Winning simply isn't enough for some people, they crave total domination. We've heard about growing internal tensions in the Alabama Republican Party — the fault line is Friends of Bob (Hubbert, Marsh, Byrne & other insiders) vs. the Bentley crowd — and now those tensions seem likely to split the party into the Party of Riley and the Republican Party proper. Riley loyalists who ran the ALGOP for the last 8 years are unwilling to hand over either the pursestrings or the candidate selection process to the elected Republicans who now control both the executive branch and the official ALGOP.
On Sunday, February 20th, one day after the ALGOP chose Bill Armistead (Bentley guy) over Jay Love (FOB) as Party Chairman, Bob Riley’s daughter Minda Riley Campbell sent a private email to a select group of her father’s inner circle. That select group did not include Governor Robert Bentley or Chairman Bill Armistead — not surprising since the goal was to snap up their biggest donors. The message (see below the fold) proposed that members of the Governor's Circle ($40,000 and up donors to the ALGOP's Campaign 2010) direct their future contributions not to the Alabama Republican Party, but to a new PAC to be formed with Bob Riley as its head.
… Speaker Hubbard and President Pro Tem Marsh have devised a new strategy that will transcend even the historic successes of last year.
They have asked my father to establish a political action committee and campaign organization, based on the successful framework of Campaign 2010. This new organization will serve to elect candidates committed to the same ideals as those who were chosen by Campaign 2010. It is becoming increasingly clear that Democrats cannot win in November. During the next election cycle, we anticipate that there will be candidates to infiltrate our ranks, supported by the liberal special interests, who will run in the Republican primary and even challenge those we recently recruited and elected.
Membership will afford you some of the benefits enjoyed over the last four years. There will be constant communication with you regarding candidate recruitment, special elections, insight into the halls of the legislature and Congress, as well as regular updates from business and political leaders at both the state and national levels. During the legislative session, when things move so fast, you will be kept up to date on relevant pieces of legislation. There will also be briefings throughout the year with Speaker Hubbard, President Pro Tem Marsh, as well as other elected officials on the state and national level, as well as a periodic newsletter with topics of interest.
Minda is proposing a shadow party that would raise money and organize to make sure only their chosen “true Republicans” are successful in future Republican primaries. We know Bradley Byrne was Riley's hand-picked successor and his loss to Robert Bentley must have been galling, but this degree of sour grapes is extraordinary. Just last week Byrne announced creation of his own government watchdog group, Reform Alabama, which looks like a thinly veiled excuse to poke at the Bentley administration for the next 4 years. Now it turns out that at the very same time, Bob Riley's daughter was attempting to skim off the Alabama Republican Party's biggest donors for Riley's shadow party.
Via press release, Judge Mark Kennedy, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said:
“This is an extremely divisive message and should tell anyone who wants to run as a Republican that not only do they have to play by party rules they also have to pass Riley’s litmus test to run on their ticket. Any Democratic office holder who is contemplating switching parties should think twice and for those that have already switched, our sympathies go out to them. It seems that if you don’t have a pedigree approved by our former governor, you will not even make it through the Republican Primary. While I certainly don’t condone party switching for political expediency, this should serve as a warning to anyone who believes that the Republican Party is unified and inclusive.”
“After touting transparency and ethics reform during the special session, the former governor and his lieutenants are working in secret to consolidate and protect their own power. It’s not the will of Republican voters, that’s for sure.”
In the last 20 years the Alabama Republican Party was organized, unified and had truly amazing successes. It's shocking to see how quickly that disciplined party machine can splinter when ego and ambition take over.
Pass the popcorn, this will be fun to watch.