Good morning and Happy New Year! Pour a cup of coffee or get yourself some green tea and settle in for your daily news digest for Monday, January 1, 2018.
1. So, what is the Alabama Daily News?
In case we haven’t met, I’m Todd Stacy. I’ve spent the last 15 years working inside Alabama politics, including the last five years with the Alabama Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C. I’m moving back home to start this new media platform to push out stories that matter, connect readers with quality content, and contribute to the public policy conversation in a meaningful way.
Very soon, I will be launching a news website at www.ALDailyNews.com. For now, it is just the news digest email – but that’s a big part of what Alabama Daily News has to offer. By subscribing to this list, you’ll receive a morning news digest in which I break down the most important stories of the day with some insight on what it all means. I hope you’ll also be an active participant by drawing my attention to important stories, whether they’ve been written or not.
Why now, why me?
Being a writer, an admitted newshound, and a longtime observer of / participant in Alabama politics, I’ve always wanted to publish a newsletter highlighting the stories of the day. I won’t pretend that I woke up today with the same kind of journalistic bonafides of some of the great reporters who have covered Alabama over the years. What I do have is a nose for news, an informed perspective on how stories affect policies and policymakers, and a desire to promote quality journalism that helps move our state ahead.
After watching what Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei did at Politico Playbook and are doing now at Axios, I believe I can make this useful and valuable model work and the state level. And I believe there is a market for it. With the legislative session starting in just over a week and the 2018 elections coming quickly thereafter, the timing is right to get started. Honestly, with all that happened politically in 2017, I wish I’d have started this venture a year ago!
What to expect, not expect
- Expect the news, some analysis, and some commentary. Expect the truth, warts and all. Expect timeliness, relevance, and quality. Expect fairness. Oh, and expect me to call you looking for rumors, rumblings, and story ideas.
- Don’t expect a cheap knockoff of another outlet. Much like Mr. David S. Pumpkins, Alabama Daily News will be its own thing.
- Don’t expect a lot else besides politics. I’m not a human interest writer and, as anyone on Twitter can attest, you don’t want my opinions about sports.
- Don’t expect me to get everything right every time, but do expect me to try.
A word on branded content
In addition to native advertising, I will be offering branded content packages. That means feature posts telling the stories that certain companies, associations, or organizations want to get in front of influential policymakers. The Wall Street Journal has a good explanation of how this works. If you or your organization are interested in branded content opportunities, please email me at Todd@ALDailyNews.com.
Thanks for reading. Now to the news.
2. It’s over. Again.
(Note: because there isn’t a lot of breaking political news out there, today’s news digest will simply be a recap of stories you may have missed over the holiday.)
Doug Jones is officially Senator-elect and Roy Moore has officially lost in the Senate special election that we thought would never end.
- The State Election canvasing board consisting of Secretary of State John Merrill, Governor Kay Ivey, and Attorney General Steve Marshall met Thursday to officially certify the results.
- A last minute lawsuit from Roy Moore claiming voter irregularities was dismissed by Montgomery Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick, report the Montgomery Advertiser’s Melissa Brown and Andrew Yawn.
- Judge Harwick and the canvasing board were apparently unmoved by Roy Moore’s polygraph test results.
- Doug Jones is going to be the United States Senator from Alabama for three years. Let that sink in if it hasn’t already.
- Jockeying among GOP candidates to run for the Senate seat in its regularly scheduled 2020 election will soon begin in earnest.
- After continuing his impressive streak of never conceding an electoral defeat, Roy Moore must consider his political future. Will he enter the fray for governor or attorney general in 2018?
- We’ve seen this story before. Many have tried many times to write Roy Moore’s political obituary: After he was removed from office in 2005; When he lost the primary to Gov. Bob Riley in 2006; When he lost the gubernatorial primary again in 2010; When he was removed from office again in 2016.
- While this does feel different, especially considering the effect the sexual misconduct allegations had on his viability at the polls, it would be foolish to attempt to write Roy Moore off as a contender for future races. The question may not be if he runs again, but when and for what?
- In the meantime, expect Moore to continue fundraising for his “election integrity fund.”
3. Governor 2018: Who’s in, Who’s out
The field of candidates for the 2018 Governor’s race is beginning to settle. AL.com’s Mike Cason writes that, as of today, five Republicans have filed notice to run for Governor.
- Governor Kay Ivey. Since her ascent to the top job after Bentley’s fall from grace, Ivey has made it clear she plans to run and run hard to win a term in her own right. Strong fundraising and a booming economy have Governor Ivey running with the wind at her back.
- Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. In any other year with an open seat, Battle would be a top contender for the Governor’s office. But, the seat isn’t open, technically, and Gov. Ivey has managed “the ship of state” quite well after the Bentley debacle. Still, the ability to fundraise and a record of success in Huntsville make him formidable as a challenger.
- Birmingham evangelist Scott Dawson. Again, had Bentley not resigned, Dawson’s candidacy might make more sense. Restoring integrity to a scandal-ridden office is a tried-and-true political message. But, Bentley is gone, and with him the taint of scandal. It will be interesting to see if Dawson attempts to fill the void of evangelical political leadership left by Roy Moore.
- Mobile State Senator Bill Hightower. Many see Hightower as the dark horse candidate in the race. He’s well-liked by his colleagues in the Legislature and can mostly self-fund. Look for him to use this opportunity to talk about issues important to him, particularly the disfunction and inefficiency of state government. Should a 2010-style mudslinging contest emerge from the top candidates, Hightower could be a threat to make the runoff just like Bentley did.
- Birmingham businessman Josh Jones. Although unknown to the electorate at large, Jones is well respected in the business community. He has loaned his campaign a healthy $235,000, indicating at least somewhat of an ability to self fund. Should he continue, an outsider businessman might be appealing to voters in this political environment.
- Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillian. Will run for State Treasurer instead.
- Jefferson County Commissioner David Carington.
- Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. Will run for Lt. Governor instead.
- Stacy Lee George. We barely knew ye.
4. Super PAC Source Revealed
The source of a multi-million dollar super PAC that helped swing the special election toward Senator-elect Doug Jones has been revealed. AP’s Kim Chandler reports that “HWY 31 PAC” received most of its $6 million in funding from Senate Majority PAC, a political arm of U.S. Senate Democrats.
The revelation is hardly surprising. However, the successful effort to turn out the Democratic base, including black voters, has emboldened national Democrats as the 2018 midterms approach.
Priorities USA, a PAC that formerly supported the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, was also part of the organized Democratic effort. Its president Josh Schwerin told Kim Chandler:
“Hopefully this race can serve as a blueprint for campaigns in 2018 — embrace digital campaigning and devote the necessary resources to persuading and turning out African American voters early, not just the final weekend of a race,” Schwerin said.
5. Write-in fun.
Of the many crazy anomalies of the 2017 Senate special election, one of the most interesting was the high number of write-in votes.
They totaled more than 22,800, which would be a lot in any given race, but is especially significant considering the Senate race was the only one on the ballot!
That means more than 22,800 Alabamians woke up, got dressed, went to the polls, and waited in line to cast a vote for someone who absolutely would not or could not win. Whether born out of principle or done in jest – or a little of both – those under votes were decisive. And now we know the names of those receiving votes, thanks to the Secretary of State John Merrill’s website.
- Top vote getters: Luther Strange, Lee Busby, Mo Brooks, Ron Bishop
- Second tier: Jeff Sessions, Nick Saban, Tommy Battle
- Also popular: Bob Riley, Condoleezza Rice, Kay Ivey (also Kay Ivy and Kaye Ivey)
- Ineligible, but thanks for the effort: Jesus Christ, God Almighty, Not These Two, UR Mom, Mickey Mouse, Harambe, Sponge Bob Squarepants
The New York Times reporter and native Alabamian Alan Blinder has a great write up on the write ins you can read here. And Alabama Politics Twitter observers made their own lists of the unique write in choices.