Last Thursday night, Republican State Executive Committee Member and small business owner Jonathan Barbee gathered with family and friends at the Alabama Republican Party headquarters where he formally qualified to run for Place 2 on the Public Service Commission.
Barbee’s qualifying hardly came as any surprise. He announced his candidacy last August and has traveled to over 30 counties and almost 40,000 miles campaigning for the office since then.
“I’ve met with thousands of people across our great state and the one main concern they have is keeping their jobs,” Barbee said in a statement. “I pledge to fight the liberal environmental groups threatening our state and our jobs. We must secure Alabama jobs and use the Public Service Commission office as a recruiting tool for new business. Keeping our utility rates low, developing our railroads, and making sure our highways are safe will attract more industry. I pledge to continue Alabama’s positive relationship with small businesses and protect them from sky rocketing utility rates.”
Barbee, 34, lives in Trussville, Ala., where he is the Executive Producer at Media Works Communications, a firm he founded in 1997. He also serves on the boards of directors for Kid One Transport and The Educational Arts Foundation. Barbee is currently engaged to Joanne Sellers of Tuscaloosa.
The Republican primary for the PSC will be held on June 3, and the general election will take place on Nov. 4, 2014.
Dothan resident and small business owner, Bobby Lewis, qualified with the Alabama Republican Party last Friday as a candidate for State House District 85. Known locally as “The Mater Man,” Lewis runs a family farm and owns Bobby Lewis Auction and Real Estate.
“My goal is to make our district pro-growth, focusing on bringing in industrial and economic development,” Lewis said in a statement to Sweet Home Politics. “I don’t want to just talk about transparency and being available to my constituents, I want to make a plan now that puts those actions in motion. Town hall style meetings to discuss the upcoming bills in the legislature and opportunities for the constituents to ask questions and express concerns is a great start, one in which we can open up communication between the voters and the elected officials.”
Lewis went on to say that, as a father of a college student, he has listened to his daughter’s thoughts on the local economy.
“Her biggest concern after graduation is finding a good paying job that utilizes her hard earned college degree,” he said.
Lewis stated he plans to make job creation a focus of his campaign.
“Know this, young people: I have heard your concerns about the job market,” he said. “I want to help make District 85 more appealing to you … I want you to feel comfortable to put down your roots.”
Lewis has served on the ALGOP State Executive Committee and is an active member of the Houston County Executive Committee, a Dothan Civitan and a former Dothan Jaycee. He plans to use a business approach when governing.
“I want to bring my business experience to the statehouse, bringing with it a common sense approach to government. Less is more. You don’t need the government telling you how to run your life, your home, and your finances.”
Lewis said that he is looking forward to a clean race focused on issues facing House District 85. Primary elections will occur on June 3, and the general election will occur on Nov. 4.
Republican Candidate for Public Service Commission Place 2 and Former State Legislator, Steve Flowers, announced this morning that he will no longer continue to see the Republican nomination for office.
“I only considered a race for the State Public Service Commission after the State Ethics Commission confirmed that I could continue my career as Alabama’s leading political columnist and commentator in conjunction with the public service endeavor,” Flowers said in a statement. “However, after contemplation and consultation with editors, readers, viewers and listeners it is my belief that I will lose credibility and potentially my impartiality as a political journalist if I reenter the political arena as a participant. I much prefer my role as an observer and analyst than as a politician.”
Flowers currently has a balance of $344,653 in his campaign account, according to a source familiar with his campaign.
Flowers was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1982. He left the office in 1998 after not seeking reelection. In 2002, Flowers switched parties and ran for the Alabama State Senate as Republican, ultimately losing to Hank Erwin. He announced his candidacy for the Public Service Commission on January 8, and has now withdrawn from that race less than one month later.
Others currently running for Place 2 on the Public Service Commission include incumbent Terry Dunn, Former Alabama Republican Party interim press secretary Jonathan Barbee, Chairman of the Alabama Minority GOP Phillip Brown, and former Greene County Commissioner Chris “Chip” Beeker. The Republican primary is slated for June 3, and the general election will take place on November 4, 2014.
Small business owner Darius Foster qualified as a candidate for State House District 56 with the Alabama Republican Party on Monday.
“My focus will be on education and jobs. I will assist our school systems in any way that I am able,” said Foster, an associate board member for the Alabama Policy Institute. “We have to continue to develop a skilled workforce. Along with business-friendly local government, those are vital components of recruiting business to the district.”
Foster’s website includes agenda items such as prison sentencing reform and increasing parental involvement in education.
Foster also serves on the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, is an executive committee member with the Young Republican Federation of Alabama, and serves on the Economic Development Committee for the Hoover Chamber of Commerce.
“I am excited about the opportunity to pursue this position,” Foster said. “It has been a long journey getting to this point. This is the perfect time for our district to move in another direction. It’s time to elect someone who can bring the entire district together. I believe that I am that person.”
If elected, Foster would be the first black Republican elected to the State House since 1877. The primary election will be held on June 3rd, and the general election on Nov. 4th.
The Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) today endorsed Adam Thompson for the office of State Auditor. ALFA is considered by many to be a major player in state politics and its political action committee, FarmPAC, contributes significant amounts to political campaigns at all levels of Alabama politics each year.
“Adam Thompson is a young man running on his experience serving in the auditor’s office.” Beth Chapman, a political consultant for ALFA, told Sweet Home Politics. “He’s the only candidate with that experience.”
“Adam holds dear his family values, and he is a fiscal conservative who will watch over Alabamian’s tax dollars and ensure they are being spent wisely,” Chapman said.
Since announcing his candidacy last year, Thompson has conducted 70 meetings with GOP chapters across the state. He told Sweet Home Politics earlier this year that the meetings confirmed his belief that “Alabamians are some of the best people in the country.”
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of one of the largest and most active organizations in our state,” Thompson said. “Farming and agriculture is the backbone of Alabama’s economy and members of the Alabama Farmers Federation are actively involved in their government and understand how it affects their daily lives. They support candidates who know and support Alabama’s farming and agricultural interests and I am proud to be among the ones they have chosen to endorse this election year.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation has more than 350,000 members and represents farmers from every commodity produced in the state. The primary for State Auditor will occur on June 3rd, and the general election will take place on Nov. 4.
Democrat, family doctor and former Army Veteran Dr. Jennifer Marsden has announced her intentions to challenge Rep. Steve Clouse (R – Ozark) for the Alabama House of Representatives in District 93. Marsden, who is a graduate of Harvard University and obtained her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, served in the United States Army for over seven years and commanded two overseas detachments. She completed her service with the rank of Major.
Marsden is an internationally-published, board-certified physician and has promised to center her campaign around four main issues: superior health care for all Alabamians, high quality job creation, improving public education and selfless service. In the past, Marsden has consistently pushed Gov. Roberty Bentley to expand Medicaid, stating, “half our uninsured Veterans could get Medicaid coverage if we expand it.”
“I stand for selfless service in the spirit of those individuals who represented our citizens at the time of our founding fathers,” Marsden stated. “These brave Americans were not professional politicians, they were farmers, authors, printers, merchants, physicians and brewers. hey followed through on their commitment to serve the public good, completed their term in office, despite hardships, and then returned to tend their own business again.”
Auburn Conservatives for Tomorrow (ACT) and Young America’s Foundation are set to host Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, parent company of Forbes.
“An Evening with Steve Forbes will be an insightful and educational night,” stated a press release from ACT. “Those who attend will learn the value of free enterprise, individual freedom, and a strong national defense to America’s success as a nation.”
The event is scheduled for March 21, 2014, at the Auburn University Arena. A VIP Dinner and photo-op begin at 5:30 pm, and the keynote address begins at 7:30 pm. VIP Tickets are for sale to the public for $150 per ticket. Tickets to the keynote speech are free to students and $30 for non-students.
“It’s about schools and it’s about jobs,” House Minority leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) said. “Today, Democrats are offering real solutions that will help create jobs, protect your tax dollars and give our public schools the support they need to be successful.”
Democrats also plan to propose legislation that would require elected officials who resign in the middle of their terms to pay for the special elections to fill their seats. The proposal intends to address the recent succession of elected officials resigning before their term expired. The bill would make exceptions for elected officials who resign for health reasons and for federal or state appointments.
“When you are elected to office, you take an oath to serve the people you represent for your entire term,” said Rep. Merika Coleman-Evans (D-Birmingham), who is sponsoring the bill. “That ought to mean something. Public office is meant to be a service, not a stepping stone to a high-paying lobbying or ‘consulting’ job.”
The jobs package proposed by House Democrats includes funding for vocational and workforce development training and instituting clawback provisions on corporate tax incentives.
The Job Creation and Taxpayer Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Burdine (D-Florence), would require businesses to commit to creating a number of jobs before receiving a tax incentive or subsidy from the state. Businesses would be required to honor those job commitments within five years of receiving the subsidy or be required to pay back all or part of the incentive received. The business would also be required to stay in the state and maintain the committed employment level for a minimum of five years.
“When done the right way, corporate tax incentives are an incredibly successful tool we have to recruit business. But we have a responsibility to protect the taxpayers and make sure that the incentives the state offers actually create jobs that last and pay a livable wage,” Burdine said.
The Workforce Development and Training Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston), would allow the Alabama Public School and College Authority to sell and assume $20 million in bonds to help fund the Department of Post-Secondary Education’s workforce development training program. The program conducts surveys of local businesses and the regional workforce development councils to determine specific training needs. They then develop a training program tailored to meet the needs of local businesses.
“There are thousands of skilled labor jobs becoming available in Alabama, but we have to give our people the training to do these jobs,” Boyd said. “This bill will directly help existing businesses expand and create thousands of jobs, while also making Alabama more attractive to other businesses and industries looking to locate here.”
Democrats plan to sponsor legislation to provide additional funding for dual enrollment scholarships as well. The bill would eliminate an unnecessary, state-funded liability insurance program for educators and reallocate the money set aside for that program into the dual enrollment program. Most educators already receive liability coverage through their local school boards and their professional associations like the Alabama Education Association.
“Last year, we had $4 million in requests for scholarships for dual enrollment, but we could only give out about $2 million,” said Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) the bill’s sponsor. “Dual enrollment increases the graduation rate and college enrollment rate. It gives kids a chance to get a head start on their career or their college degree, and creates opportunities for kids who otherwise would not have had those opportunities.”
Democrats are also proposing legislation that would require the state to give preference to Alabama-based businesses when awarding state and public works contracts.
“Our state government needs to do business with Alabama employers as much as possible,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Hubbard (D-Montgomery).
A package of education bills introduced by the Democrats would repeal the Accountability Act and Rolling Reserve Act, create a state lottery, provide educators, state employees and retirees with a 6% pay increase and provide funding to close the $100 million hole in Medicaid.
“Increasing the state’s tobacco tax by $1 will generate up to $230 million dollars each year for the state,” Hubbard said. “That money can fill the hole in Medicaid and provide enough funding for the pay raises for state employees and retirees.”
Democrats expect the Education Trust Fund to be able to afford a 6% increase for educators and retirees without needing to raise additional revenue.
The lottery, proposed by Rep. Ford, is estimated to generate $250 million each year for education. The funding would be used to provide a resource officer in every public school, which is estimated to cost $50 million. The rest of the revenue would be used to provide scholarships for students who maintain an A/B average.
Ford is introducing legislation that would repeal the Alabama Accountability Act and reallocate the remaining funding back into the Education Trust Fund for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative.
In addition to repealing the Accountability Act, Democrats are seeking to repeal the Rolling Reserve Act, citing the governor’s proposed budget as evidence that the act needed to be repealed.
“The leadership in Montgomery has never lived by the ‘Rolling Reserve Act.’ Every year they have used accounting tricks to get around it. It needs to be repealed, plain and simple,” Ford said.
The Manderson MBA Program at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce moved up 20 spots on this year’s U.S. News list of top-ranking MBA programs. Poets and Quants named the Manderson Program the No. 1 over-performer in the country.
“UA’s MBA program came in as the top over-performing school on the list, indicating that the school is producing far better MBA graduates than U.S. News peer assessments would indicate,” The Culverhouse College of Commerce said in response to the recognition.
Despite these accolades, however, the College’s peer review score comes in at No. 93. Culverhouse College of Commerce Dean J. Michael Hardin responded to the discrepancy.
“For our MBA program to move up 20 spots in the U.S. News rankings is quite an accomplishment,” Hardin said. “We just need our peers to take note and understand what we have been doing here at the business school with our undergraduate and graduate programs so that our peer assessment is more aligned with our core ranking. My goal is for Culverhouse to be in the top 25.”
U.S. News bases its rankings on objective and subjective rankings, with one quarter of a program’s ranking based on peer subjective opinion of deans and MBA program directors. Poets and Quants compared programs’ U.S. News ranking to their peer subjective rankings.
The Manderson MBA Program’s objective ranking was far higher when peer analysis was removed, and due to the discrepancies between objective and subjective rankings, it was labeled at the #1 over-performer by Poets and Quants.
Adam Thompson filed papers with the Alabama Republican Party yesterday, effectively making him the first candidate to qualify for the office of State Auditor. Current State Auditor Sam Shaw is unable to pursue reelection due to term limits, so Thompson is the first entrant into an open field.
“I’m proud to be the first one to qualify,” Thompson said in a press release. “I’ve been honored to work for the people of Alabama and I hope they will allow me to continue to do so as their next State Auditor.”
Thompson served under Beth Chapman in the State Auditor’s Office as a senior aide. He currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Jim Bennett.
Since announcing his candidacy last year, Thompson has conducted 70 meetings with GOP chapters across the state. He told Sweet Home Politics that the meetings confirmed his belief that “Alabamians are some of the best people in the country.” He also noted statements from a likely challenger, Anniston attorney Ray Bryan, that the office of the State Auditor should be eliminated and the duties transferred to the Legislature to streamline government.
Thompson questions the impact that removing the independent watchdog agency could have on transparency in Montgomery. “Giving the State Auditor’s duties to the Legislature is like letting the fox guard the hen house,” he said. “It just doesn’t make good sense.”
Among Thompson’s campaign pledges are promises to put the entire state property database online including price, date of purchase and the agency to which it belongs; removing redundancies in paperwork; and increasing government accountability and reigning in spending.
In an amusing but telling story about a “lost” $10,000 Xerox machine, Thompson illustrated the need for greater accountability. “How do you ‘lose’ a copy machine the size of a kitchen table?” Thompson questioned.
Thompson and presumed challenger Bryan will face off in the Republican primary on June 3. The filing deadline for candidacy is April 4.