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ALFA's Farm-PAC Endorsements Interesting For What They Leave Out

by: countrycat

Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 14:17:23 PM CST

The Alabama Farmers' Federation PAC (Farm-PAC) announced its primary endorsements today.  The list is most interesting for the races with no endorsements:

5th Congressional District - Parker Griffith gets ignored again!

Alabama's Governor's race - no endorsement at all of any Democrat or Republican.

Now, this last one has to be a kick in the teeth to Ron Sparks.  From what I've seen, he's been so close to ALFA's leadership that when they sneeze, he's the one holding the tissue.  It's really shocking that they declined to endorse not just Sparks, but anybody for governor.

If this means there's been a split or disagreement between Sparks and ALFA, I think that's a great thing.  This is not a progressive organization by any stretch of the imagination.

It was a big proponent of the misleadingly-labeled Alabama Farm Preservation Act, which was really a corporate hog farm protection bill.  And ALFA has been a strong opponent of tax reform and Constitution reform, preferring Alabama's current system that favors large property owners and out of state timber companies at the expense of everyone else.

"I think ALFA in particular is trying to cast constitutional reform as nothing more than a tax-raising measure," said Mary Weidler, a policy analyst with the low-income advocacy group Alabama Arise. 

If Sparks doesn't have to worry about placating ALFA, he has some running room to take more progressive stands on taxes, Constitutional Reform, and environmental protection.

On the flip is ALFA's full endorsement list.  btw... they're endorsing Troy King for Attorney General, so I guess actual qualifications for the job aren't an issue for ALFA.


countrycat :: ALFA's Farm-PAC Endorsements Interesting For What They Leave Out
  • U.S. Senator: Richard Shelby
  • U.S. Representative, District 1: Jo Bonner
  • U.S. Representative, District 2: Bobby Bright
  • U.S. Representative, District 3: Mike Rogers
  • U.S. Representative, District 4: Robert Aderholt
  • U.S. Representative, District 6: Spencer Bachus
  • U.S. Representative, District 7: Earl Hilliard Jr.
  • Attorney General: Troy King
  • State Treasurer: George Wallace Jr.
  • Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries: Dorman Grace
  • Supreme Court Justice, Place 1: Kelli Wise
  • Supreme Court Justice, Place 2: Mike Bolin
  • Supreme Court Justice, Place 3: Tom Parker
  • Court of Civil Appeals Judge: Tommy Bryan

One thing that jumped out at me was this:  Why endorse now?  Qualifying for both parties is still open.  It seems really, really early for ALFA to have already picked their slate.

There has to be a story in there somewhere, but I don't know what it is.  Anybody want to share?


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ALFA's nonprogressive stands (4.00 / 1)

You left out ALFA's attempt to do away with the successful Forever Wild program, which you shared with us a few weeks back.  They're definitely a non-progressive outfit.  That's especially true on the Constitution Reform front because they are committed to keeping taxes on timber lands at rock bottom, lowest in the nation levels.

Yes, if ALFA is parting ways with Ron Sparks it would give him room to endorse constitutional reform, but how would it look if he switched positions after firmly staking out his opposition to any meaningful reform?  I'm serious about the firm part; I've personally pressed him on the issue and I've seen reform supporters at events lay into him and he has always maintained that a constitutional convention would be bad and that "if we need reform" we need to do it article by article and take our time. It would be a big flip-flop to change his mind now.  Sparks should have spent more effort in 2008 developing a platform that hangs together and that he could stand firmly on -- he's had to shift position too often already and it just looks like he hadn't thought these things through before getting into the race.

Work harder and work smarter!

Forever Wild (4.00 / 1)

holy cow... can't believe I forgot that.

The day's been just too wild.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
The distance between Sparks and ALFA (4.00 / 1)

Another reason why that distance is growing is Sparks's advocacy and support of gambling.  ALFA has a policy explicitly opposing gambling (as displayed in the debate in 2008 over SB 191 on Macon County gambling).  Sparks has already defined himself as the gambling candidate, which would turn off a number of ALFA supporters who would have considered crossing over to support him (this is based on the thought that most ALFA members end up supporting the Republican nominee for governor).

However, the two Democratic candidates have already carved out ground on constiutional reform and other reform-minded issues, and it would be hard for either of them to move from that ground (well, Sparks could offer more definition on ethics reform, but Davis has already seized that ground).

[ Parent ]
kind of surprised by endorsement of Earl Hilliard (4.00 / 1)

Not sure it's a good thing ... n/t (0.00 / 0)

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
I wondered about that too. (4.00 / 1)

I was impressed by Hilliard when I met him and heard him speak. 

But I just don't know enough about all the candidates to be comfortable choosing one over the other at this point.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
definitely not a good thing (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
With all of the Congressional endorsements (4.00 / 2)

I think they're just putting their money behind the clear' winner - I've heard Hilliard is doing well in public support and in fundraising, and I guess they just like their chances with Bright being the incumbent.

Maybe they figure they might as well get in early in the races they can manage it in without risking ~hurt feelings~ if things go awry.

[ Parent ]
there's a quotation missing from that 'clear' (4.00 / 1)
Whoever ALFA thinks is going to take the race, that is.

[ Parent ]
In Hilliard's case, it doesn't mean much... (4.00 / 1)

Hilliard is the only candidate in the AL-7 race who has shown any awareness of, much less interest in, rural issues. The other candidates have just focused on the vote-rich Bham metro area.  Also, they think he'll win because ALFA does not often bet on losers (likely the main reason PG didn't make a repeat appearance on this list).  ALFA knows a black Democrat will win this race. They just want an electable black Democrat that has some history of supporting farming issues.  That's all.  This has nothing to do with ALFA's stance on state issues like Constitutional Reform or property taxes.  It likely does mean that he'll push some bill expanding tax credits for catfish farmers or something like that.   And then they'll endorse him next time around, throw him a few thousand bucks, and add him to their checklist of "winners" as well as being able to show they're a diverse organization.

[ Parent ]
my take is that Hilliard is a legislator (4.00 / 1)
and the only current legislator out of the crop of candidates running. that being said they know he's got a chance to win - i agree - but also they have this session that they want him on their side.

there's not too much a freshman congressman from Alabama is going to be able to do to help them immediately except maybe get on the ag committee which would be good for the District, nonetheless.

[ Parent ]
Very true... (4.00 / 1)
Although I cannot see Hilliard coming down on the ALFA side of a divisive State House bill unless a lot of other Democrats are doing the same; otherwise, he opens himself up to a lot of criticism in the AL-7 primary.

[ Parent ]



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