Best in the Barrio

Dan and I road-tripped down to Montgomery yesterday for the Free the Hops Legislative Tasting at the RSA Plaza.  The Tasting provided FTH with an opportunity to speak with about 25 Legislators in support of this year’s Brewery Modernization Act – which should actually be called the Jobs and Industry Creation Act.

After the event, about a dozen FTH organizers went to the El Rey Burrito Lounge in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery (on East Fairview off I65).  Great place – nice atmosphere, tasty food, and great beer and wine selection.

The owner of El Rey joined us for awhile and thanked us for passing the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.  He said that passing that bill had made a world of difference in his business during these tough times.  In comparing his detailed year-to-year sales information – he told us how adding Gourmet Beer to his menu had improved sales enough to offset losses in other areas.  This is a real world anecdote of a FTH talking point – good beer is good for business.  The City of Montgomery has a growing restaurant, people have jobs, and taxes get collected.  Thank you to the Legislators who voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.

This year’s Brewery Modernization Act will create jobs and help grow an industry that’s good for people and good for tourism.

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Got to see my friend Jason of Good People from Birmingham.   We talked about getting their Coffee Oatmeal Stout to Mason’s in downtown Huntsville – I also got to introduce Representative Randy Hinshaw (D-21) to a sample of the stout (he was tentative in his praise, but IMO Randy just wasn’t used to the taste of this big beer).

Jason and I also spoke about brewfests.  FTH is gearing up for the Rocket City Brewfest on May 7 and 8, 2010 at the Depot Roundhouse.  With the rising popularity of brewfests around the country, breweries are having to make tough calls every weekend as to which events they will attend.  For example, Jason said that his brewery had three invitations for events held at the same time as the RCBF – he chose us because Huntsville is an important market for his company – but you get the picture.  Brewfest organizers are increasingly going to have to compete for breweries – and may have to start actually (gasp!) paying for the beer (at cost).

Being the inquisitive and obviously rude person that I am – I asked Jason if Good People was making a profit – I am happy to report that they are, and I’m happy for them – it means that they can keep making and selling great beer!

Dan at Straight to Ale brought a couple of fine beers – his brewery at Lincoln Mills will be opening soon, which along with Olde Towne makes Huntsville the beer capitol of Alabama with TWO breweries!

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Got to see Brent Buchanan and Josh Pendergrass - a couple of the people behind the Public Strategy Associates ‘GOP Governor and Attorney General Poll’.  I also got to meet Matt Braynard from DC, who “worked for the Republican National Committee through three election cycles and was part of the initial team assembled by then Chairman Hailey Barbour to develop the Republican Party’s first national voter database” (the ‘Voter Vault’) – he’s a brilliant guy and very nice.

The poll of “likely Republican primary voters” showed Gubernatorial candidates Bradley Byrne at 20%, Roy Moore at 17%, Tim James at 8%, Robert Bentley at 4%, Kay Ivey at 3%, and Bill Johnson at 2% – with 46% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

The poll showed Attorney General candidates Troy King (incumbent) at 27% and Luther Strange (24%) – with 49% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

IMO this is a good opening poll for the GOP.  It shows that half of the primary voters have a candidate in mind and half are up for grabs (as could be expected).  For the gubernatorial candidates, it reinforces the ‘conventional wisdom’ of Byrne as the leading candidate with Roy Moore a close second.  The poll provides a check to the Moore folks who believe that Moore’s numbers were as high as the 30s or 40s, however, it also shows that Moore has a lot of strength with “very conservative” voters.

IMO the biggest “news” out of the poll is the relative weakness of the incumbent Attorney General Troy King – he is essentially tied with Luther Strange.

Thanks to Public Strategy Associates for conducting the poll – fun reading!

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I also got to meet a lobbyist from Birmingham who is an investment banker.  We talked about the sewer mess (his firm wasn’t involved) – he doesn’t think that Jefferson County can walk from the sewer debt – that a bankruptcy judge would still make the County pay (and possibly appoint a ‘special master’).  We also talked about the legislature wanting to raid the Alabama Trust Fund – he said the legislature shouldn’t “invade the corpus” of the trust fund.

Todd Strange Elected Montgomery Mayor

Montgomery County Commissioner Todd Strange (R – District 1) was elected Mayor of the City of Montgomery yesterday.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports Strange wins with 53 percent of the vote:

Winning 53 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s special election, Todd Strange became Montgomery’s new mayor without a runoff…

“I’m excited. I’m humbled. I’m grateful to each and every one of you,” he said to the group, which included other elected officials, community leaders, campaign volunteers, friends and family.

Strange continued to say that he would soon be ready to “rule this city with a benevolent policy, one that will be inclusive and one that will unify all of the city.”

Interesting fact – Montgomery County was named for Major Lemuel Purnell Montgomery, who was killed in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, while the City of Montgomery was named for General Richard Montgomery, who was killed in 1775 at the Battle of Quebec City while leading the US Invasion of Canada.