Unconditional Surrender









This picture is of a 32 pounder gun in the lower battery at Fort Donelson National Battlefield near Dover Tennessee.  BTW the ’32 pounder’ refers to the weight of the shot, not the cannon (the gun barrel weighs about 4700 pounds).  The capture of Forts Henry (on the Tennessee River) and Donelson (on the Cumberland River) by the Union early during the Civil War forced the Confederates to abandon Kentucky and much of Tennessee.  The Battle of Fort Donelson also launched the careers of U.S. Grant and Nathan Bedford Forrest.  General Grant gained the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” for taking Fort Donelson.

Modern Republicans should learn from our GOP ancestors. 

I’d rather vote for a candidate who vows “to break” our political opponents than one whose first thought is “crossing the aisle” to compromise.  That is why I plan to vote for Bradley Byrne for Governor in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 13. 

I like Dr. Bentley, he’s always been very kind to me, and if he wins I will do everything I can to get him elected.  However, during his campaign speeches Bentley touts crossing the aisle like it’s a good thing – and maybe it is – but right now I want someone who will force the lying, cheating, and stealing Democrats to surrender their corrupt rule in Montgomery…


What do a mover from Florida, a butcher in Tennessee, and me have in common?  We’re all sick and tired of Obama and his socialist regime.  I’ve got to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised when random people start talking about Obama.


I really like John McMillan for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries in the GOP Primary Runoff.  McMillan’s new TV ad describes the Ag Commissioner’s job pretty well in a few seconds.  I like that McMillan considers water quality to be an important issue and that when he was a State Representative he worked on water issues.


Pioneer seed corn is very popular in Western Kentucky – an area which used to be known for tobacco but not so much anymore.  Just to note that politics and history are an inescapable part of life - the Hi-Bred Corn Company (Pioneer) was founded in part by Henry Wallace, the 1948 Progressive Party candidate for President (part of his campaign platform was universal government health insurance – socialized medicine).  Wallace later wrote Where I Was Wrong, explaining how he had been a ‘Useful Idiot’ of the Soviets.

Polls vs polls

Now that the GOP gubernatorial numbers have settled down a little bit, let’s compare the Polls (on June 1st – hat tip to Doc’s) versus the Public Strategy Associates poll (early May).   Bradley Byrne received 28% of the vote vs 24%; Robert Bentley received 25% vs 12%; Tim James received 25% vs 23%; Roy Moore received 19% vs 18%.  PSA observed that 21% of known GOP primary voters were undecided.  In May, PSA said:

“The next couple of weeks will be ‘make or break’ in the governor’s race…” said Brent Buchanan, a partner in Public Strategy Associates. “This is when the heat is on, and a lot can change in the next nineteen days,” he added.

Nice job on the poll.  Looks like the undecideds broke for Dr. Bentley and we’ll see soon enough if he or Tim James is in the runoff (pending the recount – Friday is the deadline). 

The vote difference between Bentley and James is 167 votes – well within the 0.5% error rate mentioned by Susan Fillipelli in comments at Doc’s (which seems to be a pretty good estimate).   My guess is that Bentley made the runoff with Byrne, but James certainly has good reason to request (and pay for) a recount.

Primary runoff turnout generally drops to 66% of the primary turnout, but that’s still roughly 330,000 voters who might show up (the most recent GOP primary runoff in Madison County turned out about 80%! – which could translate into almost 400,000 voters on July 13th).  It’s probably safe to assume that most of Byrne’s 137,000 voters show up and that most of Bentley’s (or James’) 124,000 voters show up: that leaves 69,000 to 139,000 votes ‘undecided’.   None of the candidates’ voters by themselves can take the primary runoff, exempli gratia, Byrne needs to get out all his vote plus add at least another 30,000 votes to win the runoff.

I voted for Byrne and will again, but James and Bentley rounded out my top three choices so I could vote for any of them come November.

Bradley Byrne GOTV

From Erin at the Byrne campaign to Right On Huntsville:

The Byrne campaign is going very well in Madison County. Since your group’s endorsement, we have only felt the momentum grow in this area. The Fish Fry last Saturday was a great success; we had around 400 people attend. It was the best political event the campaign has seen to date. A big thanks to the members who helped make the event a memorable one.

As we get in the last 5 days leading up to the (first) election, we are looking for a few more people to help us ensure a Byrne Victory in North Alabama. We need volunteers to make 25 phone calls each to remind others to Get Out the Vote on June 1st. There’s a short script and a list of names; calls can be made anytime beginning Friday, May 28, and ending Tuesday, June 1, at 6 p.m.

We also need volunteers to be Election Day “cheerleaders” for Bradley throughout the day. Our first priority is to fill the 7-9 a.m. shift at 35 GOP boxes. The REALTORs are working on filling some of these shifts, but I say the more the merrier. We will also look to place people at our biggest boxes from 11:30-1:30 and 4:30-6:30. All we need you to do is stand outside and wave a sign as people pass by.

If either of the above sounds like a winner to you, please let me know ASAP at 334.546.4831 or erinwalker@byrneforalabama.com.

Bradley can’t win up here without your help. The easiest way to jump in is to come by HQ (3125 University Drive) on Monday for a Memorial Day GOTV cookout. You can make 25 calls from here and then have a hot dog and drink. It’ll be a good time. If you want to help out this weekend, we’ll be here 10-5 (at least) tomorrow and Saturday and 1-6 Sunday. I’ll also be here all day Tuesday. You are welcome to come watch the numbers here after work that day.

MCGOP – 15 May 2010

The room was packed this morning for the Madison County GOP breakfast – there’s lots of great energy out there, we’ll see if that energy manifests itself in voter turnout in the primary elections on June 1.

I was lucky enough to find a chair, and got a great seat between Huntsville City Councilman Mark Russell and Huntsville Times ace reporter Challen Stephens.  The more I speak with Russell, the more I’m pleased that I vote for him.  We spoke about the Police Advisory Commission, and he explained the background of why the Council supports the creation of the Commission – and why the Bill Kling ‘compromise’ is a good solution.  We also talked about the Clinton Avenue ‘Parking Garage and Affordable Downtown Housing for Young Professionals’ – thank goodness that project got put on hold. Here’s Challen Stephens’ article “Huntsville city no longer planning to build lofts to lure young professionals downtown”:

…City Councilman Mark Russell, who represents the area, said there always remained too many unanswered questions about the city’s role in creating buildings to be finished and possibly operated by private developers.

Challen Stephens does good work for the Times as “The Watchdog”.  Here’s another one of his recent articles, “Huntsville Housing Authority construction plans questioned”:

One of the volunteers who oversees the Huntsville Housing Authority broke ranks on Monday, voting against plans to build the $17 million Gateway Place senior center downtown.

Specifically, board member Dick Fountain said he’s concerned about millions of federal dollars passing through Huntsville on their way to private companies in Louisville, Ky., and Jacksonville, Fla…

The construction will cost about $11 million, Widman said, and the rest would cover soft costs, such as architect fees and engineering fees. Some members of the audience on Monday questioned those figures.

Don Spurlin, a Republican candidate for the state Senate, told the board that a third of the budget shouldn’t be going to soft costs and overhead. After doing the math to come up with a price tag of $200,000 per apartment, Spurlin simply said: “That seems like a lot.”


The main speakers this morning were Bradley Byrne and Roy Moore.  Here’s a summary of their speeches:

“Do you want Paul Hubbert to pick your next Governor?”
“It is time to take our State back from Paul Hubbert, the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Party.”
“… largest public corruption case in the Nation is going on in Birmingham.”
“we have the weakest ethics laws”
“focus on jobs”
“roads and bridges to support BRAC”
“will do what it takes to fight for the Constellation project”
“Right On Huntsville endorsement”
“I will not back down.”

“Obama is a socialist”
“everything about the Constitution is being undermined”
“we’re going to change the State legislature”
“smaller Government, fewer taxes”
“graduated from West Point”
“you need somebody who knows about the military” (to lead the Guard and Reserve – that line got applause)
“get somebody who will say one thing and do it”

Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times wrote “Moore criticizes Obama, Byrne rails against Hubbert”:

Byrne gave a fiery, if short, speech, lambasting Hubbert, the head of the teachers’ Alabama Education Association…

Byrne has recently been attacked as too liberal in a TV ad sponsored by the True Republican PAC. Hubbert has publicly acknowledged that AEA provided the money for the ad…

“Barack Obama is a socialist,” he (Moore) said…

The only position of Obama’s that he agrees with, said Moore, is the creation of a playoff system for college football. But Moore offered only the most general proposals for his plans, saying he favored smaller government, lower taxes and less regulations.


I got to meet Facebook friend James Lomax in real life.  Lomax is running for Huntsville City Council District 3,  along with Jonathan Hitt, Barry Pendergraft, and John Olshefski.  I’m impressed with his campaigning efforts and that he attends Council meetings.  Attending Council meetings, Board meetings, citizen meetings, etc is time-consuming and I might add kinda boring at times… but it is the life of politicians.

Public Strategy GOP Governor and AG Poll

The good folks at Public Strategy Associates say that GOP gubernatorial candidates Bradley Byrne and Tim James are running “neck and neck” in a race that is “too close to call”. PSA also observes “Luther Strange strongly pulling away from incumbent Troy King in the race for Attorney General”.

In phone surveys conducted by Baselice & Associates with 1,005 known Republican Primary voters, the race for Governor of Alabama appears to be a dead heat between Byrne and James. Byrne is in the lead at 24 percent, with James right behind at 23 percent. The survey found the bottom three contenders are Roy Moore at 18 percent, Robert Bentley at 12 percent and Bill Johnson at 2 percent, with 21 percent undecided.

Survey data in the Republican Primary for Attorney General indicates that Luther Strange has a commanding lead over Troy King, with Strange at 50 percent and King at 25 percent. The percentage of undecided voters in this race is at 25 percent.

Compare that to an earlier PSA poll (from the “Best in the barrio” post):

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.

Brent Buchanan of PSA comments:

“The next couple of weeks will be ‘make or break’ in the governor’s race. It will come down to who has the best message that resonates with the right universe of voters the appropriate amount of times,” said Brent Buchanan, a partner in Public Strategy Associates. “This is when the heat is on, and a lot can change in the next nineteen days,” he added.

Danny at Doc’s wrote “Public Strategy Associates Releases Independent Polling in GOP Gov & AG Races”.   Thanks to Clinton for the heads up.


A quick look at the GOP Governor’s race sees that Byrne’s support has gained a little, but that James and Bentley have gained lots of ground, and that Moore’s support is stable.  This looks like a three-way race for the primary runoff between Byrne, James, and Moore.

In the GOP Attorney General’s race, Big Luther Strange seems to be getting his money’s worth from his media campaign.

Right On Huntsville endorses Bradley Byrne

Right On Huntsville endorsed Bradley Byrne for Governor citing “his proven leadership, conservative pro-growth vision, and record on ethics reform.  These qualities will enable Byrne to turn Alabama’s economy around, create jobs and restore trust in State Government”.

The endorsement was announced today (May 3) at the RBC Summit Building downtown.  Great view and a beautiful day – someone should think about putting a restaurant up there…  Joel Jaqubino of Right On made the announcement for the group and introduced Byrne.

Byrne gave a short speech focused on the crises that face Alabama: the economy, the budget, public corruption, and now the oil spill.  Byrne said that Alabama has the 4th most corrupt State government in the Nation (Reax – note that the ranking was earned BEFORE the new gambling investigation).  Byrne also mentioned the recent School Board scandal as an example of corruption in the State (that story is known around here as the Smithwick Hijacking).

Byrne said that building roads in Huntsville would be the top priority of his Transportation Department.  He said that’s not just what he tells people up here, but all across the State, from Dothan to Birmingham, he’s explained the need to prioritize roads up here (and that they agree).

Byrne lives on Mobile Bay, so he’s been paying attention to the spill.  Byrne said that it has already cost the seafood industry hundreds of jobs, plus thousands of people are cancelling their beach trips.  Byrne urged people not to cancel their trips – the coastal tourism industry needs you (I say go on down and then help clean up if you can – you’ll do a double good).

Heres a summaryof Byrne’s prepared remarks:

“I’m incredibly honored and grateful to receive the support of these conservative leaders.  Right On Huntsville has quickly emerged as a leading force in pushing for conservative economic growth and strong government accountability, two hallmarks of my campaign.  If given the opportunity to serve as your next Governor, I will work hard to build and maintain an environment that fosters a robust economy and we will – once and for all – implement reforms in Montgomery that bring about strong government accountability and restore public trust in our system”.

State Representative Mike Ball and Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong attended the announcement.

Huntsville Governors Forum Report

It’s been awhile since the life-changing Huntsville Governors Forum on March 2 - my notes and memories aren’t getting any better with age.  So finally here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for, the hottest post in the world, the Huntsville Governors Forum report!

To refresh your memories, the Madison County Young Republicans and Right On Huntsville hosted the Forum at the Davidson Center.  Republican gubernatorial candidates Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Bill Johnson, and James Potts attended – note that Kay Ivey has since decided to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link of Redstone Arsenal and Teledyne Brown, Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute, and former Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer were the Forum Panelists.

The event was attended in total by 575 people, but what surprised me was that it was almost like two events: several hundred attended the Reception and several hundred attended the Forum.  Anyway – it was a successful event – the hosts did better than break even (the Davidson Center costs big money – IIRC like $8,000 with catered hors d’ouvres  - but it was worth it).

The Forum began promptly at 6:15, with the Butler High School Air Force ROTC Color Guard presenting the colors.  I was able to spend some time with the cadets and they are great kids – smart and ambitious.  ROTC Instructors Colonel Mike Parsons and Senior Master Sergeant Elijah Porter are creating future leaders – well done!

Retired Colonel John Reitzell led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Clinton Carter of the Madison County Young Republicans introduced the candidates and panelists.  Kudos to Carter for doing a fantastic job of organizing the Forum.  Joel Jaqubino of Right On Huntsville fired up the audience with red meat – and then – the big show…

Loretta Spencer asked about State support for BRAC in terms of roads and infrastructure:

Bentley – signed the gas tax pledge.
James – signed the gas tax pledge, saying “where do we get the biggest return” and “bang for the buck”.
Byrne – cited Maryland BRAC efforts as a model, Governor is “the point of the spear”, State may have to spend more than 100% on the dollar for roads and schools.
Johnson – helped get BRAC jobs, “understands the needs and will deliver”.
Ivey – “focused”, designate senior staff to liaison with City / County leaders to cut red tape, “count on Kay Ivey”.
Potts – Statewide audit, tax-free bonds for infrastructure, subdivisions pay their way, air / water quality of life.

General Jim Link asked for specific ideas to boost the economy:

James – “keep taxes down”, incentivize existing businesses, regulations – “get Government out of the way”.
Byrne – use Universities as key asstes, cited 2-year college Robotics Center, create “Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.
Johnson – get all the BRAC jobs here that are allocated, improve State image, grow exports.
Ivey – economic liberty, entrepreneurship, elevate Office of Economic Development to Cabinet level, workforce development and education.

Unfortunately, I missed Potts’ and Bentley’s answers, as well as Gary Palmer’s question along with the responses to his question from most of the candidates.  We’ll pick back up with Bentley and James’ responses to Palmer’s question:

Bentley – unfunded teachers retirement is huge problem ($5.4 billion plus $1 billion for employee health care), need to refinance over 30-year cycle.  Need Health Savings Accounts. Likes Representative Greg Canfield’s Rolling Budget Plan.
James – elect Republicans to the State House and Senate.

 *** MORE ***

Mayor Loretta Spencer asked about forming a ‘Transportation Commission’ to hire the Alabama Department of Transportation Director:

Johnson – supports “taking the politics” out of road construction.
Ivey – “the last thing you need is another layer of Government”.  Need a firm method of deciding road funding.
Potts – “committees spend money on studies but don’t get anything done”.
Bentley – every time this bill came up he voted for it, he voted against it this time because he’s running for Governor.  The Governor needs a single point of contact, not a commission.
James – no commission.  Removing politics from the process won’t happen.  Need one person in charge.
Byrne – not ready for a commission, maybe in the long term.

General Link said there are 33,000 people who work at Redstone Arsenal.  What role does the State play in protecting Federal jobs such as Constellation?

Ivey – listen and “keep economy healthy, healthy, healthy”.
Potts – keep a close relationship with Senators; work force development; ensure that education produces students who perform grade-level work.
Bentley – BRAC renegotiation in 2015; education; work with Senators and Representatives.
James – believes in limited government, interstate commerce and defense.  Cited lobbying office in Washington for the Air Force tanker program.
Byrne – “intense response to BRAC”.
Johnson – cited the moon landing, “we can’t sit on the sidelines” while China and Russia continue improving their space programs.


Sorry about this, out of time.  Only a few more pages of notes to post.  Maybe starting this post will motivate me to finish it – that’s the plan…

Winter Wonderland Forum

Tuesday, March 2 dawned with snow… fluffy chunks of what Les Phillip calls “Goreflakes”.  

The Republican Women of Huntsville held a gubernatorial forum at the Ledges, which is a beautiful place any day, but it was spectacularly beautiful in the snow.  Tim James on his Facebook said “the snow up in the hills was absolutely breathtaking”.

The forum was moderated by WBHP’s Will Anderson, who did a fine job of asking questions and pressing for answers.  I got to meet Will in person after the event – he recognized my name but couldn’t place it – I mentioned that I’d called his show once before and that we’d talked about Obama’s looming defense and NASA cuts (which have since happened).  I was impressed that Will recalled the conversation.  We also talked about Brian’s social skills (“wounded rat”) and Will’s compliments to Brian’s posts (calling Flashpoint the “Heritage Foundation of Alabama”).

The forum agenda called for each of the five candidates attending (Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, and Bill Johnson) to give a short opening speech, followed by three questions each, and ending with closing remarks.  Here are some snippets:

Kay Ivey – “it’s women who manage money”
Bradley Byrne – “the #1 issue is not bingo, it’s putting our people back to work”
Bill Johnson – asked about education said “not everyone will go to college” and proposed improving technical and trade education
Bradley Byrne – asked about education said “we shouldn’t let the Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party (AEA’s Paul Hubbert) rob our children of their future”
Robert Bentley – asked about health care said “form Health Insurance Exchange” and ‘scholarships for medical students with committments to practice in underserved areas’
Kay Ivey – asked about her greatest single skill said “leadership standing on principle” and mentioned that she’s been vilified for PACT but that “Governors don’t get to choose crises”
Tim James – about PACT said “the problem is we lost balance” and that trust fund money should be more carefully invested
Bill Johnson – “always votes against taxes” because “it’s personal”
Tim James – “I’m a businessman” who’s “created private sector jobs”
Robert Bentley – “the State is in pain and you need a Doctor”

Thanks to the Republican Women of Huntsville for a great event – there were more than 250 people there – what a turnout!  I think the GOP is going to have a good year…

Huntsville Governors Forum

The Huntsville Governors Forum will be held Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at the Davidson Center.  The forum will start at 6:15PM and the public is invited.

The Huntsville Times wrote “Six of seven Republican candidates for Alabama governor to appear at forum”:

The forum will be moderated by a panel including retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link, former commanding general of Redstone Arsenal and former president of Teledyne Brown Engineering; Gary Palmer, president of the Alabama Policy Institute; and former Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer.

“Huntsville and North Alabama have not always been at the ‘epicenter of attention’ for candidates for political office, but I believe the scope and size of the Huntsville Governors Forum shows that we are gaining influence in the state’s political process,” said Clinton Carter, chair of the Madison County Young Republicans and the forum’s chair. “We feel that the forum will provide a great opportunity for voters to hear directly from the Republican candidates for governor, including where they stand on a variety of issues that are important to Huntsvillians.”

The forum will commence with the Presentation of the Colors by Butler High School’s Air Force ROTC Color Guard, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation.

Each panelist will ask two questions – each candidate will have 90 seconds to respond to each question (which is a long time in forum time).  We’ve scheduled an hour for all three panelists to ask  their two questions and get responses from the six candidates (remember – 90 second answers).

We’ve scheduled 15 minutes for a ten question “Lightning Round”.  Each candidate gets 30 seconds to respond to these questions ranging from Free the Hops Brewery Modernization to charter schools to improving trade and technical schools, along with the obligatory gambling question.  We’ve tried to come up with some questions that are different from those asked at other venues…

We’ve also scheduled 15 minutes for a potentially exciting “Round Robin”, where each candidate gets to directly ask one other candidate a question.

Even though the Forum is competing with NCIS, we expect to have a fine turnout and we’d love to see YOU there!

Thanks to The Huntsville Times for writing about the Huntsville Governors Forum – I think that the event will generate some news content for you…