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The Political Round-Up

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Gov. Bob Riley brought down the house at the GOP summer dinner with hard words for "the gamblers," AEA chief Paul Hubbert and anticipated Democratic cross over voters who would seek to co-opt the Alabama Republican Party in the July 13 runoff election pitting Riley-preferred Bradley Byrne against state Rep. Robert Bentley.

Beaten but unbowed
An unbowed Herman Thomas, the much-sullied former circuit judge who recently fell short in his bid to unseat incumbent state Sen. Vivian Figures, was among the 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile contingent, 15-20 strong, that appealed Tuesday night to Mobile County School Superintendent Roy Nichols to reconsider his plan to remove the school system's alternative schooling program from the organization's auspices. The group has operated the Phoenix Program for 13 years to mentor and counsel the school system's disciplinary problems, mostly black males who have been suspended for fighting and drugs among other reasons. Several bids were entered to handle the program, but Nichols said an internal management approach was superior to any of the outside proposals. The superintendent's proposal would handle 330 students in a $1.8 million budget rather than the 200 under Phoenix's $700,000 program.

However, the $1.8 million for the internal, substitute Phoenix program includes $200,000 for the 100 BMGM so that the organization will continue to mentor the youths, according to a source with knowledge of the details of Nichols' plan. It also forgives more than $100,000
that the 100 Black Men organization still owes the school system for transportation, the source noted.

The 100 Black Men organization has received more than $4.5 million in public monies from 2004-08, according to its latest tax filings. The group had gross receipts of more than $1 million between Oct. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2009. Thomas did not address school officials. Thomas was tried and acquitted last fall on charges that he coerced young inmates into allowing him to paddle them for his sexual gratification and their favorable judicial treatment.

Buffkin bash
Ralph Buffkin's bid for the District 2 seat on the Mobile County Commission in the July 13 special election raised more than $20,000 at a campaign rally Monday evening at home of his son and daughter-in-law, Russell and Mollie Buffkin.

About 100 people attended the gathering that called for contributions as follows: $250 Host Committee; $100 couples; $60 individuals.

The host committee included:














Buffkin will have a meet and greet Thursday, July 1 from 5:15-7 p.m. at Wintzell's on Airport Blvd. across from Providence Hospital in west Mobile. For more information visit the Buffkin website

Hudson seafood buffet
Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson's county commission campaign Thursday, July 1 from 5-7 p.m. will stage a $50 per person Seafood Buffet Fundraiser at the Hampton Inn next to Providence Hospital.

The Host Committee includes:


Contact Mrs. Ann Jung by email for more information.

The GOP race for county commission includes Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson, sheriff's department administrator Ralph Buffkin, retired Navy commander  and conservative political organizer Pete Riehm, Semmes businesswoman Carmen Tillman, tow truck company owner Tommy Gordon and School Board member Ken Megginson. Tommy Thompson has qualified as a Democrat.

Dixon, Green battle on
"My campaign has not sought endorsements, nor will we," Baldwin County District Attorney candidate Hallie Dixon declares in a post-primary election letter.

Fourth place finisher Ken Hitson begged to differ, claiming he got a call from the Dixon camp seeking his endorsement after the June 1 primary.

Dixon's assertion was "not true and I am flabbergasted that she would say such a thing," said Hitson.

"I was contacted by telephone on June 7 at 11:28 a.m. by someone with the Dixon campaign seeking my endorsement," Hitson said. "I told that person that I would give Ms. Dixon’s request thoughtful consideration. I then notified that same person a week later (on June 14) that I could not express any support for Ms. Dixon, but would instead be supporting David Green."

Hitson did not identity the Dixon campaign representative.

"To my knowledge, absolutely not," said Dixon when asked if a campaign rep had sought Hitson's public support for her bid.

"I did not authorize a single person in my campaign to ask for his endorsement," said Dixon. "I called my campaign manager and to my knowledge nobody in my campaign asked for his endorsement and I definitely didn't authorize it. Certainly, nobody in my immediate group asked for his endorsement."

Meanwhile ...

No quid pro quo, says Newcomb
According to Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb, there were no strings attached to her endorsement of GOP district attorney candidate David Green over his July 13 runoff opponent Hallie Dixon.

And, said Newcomb, who trailed Dixon and Green to miss qualifying for a full term as the county's top prosecutor, neither former District Attorney David Whetstone nor current assistants in the district attorney's office had selfish motivations in backing Green. Eastern Shore attorney Ken Hitson, who placed fourth in the GOP race for district attorney, also announced his support in the runoff for Green.

Newcomb released a statement in the wake of a recent Eastern Shore Republican Women luncheon where Dixon and Green were on the agenda as guest speakers. Dixon distributed a letter at the luncheon that prompted Newcomb's response.

"The only commitment that David Green has made to the people endorsing him, that I am aware of, is that he will put forth his best efforts to represent all the citizens of Baldwin County. David's only promise to me was that upon being elected district attorney and prior to making any decisions on his final plans as to how he will move the District Attorney's Office forward in the next six years, he will consider and give fair evaluation to all the opinions of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and citizens, no matter what candidate they supported in the primary election. I did not ask for anything else and I did not offer anything else," stated Newcomb.

Dixon, a former chief assistant under Newcomb, led Green, who served as an assistant prosecutor in Whetstone's office, in the June 1 primary. They battle to follow Newcomb as the county's top prosecutor in the July 13 runoff.

Political potpourri
An accelerated schedule for an unanticipated special election to fill a Mobile County Commission District 2 vacancy prompted authorities to waive the candidates' initial 45-day pre-election financial disclosure.

Nevertheless early reports on the campaigns reveal a few nuggets.

Among the supporters of Ralph Buffkin, now an administrator with the Mobile County Sheriff's Department, are Matt Metcalfe, $2,000; Sonny Callahan, $2,000; Mike Tew, $1,000; Jack Williams, $500; and Mark Janowski, $100.

Councilwoman Connie Hudson ended 2009 with about $27,700 on hand, including $500 contributions from Tew and former Mobile City Council President Charles Chapman. Hudson's predecessor as the District 6 city council representative, Bess Rich, is a member of Hudson's campaign committee and, with her husband Dr. Len Rich, a $500 contributor to Hudson's county commission campaign. The Hudson campaign also boasts a $2,000 contribution from Roland McRae of Dauphin Island Parkway. Hudson loaned $20,000 to her campaign.

First time candidate Pete Riehm has a campaign committee that includes some veterans of the political wars -- City Councilman John Williams, one-time City Council candidate Art Slack and Hal Pierce.

Carmen Tillman, who owns a barber shop in Semmes, shows her father-in-law, Jerry Tillman, and her husband, Fire Captain Kenneth Tillman on her campaign committee.

School Board member Ken Megginson showed a campaign balance of $1,000 as the race got underway.

As of June 7, tow truck company owner Tommy Gordon had filed disclosures but they reflected little information or activity.

Nodine car broken into
Ex-Mobile County Commissioner Steve Nodine's personal car was broken into about three weeks ago while it was parked at a friend's house in west Mobile County, according to those with knowledge of the break-in.

Mickey Dearmon of Semmes confirmed that Nodine's Ford Escape was broken into while on his property. According to Dearmon, he discovered the car's window busted out and the doors open and called Sheriff's deputies who investigated the incident. It was not known what, if anything, was taken in the incident.

Nodine's attorney Dennis Knizley characterized the episode as "no big deal." 

Nodine, who is now free on bond and residing with another friend in midtown Mobile, was in jail when the purported break-in occurred. Nodine faces federal gun/drug charges and a murder indictment in Baldwin County stemming from the shooting of his paramour Angel Downs on May 9. 

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 Westminster Presbyterian Church. After a short business meeting, the debate/forum will commence. All GOP contenders have confirmed they will be attend and participate.

The public is welcome to attend free of charge.

For more information email gopmobile@aol.com.

Republicans vying 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.  

The previous District 2 Commissioner Stephen 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.
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