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The Political Fray

Peterson has McMillan's back in Ag race;
Nodine puts feet on street?; Rich's host Bentley;
Dems' powwow off; Last flicker from the storm;
Bracy picks up endorsements in HD-98 runoff
Chapman sets record straight on run-off;
Semmes vote Aug. 17; Who spent what and why?
Newcomb, others board Green machine;
Voter registration deadline July 2;
Hudson HQ opens;
Riehm strategizes, meets & greets;
Wilmer to host candidates; Scratch the Violence 

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Dale Peterson has John McMillan's back in the July 13 GOP runoff for state Agriculture Commissioner.

'Thugs and criminals' beware.

During the primary campaign, Peterson's ad attacking the "thugs and criminals" harming the state and calling candidate Dorman Grace "a dummy" became an international internet sensation.

"Government is upside down and it's time to roll," says Peterson.

McMillan led the June 1 primary vote, narrrowly ahead of Grace. Peterson finished third.

Bentley to Mobile area
GOP candidate for governor Robert Bentley will attend a "meet and greet" at 2 p.m. Friday, June 18 at the Lighthouse Restaurant, 12495 Padgett Switch Road, in Irvington-Bayou la Batre, according to state Rep. Spencer Collier.

Collier said Bentley would take a boat tour of the Dauphin Island, Coden, Bayou la Batre, Portersville Bay area to get a better feel for the area and a deeper understanding of the effects of the oil spill.

The public is invited to the reception and, while donations will be accepted, they are not required, said Collier.

For more information, call 654-1540. 

Bentley and Bradley Byrne will face off in a July 13 runoff election to decide the Republican nominee for governor of Alabama in the general election this fall.

Sweet release for Nodine
Ex-Mobile County Commissioner and accused murderer Steve Nodine Wednesday tasted freedom for the first time in almost a month, but his release from jail may be short-lived.

Baldwin County authorities have asked Circuit Judge Charles Partin to reconsider his order reducing Nodine's bond from $500,000 to $250,000 on a charge that he murdered his paramour Angel Downs in Gulf Shores May 9. Nodine has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Partin set a hearing on the motion for Wednesday, June 23.

With U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade Wednesday affirming U.S. Magistrate Judge William Cassidy's release order from federal custody on a gun charge, Nodine was freed later in the day.

Cassidy ordered rigorous conditions on Nodine's movements and behavior, all of which Nodine pledged to observe.

A local construction firm has agreed to employ Nodine, according to Gordon Armstrong, Nodine's attorney in the federal case which accuses Nodine of being a drug addict in possession of a firearm.

Granade's decision wasn't a surprise because rarely is a magistrate's ruling in such matters reversed by the district judge, according to Dennis Knizley, who with his associate John Conrad Williams, is defending Nodine against the state murder charge in Baldwin County.

“It was the right ruling,” said Knizley. “I don’t think Nodine is a flight risk or a danger to the community. The judge (Cassidy) doesn’t think either exists to any significant degree. Consequently, there’s no reason to reverse the ruling.”

Nodine was released on a $250,000 bond on the murder charge when federal authorities swooped in to detain him on the exotic "drug addict in possession of a firearm" charge.

State court officials here say they can keep the federal criminal justice turnstiles spinning with as many as 40 such cases a month if agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration only place their order.

According to legal sources, Partin is unlikely to reverse himself as little has changed since he entered the order, except that federal authorities have deemed the defendant to be neither a flight risk nor a danger to himself or others. 

Dems cancel pow-wow
The Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee meeting set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the library at Davidson High School, 3900 Pleasant Valley Drive, has been canceled, according to MCDEC interim chairman Reggie Copeland Jr.

A more timely notice of an organizational meeting will be mailed later to the newly elected MCDEC members, Copeland advised.

Storm's last flicker
The final pre-election or 5-10 day campaign finance reports in the GOP contest for nomination as the Mobile County district attorney may have pre-saged Ashley Rich's runaway 72-28 win over Mark Erwin. With nine pages of $100-$1,000 contributions, the Rich campaign was invigorated with about $25,000 for the stretch drive. The Erwin campaign reported three pages for about $12,000 in late backing.       

Bracey backers
Among those expected to endorse Napoleon Bracy for Alabama House of Representatives, District 98 today are defeated incumbent state Rep. James Gordon and former state Rep. Bill Clark.

The Bracy campaign scheduled a news conference Thursday, June 17 at 10:30 a.m. at the Prichard Library, located at 300 Love Joy Loop, to announce the endorsements.

A Democrat, Bracy is presently the president of the Prichard City Council. He owns Beyond Expectation Tutoring, Inc. and has worked in the field of education for over a decade.

“Bracy will work to improve education and health care benefits in our great state," said Clark. "He will work to see that Prichard employees and retirees receive what was negotiated in their contracts and fight to improve the infrastructure of district 98.”

“Bracy shares the values of our campaign and our family values," said Gordon. "He understands and will fight for the needs our communities have today and the hopes we have for a secure future for ourselves and for our families. Bracy will work with others to implement the clear change in direction Alabama must have if we are to once again move forward and have a true opportunity to realize the American dream.”

Bracy will battle respiratory therapist Darren Flott in the July 13 Democratic runoff.

New South breathes new life in Perkins' AG bid
Birmingham lawyer Giles Perkins got a vital endorsement, perhaps "a game changer," in his bid to wrest the Democratic nomination for Attorney General from the June 1 primary's top vote-getter James Anderson.

The Alabama New South Coalition interviewed Perkins and Anderson Saturday.

The predominantly black political group endorsed Mobile attorney Michel Nicrosi in the June 1 primary. She trailed the leaders to finish third and was eliminated.

The front-running Anderson came within a whisker of avoiding a runoff, claiming 49.6 percent of the primary vote to fall just side of a majority.

The Democratic runoff for attorney general will be July 13. With many Democrats expected to cross over and vote in the Republican runoff, an exceptionally light turnout is projected among voters in the Democratic runoff.

Had Perkins failed to sell ANSC on his candidacy, he likely would've strongly considered withdrawing from the race.

One potato, two potato, three potato, four ...
Local Republican officials today hope to complete a recount of the Mobile County vote in the GOP primary for governor.

The recount was authorized after the campaign of candidate Tim James paid the $5,800 cost of the recount, according to Mobile County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Callaghan.

James trailed Robert Bentley by just 167 votes in the June 1 primary, apparently to finish third behind Bentley and leading vote-getter Bradley Byrne. Initially the James campaign indicated that it would seek a recount in more populated and GOP-leaning counties, but later favored a recount in all 67 counties despite the increased cost.

Callaghan's notice stated, "The financial cost to the James Campaign is as follows: Mobile County Probate Court $4,600, and Mobile County Republican Executive Committee $1,200.

Under Election Re-Count Poll Supervisor Mrs. Allen Barnett, about 25 MCREC volunteers assisted Probate Court workers and 10 Mobile County Sheriffs Office Deputies.

No reason not to re-count vote, but Byrne/Bentley are certified, says Chapman
With "continuing misinformation circulating," Secretary of State Beth Chapman confirmed that the two names she certified Friday, June 11 for the Republican Primary Runoff for Governor were Bradley Byrne and Dr. Robert Bentley.

The certification was made, the certifications were immediately sent to the counties to prepare their ballots and those two names will appear on the July 13 runoff ballot regardless of the results of the recount that is presently underway, Chapman said in a news release.

An Attorney General’s opinion regarding the law in a primary recount held that a candidate can only challenge the primary election after there is a nominee and that at this juncture the law requires that Byrne and Bentley be listed as the Republican primary candidates in the race for Governor, Chapman pointed out.

"To reiterate, Bradley Byrne and Dr. Robert Bentley are in the July 13 Republican Runoff for Governor regardless of the results of the recount," she concluded.

Nonetheless, state election officials were correct to recount the vote in the GOP gubernatorial primary to help determine a runoff opponent for leading vote-getter Bradley Byrne, according to Chapman.

Tim James trailed Bentley by 167 votes for the crucial second position. James has agreed to bear the cost of a recount

Chapman's memorandum to GOP state, Chairman Mike Hubbard, Bentley and James reads:

"Though the unprecedented primary recount should fall to the Republican Party, as the State’s Chief Elections Official, I believe I should continue to take the leadership role that the people of this state elected me to take by issuing this statement.

Mr. Tim James petitioned for a recount. The Republican Party chairman agreed to a recount, the Attorney General agreed to a recount, I have agreed to a recount and an hour and a half meeting was held on Friday in preparation for that recount.

Probate Judges from across the state attended that meeting, as did party officials including many of the party’s county chairmen – all in preparation for that recount.

A recount for Mr. James is the one thing that everyone has agreed to and he has agreed to pay for that recount.

The section of the Attorney General’s opinion pertaining to procedures after the recount only applies if the recount yields a different result than we received Primary Election Day, June 1.

As Secretary of State I believe the best course of action at this point is to proceed with the recount due to the fact that no one has disputed that Tim James is entitled to have a recount prior to the Primary runoff election.

Town of Semmes?
Residents of Semmes will go to the polls Aug. 17 to determine whether or not the west Mobile Community incorporates as the county’s 11th municipality.

Voting will take place at the Semmes First Baptist Church from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis.

The church is located at 4070 Wulff Road East. Davis said Semmes representatives had posted the appropriate deposit for the cost of the election.

The proposed area for the town includes about 1,500-1,600 registered voters. The proposed corporate limits encompasses most if not all of the Semmes First Baptist Church precinct but also parts of three other precincts --the River of Life Church precinct, the Azalea City Church of Christ precinct and the Semmes Community Center precinct.

A quirk of the incorporation election, noted Davis, is that
a person registered to vote in any precinct in Mobile County who has also resided within the proposed municipal territory for the three-month period preceding the election can participate in the election.

"For example, you could be registered to vote at the E.R. Dickson School poll, but if you have lived in the proposed municipal limits for the three months preceding the Aug. 17 election you could properly vote in the election," the judge explained.

A map of Semmes with the proposed corporate boundaries is available for viewing at the probate court offices in downtown Mobile.

For more information about the election, contact Mobile County elections coordinator Roxanne Dyess at 574-6080.

Newcomb, others board Green-Baldwin D.A. bus
David Green, who faces Hallie Dixon in a Republican runoff election July 13 for Baldwin County District Attorney, received endorsements, including that of vanquished incumbent District Attorney Judy Newcomb, on the steps of the Baldwin County Courthouse at mid-day Tuesday.

Among those publicly supporting Green, in addition to Newcomb, were former District Attorney David Whetstone and Eastern Shore attorney Ken Hitson who trailed Dixon, Green and Newcomb in the June 1 GOP primary.

"While David and I have not always agreed on his message, what has impressed me is that his message has stayed consistent and not varied based upon his audience," Newcomb stated. "I believe David will work for the good of all citizens and will make the tough calls inherent in the job of District Attorney with integrity.
I ask that before you cast your next vote for a new District Attorney in Baldwin County you ask the tough questions and demand specific answers about personal and professional character, ability to manage finances, leadership skills, the ability to work with a team and actual prosecutorial experience."

Newcomb released a letter further explaining her endorsement of Green.

Hitson said he believed Green's administrative skills and understanding of the distinctions between the role of the prosecutor's office and that of law enforcement would serve him and Baldwin County well. Green's plan to reduce the administrative load on law enforcement officers would translate into more effective law enforcement and smoother, faster results in the criminal justice system, according to Hitson. 

Hitson did not attend the media conference but issued a letter of endorsement detailing his thoughts on the choice faced by Baldwin County voters in the July 13 runoff.

Baldwin County's district attorney for 22 years before stepping down in 2006, Whetstone said, “The ingredients that are required to be an effective DA include leadership, integrity, and executive management skills. I have taken the measure of the man. David Green has all of those qualities. I am proud to endorse him to be Baldwin County’s next District Attorney. He will do an outstanding job.”

Silverhill native Dixon, formerly chief assistant under Newcomb and a former assistant attorney general, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the developments.

However, last week in an MBT report on Newcomb's intentions, Dixon noted that the incumbent D.A.'s new-found appreciation for Green appeared to conflict with her campaign position that experience in prosecuting felonies, beyond any experience Green possesses, was crucial to leading the district attorney's office.

"Regardless, our message remains the same: I am the only candidate with the qualifications to serve this county as its chief prosecutor," said Dixon last week. "My campaign will continue to be based on qualifications, hard work and commitment, with total transparency and a promise that we will not play 'politics' with an Office so critical to our safety and security. We led the ticket by earning our votes with our message and our work ethic."

Hitson’s support of Green, like Newcomb’s, contradicted earlier claims that prosecutorial experience was a necessary qualification for D.A., said Dixon.

“He now for whatever reason completely alters his point of view,” said Dixon. “Politics as usual. He says prosecutorial experience is critical to holding this office and attacks Green on his lack of prosecutorial experience to any degree. Just changing his tune when it benefits him. But it won’t change my campaign. We’ll just do it the old-fashioned way: Get out there and work to get the support of the voters.”

Whetstone's ties to Green's family explained his position, said Dixon.

“With David I understand – there’s two Davids, Green and Whetstone  – so Whetstone I completely understand; David Green’s father’s company is one of Whetstone’s biggest clients,” said Dixon. “They are longtime family friends and I understand those relationships – family friends and clients, I understand that. I can’t begrudge Whetstone supporting people who are close to him. I will say it was disappointing that he didn’t disclose that (business ties) publicly, but it’s okay, it’s politics.”

Harrell, Whetstone and Monaghan lists International Equipment Distributors (IED) among a wealth of representative clients on its website.

Who spent what and why?
The state Department of Public Examiners found the following area of "non-compliance" in its audit of the Mobile County Commission's financial activities in fiscal year 2009-2010:

The Mobile County Commission’s Travel Policy states, “In addition to an original itemized and dated receipt, all claims for reimbursement of expenses incurred on behalf of business associates must include the name of the associate and the business purpose.”

The Commission paid travel expenses that were not
in compliance with the provision in their travel policy that states the associates must be named and the business purpose of the meeting.

Recommendation: Travel claims submitted for payment by the Commission should be in compliance with the Commission’s Travel Policy.     

Closing Katrina Cut
BP has agreed to fund the $15 million closing of Katrina Cut to restore Dauphin Island to its more recent natural state.

Must register by July 2 to vote in runoff
If you want to vote in Alabama's runoff election July 13, the last day to register is July 2.

According to Secretary of State Beth Chapman, people interested in voting can get the forms from her office's website.

The runoff on the Republican ballot is highlighted by the governor's race and also features runoffs in Baldwin County for district attorney and two county commission seats. The Democratic ballot features a runoff for attorney general.

GOP to sponsor forum for commission candidates
The Mobile County Republican Executive Committee on July 8 will sponsor a forum/debate involving candidates in the special election for Mobile County Commission District 2. The program will be held at 7 p.m. at a location to be determined. Contenders for the vacancy include Sheriff's Office administrator Ralph Buffkin, towing company owner Tommy Gordon, Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson, School Board member Ken Megginson, conservative political organizer Pete Riehm, Semmes barber Carmen Tillman.

The GOP special election primary will be July 13  

Murder suspect Nodine resigned instead of facing trial for impeachment.

The Wilmer Community Action Group will host a Candidates Night for the District 2 hopefuls and the public on Tuesday, July 6 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Wilmer First Baptist Church. For more information, visit the group's Facebook page.

Hudson rolls out radio spot, opens HQ
Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson rolled out a radio spot in her bid to win the vacant District 2 county commission slot.

Hudson will open her campaign headquarters with a Meet and Greet Party at 6920 Airport Blvd. Suite 119 Thursday, June 17 from 5–7 p.m.

Hudson’s headquarters is adjacent to Foreman Road and behind Circle K across from Providence Hospital.  Refreshments and snacks will also be available and open to the public and media.

Hudson, who has served on the Mobile City Council for nine years winning re-election to a third term last year, said intitial enthusiasm for her county commission bid has been overwhelming.

For information on Hudson's race in the special election to fill the County Commission Place 2 vacancy, visit the campaign website.

Riehm a rookie with a plan
Pete Riehm, a retired Navy commander and a conservative political organizer, has assured his crew that his campaign for the District 2 Mobile County Commision opening has a strategy.

"The most votes are in Spring Hill and City Council Districts 4 and 6," Riehm noted. "The county has less than a third of the votes, but they tend to turn out at higher levels. The other five primary candidates all have strengths in certain areas, but distinct challenges in others. So, one might poll 50 percent on his/her home turf, but maybe only 10 percent in other areas.

"We have analyzed the numbers and these combinations total less than 30 percent in a six way race," related Riehm. "We believe we have better than fair appeal and strength in all areas, so if we can poll about 35 percent in all areas we will be in the run-off in a six-person race. I think we can do much better in District 4 with (City) Councilman John Williams' support and in Semmes with the help of Billy Lucas, Ronnie Parker and all the other nurserymen."

Riehm will host a “Meet & Greet with Pete” at Wintzells Downtown, Wednesday, June 23 from 5-6:30 p.m. Wintzells is located at 605 Dauphin Street, and the public is invited.

A retired US Navy Commander, Riehm is making his first run for public office.

For more information call Betty Beatty at 251-490-8351 or Andrea Fussell at 251-232-4936.

Buffkin backers
Real estate businessman Sam Marston hosted a reception for Mobile County Commission District 2 candidate Ralph Buffkin earlier this week. Among the attendees were Sheriff Sam Cochran, Roger Dixon, Frank Turner, Taylor Harper and Gene Eason.

Buffkin, an administrator with the sheriff's department, ran for county commission in 2004, but lost in a runoff to Steve Nodine, the former county commissioner whose recent resignation prompted the July 13 special election.

Others seeking the office include towing company ownerTommy Gordon, Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson, School Board member Ken Megginson, conservative political organizer Pete Riehm, Semmes barber Carmen Tillman.

Sitting on the bad guys
The Mobile County Sheriff's Department is seeking prospects to become corrections officers at the Metro Jail. Candidates take an open competitive examination at the Mobile County Personnel Board. Pay ranges from 2,328-$3,723 per month; $27,946-$44,676 per year.

"... with a base pay of more than $27,000, plus $1,200 subsistence, plus some overtime, paid holidays, state retirement, Blue Cross Blue Shield, a brand new 24-hour gym, uniforms and training provided," it's worth a look, says Warden Trey Oliver.

Scratch the Violence Luncheon Aug. 6
Tickets are available for the Scratch the Violence Community Involvement Luncheon, according to luncheon chairman James A.H. Blackman.

The event will be held Aug. 06 at the Figures Community Center at 12 noon.

"There will be an inspiring messenger, great entertainment, a hearty lunch and beautiful fellowship," Blackman promised.

For more information, call 767-1589.
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