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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

DA endorsement near;
Figures holds big money edge over Thomas;
Expulsion doesn't add up, young Figures says;
Folsom fundraiser at Felix's;
Strange, James GOP visit

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Mobile County's largest association of law enforcement officers is expected this week to endorse a candidate to succeed Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr.

On Monday night in 30-minute sessions, a Police Benevolent Association board interviewed Republican contenders Ashley Rich and Mark Erwin and Democratic hopeful Don Foster.

Donald Scott of the PBA said the panel's decision would be difficult because all three candidates made strong impressions with experience, credentials and ideas that qualified them for the office.

Rich, 41, is a veteran assistant district attorney hired by Tyson in 1996. Calling herself "a born prosecutor," she now heads the office's murder team. Her sister Janet once led the GOP locally. Her brother-in-law, Craig Pittman, holds statewide office as an appellate judge for civil matters. The Mobile County Law Enforcement Association endorsed Rich shortly after she announced her candidacy. 

Erwin, 41, is a former chairman of the Mobile County Republican Party. He went to law school after first planning to enter the ministry. He interned in the district attorney's office and clerked for Circuit Judge Rusty Johnston before embarking on a primarily civil legal practice. He is now presiding municipal judge in his native Saraland.

Foster, a native of Foley, played college football a long time ago at Georgia Tech. He has pursued a civil law practice before and after a six-year stint as President Bill Clinton's appointee to head the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Alabama. In that post, he oversaw an array of civil and criminal prosecutions, including church burnings in Baldwin County and the rare federal capital case. A Democrat, Foster said public offices in the legal system, both judicial and prosecutorial, probably should be decided in non-partisan elections to lessen any perception of political motivations.

Money with Figures, not Thomas
Incumbent state Sen. Vivian Figures enjoys a healthy money advantage over challenger Herman Thomas in their Democratic primary battle to represent District 33.

For the recent reporting period, Figures showed contributions totaling $54,645 to Thomas' $11,900.

Figures had a head start as well, opening the disclosure period with a balance of $27,334.16 to Thomas' zero opening balance.

Figures spent $55,843 to Thomas' $14,196 to enter the final six weeks of the campaign with a $26,134-$2,703 advantage in funds. A former circuit judge who lost the office amid allegations of paddling inmates under his authority, Thomas loaned his campaign $5,000. Though he surrendered his judgeship, Thomas was ultimately acquitted of criminal charges in the controversy which involved FIgures' son, Akil, who has a long criminal drug history.

Contributors to Thomas include:

Figures' contributors included:

Mary Zoghby, $250; Fred Clausell, $200; Eagle PAC, $2,500; Investoreach,$500; FAX PAC, $2,500; FGA PAC, $7,500;

LEG PAC, $5,000; Future PAC, $5,000; Wall of Separation, $10,000; Riley Boykin Smith, $500; Lamar Companies, $500;

Edward A. Hosp II, $250; Andre L. Reid & Assoc., $250; Gabriella Gray, 250; Mike Dow, $250; Tom Coker & Assoc., $1,000;

Alabama Circuit Clerks Association, $1,000; Regions Financial Corp. PAC, $1,000; Alabama Dental PAC, $1,500;

Alabama Power Co., Employee State PAC, $2,500; Union Street PAC, $2,500; TABS, Inc., $2,000; Retailers of Alabama PAC, $1,500;

Pharmaceuticals Research & Manufacturers of America, $500; Trial PAC, $5,000.

The election is set June 1. The winner will oppose Rev. Walter Bracey in November's general election.       

Figures says it doesn't add up
A Democratic Party subcommittee last week disqualified RaShawn Figures, the 28-year-old challenger to longtime incumbent state Rep. James Buskey in the District 99 Democratic primary. Buskey's challenge was based on allegations that Figures did not meet residency requirements. Figures said he expects to overturn his ouster on appeal. According to Figures, the facts are heavily in his favor, but at the subcommittee level they were out-weighed by subcommittee head Joe Reed who was heavily in Buskey's favor. Figures' lawyer, John Lawler, said several party officials seemed genuinely surprised by the ruling against Figures. Buskey, who turned 73 earlier this month, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1976.     

Folsom fundraiser at Felix's
A fundraising luncheon for Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., who is seeking re-election this year, is set for Thursday April 29 at 12 noon at Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant, 1530 Battleship Parkway.

Attendees are asked to contribute $150 per person or $250 per couple. The Folsom campaign asks that those planning to attend RSVP no later than April 23.

For more information call 540.239.1730 or email

Strange, James on tap
The Mobile County Republican Executive Committee will meet Monday, May 3 at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. Guest speakers include Tim James, candidate for Alabama governor, and Luther Strange, candidate for Alabama Attorney General. The public is invited to attend. The church is located at Sage Avenue and Airport Blvd.    
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