What makes one "insufficiently Republican" in Alabama these days? A couple of things, it appears: running as an independent in a previous election, not supporting Roy Moore, & receiving Alabama Education Association (AEA) campaign contributions. Oddly, that last one didn't disqualify our current Dr. Governor, but the party may use it this year to keep candidates off its primary ballot.
Later this week, a special committee of the state Republican Party - a 21 member "Candidate Committee" - will decide the fate of 18 GOP primary hopefuls who have run afoul of either party rules or party sensibilities:
Challenges can center on technical qualifications – such as living in the wrong district or having a criminal record – or matters of party loyalty.
Now, in the State Democratic Party, there's something known as the "Radley Rule," that prevents a candidate from qualifying to run as a Democrat if he/she has donated money to Republican candidates/organizations during the previous 4 years. Democratic candidate for Treasurer, Charlie Grimsley, was challenged in 2010 because of multiple donations to Republicans. And former Democrat-Republican-Independent Parker Griffith is on this year's primary ballot running for governor in spite of his party switch, runs for Congress as a Republican, and nasty comments about Democrats.
Alabama Democrats seem to err on the side of forgiveness, while the AL GOP is more about retribution.
The Alabama Republican Party has its own version of the Radley Rule, an amendment (page 13 in the PDF) passed June 16, 2007:
Denying Ballot Access:
This Committee reserves the right to deny ballot access to a candidate for public office if in a prior election that person was a Republican office holder and either publicly participated in the primary election of another political party or publicly supported a nominee of another political party. The provisions of this Rule shall apply for a period of six years after such person so participated. (This rule does not include all of the reasons for denying ballot access.)
In fact, the AL GOP is so concerned about having undesirables in the party, that they passed another ballot access rule on February 2, 2013:
The Party shall not accept money, in - kind contributions, or anything of value, directly or indirectly, from (i) the National Education Association (NEA), (ii) the NEA’s affiliates or entity controlled by the NEA or (iii) any of the NEA’s state affiliates or their related organizations. Officeholders and candidates are strongly admonished to follow the same rule and, because the NEA is a veritable adjunct of the Democratic Party, failure to heed this admonition shall be regarded negatively by the Committee.
Now, we already know that one reason Robert Bentley is governor is because of help from the AEA in the form of campaign contributions, PAC to PAC transfers, robocalls, and more. We also know that the group received a dreadful return on investment for its efforts.
So it's pretty funny now to watch the GOP do backflips to toss out candidates who take AEA money - when the sitting GOP governor likely wouldn't be there right now without it, and neither would numerous other Republicans in the legislature. The Alabama Political Reporter has an interesting story on this very subject:
If the Executive Committee excepts Scovill’s logic that any candidate who has received funds from the AEA should be disqualified as running as a Republican, then Campbell’s petition would deny over 30 GOP candidates; all of whom are currently sitting lawmakers.
For example, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) has received $12,000 (Principal Campaign Committee) and $131,500 (As Chair/Treasurer of NETPAC) in donations from the AEA.
Scovill’s petition against Tim Sprayberry, states that he has taken $30,000 in donation from the AEA. Sprayberry, is running against Sen. Gerald Dial to represent Senate District 13. Dial has received $50,000 in campaign contributions from the AEA.
This is going to be entertaining!