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Inside Alabama Politics – October 7, 2021

Special session review

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News 

The much-anticipated special session on prisons is in the rearview mirror and lawmakers have returned home for a respite before the next special (more on that later). It went largely as expected, with Gov. Kay Ivey and legislative leaders succeeding in passing an ambitious prison construction package they say is the first step in fixing the state’s myriad prison problems.

Perhaps the biggest controversy of the special, more so than the new prisons themselves, was the use of $400 million worth of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to build them. Inside Alabama Politics first reported on the possibility of the state using ARPA funds for prisons back in July. In fact, it is interesting to go back and read that article and consider the context after all that has happened since.

As the session grew closer, some Democrats and prison reform advocates increasingly grabbed on to this action as a talking point to oppose the prison construction plan. It was, without a doubt, the most effective argument against the prison plan for opponents and the most uncomfortable one for Republicans to answer. Using COVID-19 relief money to build prisons sounds like a serious diversion of funds away from their stated purpose and, when that is the first thing people hear, it’s hard to explain away. As the saying goes, in politics, if you’re explaining, you’re losing. But explain the Ivey administration and Rep. Steve Clouse did, at least enough to answer questions from skeptical lawmakers and members of the press.

Legislative leadership and the Ivey administration are confident in the legality of using ARPA funds for prison construction, and they have a reason to be. The law sets up the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, which is designed to help states pay for government services despite the shaky economic situation. “General government services” can mean a lot of things, including projects the state could have or would have paid for if not for the pandemic. As the Department of Finance explained to ADN, that can include maintenance or pay-go funded building of infrastructure. The law did put certain restrictions on how states could not use lost revenue: paying off debt, cutting taxes, replenishing rainy day funds, pension funds or paying off settlements. But the law doesn’t prohibit prison construction.

So, in the legal world, the state is confident in its standing. But this is the political world, and things aren’t always that simple. When U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent his letter to the Treasury Department decrying the use of ARPA money for prisons, it did little to change votes in the Alabama Legislature. But that might not have been its purpose. Some say the Nadler letter was an opening salvo of a renewed push to defeat the state’s plans to build new prisons. Expect continued calls from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union – groups with powerful influence within the Biden administration – to put up roadblocks on this prison plan. The Treasury Department is a little busy right now trying to lift or suspend the debt limit, but don’t be surprised if it eventually does exactly what Nadler asked: declare that Alabama cannot use ARPA money for prisons. Will that stop the state from moving forward? Maybe not by itself. The state can draw up contracts and start spending the money as soon as it wants. But Treasury could sue to stop it, which would put the prison construction back in a familiar place: the federal court system.

Again, the state is confident its legal arguments would win out in the end, but how long would that take? How much controversy and trouble will a case like that gin up? Remember that what ultimately killed Ivey’s prison lease plan was the inability to finance the project, which was a direct result of social justice pressure on major financial institutions to pass on the project. The state doesn’t need that kind of major underwriter this time, but it does plan to sell $785 million in bonds to pay for the project. Could enough controversy and attention be generated to dissuade potential investors from buying the bonds? Those with knowledge of how such things work say the two situations are very different and actually affecting a bond sale would be unlikely. But that doesn’t mean powerful groups, and perhaps even the government, won’t try.


What’s next on ARPA funds?

By TODD STACY and MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

With the $400 million allocation in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward prison construction, lawmakers and Gov. Kay Ivey still need to allocate about $1.8 billion of the state’s share of that money.

“There is still a mountain of money,” Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency, told lawmakers about the amount still to be allocated.

However, the money is flowing from the federal government in phases. State Finance Director Bill Poole said he expects the first $1.1 billion to arrive in January, just in time for the 2022 Regular Session. Less $400 million for prisons, lawmakers will have about $700 million to allocate in a supplemental appropriations bill that session. Poole said the second $1.1 billion is expected in May 2022 and could either be dealt with in a special session or the 2023 Regular Session.

“The only real timeline is funds have to be obligated by the end of 2024 and spent by 2026, so we have time to make good decisions in a fluid and changing environment,” Poole said.

Senate General Fund Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, this week told ADN that the appropriation of the ARP funds will likely happen in several supplemental bills separate from the budgets that move through the legislative session.

“I don’t think there’s going to be one supplemental for $1.8 billion,” he said.

Albritton wasn’t ready Tuesday to discuss possible priorities for the money. Fulford told the Senate General Fund committee last week that potential uses for the money include hazard pay for select workers, shoring up the state’s unemployment compensation fund, broadband internet for rural areas, water and sewer, hospitals and nursing homes and rental assistance..

Meanwhile, this allocation of money will include “more specific control over this money than we did previously,” Albritton said, referring to the spring 2020 allocation of state CARES Act money. He said lawmakers signed off on general usages or “buckets” for the money but specifics were left up to Ivey’s office and the Finance Department.

“(The Legislature) is going to be more specific in its appropriations,” he said. There is also likely to be more reporting requirements on how agencies and organizations spend the money.

Separate still is $192 million Capital Project Fund that Ivey and lawmakers will need to appropriate.

Fulford said recent U.S. Department of Treasury guidance on that money seemed to point it toward broadband expansion.


How much federal pandemic money has Alabama received? The number may surprise you

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

About $46.8 billion. Billion with a “B.”

That’s how much federal COVID-19 relief money has gone to Alabama residents, businesses and government agencies since the pandemic began.

About $30.3 billion of that has been given directly to individuals and businesses to assist them, Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency, told state lawmakers recently. About $6.3 billion was in the Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans to help businesses weather the economic drought caused by COVID-related shutdowns.

And nearly twice that much, $12.6 billion, has gone directly to individuals in stimulus checks.

The money had a big impact on the state’s record tax receipts for fiscal 2021, which ended last week, Fulford said. That’s especially true in the Education Trust Fund, where sales and income tax are the main contributors.

A big 2021

Total sales tax collection in the ETF grew in 2021 by $1.22 billion, 16.42%. That compares to an average ETF growth rate from 2011 through 2019, post Great Recession and before COVID, of 3.7%, Fulford told Alabama Daily News.

Gross sales tax receipts grew by $372.1 million, 14.75%, Fulford said.

Gross individual income taxes grew by $643.1 million, 13.03%

Gross corporate income taxes grew by $369.9 million, 61.25%.

“We are absolutely going to have to study and account for the overall impact of the federal assistance on ETF revenues because it clearly played a role in the large amount of growth,” Fulford said.

Senate education budget committee chairman Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said the receipts are an indication of a strong economy.

“Our job is to spend the funds that we have wisely. It will pay long-term dividends for our state…” Orr said.

Priorities for some of the additional revenue, Orr said, is adding to the ETF Stabilization Fund, teacher pay raises, a bonus for retired educators and possible tax cuts for certain Alabamians.

In the General Fund, 2021 receipts were $2.56 billion, a $262.4 million or 11.41% increase. Some of that growth can be attributed to one-time issues, including reallocation of insurance premium tax revenues last year. It was worth about $30.9 million, Fulford said.

Meanwhile, some revenue dips in 2020 were back up in 2021. Lodging taxes were up by $13.1 million. 26.25%, driven by consumer demand this year, Fulford said. Court fees and mortgage and deed taxes were also up after a COVID-impacted 2020.

‘It will dry up’

Fulford said it’s still to be determined if the federal assistance has a continued impact in the first months of fiscal 2022.

“…But everyone is going to have to consider the very real possibility of a fiscal cliff in the near future when the federal funds run out,” he said.

Orr said that money directed to Alabamians, from stimulus checks to child tax credits, boosted state sales tax revenues as it was spent. Meanwhile, with an unemployment rate now less than 4%, the state is seeing healthy income tax receipts. 

“But we must be careful because a good number of jobs and sales are a direct result of the federal largess,” Orr said. 

The state needs to be prepared for a soft landing when the federal money dries up, he said.

“Because it will dry up one day,” Orr said.

Separate from the non-grant money that went directly to people and businesses, there has been about $16.8 billion to state and local government agencies and education institutions.


Sanders-Fortier back in the Senate

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

One welcome sight during last week’s special session was the presence of Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, who missed most of this year’s regular session due to illness. During the opening prayer on the first day, Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, specifically offered thanks for his colleague’s recovery and return. After that, a stream of senators lined up near her desk to offer hugs and encouragement.

Reached after the first day ended, Sanders-Fortier thanked God for being able to be back in the Senate and expressed gratitude for her colleagues’ encouragement.

“I’m feeling good, just excited to be back here doing the work of my district and the state” she told Alabama Daily News. “It was very special. I’m just glad to be back among people that I love and I feel love me.”


Trouble Brewing on Redistricting?

By MARY SELL and TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

With one special session behind them, state lawmakers are preparing for another one that could come as soon as month’s end.

Top lawmakers tell Alabama Daily News that the week of Oct. 25 is being targeted for the special session on redistricting with the following week of Nov. 1 being seen as a backup. Most agree the Legislature may need both weeks to get it all done.

Lawmakers will be back in Montgomery to redraw the Alabama House and Senate, Congressional and state board of education maps. After more than 28 virtual town hall meetings where committee members heard, from a distance, Alabamians’ concerns and requests, reapportionment committee co-chair Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, said the process is “moving right along.”

Redistricting is always a laborious and tricky process, especially at the legislative seat level. Lawmakers in both parties care about how their districts are drawn. Draw in too many more from the other party and it becomes a swing district. Draw in too many more from your own party and you’re risking a primary challenge. Draw in an area that is unfamiliar to you and a challenger from that area could have an advantage. Add in the fact that this year it is taking place one year out from the general election and just seven months out from the primary elections. That means lawmakers running for reelection will have little time to introduce themselves to any new constituents before votes are cast.

All this can lead to tension in the process, and multiple sources tell ADN that several senators are tense about how their districts are being redrawn by the committee and its staff.

State Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, said some in the Senate body are unhappy with the process so far and that could create a problem when it comes to passing the new maps.

“There is a lot of frustration in this process,” Albritton said. “The districts are losing their identities.”

Albritton said it wasn’t just his and other districts in South Alabama. North Alabama districts were causing heartburn within the chamber as well.

Other senators who asked not to be named confirmed that a growing number within the Senate GOP Caucus are unhappy with the new map so far and could make it an issue when it comes to the floor.

“They need 18 votes to pass the maps,” one senator told ADN. “They probably have the votes, but some of us may want to talk on it some.”

By “talk on it,” the senator was speaking of filibustering. Each senator is afforded two hours to command the floor on each bill. That means if there are, say, ten senators unhappy enough about their districts to filibuster, they could team up to drag out debate by 20 hours. But that’s nothing compared to what will happen if and when a senator requests the new maps be read at length, which usually involves a computerized voice reading of each of the many thousand geographic data points, a process than can take up an entire legislative day or more.

All this gives Senate and committee leadership the incentive to work out compromises before taking up the Senate map on the floor. Sources tell ADN the Senate could spend the first week taking up House, Congressional and school board maps, allowing time to work out the differences on the Senate maps in time for the second week. It will be impossible to make everyone happy, but they won’t have to. Senate rules allow for cloture on redistricting bills with just 18 votes rather than the usual 21. That could allow the GOP majority to speed things up through cloturing on filibusters.

There is less drama downstairs in the House, however a potentially big dustup is developing over the drawing of a Montgomery district. Sources say that House District 74, currently held by State Rep. Charlotte Meadows, is being drawn to be considerably more Democratic, effectively drawing the Republican education advocate out of her seat. Meadows declined to speak on the record about the situation, but other sources told ADN the changes are an effort by the committee to create a new African American-majority seat in Montgomery in order to avoid court intervention.

When will we see maps?

Proposed new maps won’t be made public until after the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment votes on them, McClendon said. A meeting date for that hasn’t been set.

There will be four bills in the special session. One each for Congressional, state board of education and Alabama House and Senate districts. Months-long delays in the 2020 gathering of census data has meant lags in getting states their new population numbers, delaying the reapportionment process that happens every 10 years.

States in August received preliminary census data. That delay is why the public hearings didn’t include new proposed maps, officials said. Some states have been quicker to release proposed maps.

The preliminary data shows the largest population losses in the Senate and House were in districts that include the Black Belt, Jefferson, Montgomery and Mobile counties. 

Those seats are all currently held by Democrats. Outside the Black Belt, some rural districts held by Republicans also saw population losses.

At multiple public hearings, the Alabama League of Women Voters presented a proposed congressional map that makes two districts, 6 and 7, at least 50% minority.

Lawmakers for decades have drawn Alabama’s 7th district to maintain its majority-minority status, a legacy from the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to the latest Census data, the district lost more than 13,000 residents since 2010 and will have to be drawn to pick up more than 53,000 residents to keep up with the growth of the other six districts.

Asked if there was a possibility the GOP-dominated Legislature could move forward a map with two minority congressional districts, McClendon said it would be up to the committee.

The 2022 primary is May 24, the general election is Nov. 8. Candidates for state office have until Jan. 28 to qualify.


2022 update – State races

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Seven-months out from the primaries top-of-ticket incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey doesn’t, so far, have significant competition.  Ivey reported raising $460,000 in September has $2.3 million cash on hand going into the primary. Among other announced candidates, Dean Odle raised almost $9,000 and has $25,337 cash on hand while former Morgan County Commissioner and prison guard Stacey George has $2,122 after raising nothing in September.

State Auditor Jim Zeilger has threatened to run against Ivey in the primary, but so far has been non committal on the race. He raised $2,000 for his state PAC bringing total cash on hand to $17,500 – money he can use in a race for governor or any other state office.

The race for the auditor’s seat Zeigler is vacating is becoming one of the most intriguing this cycle. Three Republicans are vying for the seat: Kimberly pastor Stan Cooke; Former State Sen. Rusty Glover; and current Alabama Rep. Andrew Sorrell.

Sorrell has a hearty fundraising lead with about $301,000 on hand, $250,000 of which he lent his campaign this summer. Glover had $15,222 on hand at the end of September; Cooke had $1,870.

Here’s a look down ballot at legislative races worth following.

Greer has primary challenger

Long-time State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, is now among GOP incumbents who has a primary opponent next year.

Kimberly Butler, a life-long north Alabama resident, said she is a liberty minded candidate.

“I will fight not only to cut taxes but to use the taxes we have more wisely,” Butler told Alabama Daily News on Wednesday. “We spend money in Montgomery like we’ve forgotten what the purpose of government is. And it’s not to care for or fix all problems. The purpose of government is to create a playing field where we can do that ourselves.”

She compared her mindset to that of current Rep. Andrew Sorrell, who is a consistent no vote on tax or spending bills.

Butler and her husband own and run Butler Studio Photography in Florence and have two children who Butler homeschooled.

Greer’s State House career started in 1974, though he’s held other elected offices.

“I think I’ve been very successful in Montgomery and there are a few other things I’d like to do,” Greer told ADN on Wednesday he still has things he wants to do in Montgomery.

Greer recently discussed with Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, legislation to cut taxes for some retirees, something Greer has pushed for several years.

Citing the recent killing of Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner,  Greer said he’s working on legislation that would prevent convicted murderers from getting out of prison too soon.

Greer owns Greer Construction and Greer Management.

At the end of September, Butler had about $9,500 on hand; Greer had $9,200.

House District 2 includes portions of Lauderdale and Limestone counties.

House District 88 fundraising belongs to 2 challengers

In another contested GOP primary, House candidates Joshua Pendergrass and Jerry Starnes ended September with $22,639 and $28,442, respectively.

Both men are seeking to unseat incumbent Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville. Dismukes has said he is seeking reelection but so far hasn’t filed a monthly campaign finance report. He ended 2020 with $15,286 on hand, according to his last annual report.

Pendergrass is a lawyer and former communications director for Gov. Kay Ivey.  Starnes is the current Prattville City Council president.

Dismukes, a business owner, was indicted earlier this year on a theft charge related to a previous employer. He has said he’s innocent. The freshman lawmaker last year faced public criticism and calls for resignation for speaking at a birthday party honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later co-founded the Ku Klux Klan.

House District 88 includes parts of Elmore and Autauga counties.

Rafferty continues fundraising 

On the Democrats’ side of the House aisle, incumbent House member Rep. Neil Rafferty has made fundraising gains since being challenged by Brit Blalock.

Rafferty has raised more than $75,000 as he seeks to keep the Birmingham seat. Blalock has raised a bit more than $13,000.

GOP official running for Senate District 11

Republican Lance Bell is raising money to run for Senate District 11, the east Alabama seat being vacated by Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville.

“Upon learning that Sen. McClendon was retiring, I knew that District 11 needed a leader that was able and prepared to fight for our district,” Bell, who lives in Riverside, said. “I have devoted my life to fighting for the citizens of our district, from a sheriff’s deputy, the district attorney’s office and now local attorney. We need strong leadership to fight back against the attacks from the left, and I am that person. I am ready to fight for not only our district, but our great State of Alabama.”

Bell is a life-long St. Clair County resident and attorney in Pell City. Earlier this year, he was elected chairman for the 3rd Congressional District of the Alabama Republican Party, the Anniston-Star reported. He was chairman of the St. Clair GOP for six years.

So far, Bell is the only candidate raising money in the district that includes portions of St. Clair, Talladega and Shelby counties. He launched his fundraising earlier this summer with an about $30,000 loan to himself. At the end of September he had $57,255 on hand.

Three vying for Marsh’s seat

In another open, east Alabama seat, three Republicans are vying to replace Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, in Senate District 12.  They are Anniston attorney Wendy Ghee Draper, Anniston businessman Keith Kelleyand Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis.

Weaver opposed Marsh in 2018. Marsh last year announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.

Kelley was leading contributions at the end of September. He also has the endorsement of longtime Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Saks, who’s name and word is held in high regard among area Republicans.

Merika Coleman raising money in Senate race

Current Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, is the only candidate so far reporting donations in Senate District 19. The district belongs to Priscilla Dunn, D-Birmingham, though she’s missed most of the quadrennium because of health reasons and her husband earlier this year said she wouldn’t seek reelection.

Rep. Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer, also told ADN in July she planned to seek the Senate seat.

Gerald Allen has Dem challenger

Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, has a Democrat challenger for his west Alabama district. Lisa Ward of Lake View describes herself as a seasoned activist and longtime political operative, reported last month.

So far, Allen, a third-term senator and former House member, has a significant fundraising lead. District 21 includes parts of Lamar, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties.

Race to replace Holley

In South Alabama’s Senate District 31, current Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, has raised about $282,000 since announcing he wants to replace retiring Sen. Jimmy Holly, R-Elba.

Fellow Republican and Coffee County Commissioner Joshua Carnley has raised about $36,000.

Senate District 31 includes Coffee, Covington and Pike counties and the northern portion of Dale County.

Elliott draws challenger

Further south, in Senate District 32, current Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, is being challenged by former Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency Director Mitchell Sims. He was previously a firefighter and paramedic in Gulf Shores.

Sims told ADN that running for Senate continues his mission to serve others and respond to problems.

The district covers the southern one-third of the county and per the latest census data is one of the fastest-growing areas of the state.

Sims cited the need for improved roads in the area, including a new I-10 bridge that doesn’t require tolls or a tax increase, “so that this beautiful destination does not become like other communities along the Gulf Coast that are gridlocked with traffic and weak infrastructure.”

Elliott is in his first term. In 2018 he won a hard-fought GOP contest for what was then an open seat. Elliott raised more than $700,000 in 2018 and came into the current campaign cycle with about $124,000 on hand and has since raised another $155,000.

“We’re delivering on our promises with the most state transportation dollars of any county in Alabama, legislation resulting in increased funding for fast growing school districts and strong, impactful leadership for Coastal Alabama,” Elliott told ADN. “We’re just getting started.”


Updated 2022 Senate Race 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


Updated 2022 House Race 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


2022 update – U.S. Senate race

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

While many considered the GOP field for U.S. Senate settled (but for some possible drop outs), it seems that is not the case.

Sources tell IAP that Mike Durrant, a former Army helicopter pilot who survived the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident, is strongly considering a run and may soon announce his candidacy. After his military service, Durrant went into the defense aerospace business founding Huntsville-based Pinnacle Solutions, where he currently works as President and CEO. While his is not a name immediately known to most voters, his status as a highly decorated war hero and compelling story from a near-universally known military incident make him an interesting candidate. Word to IAP is he has enough personal wealth to self fund a campaign, if needed.

Durrant has brought on Jamestown Associates, a media consulting firm that is known for producing some of the best Republican ad campaigns in recent years. Given Jamestown’s status among Washington firms, its presence in Durrant’s orbit make it a campaign worth paying attention to. Sources familiar with his thinking say he wants to run as the “non-crazy Trump candidate and the non-establishment business candidate.” That’s quite a specific lane.

It’s almost time for 3rd quarter fundraising reports. Official reports aren’t due until October 15, but sources within the campaigns confirmed to Alabama Daily News their initial numbers.

Katie Britt raised about $1.5 million in Q3 and will report $3.3 million cash on hand.

Congressman Mo Brooks raised about $600,000 in Q3 and will report more than $1.8 million cash on hand.

The campaigns of Jessica Taylor and Lynda Blanchard did not offer 3rd quarter fundraising details.


Another shot on gambling in January?

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

One important rule of thumb in legislative politics is that nothing hugely controversial gets passed in an election year. There’s a reason the gas tax and infrastructure plan passed in 2019 and not 2018 before the entire Legislature was on the ballot. Even if a strong majority is for it, it is wise to pass something that controversial at the start of a term so you have four years to explain it and show its benefits. It doesn’t always work, though. All the time in the world couldn’t have erased the 2007 legislative pay raise from voters’ minds.

That’s why when the wide-ranging gambling bill fell apart at the end of this year’s regular session, most assumed it was dead until after the election. It goes against conventional wisdom to even bring something like that up in an election year. Yet, sources tell IAP that some within and without the legislative chambers want to give a gambling package another shot. They point to multiple polls over the last few years showing the popularity of a lottery, casinos and sports betting among voters and say the downside of a gambling vote isn’t there for most lawmakers anymore.

To be sure, the Legislature came close this year. The plan passed the Senate easily. Had the process started sooner in the House and had Gov. Kay Ivey intervened earlier, it’s likely the plan would have gotten final passage gone to voters next fall.

But, that doesn’t mean it would pass in 2022. For one thing, there is no appetite on the part of Ivey and her team to tackle the issue again right in the middle of a reelection campaign that could very well draw significant opposition. Just as there was with prisons and infrastructure, it takes the strong involvement of the governor to get big lifts like this off the ground. For another, many senators don’t want to go through the trouble of debating gambling only to see it fall apart in the House yet again – and the House is where all the drama and disagreement is at the moment.

On the industry side, things are mixed. The Dog Track Owners Association has ramped up messaging efforts, including press releases and advertising targeted at lawmakers. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has been mostly quiet, holding pat on their position that they supported the last plan but that it wasn’t “their bill.”

With three months to go until the Regular Session begins, expect legislative leadership to take the temperature of the caucuses on gambling. How cold or hot it comes back will determine whether or not they take another shot.

RIP Jim Preuitt

By DAVID MOWERY, Friend of the Program

Sad news from Talladega recently, as former State Sen. Jim Preuitt passed away at 86.

Like many successful young boys born before WWII, he was raised on a farm – the son of a sharecropper – and ended up a captain of industry and at the highest levers of power in his home state.

Born in Moulton, Jim started in the service department of a car dealership in Hartselle and ended up owning several dealerships down in Talladega.

On a dare, he threw his hat in the ring for the state House in 1982, and the state Senate four years later. After a one term reprieve as Probate Judge, he returned to the Senate in 1998 and served three terms through 2010.

Preuitt was from the old school. He kept his own counsel and held his cards close to his vest. As part of the “dissident” Democrats who caucused with Republicans to produce an almost evenly split Senate in his final term – and the final term of Democrat control in the Legislature – he eventually switched parties at the last minute, without much hoopla or advance notice – but was defeated by Jerry Fielding in a lone bright spot for Democrats in the Republican rout of 2010.

He was part of that generation of legislators and senators who came to Montgomery without much in the way of a partisan agenda, instead looking to serve his district and the people who lived there, by fostering a business friendly environment.

He was caught up in the “Gambling Wars” that defined the waning days of Democratic control on Goat Hill, but ultimately exonerated on all charges, along with all of his co-defendants ensnared in that far reaching series of indictments.

He’ll be remembered as a rascally old so and so, a quiet leader, and one of the last of his kind – serving his constituents with a quiet dignity. Rest In Power.


After two and a half years as Gov. Kay Ivey’s Communications Director, Leah Garner is leaving the administration to join Foundation for Excellence in Education, or ExcelinEd, as its Senior Director of Communications. Garner is well travelled in state politics, having worked multiple stints in the Governor’s office, as well as the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Business Council of Alabama. But, as a former teacher, her passion has always been education, an issue she has been heavily involved in at both BCA and the Ivey administration. Jeb Bush’s Excellence in Education is the nation’s premier education reform advocacy organization.

Ada Katherine van Wyhe has been promoted to Chief of Staff for Mental Health Commissioner Kim Boswell. van Wyhe has been working as Director Legislative & Constituent Affairs at the Department of Mental Health the last year and a half at a time when there has been increased legislative and administration focus on expanding state services. Many will remember Ada from her years advocating for First Class Pre-K at the Alabama Department of Early Childhood education.

Will Califf has been hired as Campaign Manager for Gov. Kay Ivey’s election campaign. Califf is leaving Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office where he has worked as a senior communications adviser for the last year. Prior to that, Califf worked for several years as a senior staffer for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. At his heart, Califf is a campaign guy, having cut his teeth on congressional and legislative races before working in government.

Jonathan Hester is also joining the Ivey campaign team as Deputy Campaign Manager. He’s leaving Ivey’s official office, where he has worked as Policy Advisor. It’s common to reposition official staff on the campaign in reelection situations, whether at the governor, congressional or presidential level. That’s where much of the attention and work will soon be as Ivey runs for another term in her own right and it makes sense for the resources to be there. Hester previously worked in Washington, D.C. in Congress and at America Rising.

Collier Tynes is returning to the world of Alabama politics having just been hired to run Alabama Voices for Children as its CEO. Most state politicos remember Tynes from her service as former First Lady Diane Bentley’s Chief of Staff. After (understandably) leaving professional politics, Tynes went to help run the Gateway Foundation, which supports child and family services such as foster care, counseling and trauma healing.

Congrats to all!

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