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The Political Round-Up

Big police group picks Rich

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Ashley RIch Wednesday won the endorsement of Mobile County's largest association of law enforcement officers in her Republican bid to take over for her boss, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr.

The 600-plus member Alabama Police Benevolent Association, Mobile County Chapter picked the veteran assistant district attorney over her GOP rival Mark Erwin in a tight decision, according to chapter director Donald R. Scott.

The local PBA's screening
committee voted 3-2 for
Rich, said Scott.

The board interviewed
the two Republicans and
Democratic candidate
Don Foster on Monday
night and deliberated for
longer than usual before
coming to a decision,
said Scott.

"We interviewed all three and two really stood out," said Scott. "They (Rich and Erwin) both gave great presentations on their plans for the district attorney's office. When it came down to it, it was a 3-2 vote to endorse her. I think it was her 14 years of prosecutorial experience and her not being on Tyson's executive management team that kind of gave us a better insight into why she shouldn't be held to account for the failure of Tyson's office to make the significant and necessary changes that are needed in that office."

"That being said, it was neck and neck and we took a couple of days to think about it because it was so close," he said. "It came down to her hard-nosed, vigorous prosecution of criminals and her results in getting convictions. Also, her vision and insight as far as changing the DA's office when she gets in there were factors."

Under Rich's leadership, the DA's office will become "a more proficient and professional office than it has been in the past," said Scott.

PBA representatives will meet with Rich next week to coordinate their efforts in behalf of her campaign, said Scott.

The local PBA chapter's support for Rich would be both financial and in manpower, said Scott.

"We intend to give her PAC money for her campaign to run ads as she sees fit and if she needs us to put out signs or go door-to-door, we'll do that as well," Scott said.

The local PBA committee included Scott of the Mobile Police Department, Joe Benson of the Circuit Court Police, Shannon Payne of MPD, Lance Deleston of MPD and Lanora Timmons, an investigator with the Mobile County District Attorney's office.

RIch also has the backing of the smaller Mobile County Law Enforcement Association which announced its support of her campaign shortly after she entered the race three months ago.

Rich said she was “honored” to have both groups’ backing.

“I think it tells you a lot about the work I’ve been doing with law enforcement for years with both groups endorsing my campaign,” said Rich.

Rich said it was especially gratifying to have the APBA, Mobile County Chapter consider her on her own merits and plans and not as some reflection of Tyson.

“My record speaks for itself over these past 14 years,” said Rich. “Tyson doesn’t have my experience and I don’t have his. Mark wants Tyson back in the race, but he’s not in the race. It’s between Ashley Rich and Mark Erwin. My record and my credentials. His record and his credentials. I plan to use my experience as a prosecutor to lead that office. It’s just that simple. For Mark, it’s ‘she’s John Tyson, she’s John Tyson.’ I’m absolutely not John Tyson.”

According to Rich, after 14 years in the district attorney’s office, she knows its strengths and its weaknesses.

“I will build on those strengths and improve on those weaknesses,” she said.

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.

"We had a discussion with the five members of their board and I was told on a 3-2 vote they offered the endorsement the way the three voted and that's all you can say," Erwin said.

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, 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.

The GOP primary election between Rich and Erwin is June 1. The winner will face Foster in the general election in November. 

Folsom fundraiser at Felix's
A fundraising luncheon for Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., who is seeking re-election this year, was held Thursday at Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant on the Causeway.

Among those in attendance were former state Sen. Bill Roberts, lobbyist Beth Marietta Lyons, former state Sen. Gary Tanner, Mobile County Education Association official Wade Perry and his bride, attorney Dorothy Barker "Dottie" Perry of Burns, Cunningham and Mackey, attorney Cecil Gardner and his wife, Susan, Mobile Area Democratic Association chairman Vance McCrary, attorney Karlos Finley and former Mobile County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Beckerle

For more information on the Folsom campaign call 540.239.1730 or email laureneklumpp@gmail.com

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.

Eastern Shore Republican Women
to host big line-up if candidates
Eastern Shore Republican Women will meet Wednesday, May 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Fairhope Yacht Club.

Guest speakers will be Wayne A Gruenloh, candidate for re-election Baldwin County Commission, District 3; Tucker Dorsey, candidate for Baldwin County Commission, District 3; Daniel Dyas, candidate for Baldwin County Commission District 2; Bob James, candidate for Baldwin County Commission District 2; and Ken Hitson, candidate for Baldwin County District Attorney.

Reservations should be made no later than Friday, May 14 to Lucy Sundbeck, lhsundbeck@aol.com or call 517-4435.   

Lunch is $16. Prospective members and visitors are welcome. The meeting marks a change from ESRW's previous schedule which called for meetings on the third Monday of the month.
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