the Business Council of Alabama
1. At least eight killed in Scottsboro dock fire
- A massive fire killed at least eight people and destroyed dozens of boats in a Scottsboro marina early Monday.
- Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus said all eight people who were known to be missing have been confirmed dead, and “that number could go up, because we don’t know how many were on boats” that sank.
- Tommy Jones, a Jackson County Park Marina resident, said he watched helplessly as a small boat containing a woman and her children was engulfed in flames.
- “There was nothing we could do,” he said.
- Read the full story from Jay Reeves HERE.
2. New poll shows Sessions leading, but Byrne gaining
- Sessions maintains a more than 20-point lead in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, according to a recent internal poll from his campaign. However, the latest numbers also show Sessions dropping a point since December while Congressman Bradley Byrne gained eight to capture second place in the contest.
- According to the Jan. 13-15 survey, Sessions leads the Republican field with 43% of Republican voters saying they’d choose him if the GOP Primary was held today. That’s followed by 22% for Byrne, 21% for former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and 8% for former Chief Justice Roy Moore, with 6% undecided.
- The same poll conducted Dec. 3-5 showed Sessions at 44%, Tuberville at 21%, Byrne at 14% and Moore at 7%, with undecideds at 12%.
- That means, according to the polls, as more undecided voters made up their minds in the race, Sessions slightly lost ground and Tuberville held pat, while Byrne gained seven points to leapfrog into second place. Such a move would be key if the race were to go into a runoff between the top two candidates.
- Full survey breakdown HERE.
Why it Matters
- Usually when campaigns leak polling numbers, it is to demonstrate to donors, opinion leaders and, to a lesser degree, the general electorate that they are in a favorable position. Everybody likes to be for the winner.
- For this task, Team Sessions chose Breitbart’s Matt Boyle, an infamous provocateur in the DC media world. His headline read “Sessions takes commanding 21-point lead,” which was similar to the Sessions press release.
- That message was clearly aimed at the biggest influencer of all, President Donald Trump, who last week tweeted out a previous poll less favorable to Sessions. (I’ve previously written about the “audience of one” and how Sessions must keep him out of the race.)
- However, the full numbers belie that hand-picked message. After a month and a half, Sessions isn’t gaining ground, but slightly losing it.
- And perhaps most significant is that, as the percentage of undecideds was cut in half, none broke toward Sessions (or Tuberville for that matter).
- There’s a lot of baseball to be played, but the fact that Sessions no longer appears to be cruising toward winning without a runoff is significant.
- Sessions needs 50% plus one to avoid a runoff. According to this poll, there aren’t quite enough undecideds to get him there, and they aren’t breaking for him anyway.
- That means the votes would have to come from someone else, which usually means attacking someone else. This gets to another potential reason Team Sessions could have wanted these numbers out in the conservative DC media. It could be a signal to outside groups like Club for Growth and others to aim their firepower at a Byrne campaign gaining steam.
- And, as if to get ahead of that onslaught, a super PAC supporting Byrne is up with a new ad touting his loyalty to Trump.
- Keep in mind that Tuberville has yet to air any television advertising, either positive or negative.
- With 35 days to go, this Senate race is about to get really interesting.
Read my full story on the Sessions polling HERE.
A message from
the Business Council of Alabama
3. Lottery bill coming
- Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, says he will introduce legislation instituting a state lottery during the Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature.
- That session begins in just one week.
- Last year, a paper lottery bill sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, passed the Senate, but fell just one vote short of clearing a procedural hurdle in the House. That bill would have steered revenue toward state debt and the General Fund, which supports non-Education agencies and departments. The House later amended the proposal to send 25% of the revenue the state education budget.
- This year, Clouse is proposing to use the proceeds to fund the state’s pre-kindergarten program and also provide college scholarships. The measure would have to be approved both by lawmakers and voters.
- Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.
4. Impeachment trial latest
- President Donald Trump’s legal team is raising a broad-based attack on the impeachment case against him. The team is also mostly brushing past allegations in a new book that could undercut a key defense argument.
- On Monday, Trump’s attorneys, including high-profile lawyers Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, launched a historical, legal and political attack on the entire impeachment process. They said there was no basis to remove Trump from office, defended his actions as appropriate and assailed former Vice President Biden, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to oppose Trump in November.
- Meanwhile, former national security adviser John Bolton took center stage even though he was nowhere near the Capitol.
- Bolton’s claims in a forthcoming book — that Trump told him he wanted to withhold security aid from Ukraine until it launched investigations into political rival Joe Biden — ramped up pressure on GOP senators to call him to testify.
- Trump’s legal team has repeatedly insisted there was no linkage, and Trump tweeted on Monday that he never told Bolton such a thing.
- Biden’s son Hunter also came under scrutiny as Trump’s lawyers focused on his high-paying job with a Ukrainian energy company when his father was vice president.
- Read the highlights of Monday’s session and what’s ahead as senators conduct just the third impeachment trial of a president HERE.
- Read deeper into the arguments made on the Senate floor HERE.
5. More new ads
- There are two new television ads running in the 2nd District starting today.
- Former Attorney General Troy King is up with his first ad, which features his mother and depicts him as a conservative fighter. See the ad and buy information HERE.
- Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman is up with yet another ad today (by my count, this is five). This one features his wife, Tiffany, and discusses the couple feeling called to run for Congress. See the ad and the buy information HERE.
A message from BillStatus
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