Campaigns – Isackson

The election season will be heating up pretty soon, people are thinking about becoming candidates, and candidates are thinking about campaigning.

Adam Isackson is writing a book about local political campaign management and posted some of his thoughts at REDSTATE.  So far, Isackson has posted two articles:  “Things to consider before running for public office” and  “Precinct analysis and canvassing strategy”.   Anyone interested in the subject should read the articles.

Here are some of the questions Isackson suggests that one considers before running for public office:

Are you willing and able to commit the time necessary?
Are you financially stable?
What effects will running have on your finances?
Are you the best candidate for the job?
Are you willing to have your baggage aired out in public?
Do you have strong interpersonal skills?
Can you ask people for money?
Would you likely face primary opposition?
Are you electable?
Can you build a strong campaign infrastructure?

Isackson’s precinct analysis and canvassing strategy article is very detailed.  Here are some snippets to pique your interest:

Local campaigns in particular are largely about meeting more voters then your opponent. You can only meet a small percentage of likely voters by attending community functions and meetings. To reach the rest of them you need to go door to door. In a local campaign where you face any, even minor opposition this shouldn’t be a matter of debate. Going door to door should be a, if not the central aspect of your campaign for public office.

…Good maps will save you a TON of time out in the field.

…First and foremost you’re going to want to look at the most relevant recent elections data and look at the precinct by precinct results.

…Another thing you want to consider before you start pounding the pavement is the use of walking lists. If you’re running for partisan office you’re going to want to get a hold of your state or local political party and find out what resources they have available.

I’ll be on the lookout for more from Isackson…

Bentley meet and greet on the square

From the Dr. Robert Bentley for Governor campaign:

We are having a Meet and Greet for Dr. Bentley at 216 West Side Square, Huntsville Alabama 35801 (Historic Regions Bank Building) from 1:15 to 2:15 on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.  If you are interested in meeting Dr. Bentley and/or hearing him speak, please come to this event.  Your admission price is to bring a friend.

Also, for those involved in the real estate and/or construction industries, we will have another meet and greet at the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association, located at 2804 Bob Wallace Avenue, later that afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30.

We have a tight schedule for him that day, but we hope that you can be with us during one of these time periods to meet the next governor of our great state!  Please do not be concerned about dress.  Dr. Bentley, being a strong supporter of Alabama’s work force, wants to meet you regardless of whether your collar is white, blue or dirty, so please come out and join us on Wednesday afternoon!


We’ve been writing about Robert Bentley since he announced his candidacy for Governor.   BTW, Dr. Bentley supports local restaurants – he and his campaign ate Stanlieo’s subs that day (this is the type of hard-hitting ‘reporting’ you can expect from me).

Brian and I interviewed Dr. Bentley when we filled in for Dale Jackson on WVNN (we’re the true Kingmakers!):

Dr. Bentley described his plan to create scholarships for Primary Care Physicians who commit to working in underserved areas.  He also talked about Health Savings Accounts and we asked him if the State could implement some sort of ‘Individual Development Account’ for Health Care.  We asked Bentley about his Economic Development ideas – he prefers that the State encourage existing / local industries to grow, as opposed to giving (m/b)illions to foreign companies (id est Thyssen-Kruppe).

Huntsville Governors Forum Website

The Madison County Young Republicans and Right On Huntsville are hosting the Huntsville Governors Forum on Tuesday March 2, 2010 at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center’s Davidson Center. 

The forum is open to the public and starts promptly at 6:15PM – that’s when the Butler High School Junior Air Force ROTC Color Guard opens the event with the presentation of the colors.  If you know their Instructor, then you know that this event -shall- start on time.

There will be a private Reception with the Gubernatorial candidates starting  at 5:00PM (tickets are $50 each, available online).

I’m announcing a milestone of sorts – the Huntsville Governors Forum website is UP!  Check it out!  The links work!  The reception ticket ordering system works!

We are developing a questionnaire for the candidates - their responses will be featured at the HGF website.  There will be nine questions – plus the softball.  If you have a question that you’d us to consider, or if you’d like to chime in on which questions we should ask, please comment.  Note that a Free the Hops question will (likely) be asked during the Forum itself.  Also note that a question on tapping into the Alabama Trust Fund will (likely) be asked during the Forum.  Here’s a draft list of questions:

1.  Do you support Initiative and Referendum?
2.  Do you support the re-authorization of Forever Wild?
3.  What is your position on gambling?  Do you support dog-tracks, lottery, casinos, bingo, making a compact with the Creeks?
4.  Alabama is currently coping with budget shortfalls that have led to pro-ration and forced the state to use the “rainy day fund”.  What solution would you pursue as Governor? If spending cuts or tax increases are involved please provide specifics.
5.  What measures would you support to increase transparency and accountability in our state government?
6.  Do you support eliminating the grocery sales tax? If so, how do you propose to replace the lost revenue?
7.  What is your position on Constitutional Reform? Would you support a Constitutional Convention?
8.  What role should the state play in economic development?
9.  What ideas do you support for conserving the natural (environmental) and cultural heritage of Alabama?
10. What ideas do you have for roads and bridges – what is your transportation plan and how will you fund it?
11. What economic development incentives or initiatives do you propose and how will you pay for it?
12.  What ideas do you propose for improving health care?
13.  How often should property valuations for property taxes be conducted?
14.  Is PACT a promise and if so, how will you fund it?  Should the program be continued?
15. What ideas do you propose for improving education?
16.  What do you think about the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
17.  How are you going to break the AEA’s hold on State government?
18.  How do you plan to allocate gas tax revenues?
19.  How much do you love guns and the Second Amendment?
20.  Do you support limiting the use of Eminent Domain?  What is your definition of “public use”?
21.  What water policy ideas do you support?
22. What ideas do you propose for improving trade and technical education?
23.  Do you support a State-wide system of building regulations and inspections?
24. What are your views on marriage?
25.  How will you improve public safety?

Madison County GOP Breakfast – 1/16/2010

Congressman Parker Griffith (R) attended the Madison County Republican breakfast this morning, creating quite a buzz.  Griffith’s welcome ranged from warm hugs and handshakes to curiosity to silent disapproval.  The leadership didn’t exactly embrace Griffith – they didn’t seat him at the head table as might be expected for a sitting Congressman of your party.

I introduced myself to Griffith, telling him that I wasn’t sure if he’d show up to one of our meetings and that I respected him for attending.  Griffith said that he’d heard of Flashpoint (unsurprising since we covered the Huntsville Hospital documents pretty extensively during the last campaign).  I made Griffith the same offer that I made to the Artur Davis (D) campaign; we’ll post event notifications or issue papers sent to us from his campaign.  I hope Griffith takes us up on the offer.

The GOP breakfast was packed with more than 300 people.  You can really tell that the campaign season has started - lots of officials and candidates. In addition to Griffith, AL05 Congressional candidates Mo Brooks and Les Phillip attended (Les is probably so looking forward to reading “The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire” – he and I – and Mo – share a love of history).  Attendees included: State Representatives Phil Williams (6), Mike Ball (10) and Howard Sanderford (20); House 20 candidate David Pinkleton; Senate 9 candidates Tony Cochran, Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin, and John Wilson; State Board of Education candidate Mary Scott Hunter; Sheriff Blake Dorning; Judges Dick Richardson and Dennis O’Dell; DA Rob Broussard; Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong; HSV Councilman Mark Russell; HSV Board of Education member Jennie Robinson; Madison Councilman Tim Cowles; and Madison County Board of Education candidate David Vess.  Forgive me if I left anyone off the list.

Talk radio superstar Dale Jackson of WVNN attended the breakfast. 

John McMillan, candidate for Agriculture and Industries Commissioner, deserves a special mention.  McMillan was endorsed by 26 Republican legislators – which is unusual for a primary and speaks to the respect McMillan has gained through years of public service.


The meeting featured speeches by the candidates for State Senate 9 (South Huntsville, Marshall County, and part of Blount County).  We are blessed to have such fine people running to replace incumbent Senator Hinton Mitchem (D).  Here are excerpts from their speeches (keep in mind it’s tough for me to eat and write at the same time):

Tony Cochran – if elected, he will be the only CPA in the legislature, which he says will benefit the budget process. “Democrats are bankrupting the State of Alabama”.  Supports Charter Schools.  Prevent AEA executives from participating in State retirement plan.  Rolling reserve budget system (Canfield).  Pro-life.  Pro-gun.  Illegal immigration – TN trains 10% of its troopers to be ICE officers.

Clay Scofield – this is “the year of the conservative”.  Pro-life. Pro-Second Amendment. Ethics – “we have to create an environment where being a legislator is unprofitable”. Tell Hubbard NO; “40% of the eductaion budget is spent in the boardroon and not in the classroom”. “Take care of home-grown businesses”.  Note that Clay is a young man, someone at my table who didn’t know him said he was “pretty impressive”.

Don Spurlin – “Small Government, low taxes, Constitution, pro-family, pro-life”.  Education – “focus on the classroon”, math and reading initiative.  “I believe in the ABC’s, not the AEA’s”.  Economy – “Provide what employer’s need: trained workforce, industry-ready worksites, infrastructure”.  Marshall County is impacted more by illegal immigration than any other County in the State.  Don noted that Governor Riley praised the Alabama DHR for a record number of adoptions in the State of the State address. Spurlin praised the Marshall County DHR who also had a record number of adoptions.

John Wilson – “Lifelong conservative Republican”. Wilson noted that Sen. Hinton Mitchem was a “no-show” at the Madison County Legislative Delegation’s forum.  PACT – the State has a “moral obligation to honor the contract”.  Support gas tax pledge. Illegal immigration – supports E-Verify and suspending business licenses of employers who don’t make a good faith effort to comply.  “John Wilson reporting for duty”.

Pinkleton Announces for State House 20

From the Pinkleton campaign:

David Pinkleton will be challenging Rep. Howard Sanderford in the Republican Primary on June 1st for State House District 20. David will bring energy and excitement to the District 20 race. He knows the state budget is of great concern to the constituents of District 20. As a state legislator, David will work hard to make sure that state government does more with less.

“The forecast is gloomy for Alabama. The Governor is hedging on stimulus money to balance the state’s checkbook at a time when my generation will have to live with the consequences of the state budget. That’s why I am running and that’s why I need your support,” Pinkleton said.

As a state legislator, David will push the envelope in Montgomery to ensure greater transparency in government on a local and state level. David will also work alongside other Madison County lawmakers to ensure that much needed road and bridge repair in Madison County begins prior to the influx of 10,000+ defense related jobs by 2011 as a result of BRAC.

Additional information about David Pinkleton can be found on his Facebook page.

Tim James wins MCGOP Straw Poll

Gubernatorial candidate Tim James received 35% of the vote at a standing-room only meeting of the Madison County GOP.  Bradley Byrne came in second with 26% and Roy Moore came in third with 15%.  Undecided got 10%, Robert Bentley got 7%, Kay Ivey got 4%, Bill Johnson 3%, and James Potts got less than 1%.

Tim James attended the meeting and it appears  that his personal campaigning may have helped earned him the win.  In a departure from previous straw polls, this poll was open to MCGOP members only.

Spurlin at Rosies

Quick…  You’ve got a few minutes to speak with a candidate who may be the next State Senator for District 9… What do you talk about? 

Jobs?  Forever Wild?  Roads?  Ethics reform?  HHA?

If you guessed Bitty Baby dolls, you’re right!

Yep, we got to talking and the next thing you know, it’s American Girl and Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins and Barbie (all Mattel products).  Imagine a group of, ahem, serious guys gathered together to talk politics, then imagine Joel Jaqubino of Right On Huntsville boasting that he likes to play Barbies with his daughter.  To be fair, we did focus more on the business side of American Girl dolls, including their fantastic customer service (just in case Bitty Boy needs to go to the doll hospital).

Later on, after that display of manliness, we did get to speak about some issues – mostly background about Marshall County (jobs; crime; assessing political strength in Albertville, Guntersville, and Arab).

As regular readers know, I like to get a feel for a candidate’s life.  I’m fascinated by the topics that arise in that discussion.  Don Spurlin shared a sweet story about his daughter Emma and her doll – there is more to life than politics…

Meet Don Spurlin Tuesday November 17

Republican candidate Don Spurlin will be at Rosies on South Parkway for a Meet and Greet, starting at 7PM  (Tuesday, November 17, 2009).   He is running for State Senate District 9 (comprised of much of South Huntsville, Marshall County, and part of Blount County).  The GOP Primary features Spurlin, John Wilson, and Tony Cochrane – all vying for the opportunity to face incumbent Hinton Mitchem (D) in the general election.

Events like this are a nice way of getting to know a candidate, and even better, to inform the candidate of your concerns.

Here’s my background post on State Senate 9.

Focus on State Senate 9

Question: What do South Huntsville, Marshall County, and some of Blount County have in common?

Answer:  An invisible State Senator, Hinton Mitchem (D – Union Grove).
Mitchem has been in the Senate since 1979, and was a State Representative before that (elected in 1975).  More from Doc’s Political Parlor “Key Senate Dem Considers Party Switch”

The eight-term Senator was elected Senate President pro tempore at the start of the quadrennium in a deal brokered to keep the minority Republicans from organizing a majority caucus with so-called dissident Democrats. Two years later in February of this year, as a part of the deal, he stepped down as Senate President pro tem in favor of Rodger Smitherman (D – Birmingham).

There are three candidates running in the GOP Primary to oppose Mitchem in the General Election: Tony Cochrane of Albertville, Don Spurlin of Albertville, and John Wilson of Huntsville.

State Senate 9 includes Huntsville roughly south of Airport Road and east of the Parkway, all of Marshall County (Guntersville, Albertville, Boaz, Arab, and Grant), plus some of Blount County.  The District has varied interests and concerns: South Huntsville is concerned with residential issues (education, safety, traffic, quality of life); Marshall County’s major employers are poultry processing plants which employ more than 6,000 people (e.g., Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson) and illegal immigration is an issue.  The nickname ‘Meth Mountain’ also describes an issue in Marshall County; while I’ve heard that the area does not manufacture as much meth anymore, it is still plagued by smuggling gangs based in Mexico.  Fun fact – Albertville is the ‘Hydrant Capital of the World’ (Mueller Company).

The District includes Guntersville Dam, Guntersville State Park, the confluence of the Tennessee River with the Flint River,  and the confluence of the Tennessee River with the Paint Rock River.  BTW the Paint Rock forms much of the border between Madison and Marshall Counties.  The Paint Rock River is a national treasure – I’m hoping that Forever Wild is able to buy some more of the land surrounding the river.  The Paint Rock was designated a navigable waterway from the junction with the Tennessee up to Larkin’s Fork by the State Legislature (Acts of 1825) - meaning that section of the river’s water is a public resource.  We get our water in Huntsville downstream from the Flint River – which makes it our local treasure.

Politically speaking, the area is ripe for a pick up by the GOP.  The Madison County Commission 5th District is represented by our friend Mo Brooks, who has broad support in South Huntsville.  Marshall County has turned into a GOP-friendly area (IIRC all of the County Commissioners are GOP).  IIRC the District is roughly 10% Blount County, 50% Marshall County, and 40% South Huntsville.

Tim James to sign highway tax pledge

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim James announced that he will sign the Madison County highway tax pledge.  He joins fellow Republicans Bill Johnson and Bradley Byrne in pledging to increase road funding for Madison County.  From James’ blog:

If elected Governor of Alabama, I will create a special statewide BRAC initiative to coordinate all communities to be prepared for the 2015 review. This will help give us the competitive edge for not only Huntsville but also Montgomery with Maxwell Air Force Base, the Wiregrass with Fort Rucker, Anniston with the Army Depot, and Lee and Russell Counties with nearby Fort Benning, Georgia.

Let’s take the approach that everyone in Alabama benefits from a BRAC transfer to an Alabama military base. As a result, we need to focus our state resources to invest in highways, bridges, sewer systems and schools for communities that will need to meet BRAC requirements.

To this end, I am signing the pledge to commit at least 80 percent of Madison County highway tax revenues back to Madison County. 

I’m pleased that James reconsidered his position on the pledge.   Road funding for Madison County has been out of whack – our taxes will still fund projects in the rest of the State, but we need more than the $0.53 for each dollar we send to Montgomery.

Brian wrote about this as a ‘campaign gimmick’, but since it is the Madison County Commission, City of Huntsville, and City of Madison who are pushing the pledge, and not the candidates, I don’t see it as much of a gimmick.  I see it more as our local politicans addressing the issue.

What about the other candidates?