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The Political Round-Up

Hillary, Biden in swap?; Political potluck; Freedom's cost; A Riehm run?;
Malone to seek full term

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Should President Obama be aggressive or conservative in his re-election campaign? To put it another way, should he shake up his own team to reverse his sliding popularity or should he count on the GOP to slit its own throat?

Among the strategies advanced by those in the "pro-active" camp is the proposed swapping of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The rationale -- besides simply doing something for the sake of doing something, anything to generate momentum -- is that the elevation of Clinton into a higher profile post might re-invigorate the Obama Administration, particularly among white female voters where polling shows the president could use a boost.

So should Obama do it? Would it be a sign of desperation? Would it be the mark of a leader unafraid to risk change?

MBT called on a few area political savants for their thoughts:

"No. Biden has appeared more conservative than Obama. This is not a battle about people or personalities. A re-election is always a litmus test against performance versus new possibilities. Obama only wins if the R's nominate someone the public has zero confidence in.

The easy math is to take Obama's confidence level and measure that against the confidence level of the GOP nominee. An open seat is about the person; re-election lies upon the incumbent to prove he is worthy for a second term. Appointing Hillary does nothing to address his very unpopular policies. It might even bring greater attention. His change will bring about speculation to why he needs a change - one that hasn't taken place since Ford/Agnew and that was due to a resignation. I'm not sure if such has ever happened as a political reason.

Changing the VP would be tantamount to changing the color of his tie in terms of moving numbers. His base isn't weak. It's his awful numbers with independents and I don't believe Hillary wouldn't do anything (to help there) - women's movement or not.

It's all going to be about the challenger. We know what Obama gives you, Biden or Hillary attached."
-- Jon Gray,
political consultant

"The President should replace Biden with Clinton. Frankly he shouldn't have to. Biden should announce that he will not run again and Obama should designate her as his running mate.

This election will come down to Florida. Put another way, no one will win the Presidency next year unless they carry Florida. The state picked up electoral votes after the 2010 census while other formerly important electoral states such as Ohio lost votes. If the election were held today Obama loses Florida, although Gov. Scott's recent actions (not accepting federal money for a high speed rail in the I-4 corridor - a critical swing zone with high unemployment) are leveling the playing field somewhat.

Clearly the economy will be the defining issue in 2012 but Obama must keep intact traditional Democrat alliances and his Mideast policies have jeopardized the south Florida  Jewish vote.

Clinton would be perceived:

These things combined with the novelty of a woman VP could very well be the difference in must win Florida.

Finally, Joe Biden who adds nothing from an electoral college standpoint can't escape the old foot-in-mouth disease he has suffered from all of his political career.  Witness his now retracted comments on a recent trip to China where he went to reassure the Chinese that the downgrade of the credit rating of the Untied States was meaningless."
-- TVR,

"He probably should do it, but won't. My argument would be that she has shown a remarkable grasp of foreign policy, so much so that even the Republicans acknowledge it. With Hillary as his VP nominee, Obama could largely disconnect from foreign policy and Clinton has shown herself to be a tireless and relentless campaigner. Further, who of the Republicans wants to debate her?"
-- Al Pennington,
veteran Democrat

"The swap Obama needs to make is Bernie Madoff in place of Ben Bernanke: our monetary system would be a whole lot safer!"
-- Douglas Johnstone,
former justice, Alabama Supreme Court

"Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to serve as Secretary of State in a second term, and Biden has wanted to be Secretary of State for a good while. He has the background, ability  and desire to do an excellent job in that position.

Although people don’t generally vote on the basis of the vice presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton has the potential to invigorate the Obama campaign. Some people don’t like Hillary, but few question her capacity. If she were willing to serve, she would be a great vice-president for our country.

In addition, her election would further demonstrate our country’s openness to the election of the most qualified people regardless of race or gender.

If both Clinton and Biden favor the change, President Obama should do it."
-- Bobby Segall,
Montgomery attorney

"Hillary can re-energize the base and help to reconnect with progressives who are less than thrilled with Obama's moderate-to-conservative policy positions and his 'lead from behind' and 'compromise all to reach a deal' governing style. Obama will need every edge he can get and Hillary should help with his gender politics especially if a female ends up on Repub ticket (won't be one on top of the ticket!)"
-- Christ Coumanis,

"No. Hillary should remain at her post and complete her tenure as SOS. Then she will determine her own fate."
-- Darby Luxenberg,

"Clinton is better as secretary of state."
-- James Anderson,
lawyer, Montgomery

"There is no good argument for doing it. Secretary Clinton is doing an excellent job as is V-P Biden. As you know, no one can do it but the President. It is his cabinet.

I saw Texas Governor Perry say that he will make the federal government inconsequential to the American people. I wonder how inconsequential was the more than $1 billion dollars the state of Texas got from the federal government.

Then I saw an editorial in today's Mobile Press Register calling on the feds to find out where the oil slick is coming from, and on the front page: "EDITORIAL. It's vital that the U.S. government find the source of the leak around the BP well now."

And on the front page above the fold of Section C, the Metro/Regions section this headline: "Feds release $7M for veterans cemetery." U.S Representative Jo Bonner was overjoyed. He is that Republican that is against all that federal spending. Republican Governor Robert Bentley chimed in as well.

I worked on the Hill for over 13 years and with jobs that brought me to it for another 20 or so. Thank God it was then and not now. Apparently the only real goal among the Republicans is to defeat Obama.

When (former U.S. Sen.) John Sparkman ran in 1972, Nixon was president. Red Blount, a Nixon cabinet member, was Sparkman's opponent. If Nixon did anything to help Blount I never knew it and none of the Senator's Republican colleagues got involved to my knowledge.

What a difference. And it only took a majority of those voting to pass legislation. That is generally the rule in most democratic organizations. But not in the U.S. Senate. And it is said that what 'goes around comes around.' The U.S. Senate is completely immobilized, and brings a similar fate to the House, and it is not likely to change no matter who controls the Senate.

How tiresome and depressing."
-- Lew Odom,
longtime Democrat

"I am not sure that will be an option. I think that perhaps Hillary may be ready for other missions in her life. Like her husband, she may have some things in mind for the future that would be rewarding and would serve to better the lives of those she comes in contact with."
-- Dianne Jones,
retired, Democrat

"The only argument would be that it increases Obama's re-election chances, particularly among women and moderates I guess. It would be a huge gamble though, I think."
-- Art Powell,
Mobile attorney

Malone to run for full term
To the surprise of no one, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Chuck Malone will seek a full term at the helm of the state's highest court in elections next year.

Via Facebook, Malone announced, "I am proud to formally announce today that I will seek the Republican nomination for a full term as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court."

Earlier this month, Gov. Robert Bentley tapped his 57-year-old chief of staff, a former Tuscaloosa circuit judge, to fill out the remainder of the term of retiring Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

Charlie Graddick, presiding judge of Mobile County Circuit Court, will vie with Malone for the GOP nomination. Justice Lynn Stuart is also reportedly weighing a bid. Stuart, too, is a Republican, as in fact, are all nine members of the Alabama Supreme Court.  

The cost of freedom
A fundraising letter recently went out from "Friends of Quinton T. Ross Jr. Legal Defense Fund and Trust" soliciting contributions of "$5,000 or not less than $2,500" to defray the legal bill the state senator incurred in winning acquittal during the recent gambling corruption trial.

The prosecution not only took an emotional toll on the lawmaker but created financial strain as well, leaving Ross with a legal bill of more than $1.25 million, the letter reads. 

According to Ross, he anticipated sacrifice in his decision to serve the public, but not $1.25 million worth of sacrifice.

The $2,500 to $5,000 contributions would "not only be appreciated but (would also be) ... a huge blessing" for Ross and his family. Contributions can be made online at

The solicitation went out over the names of trustees M. Wayne Sabel, Jerome Gray and Frank Jenkins

Ross was defended by attorneys H. Lewis Gillis and Mark Englehart against "the seemingly unlimited resources of the United States ..."

Riehm Run?
Retired Navy commander and area Tea Party force Pete Riehm is "seriously considering" a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner in the 1st Congressional District GOP primary March 13 next year. Riehm confirmed that he has formed an exploratory committee to assess his prospects. The committee includes Mike Mathews, John McGowin, Kay Day, Joy Hansel, Bill Atkinson, Mac McInnis and Miles Jones.

According to Riehm, he could run a creditable campaign with a budget of $100,000 to $250,000 in combination with a strong grassroots organization.

A commercial real estate professional, Riehm ran unsuccessfully for the Mobile County Commission in 2010 following the resignation of Commissioner Stephen Nodine. Connie Hudson defeated Ralph Buffkin to claim the District 2 commission seat. 

This, that and the other, a political potluck:

Tracy Roberts plans to announce soon her bid for the District 1 slot on the state school board. Roberts now  represents District 7 on the Baldwin County School Board, an area including Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope and Montrose. She and her husband Jim, an attorney, live in Spanish Fort and have five children. Randy McKinney of Gulf Shores has represented District 1 on the state Board of Education since 2003. He does not plan to seek re-election. Both Roberts and McKinney are Republicans.

Republican Jessica James of Mobile is also planning to run for State Board of Education, District 1. A major plank in James' campaign calls for the BOE to increase its focus on workforce development.

According to GOP sources, Mobile City Councilman John Williams is taking a cue from former city council colleague Connie Hudson and mulling a run for Mobile County Commission. Williams would seek the District 3 post as a Republican in next year's elections. The seat is currently held by longstanding Commissioner Mike Dean. The campaign would be a free shot for Williams who would not have to resign his Council seat in order to run. Hudson won a special election to Mobile County Commission, District 2 after Commissioner Steve Nodine, himself a former city councilman, resigned under fire.

Mobile attorney Wesley Blacksher will decide by mid-September whether to run for probate judge of Mobile County. The judgeship is currently held by Don Davis who plans to run for re-election. Both men are Republicans.

Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Chris Galanos will “probably not” be a candidate for the circuit judgeship being vacated by his fellow Democrat and former colleague on the bench, Judge Jim Wood, who is legally barred by age from seeking re-election next year.

Galanos, probably best known for a roller coaster career as district attorney here, said an overwhelming financial disadvantage was at the heart of his reluctant decision to remain on the sidelines.

State Sen. Ben Brooks and local attorney Eaton Barnard have already launched their GOP bids for the judgeship.

As an incumbent public official since 2001, Brooks has amassed considerable political capital that gives him an enormous headstart, according to Galanos who left public office for a private legal practice in 1999.

“A further impediment for me in the political process of a judicial race is that the canons of judicial ethics preclude a candidate from soliciting a contribution," said Galanos.

According to Galanos, other than a severe financial disparity, other competitive factors were encouraging, such as a negligible differential of 1.9 to 1 positive to negative recognition for Galanos to Brooks’ 2 to 1 positive to negative split.

“Although I’m not that sophisticated when it comes to politics, when you run against a sitting office holder who is going to out-spend you four to one, the (preliminary) polls become a little less relevant,” said Galanos.

The Alabama Republican Party has set 2012 qualifying dates for candidates to all offices and delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention as follows, according to local Mobile County GOP head Terry Lathan:

Forms can be requested from the Alabama State Party or the county GOP chairs. For more information email

Alabama Power Co. has tapped Quentin Riggins as its vice president of governmental relations. Riggins succeeds Leslie Sanders. Sanders was promoted in the company. He is now vice president of Alabama Power's Southern Division.

Riggins' duties as the utility's chief lobbyist begin on Thursday.

Riggins has worked in state government and governmental relations for 17 years. He was former Gov. Bob Riley’s director of legislative affairs, worked for two other governors and worked for former House Speaker Seth Hammett.

Riggins was senior vice president of governmental relations for the Business Council of Alabama and started his own lobbying firm in January 2010.

He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in marketing and distributive education and was an All-America and All-Southeastern Conference linebacker on the Auburn football team.

About 350 supporters showed up recently at the Blue Gill on the Causeway to officially launch Baldwin County District Judge Jody Bishop's campaign to succeed retiring Circuit Judge Jim Reid.

Among those spotted in the crowd were Reid, fellow Judges Lang Floyd, Bob Wilters and Michelle Thomason; state Reps. Joe Faust and Harry Shiver; state Sen. Trip Pittman; GOP gubernatorial runner-up Bradley Byrne, Revenue Commissioner Teddy Faust, Sheriff Hoss Mack, Chief Investigator Anthony Lowery; County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey, Daphne City Councilman Derek Boulware; Gulf Shores Councilors Carolyn Doughty and Steve Jones; former District Attorney David Whetstone; Baldwin County School Board member Tracy Roberts; Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant; Fairhope city councilors Debbie Quinn, Rick Kingrea and Dan Stankowski; Spanish Fort city councilors Mike McMillan and Tom Sawyer; Mobile County Commission attorney Jay Ross; Mobile attorneys Sid Jackson, Buzz Jordan, Mary Beth Mantiply, Jim Jeffries and Donald Briskman; Baldwin GOP leader Don McGriff; district judge candidate Scott Taylor; Robertsdale lawyer Lloyd Taylor; political consultant Lynn Stacey; and former Prichard Mayor Jay Cooper.

The event was organized by a host committee of 135 lawyers from Mobile and Baldwin counties.

To this point, there are no other announced or even rumored contenders to succeed Reid besides Bishop.

Q&A on proposed youth curfew
Last week three city councilors met with Mayor Sam Jones to discuss his crime package, including a youth curfew and an epidemic of saggy pants a/k/a "All this city needs is a good belt or 2,000 of them" ordinance. 

City Councilman William Carroll detailed the concerns of he and his colleagues, Councilwomen Bess Rich and Gina Gregory in a letter to Jones, whose adminstration and police department responded.

Which brings us to ....

... odds and ends, jetsam and flotsam.

Look for a Mobile city councilor to propose a pay hike for the city's mayor from its current $89,000 annually to $200,000 a year. The reasoning? In the private sector, any chief executive officer worthy of the title draws a salary of at least $200,000 a year. If Mobile wants genuine competence in its executive leader, it should also expect to pay the going market rate. If adopted, the pay hike would not take effect until after municipal elections in two years.

Dauphin Island Art Trail
On Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., beautiful and historic Dauphin Island will be home to an Art Trail featuring numerous local and regional artists, such as David and Linda Miller, Dena McKee, and Mary Anderson Pickard and Chris Stebly – both related to famed artist Walter Anderson – exhibiting and selling their work at nine retail locations across the Island.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore will join in the celebration of art by featuring various regional artists in conjunction with the Dauphin Island Art Trail.

Whether you’re an avid arts aficionado, casual collector, or a weekend beach vacationer, the inaugural Dauphin Island Art Trail will prove to be an ideal and laid back environment from which you will be inspired to take in the beauties of life, art and nature at your own leisurely pace.

In addition to the opportunity to engage first hand with some of the region’s most prominent artists and purchase their art at this inaugural event, each Art Trail patron will be given a card to be stamped at each of the nine Art Trail locations on Dauphin Island. Cards which receive stamps from all nine of the island locations will be entered into a drawing and eligible for numerous prizes.

Participating artists include:

The Dauphin Island Art Trail is being made possible by the West Bay and Gulf Coast Tourism Development Council and Dauphin Island community artist volunteers.

To learn more about this event, please visit, or contact Kathryn Carver, Executive Director of the West Bay and Gulf Coast Tourism Development Council at (251) 490-0294. You may also find us on Facebook under the page ‘Friends of Dauphin Island’ or on Twitter @southalcoast.
350 Dauphin St.
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