Argentina’s Fernandez cries foul on government primary vote count

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s former populist leader Cristina Fernandez criticized President Mauricio Macri’s government at a rally on Wednesday, after it took more than two weeks to release final results in a Senate primary race that gave her a razor-thin win.

Fernandez won the primary in Buenos Aires province, Argentina’s largest. She edged out President Mauricio Macri’s preferred candidate Esteban Bullrich 33.95 percent versus 33.74 percent.

Before announcing the final count late on Tuesday, the government had last published results in the province on Monday Aug. 14 with 95.68 percent of polling stations counted. At that time Bullrich, Macri’s former education minister, had a 0.08 percent lead over Fernandez.

“This is the first time that the person who won the provisional count did not win the definitive count,” Fernandez told thousands of cheering fans in La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province.

“The truth has triumphed over lies and manipulation,” she said, accusing Macri’s government of staging a show to celebrate the results after polls closed.

Former Argentine President and candidate for the Senate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures next to Jorge Taiana, candidate for the Lower House of Congress, during a rally in La Plata, Argentina August 30, 2017. Unidad Ciudadana/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

National Electoral Director Fernando Alvarez said Fernandez had won by just over 20,000 votes, or 0.2 percentage points, on Tuesday night. He said the count had taken place at a normal pace, though the vote was unusually close.

Former Argentine President and candidate for the Senate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures next to Jorge Taiana, candidate for the Lower House of Congress, during a rally in La Plata, Argentina August 30, 2017. Unidad Ciudadana/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

Markets were little changed on Wednesday, after the final count was known. Stocks had rallied while the peso strengthened after the Aug. 14 count as fears eased that Fernandez could aim for a presidential comeback in 2019 to reverse Macri’s economic reforms.

Fernandez was president from 2007 to 2015 and was indicted for corruption last year.

Under Argentina’s election system, the winning party in each Senate race gets two of the province’s three seats, with the remaining seat going to the second-place finisher.

A second-place finish in the Oct. 22 election would therefore still grant Fernandez, 64, a seat, which would give her immunity from arrest though not from trial. She has dismissed the corruption accusations as politically motivated.

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Former Argentine President Fernandez barely won Senate primary – radio

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Former Argentina President Cristina Fernandez narrowly won an Aug. 13 primary vote for a Senate seat in Buenos Aires province by 0.2 percentage points, National Electoral Director Fernando Alvarez said on local radio on Tuesday.

The electoral authority last updated the count with 95.68 percent of polling stations reporting on Aug. 14, showing President Mauricio Macri’s ally Esteban Bullrich ahead by 0.08 percentage points in a technical tie in the nation’s largest province.

“It’s a very small difference, a minimal difference, a difference without precedent,” Alvarez said on Radio Mitre, explaining only around 20,000 votes separated the two.

Stocks rallied and the peso strengthened after the Aug. 14 count as fears eased that the populist Fernandez could be aiming for a presidential comeback in 2019 and reverse Macri’s economic reforms.

The election will occur on Oct. 22, and markets are unlikely to be fazed by the primary result as Fernandez had originally been expected to win by an even wider margin.

Fernandez claimed victory over Bullrich, Macri’s former education minister, in the primary at a 4 a.m. rally on Aug. 14, and her party has accused the government of manipulating the count to favour Macri’s candidates.

Alvarez said the tally had occurred at a normal place.

Traders had priced in a Fernandez primary win by a margin of around 3 percentage points, according to J.P. Morgan. Local brokerage Portfolio Personal had said the market expected her to win by between 2 and 4 percentage points.

Fernandez was president from 2007 to 2015 and was indicted for corruption last year.

Under Argentina’s election system, the winning party in each Senate race gets two of the province’s three seats, with the remaining seat going to the second-place finisher.

A second-place finish in October would therefore still grant Fernandez, 64, a seat, which would give her immunity from arrest though not from trial. She dismisses the corruption accusations as politically motivated.

No matter how many seats his “Let’s Change” coalition picks up in October – when Argentines elect one-third of the Senate and half the lower house of Congress – Macri will still lack a majority. He must build alliances to pass reforms, but analysts said a defeat for Fernandez would strengthen his negotiating position.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Luc Cohen; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Argentina primary vote measures appetite for populist ex president

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentines vote on Sunday in a closely watched mid-term primary election that will test their appetite for bringing back the left-wing populism of former President Cristina Fernandez.

Fernandez, who was indicted for corruption last year, is vying for a Senate seat in Buenos Aires province, home to nearly 40 percent of the country’s voters. She is running against business friendly President Mauricio Macri’s former education minister and other candidates from a divided opposition.

Investors and wealthy Argentines fear a Fernandez comeback in Congress could pave the way to her running for president in 2019. Her return to power would likely mean the end of Macri’s reforms and a resumption of rampant spending, protection of industry and isolation from trade agreements and international capital markets.

A seat in Congress would give the 64-year-old Fernandez immunity from arrest, though not from trial. She dismisses the corruption accusations as politically motivated.

The compulsory primary vote on Sunday will essentially serve as a detailed poll ahead of the Oct. 22 election for one third of the Senate and half the lower house of Congress, as no major candidates are being challenged from within their own parties.

Though her chosen successor lost to Macri in Buenos Aires province in 2015, Fernandez now appeals to many in its struggling industrial belt, where Argentina’s emergence from recession in the second half of last year has yet to take hold.

The final weeks of primary campaigning were marked by repeated headlines highlighting gaffes from Esteban Bullrich, Macri’s former education minister and scion of a wealthy Buenos Aires family. On Wednesday he apologised for calling the jailing of young people “progress.”

Bullrich had previously suggested craft beer as an alternative employment opportunity for Argentines who had lost their jobs and was criticized by feminists for a radical anti-abortion stance.

Fernandez, who broke with Argentina’s main opposition movement of Peronism for the election as some adherents form more moderate factions, meanwhile ran a relatively subdued campaign compared to her often fiery rhetoric and long speeches as president.

“We weren’t always as humble as we should have been,” she said of her presidency at her final rally.

PESO WEAKENING

Argentina’s peso has weakened around 9 percent since Fernandez, who was president from 2007 to 2015, formed a new political party and declared her candidacy on June 24 even as the central bank sold $1.8 billion to curb the currency’s drop.

In an interview for the Reuters Latin America investment summit, Macri admitted the race would be tight in Buenos Aires province but insisted that, more importantly, his coalition would win on a national level.

No matter how many seats his “Let’s Change” coalition picks up, Macri will still lack a majority in Congress and continue to need to build alliances to pass reforms.

An opponent like Fernandez representing the country’s most powerful economic district could make that all the more difficult.

“Labour, retirement and tax reform will require an agreement,” said political analyst Rosendo Fraga. “If it wins Buenos Aires, the government will go into these negotiations strengthened, if it loses it will be much weaker.”

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Mary Milliken

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GOP candidates make closing arguments in final weekend of tight Ala. Senate primary

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Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama crisscrossed the state Saturday, hoping to sway undecided voters before the election Tuesday. 

A primary in which a sitting senator is seeking election is typically little more than a formality. But this is not a typical political year, and this is no typical race.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are backing GOP Sen. Luther Strange in the special election to fill the seat of Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Session, who earlier this year became U.S. attorney general. 

Strange, a former state attorney general, was appointed to the seat in February. 

Their support has left four-term GOP Rep. Mo Brooks largely cut off by Washington Republicans in the close, three-way battle that also includes former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

On Saturday, Strange attended the Cleburne County Fair, where he spoke to members of the Heflin First United Methodist Youth Group.

“We have less than 72 hours before Alabama voters head to the polls. So, can I count on you to take some time over the next couple of days to stop by your neighbors and ask them to support our campaign on Tuesday?” Strange asked voters via social media.

Trump’s super PAC reportedly plans to spend as much as $200,000 on digital ads for Strange, in the closing days of race. He also has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

None of the three is expected to get at least 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, which means the top-two finishers will advance to a runoff in September.

The winner will face the Democratic nominee later this year but will likely win — considering the last time a Democrat was elected senator in Alabama was 1987, when Richard Shelby won, then switched several years later to the Republican Party.

Several polls indicate the race is too close to call, with Brooks garnering national support from conservative groups and Moore appearing to have strong support from grassroots voters, TV stars such as Chuck Norris and evangelicals, including influential faith leader James Dobson.

Brooks on Saturday attended the Baldwin County breakfast, at the Biscuit King, in the town of Fairhope.

Moore’s campaign said the candidate and wife Kayla plan to participate in the traditional horse ride to the polls on Tuesday.

 

 

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Trump riles conservative media allies with Alabama Senate primary pick

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In between ratcheting up the rhetoric on North Korea and taunting Mitch McConnell – all while on vacation at his New Jersey golf club – President Trump did something else unusual this week: He endorsed the establishment pick in Alabama’s upcoming Senate GOP primary. 

The president is now facing a backlash from his usual conservative media allies for stepping into the race in favor of incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. 

Some are irked that Trump sided with the mild-mannered Strange over Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, a conservative with a penchant for provocative comments who has been endorsed by Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity.

“I love him, but that was completely idiotic,” Coulter complained to Breitbart News this week about the president’s endorsement. 

Trump unexpectedly tweeted his support Tuesday for Strange, who has the emphatic backing of Senate Majority Leader McConnell. The endorsement is significant because the top candidates have been portraying themselves as loyal advocates for the president in a state where Trump remains widely popular. 

Strange, the state’s former attorney general who was once a lobbyist, was appointed to the seat in April after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions joined the Trump administration. Trump’s endorsement was all the stranger – so to speak – considering he backed McConnell’s pick even as he chastised the Senate GOP leader for not getting a health care bill passed. 

“What has Trump gotten from McConnell?” Coulter asked after the endorsement. “But he’s still sucking up to establishment Republicans.”

Levin, the syndicated conservative radio host who is sympathetic to Trump, vented on Facebook about “Trump’s pathetic endorsement of Luther Strange, McConnell’s RINO puppet, screwing conservatives in Alabama and across the nation.”

While Strange has established a conservative voting record, his critics have painted him as someone too close to the GOP establishment.

Erick Erickson, the conservative radio host who has been critical of Trump in the past, argued the president was given bad political advice, saying: “This is not how the president drains the swamp.”

“Strange is a pillar of the establishment status quo and will not rock Mitch McConnell’s boat,” Erickson wrote for The Resurgent website. “In fact, Strange is one of McConnell’s oar hands in the boat.” 

ERICK ERICKSON: MR. TRUMP, THIS IS HOW YOU DRAIN THE SWAMP?!

The primary to fill the seat once held by now-Attorney General Sessions is set for Tuesday. A runoff will be held Sept. 26 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, which seems likely in the crowded field.

Trump weighed into the race with a single tweet on Tuesday evening.

“Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama,” Trump tweeted. “He has my complete and total endorsement!”

TRUMP ENDORSES STRANGE IN ALABAMA’S GOP SENATE PRIMARY

Still reeling from Trump’s endorsement of Strange, Brooks on Friday released a new ad, which his campaign called a “direct address to President Trump.”

“McConnell and Strange are weak,” Brooks says. “But, together, we can be strong. Mr. President, isn’t it time we tell McConnell and Strange, ‘you’re fired’?”

Meanwhile, Strange is running television ads touting the president’s endorsement — while seemingly reminding people of Brooks’ past Trump criticism. 

“Others attack our president,” Strange says in the ad. “I’m fighting with him to drain the swamp and repeal ObamaCare.” 

Strange said in a Thursday statement he was “deeply honored and humbled” to get the president’s endorsement. 

During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Brooks supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, something that has been used to paint him as insufficiently pro-Trump. The McConnell-backed Senate Leadership Fund has been spending millions running television ads of Brooks’ past critical comments about Trump to try to drive a wedge between him and the president’s supporters.

But the race isn’t just between Strange and Brooks: the other major candidate in the race, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, is also fighting for a place in the likely runoff. Recent polling in Alabama has shown Moore, who is enthusiastically supported by some Christian conservatives, leading both Strange and Brooks.

Moore, who traditionally rides a horse to the polls on election day, is beloved by his supporters in Alabama after being removed twice from his position on Alabama’s Supreme Court. Such loyalty could be beneficial in a special election where turnout is likely to be low.

In 2003, Moore refused to remove a bust of the Ten Commandments from the state’s judicial building despite orders from a federal court. In 2016, he was removed the bench for ordering Alabama judges to defy federal court orders on gay marriage.

He, too, has been endorsed by national figures: Moore’s campaign announced Thursday the endorsement of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Earlier this week, actor Chuck Norris announced his support for Moore.

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GOP Sen. Heller draws 2018 primary challenge from Trump supporter

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Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller has drawn an early, albeit expected, 2018 primary challenger — after giving only tepid support to Donald Trump’s presidential bid and the subsequent push to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Businessman Danny Tarkanian, a Trump supporter and the son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, announced Tuesday that he’ll challenge Heller in next year’s GOP primary.

“We are not surprised,” said Heller campaign spokesman Tommy Ferraro, who knocked Tarkanian’s numerous prior attempts to get elected.

“Danny Tarkanian is a perennial candidate who has spent millions of dollars on five campaigns over the last decade,” Ferraro said. “Nevada voters have rejected him every time. … He’s wasted conservatives’ time and cost the Republican Party seats up and down the ballot.”

Heller’s reelection headwinds began during the 2016 presidential race, when the first-term senator was critical of what he considered then-GOP nominee Trump’s negative comments about Hispanics.

The closest he came to a Trump endorsement was essentially saying he’d back whomever was running against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who beat Trump in Nevada.

Heller’s efforts to at least avoid a primary challenge grew more complicated when he declined to back the Republican-controlled Senate’s early ObamaCare overhaul plan.

“He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump asked, prodding him at the time to come around.

Heller ultimately backed a scaled-back measure. But the overall repeal effort failed, denying Trump, at least for now, his first major legislative victory.

Heller’s challenges, however, arguably started much earlier with Nevada’s changing demographics, with more Hispanics living in the state — particularly Clark County, which includes Las Vegas.

“There is very little in life more frustrating than voting for Republicans who promise to repeal ObamaCare, then break their word once we have a Republican President to sign the bill,” Tarkanian said in a fundraising letter Tuesday after announcing his bid. 

While Heller is considered vulnerable, some doubt whether Tarkanian is a serious threat.

“I think that Dean Heller has opened himself up to a challenge, but I don’t think that Danny is the person to make that successful challenge,” Republican strategist Rory McShane said Wednesday. “Beating Dean Heller would take the support of a lot of national groups like Club for Growth and the National Association of Gun Rights. It would be tough for Danny to win a primary without a lot of those national groups behind him.”

Democrats already have what they consider a strong challenger in first-term Rep. Jacky Rosen, with few opportunities in 2018 to defeat an incumbent Senate Republican. Other Republicans also are expected to enter the race.  

Tarkanian, meanwhile, accused Heller of voting for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal in 2015 because he knew then-President Barack Obama would veto the measure.

“Now it’s clear he has sold his soul to the liberals and moderates in Washington,” he said.

Tarkanian, who lost a 2016 GOP primary bid for the seat of retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, vows to be the “true conservative” in the race. And he argues he’s been loyal to Trump from the start, despite “political operatives in Washington” telling him to keep a distance.

“I am unapologetic in my support for President Trump, and I will stand firm for America First policies,” Tarkanian said. 

Fox News’ Joseph Weber contributed to this report. 

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Trump endorses Strange in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary

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President Trump made a surprise endorsement on Tuesday night in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary, throwing his support behind incumbent Sen. Luther Strange over the other conservative candidates running just one week before election day.

“Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama,” Trump tweeted. “He has my complete and total endorsement!”

The primary to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set for next Tuesday, Aug. 15. A run-off will be held Sept. 26 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, which seems likely in the crowded field though polling has been scarce.

“Mr. President, what an honor,” Strange tweeted after Trump’s announcement. “Thank you so much for your support and confidence. Proud to work with you to #MAGA #ALsen.”

Trump’s endorsement is a major blow to U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a conservative lawmaker who has been endorsed by pro-Trump figures, including Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity.

“I respect President Trump, but I am baffled and disappointed Mitch McConnell and the swamp somehow misled the president into endorsing Luther Strange,” Brooks said in a Wednesday statement.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has the ardent support of Christian conservatives, is also vying for a spot in the run-off and has vowed to be a reliable advocate for the Trump administration in Washington. 

Trump’s endorsement of Strange is a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose political operation has been boosting Strange while running ads portraying Brooks as not sufficiently pro-Trump.

During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Brooks supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, something his opponents have used against him. A super PAC with ties to McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, has been running television ads of Brooks’ past critical comments about Trump.

Meanwhile, Brooks has been tying Strange to the Republican establishment and McConnell, whom he says he would not vote for as Republican majority leader.

Strange, the state’s former attorney general, was temporarily appointed to the seat in April after Sessions joined the Trump administration.

His opponents have used that appointment from former Gov. Robert Bentley against him: Strange’s office was investigating Bentley before the governor made him senator. Bentley has since resigned from office in scandal.

The contest has been defined largely over candidates emphasizing their support of the president in a state where the president remains widely popular.

TRUMP-SESSIONS FEUD JOLTS ALABAMA SENATE PRIMARY

Discussing Trump’s election to the White House, Strange said this month: “I consider it a biblical miracle that he’s there.”

Brooks has vowed to fight for funding for Trump’s border wall. “And if I have to filibuster on the Senate floor, I’ll even read the King James Bible until the wall is funded,” Brooks said in a recent ad.

Moore told the Associated Press in May: “God puts people in positions in positions he wants…I believe he sent Donald Trump in there to do what Donald Trump can do.”

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Sessions replacement: Who are the Alabama Senate primary candidates?

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Next week, Alabamans will head to the voting booth and come one step closer to electing a new U.S. senator.

Republican Jeff Sessions vacated his seat in February after he was confirmed as the U.S. attorney general. Former state Attorney General Luther Strange was picked by the governor to finish Sessions’ term.

The special election primary is slated for Aug. 15. However, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will occur at the end of September.

The general election is set for Dec. 12.

Here’s a look at the nine Republicans and seven Democrats who are running to become the next U.S. senator from Alabama.

James Beretta, Republican

Dr. James Beretta, a pain management specialist just south of Birmingham, moved to Alabama 25 years ago to raise his family in a “community-oriented” area, according to AL.com.

Beretta said he is “disillusioned” with Washington – which is why he is running for office.

“I’m tired of the corruption,” he told AL.com. “I’m tired of the purpose of me being in office is to promote my own ideology and not what’s being voted on and passed.”

Beretta said he would like to see immigration reform “done correctly” and thinks there should be a law against texting and driving, AL.com reported. He also thinks the state of health care today is “another disaster” and said former Gov. Robert Bentley should have expanded Medicaid in Alabama.

Beretta supports President Donald Trump and thinks Trump “presents himself to the world in a much better light than the previous administration.”

Will Boyd, Democrat

The Rev. Will Boyd is a Democrat, but he doesn’t support gun control or abortion.

“I’m not somebody who wants to take guns away. I’m not somebody who wants to kill babies,” Boyd told AL.com.

He said he grew up in South Carolina around guns and would just want to enforce existing laws regarding who can purchase a firearm. As for abortion, Boyd described himself as a “man of the cloth” and emphasized the importance of adoption.

As a U.S. senator, Boyd would support “a realistic ‘path to citizenship’ plan for undocumented immigrants” who are “living and working peaceably” in the U.S., according to his campaign website.

He also opposes the privatization of Social Security, supports legislation that “helps fill the health care/Medicaid coverage gap that exists for women in Alabama,” opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and wishes to increase the minimum wage to $14 by 2018.

Joseph Breault, Republican

Despite running for office, Joseph Breault is keeping a low profile. So low, in fact, that the Alabama GOP wasn’t even aware of who he is, according to AL.com.

And as the newspaper discovered, Breault doesn’t like to speak to reporters, either.

Breault, a chaplain based at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, was also the Republican nominee in a Utah House race last year, his LinkedIn page says.

He previously served as chaplain at a VA hospital in Salt Lake City and at the Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colo.

Randy Brinson, Republican

A lay minister and former university trustee, Randy Brinson also received a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and served as the chief of gastroenterology at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Aside from his professional accomplishments, Brinson also notes his Christian activism on his campaign website. He said he brought WAY-FM, a Christian music station, to Montgomery and headed the nonprofit Christian Coalition of Alabama.

He also founded the conservative organization Redeem the Vote, which seeks to increase voter registration and participation of Christians. Brinson stepped down from the organization to run for Senate, AL.com reported.

Now, “Randy continues to advocate strongly for America and Israel’s interests across the globe, and he values to protect us from the threat of radical jihadists and historical adversaries such as China and Russia, as they seek world domination and threaten our way of life,” his website states.

As a senator, Brinson would push to end Common Core, repeal and replace ObamaCare and protect gun rights and the freedom of religion.

Mo Brooks, Republican

Like some of his opponents, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was born in South Carolina but moved to Alabama as a child.

But in Alabama, Brooks has been influential in politics and law. He graduated from the University of Alabama Law School, worked as a prosecutor in the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s office and clerked for Circuit Court Judge John David Snodgrass, according to his campaign website.

He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1982, appointed Madison County district attorney in 1991 and served as the special assistant attorney general for Sessions in 1995 when Sessions was the state’s attorney general.

Brooks became a U.S. congressman in 2011 and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

As a senator, Brooks said he would defend gun rights, support Trump’s promise to build a border wall and push for sanctions against “hostile nations.”

With growing tension between Sessions and Trump – and rumors that Sessions could be next to leave the administration – Brooks offered to band together with the other GOP Senate candidates and drop out of the race to allow Sessions to have his seat back.

Brooks said last month that while he supports Trump’s policies, he does not support the “public waterboarding” of Sessions.

“I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama. My closest friends and political advisers have told me to not side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so,” Brooks said. “My response is simple: I don’t care. If this costs me politically, that’s fine but I am going to do the right thing for Alabama and America. I stand with Jeff Sessions.”

Strange, one of Brooks’ Republican opponents, said Brooks’ plan proved he is “desperate to get attention.”

The pair has also reportedly clashed over whether to keep the filibuster in the Senate.

Vann Caldwell, Democrat

Vann Caldwell is the constable in Talladega County – near the center of the state.

He has worked on a farm and for the public safety division of the University of Alabama, according to his website. After that, he developed his own security business.

“I have experience with working with a diversity of people.” Caldwell, 33, told AL.com. “I have developed [an] understanding as well as a plan for all of the people. I will give my [very] best in the betterment and growth of this state and nation. It’s not magic; it will take hard work and passion, which I have.”

He said that as a senator, he would focus on the economy, which in turn would help other issues – education, the military and homeland security.

As for health care policy, Caldwell told AL.com that “by virtue of the Democratic beliefs and by virtue of the Republicans’ beliefs, only Democrats can make a health care law.”

“Republicans can only outlaw a health care law,” he said.

Jason Fisher, Democrat

Jason Fisher is a longtime resident of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but the 45-year-old Democrat grew up working on farms in Eastern Iowa, according to his campaign website.

For Fisher, health care is a top issue – and it hits close to home for him.

Fisher’s wife unexpectedly died from a blood clot just before her 31st birthday, AL.com reported. He is now the single father of a 2-year-old girl who has special needs, the report said.

“I have had no shortage of bad luck over the last six or seven years when it comes to my personal life,” Fisher said. “But there is a gift that comes from that and it is the perspective of understanding what is truly important and how to work with people in a different way to get a better result.”

He said he hopes Congress would work to improve the current health care law to make it better for Americans.

Fisher is a vice president and senior consultant at a marketing firm, but he has worked as a business manager, consultant and nonprofit executive, his website states.

Michael Hansen, Democrat

Michael Hansen, 35, said his Senate bid is a “long shot” – but it’s a shot he’s willing to take anyway.

Hansen, executive director of the health advocacy group Gasp, is openly gay and a Democrat.

In a Medium blog post announcing his run, Hansen noted that “folks are sick and tired.” He specifically noted the stereotypes that liberals, conservatives, Christians, people of color, men and white people face.

“Our list of grievances with one another goes on and on, and it’s unsustainable,” he said.

In the Senate, Hansen said he would fight for a federal law to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, fight against policies that would systematically oppress people of color and advocate for funding family planning services, including Planned Parenthood.

Doug Jones, Democrat

A former federal prosecutor, Doug Jones said he “hope[s] to return to public office.”

On his campaign website, Jones criticized Trump for withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement. He also said he supports “a woman’s right to choose” and supports Planned Parenthood.

“The shenanigans around the 2016 campaign must be pushed aside and full equality for women made the law and the norm in America,” he said.

Thus far, Jones has raised more than $158,000 for his campaign, AL.com reported. That’s only about half as much as some of the top GOP candidates, but it’s most likely more than any of his fellow Democrats, according to the newspaper.

Robert Kennedy Jr., Democrat

No, he’s not related to the famous political family. But Robert Kennedy Jr., does hope to become a lawmaker.

Kennedy attended Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and was stationed in Japan with the Navy. He spent nine years on active duty.

AL.com reported that Kennedy, 47, remained fairly private during an interview and declined to reveal certain personal details about his life, including his job.

His campaign website simply said Kennedy “launched his civilian career in the casino industry, and subsequently transitioned into retail.”

“I’m a fiscally responsible Democrat who leads with faith,” Kennedy said on his website. He told AL.com that he considers himself to be a “conservative Democrat” who supports gun rights.

But he also supports keeping and fixing ObamaCare and abortion rights, according to his website.

Despite staying fairly private about certain details, Kennedy led the field of Democrats in a recent WBRC-TV poll with 49 percent. Jones trailed with 28 percent.

Mary Maxwell, Republican

Mary Maxwell specifically moved to Alabama to run for the open Senate seat – all the way from Australia.

She told AL.com that she learned about the election from a Yahoo News article and decided that, after spending several decades in Australia, it was time for a move. In June, Maxwell became an Alabama resident.

Maxwell, 70, is a unique candidate – she travels the state by Greyhound bus because she doesn’t want to drive on the right-hand side of the road, she’s written about mind control and teen etiquette and she sued former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over the administration attacking Iran and Syria without a declaration of war.

Maxwell was born in Massachusetts where she lived until she moved to Australia with her late-husband in 1980.

“I don’t mind admitting that as a Northerner, the South wasn’t there for me,” she told AL.com. “We don’t see it, we don’t think about it. I was never thinking about Alabama, I’ll admit.”

Maxwell said she “hang[s] out in front of Walmarts when [she] can, distributing copies of the Bill of Rights, usually warmly received,” according to her campaign website.

She said she is against war, mandatory vaccinations and privatizing prisons. She also would like to audit the Federal Reserve System and “would look into government bullying” as a senator.

Roy Moore, Republican

If Chuck Norris had his way, Judge Roy Moore would be the next senator. 

The “Walker, Texas Ranger” star endorsed Moore as he is “the real deal,” Norris said.

“Alabama needs Judge Moore there doing what he’s always done: fighting to protect our constitutional rights to life, religious liberty and the freedom to protect ourselves and our families. And he will always put principle over politics,” Norris said. 

Moore recently served as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court but was suspended in September 2016 from chief justice for violating the canons of judicial ethics.

Prosecutors said Moore told probate judges to defy the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide. Moore said on his Senate campaign website that he retired to seek the office in 2017 and addressed the controversy by saying that he was suspended for “upholding the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman.”  

Moore advocated for using the military to protect the country’s southern border, immediately repealing ObamaCare and making homosexuality against military policy on his campaign website.

He is also opposed to abortion, federal funding to Planned Parenthood, same-sex marriage, civil unions and “all other threats to the traditional family order.”

Bryan Peeples, Republican

Bryan Peeples is young, has never held an elected office and doesn’t have a campaign chairman, according to AL.com.

“I’m doing this by myself,” the 37-year-old said.

As a consultant for small- and medium-sized hotels and restaurants, Peeples is focused on middle-income families and mid-sized businesses, he told AL.com.

He is also focused on tax reform and term limits. He would like to donate a portion of his Senate salary to charity, according to a “contract” on his campaign website states.

Trip Pittman, Republican

State Sen. Trip Pittman is the “natural successor to Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate,” his campaign website states. He would also be the first non-lawyer in more than 100 years to represent Alabama in the Senate, it said.

Pittman ran for state Senate after he survived a plane crash in 2007, according to his campaign website.

Pittman is anti-abortion and supports Trump’s call for a border wall. He also supports Trump’s call to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.

Luther Strange, Republican

Strange currently holds Sessions’ old seat, as he was appointed by the governor to finish out Sessions’ term. But Strange hopes to keep the office he was given.

Before his Senate appointment, Strange was Alabama’s attorney general and joined a lawsuit against the Obama administration that challenged Obama’s executive order on amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

Strange said he “stands with President Trump and looks forward to working with the new administration to achieve landmark conservative success,” on his campaign website. He also supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and calls for immediate deportation of criminal undocumented immigrants and the construction of a border wall.

And his loyalty to Trump appears to have paid off. The president endorsed Strange in a tweet on August 8.

“Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!” Trump said.

Strange said he was honored to receive the endorsement. 

Strange raised $1.8 million in just three months, AL.com reported in July. He’s endorsed by the National Rifle Association and Perry Hooper Jr., the Alabama Trump Victory chairman.

Charles Nana, Democrat

Businessman Charles Nana immigrated to the U.S. from Cameroon in West Africa, and he splits his time between his job in Nashville and his home in Birmingham, AL.com reported.

He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Senate last year.

“[Nana] is deeply troubled by the way faith is being used by some to serve hate, racism and greed,” his campaign website states.

Nana advocates for a “new fresh wind,” which includes free education through college.

“If we can contemplate building a wall with Mexico, we can surely afford giving our children free education from Pre-K to college,” he said on his website.  

Nana considers himself a “Berniecrat” and a “conservative Democrat,” according to AL.com.

Withdrew

–        Dominic Gentile, Republican

–        Ed Henry, Republican

–        Karen Jackson, Republican

–        Brian McGee, Democrat 

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Ford replaces Chevy as primary sponsor

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Ford Motor Co. will replace Chevrolet as the presenting sponsor of the 2017 Woodward Dream Cruise, metro Detroit’s annual celebration of car culture.

The Blue Oval will appear on signage and other media surrounding the 23rd annual cruise, which takes place Aug. 19. Ford inked a one-year deal with cruise officials, with an option to continue the partnership next year. A spokesman declined to reveal the price Ford paid for the sponsorship.

Chevy last month confirmed it was dropping the Dream Cruise sponsorship after a six-year run. Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevrolet, said the company’s decision to cease sponsorship comes after re-analyzing how marketing dollars are spent.




The General Motors brand initially signed a three-year deal worth more than $1 million in 2011, according to a Detroit News report. Before that, MotorCity Casino paid $80,000 a year to be the presenting sponsor.

“Dream Cruise is all about the sheer joy and freedom of the automobile, and Ford has always celebrated car culture,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing sales and service, said in a statement. “From Fiesta to GT, we’re obsessed with making driving fun and we’re committed to celebrating that passion with enthusiasts of all ages in the birthplace of motoring.”




In addition to the partnership, Ford will host its Mustang Alley event just north of Detroit in Ferndale, Mich., for the 19th-straight year. The pony car party features hundreds of Mustangs on display by owners from across the world.

For the first time this year, Ford will bring its Driving Skills for Life program to the cruise. The experience offers new drivers the opportunity to learn safe driving techniques through a new virtual reality app, Ford said.

The cruise is expected to attract 1.2 million people and about 40,000 classic cars.

The article “Ford to sponsor 2017 Woodward Dream Cruise after Chevy bows out” originally appeared at Automotive News on 7/11/17.













By Michael Martinez, Automotive News




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