Deepwater Horizon – Top Kill Update

Or to be more accurate – no update.

“Operations continue,” BP spokesman Jon Pack told UpstreamOnline.  “There are no further updates. It is difficult to say when there will be…it could take up to two days.”

It does not appear the drilling mud has eroded the riser or increased the flow rate so far, but in a worst-case scenario flow could increase 15%…

The Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller III… was continuing down hole at 11,000 feet below the drilling floor Wednesday on the first of two relief wells.  Suttles said on Friday that the rig was “slightly ahead of schedule.” 

Transocean semi-sub Development Driller II is drilling… at 8650 feet…  Both rigs spud their wells about 3000 feet from the original Macondo bore.  They will drill vertically to about 10,000 feet before directionally drilling to intercept Macondo at roughly 18,000 feet…

Once either well intercepts the Macondo bore, BP can pump cement and plug the producing zone.  Suttles said the company has no plans to ever produce from the Macondo well because it has been damaged beyond repair.

The Oil Drum has details about the Top Kill attempt complete with pictures and animations.  Read it to get a feel for the complexity of the situation and to see the tools and processes used in the procedure.

Our friends at ALFIN also make some good observations:

The range of 12,000 to 19,000 bpd is higher than the earlier USCG / NOAA estimate of 5,000 barrels per day, but is far lower than the fantastical estimates by academics from Purdue, UCB, and other universities who estimated flow rates to 100,000 barrels per day and higher. The higher spill rate would put the Deepwater Horizon spill above the Exxon Valdez in total volume spilled — although that is not taking evaporation into account.

Journalists and Obama — who are looking for “an unprecedented disaster — want to compare the spill to the Exxon Valdez in order to prove that the apocalypse has come. But the Deepwater Horizon spill is not comparable to the Exxon Valdez spill for many reasons: a deep undersea leak far offshore vs. a surface container spill close to shore; a lighter crude with high proportions of gas vs. a heavier crude; the warm fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico vs. the frigid waters of Prince William Sound; the active Gulf Loop Current into open seas vs. the relatively closed waters of the Sound . . . and so on.


Obama fired (or she resigned)  Minerals and Management Service boss Elizabeth Birnbaum.  Birnbaum was a Congressional lawyer, Clinton functionary, and environmental activist before her appointment to MMS in July 2009.  Praise Obama for firing her, but he just fixed his prior error in her appointment (thank goodness it wasn’t a lifetime appointment – see Sotomayor or soon Kagan).

Our Congressman Parker Griffith (who is originally from Louisiana) sent the following email:

This morning, Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the Minerals Management Service agency that oversees drilling operations, was fired. She was supposed to testify as a witness this afternoon in a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about “Combating the BP Oil Spill”. Parker will be questioning witnesses at this hearing and will propose the question to the witnesses that if the Administration has done everything correctly – as it says it has – then why are heads rolling on their end?

To watch the full committee hearing, please visit this link – (click the box on the right side of the page titled “Live Webcasts”)

Note – I bolded the good part.


BP is investigating the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion:

In a statement, BP said: “The investigation team’s work thus far shows that this accident was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment.

“There were multiple control mechanisms – procedures and equipment – in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.”

The company also said there is much the inquiry still needs to do – as well as carrying out further interviews, full forensic examinations of the blowout preventer (BOP), wellhead, and the rig itself – all of which are still currently on the sea bed – need to be done.

BP said: “The investigation is focused on the following seven mechanisms.

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;
2. The casing system, which seals the well bore;
3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;
4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the BOP;
5. The BOP emergency disconnect system, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;
6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig; and
7. Features in the BOP to allow remotely operated vehicles to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.”

Chief executive Tony Hayward said: “I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame.

“The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.

So much in life is “unprecented” nowadays…  Or could it be that the term is overused?


Here’s a good editorial from Upstream Online Editor Erik Means:

Could there be any worse remedy to the precarious situation at Macondo than having it taken over by government?

Truth be told, Salazar and his boss President Barack Obama are under no illusion that their administration holds expansive knowledge of oilfield operations and reservoir management. But they are struggling to appear in public to be doing something assertive about a horrible spill that in reality is entirely out of their control.

On a scale of one to 10, the Macondo debacle is a 12 for BP. The stained shoreline in Gulf states is an equally huge stain on the reputation of the UK supermajor. The 11 lost lives will haunt the company for years to come.

If anyone seriously thinks that BP is not doing everything in its power to cap that rogue well and clean up the spill, then their vision has been clouded by tears of rage.

This is not to say that BP did not mess up badly in the events that led to the blow-out and blast that triggered the catastrophe. Evidence suggests increasingly that it did.

But in the given circumstances, I would have a hard time pointing to a company other than BP that I would rather have in charge of regaining control of the well. ExxonMobil, perhaps, but one would hope that those two supermajors – now respectively responsible for the two worst spills in US history – have had an open line of communication on how to deal with the out-of-control well.


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is out in front on the oil spill (in what is an unfortunate but instructive test of his leadership).  From the DHIJIC:

The National Incident Commander for the BP oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, today approved the implementation of a section of Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal that could help stop oil from coming ashore and where work could be completed the fastest—as an integrated part of the federal response to the BP oil spill.

This step will save Louisiana the cost of construction for this section by integrating it with the federal government’s ongoing oil spill response—thus paving the road for payment by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

There’s an old adage that it’s easier to get forgiveness than approval.  Governor Jindal was moving ahead with the constructi0n of ‘barrier islands’ without Army Corps of Engineers approval, so they went ahead and gave their ‘approval’:

The Army Corps of Engineers has granted partial approval for Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal, covering approximately half of the state’s original request and including six sections.

Under this permit, but without coordination with Admiral Allen and the Unified Command, Louisiana is authorized to construct the barrier islands at its own expense, so long as construction meets the terms and conditions established by the Army Corps of Engineers and any other required permits are obtained. If Louisiana moves forward, they will need to address all potential costs and environmental impacts.

Barrier islands get moved around alot and wash away (look at Dauphin Island – did you know that it used to be the biggest French colonial port in the US until a hurricane filled in the harbor).   This action is a risk for Jindal but he is well on the way to proving himself capable of handling a crisis (just in time for the 2012 Presidential election).  Compare that to Obama who uses a crisis to advance his political agenda.

Community Boathouse

Congressman Parker Griffith is running a TV ad that says:

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money is being wasted on pork barrel projects and, earmarks to buy votes including $100,000 for a boathouse.
Career Politician
Big Spender
Part of the Problem
I’m Parker Griffith and I approve this message.

Whatever goodwill Griffith’s previous ads may have gained him just went out the scuppers.  Maybe a casual voter will believe the ad, but anyone who’s been paying attention to local politics knows that Mo Brooks isn’t a big spender – just the opposite – he’s a bulwark against spending.

The Rocket City Rowing Club held a Press Conference today at the Boathouse on Hobb’s Island Road mentioned in Griffith’s ad.  WHNT19, The Huntsville Times, and Huntsville Newswire covered the event. 

Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times wrote “Boathouse stirs political row”:

Brooks does indeed pass out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars each year, tax dollars he often delivers in person at PTA meetings.

But he wasn’t alone on this project.

The old boathouse had been condemned. The county paid $7,000 for the land for the new one. Commissioners Mike Gillespie and Faye Dyer combined to chip in $30,000 toward the project. Commissioner Jerry Craig provided labor.

Here are the Huntsville Newswire reports: “Griffith: Boathouse good example of out of control spending” and “Rowers to politicians: Keep us out of your campaigns”.

Since the Boathouse is owned by Madison County and Brooks is a County Commissioner, IMO it’s a valid campaign issue (even if bringing it up is bilgewater).  That said, the Boathouse is no different from ballfields, dog parks, marinas, nature trails, or other public facilities which provide quality of life improvements to segments of the population.  IMO this is an appropriate use of County taxes (would I complain if Federal taxes were used to build a boathouse in Madison County – you betcha).


This is what I learned about the Boathouse and the Rocket City Rowing Club…  The Boathouse opened in 2008 and replaced a condemned boat shed.  Total construction cost was about $155,ooo with $30,000 of that donated by the Rocket City Rowing Club (great deal for the County).  The Boathouse is a four bay metal building: one bay for community boats, one bay for UAH Crew, and two bays for Rocket City Rowing.  Note that the bays are rented out to these organizations (or for community / public rental).  There are about 35 boats in dry storage, some costing as much as $30,000.   The Boathouse is owned by Madison County, managed by UAH, and the grounds are maintained by RCRC.

Rocket City Rowing Club competes against teams from all over the Southeast (e.g., the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga) and hosts the Hobb’s Island Regatta (October 16, 2010).  BTW our Boathouse is a “doghouse” compared to the Chattanooga boathouse (for those who like to compare us to Chattanooga).

RCRC noted that some kids receive scholarships for their involvement in crew – for example I heard that a Randolph HS kid earned a scholarship to MIT – for crew.


Along with being a beautiful day to spend by the River, today was clean up day – so there were about 50 kids and adults cleaning boats, scrubbing floors, and mowing grass.  As it should be, the kids were doing most of the work, led by their coxswains (the kid in charge of each boat).  I was pleased to meet this group of people – they contribute a lot to our community and have fun while doing it.


UAH Congressional Forum

From the “Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty”:

A Republican Congressional Forum will take place on Monday, April 12, 2010 at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The hosting organization, The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, is inviting the public to attend this free of charge event. North Alabama’s 5th Congressional District candidates, Mo Brooks, Parker Griffith, and Les Phillip have confirmed their participation in this event. The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, an association of middle and high school students, will solicit questions for the forum from organizations around town and from several area schools. This is not an opportunity to protest, but instead a time to listen and hear what the candidates have to say.

The forum will be held in the University Center/Admissions Building on the UA Huntsville Campus. The doors will be opened to the public at 6:30pm with the program beginning at 6:45pm. The forum will begin at 7:00pm and end at 9:00pm. A straw poll will be taken and the results will be announced at the end of the forum. Members of the media are invited to attend and are welcome to collect questions from throughout the community and then submit them to the pool of questions for the candidates.

I’m not familiar with The Consortium of Students for Justice and Liberty, can someone tell us about the group?

Huntsville Tea Party AL05 surveys

The Huntsville Tea Party posted questionnaire responses from Mo Brooks, Parker Griffith, and Les Phillip.  The questions include:

1. Why are you running for office?
2. Is it better to have individual or collective rights?  Why?
3. What is the role of our federal government?
4. Does Congress have few and defined powers, or numerous and indefinite?  What powers will you have as a lawmaker in Washington DC, if you are elected? 
5. Will you vote for or support any bills that are not derived from a specific power granted in the US Constitution?
6.  Will you champion an effort to repeal passed legislation that is unconstitutional (i.e., federal bailouts, legislation that gives the federal government more control over our health care)?  Do you have a specific plan of action for repealing this type of legislation, and, if so, what is it?
7. Do you agree with the following quote?  “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them.  To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators”.  How do you interpret the general welfare clause (Article 1, section 8.1)?
8.  How do you interpret the commerce clause (Article 1, section 8.3)?
9.  What are your solutions for job growth in Alabama?
10.  What do you see as the proper balance between what the Federal government should do and what should be left to the states?
11. What will you do to balance the United States’ budget?
12.  What will you do to protect our borders and eliminate illegal immigration into our country?
13. What will you do to help America become energy-independent?
14. Will you commit to meeting with the Huntsville Tea Party for a town hall with your constituents during your first year, if elected?
15.  Candidate-specific questions…

Great questions with informative responses!  The Tea Party interjects comments after some of the responses – the whole set makes for interesting reading.

MCGOP – 20 February 2010

I attended the Madison County Republican breakfast Saturday morning – the place was packed – extra chairs had to be pulled out for seating.  This shows a lot of interest and energy in the Alabama Republican Party, given that the scheduled speakers were “statewide Republican candidates with primary opposition” – that is, no big names were advertised.

The ‘biggest’ speaker was State Senator Hank Erwin, running for Lieutenant Governor.  I’d never met Erwin, but I’ve agreed with him on some issues and disagreed with him on others (he was the biggest opponent of last year’s Gourmet Beer Bill).  I got to speak with him early and found that he’s a nice guy – I’d already thought of him as a pretty good politician.  He talked about passing movie industry incentives last year and how he’d like to recruit ‘wholesome family movies’ to Alabama.  I wonder if the incentives helped bring Bear Grylls’ nude bottom (Man vs Wild) to Alabama…

I caught up with Erwin after the event to speak with him about Free the Hops and the Brewery Modernization Act.  I think he was somewhere between uncomfortable and amused with our discussion.  I hope to turn him around on FTH, but regardless, he has my vote.


Congressman Parker Griffith attended the breakfast.  As usual, Elbert Peters announced the names of elected officals attending and asked for people to hold their applause until all the elected officials were recognized.  Griffith received (light but enthusiastic) applause anyway.  He wasn’t alone in receiving applause, but I thought I’d point it out.

Griffith and I chatted before the breakfast – he recognized me as a contributor here at Flashpoint.  For the record, his face wasn’t beet-red.  Also for the record, the man is a gifted politician.

As someone interested in the art of politics, I think that Griffith is a talented politican and I’ve mused that he wouldn’t have switched parties unless he thought he could win.  So, I asked him how he thinks he can win.

Griffith began by saying that the Congressional Democrats were more liberal than he thought (if only he had read Flashpoint! – and if only I’d been quick enough on my feet to remember that quip!) and that the Democrat leadership was too liberal to work with - Democrats were opposed to issues critical to Alabama like manned space flight and defense.  Griffith mentioned a recent encounter with someone who criticized him for switching parties and he noted that Ronald Reagan and Richard Shelby and Fob James also switched parties (IIRC Reagan and James weren’t in office when they switched).  Griffith noted that the GOP leadership assigned him to the Energy and Commerce Committee – unlike some who diminish this Committee’s power I think that it’s a peach appointment – it’s one of the most powerful committees in the House.  I mentioned that Griffith had gotten a good welcome to the party with the Davidson fundraiser.

An interesting point that Griffith brought up was the number of Republican crossovers who voted for him when he was a Democrat – he’s certainly counting on their votes this time. 

Here’s ace reporter Challen Stephens of  The Huntsville Times on the committee appointment (“Griffith says he’s satisfied with the way he changed parties”):

Griffith, as a new Republican, has emerged as the only freshman member of Congress on the Energy and Commerce committee, a group that touches roughly half of the legislation in Congress. That includes health care and communications reforms, and energy policy, foreign commerce and consumer protection.

Before people start thinking I’ve gone over to Griffith’s side, let me say that he’s my third choice.  However before he was elected to Congress I said that I could vote FOR Griffith on the issues – this was before the hospital scandal.  My biggest problem is still the Huntsville Hospital documents – I read them and they’re disturbing – but I’m left wondering if that’s just me.  After all, Griffith wasn’t arrested and he still has his medical license – if he really did cause “unwarranted pain and suffering” to his patients then something should have been done years ago.  I don’t think I got played – the documents were real – but maybe they didn’t give me the whole story (does that mean I got played?).  That whole mess is disturbing – no wonder people wanted to ignore it.

I spoke with a few people about Griffith’s switch – he’s got a surprising amount of support.  Some of his biggest GOP detractors will vote for him over any Democrat.  IMO if he makes it through the primary – he’ll win the election.

One of the most intriguing items to come from the day was an invitation for Brian and me to meet with Griffith – given that whatever we write on this blog we’ll say to someone’s face - won’t that be interesting…

RELEASE: Griffith: ‘Administration Making Huge Mistake Cutting Constellation Program’

I’m on Congressman Griffith’s ‘press’ list now and I’ve been receiving almost daily press releases, including this one today:

February 2, 2010
Contact: Brecke Latham

Here is the text of Griffith’s statement (he includes a YouTube video too):

“I’m extremely disappointed the President isn’t including any funding for the Constellation program in his 2011 budget proposal. The Administration is making a huge mistake,” said Griffith.

“We cannot interrupt this program – it is too important to the security of the United States. We depend on manned space flight – it is part of our culture, especially in our North Alabama community.

“Not granting more funding means that we are scrapping four and a half years and billions of dollars of testing. It means we are allowing other countries to get ahead of us in space exploration. If the Administration is able to carry out its plan, the U.S. will have a second-class space division. This decision is a clear sign that this Administration is out of touch with manned space flight.

“The budget that was submitted yesterday by the President is merely a proposal. I have contacted the White House and requested to meet as soon as possible about how we can bring about a solution. Congress has the ability to put this funding back into the budget and will have a final say in what is appropriated.”

I agree with Griffith (and Mo Brooks and Les Phillip) that cancelling Constellation is a mistake, then again US space policy has been a mess for awhile – but now it’s a steaming hot mess.  This new policy creates a void in space access (even with Constellation we had a lag).  Depending on the Russians for access to space is a bad plan.  Depending on the private sector to develop an industry in a short time to fill the void is a bad plan (especially since the plan doesn’t call for NASA to use industry for launches).

Science and exploration are part of the American character – and the US Government has been (Constitutionally) promoting science and exploration since before Thomas Jefferson advocated that Congress authorize the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Just as with the Lewis and Clark expedition – exploration and national security interests overlap.  Ceding space to the Russians and Chinese will cost us in terms of technology and jobs – and perhaps lives.


I am easily distracted, so I wondered who Parker Griffith has on his staff – in this case, who is this Brecke Latham who keeps sending me stuff?  Well, she’s Simply Brecke-tacular

The Importance of the American Spirit, the Perils of Ignoring It

From Congressman Parker Griffith (R – AL05).

The downward spiral of the Obama-Pelosi agenda is a direct result of either a terrible misreading of the American culture or a complete lack of respect for it. Naïveté or hubris, the lesson is the same – ignore the American spirit at your own peril.

The American spirit is not a theory or just a patriotic feeling, but the unique asset of the United States – the power to produce, to grow, to overcome and thrive. Whether it is on the battlefields, a Montgomery bus, or in the boardrooms, the American spirit is the innate power gifted to all in this country. It is the anointed weapon bestowed on us all to defend liberty, fight for our livelihood, and to clear the path towards success.

The American spirit is why the United States produces 23.4 percent of the Gross Global Product, yet we are only 4.5 percent of the entire global population. It is why, according to a recent New York Times piece, the top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other single developed country, and it is why Americans have received the Nobel Prize in medicine more often than recipients from all other countries combined. It is the American spirit that has led to the creation of an economic system that has made us the global superpower, resulting in incredible prosperity for ourselves and for many, many around the world. It is what delivers the oppressed from tyranny, food to the hungry, and relief to the inflicted. And, despite the risks, it is why immigrants continue to flock here, with over 700,000 each year becoming Americans.

Yet, this administration continues to bypass the American spirit as the answer to our recovery and, instead, pushes oppressive regulation, government takeover and gross spending as the way out. The democratic leadership is effectively telling the American people they cannot, and will not, have any part in their own futures.

I rejected that leadership philosophy. The American people have rejected it as well, evidenced by the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

The culture of a nation determines its destiny, not the government that serves it.

I am an American, and I am a conservative. I hail from one of the most highly educated and inventive districts in the country. The fifth District of Alabama put a man on the moon, launched the first satellite into space, built the Lunar Roving Vehicle and the Hubble Telescope. It is home to NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, and a copious amount of innovators in biotechnology and medicine.  The products and services that come from the fighting fifth District better the lives of people globally. Creativity and knowledge, coupled with guts and support, have meant success in my district. We know the power of the American spirit.

However, the Democratic leadership does not believe that the American people, given the encouragement and freedom, can determine their own destiny. Beginning with Cap and Trade legislation, and culminating in the debacle that is the Health Care overhaul, the Obama administration has been rabid in its efforts to impose the will of the Government on its people.

The right vision for a strong America is one that unshackles the American spirit to unleash economic recovery. The right vision is to bring down healthcare costs by encouraging medical students to enter the primary care field, allow competition in the insurance sector, and to encourage medical innovation. There needs to be an increase in the number of medical, nursing and pharmaceutical schools to meet the need for health care providers. The right vision is to put Americans back to work by incentivizing people to start their own businesses, to pursue education and knowledge, and to invest in their future. As lawmakers we must refocus our mission on upholding the values that are quintessential to the America way.  We must listen to the American people and champion the American spirit. It is and always has been the answer.

Whether it be protecting their country, their livelihood, their families, or their honor, Americans have and must be encouraged to call on their unique qualities to find success. It is only through fostering and enabling the creativity, ingenuity, and passion of the people it serves, can the United States Government fulfill its mission – to be a government of, for and by the people.

We must demand Government rededicate itself to its constitutional promise. And as Americans, we must stop putting all of our trust in a single person or party. We must stop merely hoping for the best – we must demand that our Government trust us and trust our American spirit.

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”.

Can Parker Griffith win the GOP Primary?

Representative Parker Griffith’s switch to the GOP has been the topic of discussion here in Huntsville for… hours,  now.

I saw Griffith on Hannity tonight, hosted by Mark Steyn.  Griffith performed well, calling out Democrats as “far-left extremists” and saying that he had no idea that the national Democratic Party was filled with leftists (if only he read Flashpoint).  Griffith said that the Democrats were weak on Defense and NASA – he must only read The Huntsville Times not to have known that before the election.  Griffith mentioned that he is “pro-life” and “pro-Second Amendment”.  Griffith also said that there was no place in the Democratic Party for moderates or conservatives and that he expected more Blue Dogs to switch.  Griffith described himself as “an independent conservative”.

Griffith’s switch is a big coup for the national GOP, signalling to conservative and moderate Democrats that their party has been taken over by leftists and that there is no room for them in the Democratic Party.

But can Griffith win the GOP Primary? 

Griffith has FIVE MONTHS to win over GOP Primary voters, many of whom remember the Huntsville Hospital “unwarranted pain and suffering” documents – which implied that Griffith was a monster.  Griffith either plans to ignore those voters or somehow mitigate the damage caused by last year’s campaign.

Griffith must somehow make peace with Dale Jackson of WVNN, who is engaged in a death match against him.  Facing Dale on his radio show could mitigate this issue, since IIRC the death match began because Griffith didn’t carry out his promise to appear.   Jackson doesn’t reach all of AL05, but I think he’s influential in Huntsville. 

IMO these two issues only reach Huntsville GOP primary voters.

Another mostly Huntsville factor is the Tea Party.  My guess is that the Tea Party had some role in electing Senator Paul Sanford and Representative Phil Williams – so they’re on a roll.  Christie Carden of the Tea Party said that she doesn’t consider Griffith to be a “constitutional conservative”, which is her biggest criteria for voting (she’ll vote for Griffith “when pigs fly”).  Clearly Griffith has his work cut out there.

The biggest obstacles Griffith faces are Mo Brooks and Les Phillip.  Both of these guys are solid conservatives, but each has a weakness: Mo may be too well-known (some people don’t like him) and Les is not well-known enough (he’s a rookie).  However, Griffith has many times more campaign funds than both of them combined.  There’s a good chance that Griffith will draw much more money due to the power of incumbency.

I don’t know if Griffith’s switch will encourage others to enter the getting-crowded race.  Wayne Parker and Todd Slyman are still out there. 

In real life, I spoke with some influential local ‘establishment’ Republicans today who said they are voting for Griffith.

‘Young GOP’ posted a comment at Doc’s Political Parlor that I think makes some good observations:

As far as the GOP side, it will be interesting to see if Griffith can convince enough Republicans that he is more than just a turncoat scoundrel, he will surely have the support of the NRCC and the DC GOP. He could, and a crowded primary helps his chances. He will win the outlying rural counties(Lauderdale, Jackson, Lawrence, and Colbert) handily, but the vast majority of the GOP primary vote comes from the urban and suburban areas of Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties. The real question is whether he can convince enough Arsenal defense workers, Hampton Cove housewives, and young affluent Madison couples that he is the genuine article. If he wins the primary, he is in a very strong position for the general.

Mo Brooks is the current GOP frontrunner to challenge Griffith. He has the money and connections but is often seen as unlikeable and disagreeable, it remains to be seen if he can expand his power base outside South Huntsville. Les Phillip is very charismatic and has a great story but the GOP power brokers are holding back as of now to see if he has a chance, money is also a big struggle for him. I think Wayne should stay out of this one, his money base has already solidified around Brooks and I doubt the 4th time will be the charm. Guthrie does not need to even try. Slyman and Dr. Mancuso could be longshots, but no one really knows much about them. This will all be very interesting…

BTW Griffith didn’t respond to our AL05 Questionnaire back in May 2008 (we got a response from 5 of 7 candidates).  It didn’t seem to hurt him back then, but it’s a new ballgame now.

Parker Griffith switches to GOP

Politico reports that Representative Parker Griffith (D-AL05, soon to be R-AL05) will announce that he is switching parties.

Griffith’s party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health care vote and will send a jolt through a Democratic House Caucus that has already been unnerved by the recent retirements of a handful of members who, like Griffith, hail from districts that offer prime pickup opportunities for the GOP in 2010.

The switch represents a coup for the House Republican leadership, which had been courting Griffith since he publicly criticized the Democratic leadership in the wake of raucous town halls during the summer.

Griffith, who captured the seat in a close 2008 open seat contest, will become the first Republican to hold the historically Democratic, Huntsville-based district.

Dale Jackson of WVNN blasted the switch, saying ”Any GOP organization that does not repudiate him immediately will lose my support.” 

As for me, I said before the election that I could VOTE FOR Griffith based on his positions on many issues. Then the Huntsville Hospital mess surfaced – and as far as I’m concerned it’s not resolved.  I’ll need some convincing that Griffith isn’t the monster that the GOP made him out to be.

It seems like the deal was made with Washington DC Republicans – I don’t know if they thought about the locals back here at home.

Interesting times…