1. Steve Bannon: Persona non grata
- “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” began the President of the United States in a statement about his former top strategist.
- “Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.”
- Politico is calling Wednesday’s fallout between Trump and Bannon“perhaps the most vicious falling out between a president and a former aide in modern history.”
- Ed Rollins told Eliana Johnson, figuratively, “Bannon was shot on the South Lawn and run over by a tank.”
So, what happened?
- Apparently, the relationship between Bannon and the Trump family has been strained for sometime. Read Politico reporter Eliana Johnson’s full rundown of the situation.
- Remember that Bannon took a swipe at Ivanka Trump in December telling a Wiregrass rally that “there’s a special place in hell” for Republicans who didn’t defend and support Roy Moore. That was an obvious response to Ivanka’s earlier remark when asked about the sexual abuse allegations.
- “There is a special place in hell for people who prey on children,”Ivanka Trump told AP about the Moore abuse allegations. “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”
- What broke the dam? On Wednesday, The Guardian published excerpts of an upcoming book by Michael Wolff in which Bannon calls a Trump Tower meeting between Trump aides and family members and some Russians “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”
- “They’re going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV,” Bannon is quoted as saying. Yeah, that’ll do it.
- Now, Don Jr. is releasing his own fire and fury via twitter bombs.
What happens next?
- Well, I think a lot of people are going to read Michael Wolff’s book. And, this episode is sure to fan the flames of 24-hour Russian collusion coverage on Twitter and cable news.
- There is little doubt that the President, his family, and his strongest allies are ALL IN on taking down Bannon and his political network.
- Having jettisoned some pretty heavy baggage in Bannon, it could be liberating for Trump and the RNC not to have to suffer the Bannon/Breitbart antics going into the 2018 midterms.
- One really interesting part of Trump’s statement that isn’t getting much attention came at the very end: “We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.”
- If I was a Bannon-friendly candidate running for office in 2018, that sentence would make me take a big fat gulp. More on that below.
- After achieving one of its most significant victories with enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it’s clear the the administration now sees Bannon and his brand of politics as an impediment to more progress.
- White House aides and Trump family members are tweeting positive missives about former Speaker John Boehner. BOEHNER! Ever the object of Bannon and Breitbart’s distain.
- And, remember that Senate Republicans have already gone to war with Bannon, partly because of the Roy Moore debacle. When President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are on the same page, they tend to score victories.
2. Roy Moore campaign manager challenges Roby
- Rich Hobson, who managed Roy Moore’s senate campaign and has worked for the judge in various capacities for years, on Wednesday announced he will challenge U.S. Rep. Martha Roby for election in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.
- The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman was on hand for the announcement at the State Capitol and his dispatch is worth a read.
- Look, as of two weeks ago I was working as the spokesman for Rep. Roby in the House of Representatives, so I’m a little close to this story.
- Still, I don’t think it’s unfair to point out that Hobson picked a heck of a day to announce. The fruits of his campaign work, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, became official. The President and his allies are clearly upset about the loss and blaming it on Bannon (though I think the true blame for the loss lies elsewhere, including with Moore).
- To be partially responsible for Alabama losing a solid Republican Senate seat and closely associated with the man that is the focus of the President’s fury can’t be good.
- There’s no question Roby lost support after calling on Trump to step aside for Mike Pence when the Access Hollywood “grab ’em by the p_____” comments surfaced. But, there has been no daylight between Roby and the President on legislative issues and votes, even from the very beginning of his term.
- The question is whether Hobson and previously-announced candidates like State Rep. Barry Moore and Tommy Amason can gain support of their own or simply fight over the slice of the primary electorate that still holds a grudge against Roby.
3. 2018 Regular Session: snoozer or surprise?
- The 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is supposed to be an uneventful snooze fest. That’s the conventional wisdom at least.
- Speaker Mac McCutcheon told YellowHammer’s Brendan Kirby to expect no drama. “…let’s address our budgets and let’s try to make it as quick a session as possible and get out and let members go back and start campaigning for the new quadrennium,” the Speaker said.
- Kirby has a thorough write-up about what to expect in the upcoming session that is well worth your time.
- Still, many legislative sessions that most folks thought would be smooth sailing have turned tumultuous. The work of either chamber can come to a screeching halt over seemingly small issue.
- Will issues like how to fund prisons with a federal lawsuit looming, what to do with a small surplus in the Education Trust Fund, or a renewed effort to find revenue for roads and bridges lead to disagreements big enough to slow things down?
- Lots will be written in the next five days to preview the session. I’ll continue to share what I read and offer insight of my own.
- And, of course, all eyes will be on Gov. Kay Ivey as she delivers her first State of the State Address Tuesday night.
4. Montgomery ready to take advantage of charter schools
- Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange wants to turn around the Montgomery public school system and, to do it, he wants to use the state’s newest tool in the education toolbox: charter schools.
- Andrew Yawn’s front page spread in The Montgomery Advertiserdetailed Mayor Strange’s vision of a “feeder system” of elementary, middle, and high schools all part of the same charter.
- Alabama’s charter school law allows for the conversion of existing schools into charter schools, but Strange also talked of using previously closed schools.
- The Mayor also said area colleges like Troy University, Auburn Montgomery, and Faulkner University have expressed interest in being a part of the Montgomery turnaround project.
- With the Montgomery school system being among the most troubled in the state, kudos to the mayor for considering every option on the table to fix the problem and help children.