Cullman: The Center Of The Alabama Political Universe
The Cullman Civic Center was the epicenter of the Alabama political universe Friday night.
A paying crowd of nearly 200 very well dressed and politically active Cullman-area citizens and community leaders filled most every available table on the floor of the Civic Center for the annual Cullman County Republican Party annual dinner, fundraiser, and awards ceremony.
The Cullman County Republican Party put on this spectacular, multi-tiered event to bring together the biggest current names in Alabama and national politics along with the brightest and most influential local communities leaders in Cullman.
The Chairman of Cullman County Republican Party – Waid Harbison – had billed this event as biggest gathering in recent memory involving national and local politics.
By any standard, that designation appeared to be more than accurate.
The highlight of the evening was the three featured speakers – all candidates for the upcoming Special Election for Alabama’s United States Senate seat:
★ Mo Brooks
★ Roy Moore
★ Trip Pittman
Incumbent U.S. Senator – Luther Strange – was scheduled to appear at this Republican gathering as well. However, the Senator was traveled-delayed coming out of Washington, DC arriving in Birmingham around 9:30 pm. That travel timeline would have put him in Cullman around 10:30 pm well after the annual meeting had ended.
While losing the headline speaker at an event such as this would typically be catastrophic, the absence of Luther Strange registered as barely a blip on the radar of the Republican faithful in attendance.
Alabama Senator Trip Pittman more than adequately replaced Strange’s time at the podium. In addition, there was way too much raw meat political action and thick activist intrigue available for anyone to be too concerned about the missing incumbent Senator.
The auditorium quickly filled at 6:00 pm with heavy interest in the Cullman County Republican Women and their silent auction. With a long row of beautiful items lining the east wall of the Civic Center, bidding was brisk for such items as specialty cakes, homemade cakes, jewelry, deer farm tour, flower arrangements, restaurants, signed memorabilia and advertising in local media.
Harbison called the larger meeting to order at 7 pm.
After an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, personnel from Stone Bridge Farms served a full dinner featuring chicken, potatoes, green beans and roll along with a dessert and beverages.
As patrons enjoyed the meal, Harbison introduced the evening’s undercard of esteemed guests. The undercard was hardly a ‘B List. It was an ‘A List of some of Alabama’s top political leaders:
John Merrill – Alabama Secretary of State
Steve Marshall – Alabama Attorney General
Rusty Glover – Alabama Senator and candidate for Lieutenant Governor
Jeremy Oden – Alabama Public Service Commission, Place 1
Tommy Battle – Huntsville Mayor & Gubernatorial candidate
David Carrington – Jefferson County Commission President & Gubernatorial candidate
Scott Dawson – Gubernatorial candidate
Chess Bedsole – Blount County Criminal Court Judge, Alabama attorney general candidate
Each of the above was allowed a few minutes to address the audience from the podium.
On the local level, the Cullman Republican Party represented strongly with a high percentage turnout of elected officials attending:
Paul Bussman – Senator, Alabama
Corey Harbison – Representative, Alabama
Randall Shedd – Representative, Alabama
Woody Jacobs – Mayor, City of Cullman
Martha Williams – Circuit Judge
Gregory Nicholas – Circuit Judge
Kim Chaney – District Judge
Wells Tuner, III – District Judge
Matt Gentry – Sheriff
Jeremy L. Kilpatrick – Coroner
Also, members of the Cullman County Republican Party were spotlighted and acknowledged as the County’s most active, influential and proactive leaders with a short annual awards ceremony. You can learn more about that in this separate report.
United States Senate candidate – Senator Trip Pittman – was the first featured speakers.
You can see Senator Pittman’s remarks in their entirety here:
The current Alabama 32nd District Senator was a last minute replacement for the travel-delayed Luther Strange. Pittman made the most of his opportunity while keeping his remarks respectfully brief at 10 minutes.
His speech began with ample praise for Cullman’s state legislative delegation. Pittman finished by documenting his extensive business background while hanging his hat on a 10-year Senatorial career (7 years of which have been as the powerful Alabama Senate Budget Chairman).
Senator Pittman acquitted himself very well on stage and impressed the attendees. His impressive performance was reflected in his surprising 3rd place finish in the Cullman Today / Cullman County Republican Party Straw Poll conducted after all speakers remarks completed. More on the Straw Poll can be found here.
Judge Roy Moore – was the second featured speaker.
You can see Judge Moore’s remarks in their entirety:
The former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice positioned himself as not only a Washington DC outsider but a proud nemesis to the Federal Establishment in general and former President Barak Obama in particular.
It was evident from Judge Moore’s remarks, he sees himself as an antidote to not only establishment Democratics as well as Republicans. He singled out specifically the unseemly likes of Charles Schumer and Republican Mitch McConnell.
Moore was crystal clear on his position regarding transgendered personnel in the military:
“We don’t need transgender troops. When you’re in a foxhole, you want to know whether the person next to you knows if he’s a man or a woman.”
This remark drew some of the night’s most robust applause.
Moore also spent ample time staking his claim to being the people’s representative for traditional family values, core morality and God as a guiding compass point in all things.
Congressman Mo Brooks was the final featured speaker.
You can see Congressman Brooks’s remarks in their entirety:
The current Alabama 5th District U.S. Congressman came to this event ready to confront incumbent Senator Luther Strange. He was prepared to ‘set the record straight’ on what the Congressman sees as deceptive attacks Strange has been leveling against him assisted by his so-called establishment backers in Washington DC.
Despite Strange’s absence, the bulk of Congressman’s Brooks speech aggressively focused on exactly those topics as if Strange was in attendance. Saying Brooks was ‘fired up’ would be an understatement.
Brooks seemed borderline disgusted by the very existence of Luther Strange:
“The incumbent in this race is trying to deceive you; they’re trying to con you. They want you to believe that I’m a Never Trumper.”
Congressman Brooks certain made a very persuasive impression on attendees at the annual meeting. He won the Cullman Today / Cullman County Republican Straw Poll by garnering 42% of the vote in this crowded nine person U.S. Senate field.
We spoke with Vice-Chairman of the Cullman County Republican Party – Alex Chaney – immediately after the event/. He had these thoughts:
“Our annual meeting, dinner, and fundraiser turned out exactly as we had hoped. We were honored by the presence of some of the biggest names in Alabama politics, our Cullman elected officials came out in force to support this gathering, the food was great, and the Republican women put on a first class silent auction.
With media coverage from all over the state of Alabama, I think the Cullman County Republican Party further established itself as one of the premier citizen-led political organizations in the State.
If it isn’t already obvious, the citizens of Cullman represent the best of the modern Republican Party. There is a reason nearly 90% of our community’s population turned out to support a Republican for President in 2017. There is also a reason every elective office in Cullman is filled with a registered Republican. The heart and soul of that reason were in attendance here this evening.”
Chairman Harbison was equally enthusiastic about the event and the impact the gathering had on the party’s fundraising goals:
“This came off exactly as we had hoped and in some ways exceeded our expectations. We could not have had a more compelling group of speakers or a more engaged audience. While I admit I may be a bit biased, there is no question that if you like Alabama and national politics, you more than got your monies worth this evening.”
If you have an interest in contacting the Cullman County Republican Party, you can do so by visiting their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CullmanGOP/
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