Decatur Daily
12 Nov

Decatur Daily

State Republican officeholders not united behind single presidential candidate

Some north Alabama GOP officeholders have picked their favorites, while some are still waiting for the crowd to narrow.

State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said he’d love to see a Donald Trump presidency “or someone else who hasn’t lived their life in politics.” That includes retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

“I am convinced that Washington, D.C., can’t be fixed by politeness or political correctness,” Henry said this week. He was on stage earlier this year in Mobile for one of Trump’s first big rallies. “Nor can it be changed from within. I believe we need an outsider to shake things up.”

Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, hasn’t officially endorsed a candidate, but said if the election were today, he’d likely support Carson or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz because of their conservative beliefs.

“They’re committed to true reform and the downsizing of federal government,” Stutts said.

He also thinks either could beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton next November.

Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said he likes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, but isn’t yet committed to a candidate.

“There are a lot of them and some will drop out,” Greer said. “You’ve got a pretty good group to pick from. You can’t complain about that.”

Other local lawmakers are still undecided, too.

“It’s a long time between now and (March),” Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said.

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, who represents portions of Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison counties, said he’s had some conversations with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s team, but still is looking at the candidates.

Bush has gotten support from Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, of Mobile, and Mary Scott Hunter, a state school board member from Huntsville.

Next year, the primaries will be March 1, earlier than in previous contests. Alabama and several other Southern states united for an earlier primary in hopes of drawing more interest from candidates. It’s being called the SEC Primary.

Gov. Robert Bentley in August endorsed former Congressman and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is considered to be a more moderate Republican. Bentley said he chose Kasich because of his executive-level experience and heart, The Associated Press reported at the time of the announcement.

Secretary of State John Merrill has endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the state’s primary in 2008.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, of Huntsville, this week threw his support behind Cruz.

“Ted Cruz’s record proves he has the intellect, strength of character, and backbone to do what is best for America in the face of stiff political winds that seek to blow our nation off course,” Brooks, who will chair Cruz’s Alabama leadership team, said in a written statement.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, of Haleyville, whose district includes Lawrence County and part of the Shoals, hasn’t endorsed a candidate.

In more than 50 years, Alabama has supported only one Democrat for president, Georgian Jimmy Carter in 1976.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, last week endorsed Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore.

“I listened to all the presidential candidates, and Martin O’Malley was the only one not just talking about creating jobs and improving education, but who has actually accomplished those things as a mayor and governor,” Ford said in a statement.

Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, said he hasn’t begun to focus on the presidential race.

“My full attention is on the concerns of the state,” said Morrow, adding there’s not much Alabamians can do about what goes on in Washington.

“What we can do something about is here in Alabama, and that’s where I’m directing my attention,” Morrow said.

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