MCGOP – 23 October 2010

Saturday awoke to another packed house at the Madison County Republican breakfast. 

The speakers were Mo Brooks, Kay Ivey, and Dr. Robert Bentley.  Congressional candidate Mo Brooks took to the microphone waving a broom and asking people to help him “Sweep ‘em all out”!  That is classic Alabama politics – if a dirty ol’ flatbed truck would’ve fit in the room Brooks would’ve raised a cloud of dust sweeping it up.  Mo was having a lot of fun with the stunt, but his message was serious: “our President doesn’t know the America that all of us know” and Obama’s policies are wrecking this country – now is the time to change direction.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey spoke about how her opponent (Little Jim Folsom) as President of the Senate wouldn’t recognize Republican Senators during debates – Ivey said “give these State Senators a voice”.

Candidate for Governor Dr. Robert Bentley spread more love during his speech.  Bentley said that he “has a Doctor’s love” for “all the people of Alabama”,  but “don’t confuse love with weakness”.  Bentley said that Republicans have “got to run as a team” and he urged voters “to vote for every Republican on the ticket”.

Here are some quotes from Dr. Love:
“Give us the chance to prove to you that we can govern right”.
“Public servants should be held to a higher standard”.
“Treat taxpayers like customers”.
And my favorite:
“Government should help create jobs, not create Government jobs”.

Dr. Bentley said that Democrat Ron Sparks “is the most liberal man ever to run for Governor”.  Ron Sparks says he won’t tell a woman what to do with her body, Dr. Bentley says that a baby is a separate person.  Ron Sparks doesn’t believe that States have rights (when asked if he supported the enforcement of the 10th Amendment Sparks said “absolutely not”), Dr. Bentley says the Governor must protect State interests against federal overreaching.

Dr. Bentley said that “there are some evil forces in this State” and promised to convene a Special Session of the legislature within (and at the beginning of) the Regular Session “to pass the toughest ethics law that’s ever been passed by any state in this country”.  Bentley recognized Senator Arthur Orr and Representative Mike Ball as champions of ethics legislation.

Dr. Bentley closed by saying that Alabama is “a loving and patriotic State”.

Steve Doyle of The Huntsville Times wrote “Robert Bentley says he’ll push for “toughest ethics law” if elected Alabama governor”:

Bentley said he expects Sparks and other Democratic candidates to sling a few more “arrows” in the form of negative campaign ads in the coming days.

He referenced a TV commercial by state Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, against his Republican opponent, Shadrack McGill. In the ad, a woman who recently sued McGill over a deal to sell her a restaurant calls the Woodville businessman a “thief” and a “crook.”

McGill has countersued the woman, Sheila Johnson.

“Shad, your opponent is afraid of you, or he wouldn’t be running negative ads,” Bentley said to McGill, drawing loud applause.

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.

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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…