakerRunning
67Prince ChestnutRunningLaurine Pettway (D), Jarmal Jabbar Sanders (R)
68Thomas JacksonRunningFred Kelley (R)
69Kelvin LawrenceRunningKarla Knight Maddox (R)
70Chris EnglandRunning
71AJ McCampbellRunning
72Ralph HowardRunningCurtis Travis (D)
73Kenneth PaschalRunning
74Charlotte MeadowsRunningMalcolm Calhoun (D), Phillip Ensler (D)
75Reed IngramRunning
76Penni McClammyRunning
77Tashina MorrisRunning
78Kenyatte HassellRunning
79Joe LovvornRunning
80Chris BlackshearRunning
81Ed OliverRunning
82Pebblin WarrenRunningTerrence Johnson (D), Lennora Tia Pierrot (R)
83Jeremy GrayRunning
84Berry ForteRunning
85Dexter GrimsleyRunningPayne Henderson (R)
86Paul LeeRunning
87Jeff SorrellsRunningEric E. Johnson (R)
88Will DismukesRunningWill Dismukes (R), Jerry Starnes (R)
89Wes AllenOpen SeatMarcus Paramore (R)
90Chris SellsRunning
91Rhett MarquesRunningLes Hogan (R)
92Mike Jones, Jr.Open SeatSteve Hubbard (D), Greg White (R), Matthew Hammett (R)
93Steve ClouseRunning
94Joe FaustRunningJennifer Fidler (R)
95Steve McMillanOpen SeatFrances Holk-Jones (R),   Richard Brackner(D), Michael Ludvigsen (R), Reginald Pulliam (R)
96Matt SimpsonRunningDanielle Duggar (R)
97Adline ClarkeRunning
98Napoleon BracyRunning
99Sam JonesRunningLevi Wright Jr. (D)
100Victor GastonOpen SeatPete Kupfer (R), Joe Piggot (R), Mark Shirley (R)
101Chris PringleRunning
102Shane StringerRunning
103Barbara DrummondRunning
104Margie WilcoxRunning
105Chip BrownRunning

Implications from monster court ruling

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

It is difficult to overstate the significance of a federal court panel’s ruling that Alabama’s new congressional districts cannot move forward and must be redrawn. Before we get to all of them, let’s acknowledge that the state is appealing the decision and there’s always a possibility the Supreme Court will allow the districts to go forward as they are. After all, it is a decidedly conservative court at the moment, with only three liberal justices to the six conservatives. But, then again, the three judge panel was conservative, too. Judges Stanley Marcus and Anna Manasco were appointed by former President Donald Trump and Judge Terry Moore was first appointed at the district level by former President George W. Bush and then promoted to the appellate level by former President Donald Trump. In any case, it wasn’t a liberal panel.

Smart sources tell IAP that the best thing working in the state’s favor for SCOTUS to take up the case and possibly overturn it is how relatively sloppy the judges’ work was. For example, ordering the Secretary of State to delay candidate qualifying without understanding that it is the parties, not the state, who determine such things shows a lack of awareness of how elections work. That could at least make the justices curious to see what else is in the ruling.

That said, most IAP sources say they expect the ruling to be upheld in one form or another. In other words, Alabama is likely to have new and very different congressional districts this election.

Should the ruling stand, the first question becomes will the Legislature redraw the map as ordered or just leave it to the courts. The court basically gave them that option by promising to draw the map itself if the Legislature refused to. That’s becoming a more and more attractive option among Republican lawmakers. For one thing, they really don’t want to spend any more time on it. The redistricting special session was a slog to begin with and now they’ve been in Montgomery almost a month and nobody’s bills have had a chance to pass. For another thing, if they did redraw the maps, who’s to say the courts wouldn’t block them again? Also, consider this: with two new “opportunity districts,” Republicans will have a puncher’s chance of winning one or both of those seats at some point down the line. Should that happen, and Alabama no longer has a black Democrat in Congress, the national media’s talking heads will explode. For Republicans, it would be advantageous to simply say they had no hand in drawing the districts and that Democrats only have themselves to blame.

Speaking of Alabama’s lone black Democrat in Congress, word to IAP is that Congresswoman Terri Sewell is none too pleased with this outcome. Since being elected in 2010, Sewell has only faced token opposition, which has allowed her the space to become both a leader within her party and someone who delivers for the state on certain needs. Now, she could face difficult elections in both the primary and general. Of course, Sewell has publicly expressed support for the court challenge because that’s what you do. But behind the scenes there is concern about the unintended consequences this could bring.

Republicans aren’t exactly rejoicing themselves. In all likelihood, this ruling will result in the loss of one Republican-held seat. It also could make for some awkwardness if Congressman Jerry Carl is drawn into the same district as fellow freshman Congressman Barry Moore.

Below is the congressional district map as currently drawn.

And below is a map being proposed in the lawsuit.

One astute observer told IAP of an interesting point: because redistricting was so hurried, nobody has really seen down to the granular level where these district lines are drawn. But since the new proposed map keeps counties whole, the data would probably be easy to generate. We know how counties vote because that’s how we count for statewide elections. Suddenly, GOTV would become super important. That means voter lists would be like gold, not just in the primaries but in the general election. It has been since 2010 that we had truly competitive races for Congress, so the data is rather dusty. Plus, updated voter data from the Secretary of State’s office can be wildly expensive, something the Legislature could address this session.

There’s a lot to consider as we await the next steps from the courts and the Legislature.


Dust up over Auburn trustee appointment leads to Ainsworth’s lion tweet

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth’s social media post a few weeks about an old lion losing its power had Alabama political Twitter doing a collective head scratch and wondering if that was an odd prelude to a gubernatorial announcement.

It was even stranger considering Ainsworth days before had appeared on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal, praising Gov. Kay Ivey’s job performance and saying she would “win in a landslide.”

Turns out the picture of the raggedy lion almost assuredly was a dig at Ivey, but it was specific to a pending appointment to the Auburn University Board of Trustees.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthal)

Ainsworth’s father, Billy Ainsworth, an Alabama business leader and Auburn alumnus, was being considered for the board. Ainsworth allies said Ivey promised the appointment to many in the Auburn and business communities.

But that’s not what’s happened. Per the state constitution, there’s a five-member “trustees appointing committee” that includes current board members, two alumni representatives and the governor or her designee. Generally, the alumni representatives and the trustees disagree about whom to nominate. Thus, the governor can be a tie breaking vote.

Ivey opened an application process to fill three board seats in early November through early December. Board trustees can serve two seven-year terms. When it last met, the committee voted to nominate Alabama Power executive Zeke Smith to the at-large seat being vacated by Charles McCrary,  Caroline Aderholt, wife of Congressman Robert Aderholt, to the District 7 seat being vacated by Sarah Newton, and Tim McCartney, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council to the District 5 seat being vacated by Gaines Lanier.

Billy Ainsworth’s name had been in consideration by the committee as well for the District 5 seat, but after Ivey indicated she liked McCartney for that seat, the committee voted and was finished.

It’s no secret that the governor and lieutenant governor have had their political differences during this term. Ainsworth publicly chided Ivey for her various COVID-19 policy decisions multiple times, and Ivey in turn clapped back. Sources tell IAP that relationship had been patched up of late, with Ivey attending Ainsworth’s campaign kickoff and Ainsworth publicly backing Ivey’s bid for reelection. But politicians tend to have long memories. Ivey and her team surely haven’t forget the criticism during the height of the crisis that has largely defined this term. And memories work both ways. Trustee nominations must be approved by the Senate, over which Ainsworth presides, though he doesn’t control, the flow of legislation himself. Asked what will happen when the appointment gets to the Senate one source said, “That’s a good question.”


What will the Durant story fallout be?

We have our first scandal in the U.S. Senate race. Well, maybe not a scandal, but the first serious mud to get slung. The story about Mike Durant, his estranged sister and the unspeakable abuse their father inflicted on her as a child is just awful. It’s certainly no fun to write about. But it remains an issue in this Senate race partly because of the way the Durant campaign, and the candidate himself, have responded to the story. On the Dale Jackson radio show, Durant insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Durrant also sought to correct the timeline to clarify that it was him that got his father to confess after decades of denials. His campaign then sent out multiple press releases blaming his opponents for dredging up the decades old situation and calling on them to denounce the story and/or apologize. Correct or not, the radio interview almost certainly prompted Durant’s sister to issue new statements of her own.

Let’s be real, this is absolutely an oppo dump. Sources tell IAP that spook extraordinaire Joe Perkins and his Matrix firm helped gather the information. As one source told IAP, “the devil works hard, but Joe Perkins works harder.” All that said, opposition research is part of politics. Durant’s team should have seen this coming and prepared better for how to respond. There likely will be opportunities to get another shot at that in the future.

The real question is will this story be used in attack ads against Durant. Conventional wisdom says absolutely yes. And they would be brutal. Think of the words “incest” and “molesting” appearing on TV or in a mailer attacking Durant. Fair or not, it’s potent stuff. But it’s not that easy. Durant’s primary opponents, Mo Brooks and Katie Britt, wouldn’t dare running such ads themselves. It would take an outside group to do it, and don’t be surprised if that happens. And because of the way campaign finance rules work, it could be done almost completely anonymously.



Hope Brasell has been promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed. Brasell, a longtime Senate staffer, has worked closely with Reed since his tenure as Senate Majority Leader. In addition to coordinating Pro Tem Office appointments, scheduling and other legislative matters, she will oversee Reed’s communications efforts.

Justin Barkley has been hired as Deputy General Counsel in Gov. Key Ivey’s office. Barkley is an attorney at Hill, Gossett, Kemp & Hufford and previously ran for the State Board of Education in 2016 and State House of Representatives in 2014.


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