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Runoff candidates address GOP women

Candidates for the July 13 Republican primary runoff election came in droves to address the Pike County Republican Women Wednesday.

Whether in person or through a representative, those on the ballot for governor, U.S. Congress, agriculture commissioner and public service commission stood in front of the group in efforts to share their platforms once more.

Some were long-time visitors to the GOP club, others had appeared for the first time, but all came with the purpose of spreading messages to a likely group of supporters.

Both Republican gubernatorial candidates Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley were represented by campaign supporters.

Rebecca Byrne, representing her husband, told the group about a new edition to the Byrne campaign.

“He’s been running on the platform of three ‘e’s’: economy, ethics reform and education,” she said. “But recently he’s added the fourth ‘e’: environment.”

That’s due to the Gulf Coast oil spill quickly becoming disaster along Alabama’s coast, where Byrne resides.

“I’m married to a man of extraordinary character, integrity and faith,” said Rebecca, Bradley’s wife of 29 years.

Bentley was represented by a local supporter and businessman Brett Vann.

“He is a staunch conservative and lifelong Republican in the state of Alabama,” Vann said.

Vann said Bentley worked to introduce the only bill to jumpstart jobs in the state during the last legislative session, and it was a bill that unanimously passed.

“It was introduced at a time when bingo was the issue, and it was passed with 100 percent of the vote,” Vann said. “To me, that shows a man who can stay focused and bring people together.”

Second Congressional candidate Rick Barber, who has recently gotten national recognition for his “Gather your Armies” ad campaign, spoke on his hopes to put a fighter in office in Washington.

“If we do not put a fighter in Washington, we will continue to lose those freedoms,” Barber said.

Barber said both he and his opponent Martha Roby have agreed they would support one another as the Republican nominee.

“The ultimate goal is defeating Bobby Bright. Each of us will support the other so we can put a conservative leader back in office,” he said.

Barber also said he has a follow up ad coming out Sunday.

Roby was represented at the meeting by campaign official Mike Hamilton, who discussed her “road map” of priorities.

Those include job creation, making government smaller and more efficient, fixing a “broken” Washington by increasing transparency and building a strong America at home and abroad.

“When we send someone to Washington, we need someone who can not only talk about what’s wrong but who can offer solutions,” Hamilton said. “Martha has a record of offering conservative solutions on the Montgomery City Council.”

Agriculture Commission candidate Dorman Grace, no stranger to the local GOP women group, came to what he calls his “second home” to address the club Wednesday.

Grace said it’s important to elect a leader who understands agriculture to keep that career path viable to future generations, and he claimed to be that candidate.

“There are a tremendous amount of young men and women who want to be farmers and aren’t given the opportunity,” Grace said. “We need folks who understand agriculture in office.”

Daniel Audrey, a farmer from Greenville representing Grace’s runoff opponent John McMillan, said he has known the candidate for more than 30 years.

“Politicians as a rule don’t understand. They’ve lost touch, but there are exceptions,” Audrey said. “We need to look to their background and experience. We need men and women who will stand high. John McMillan is that man.”

Audrey said McMillan is a former state legislator, long-time farmer and serves on several state boards.

Candidates who both admit their race is one of the least talked about, public service commissioner, came before the group, as well.

Twinkle Cavanaugh, who ran against Lucy Baxley in 2008 and was defeated, said she couldn’t give up.

“I ran against Lucy Baxley and received a little more than half of the vote. I conceded, but I didn’t give up,” she said.

Cavanaugh has plans, she said, to clean up the public service commission by maintaining professional relationships with those who run utility companies and not what she called “cozy.”

“I have vowed I won’t even take a cup of coffee from them,” she said.

Cavanaugh said while the PSC doesn’t have complete control over utility costs in the state, she does hope to keep low the portion of what can be controlled.

Her opponent Stephen Evans, who has been the underdog of the race, said he was surprised to get the support he did.

“I knew I worked hard, but quite frankly, I didn’t have money. When you’re 26 years old, you don’t have money and your friends don’t have money to give,” Evans said.

But, Evans isn’t about to let age stand in his way. In fact, he said it could be beneficial to the state.

One of Evans’ plans if elected is to reduce the size of the PSC office.

“They have a division funneling up and down the highways doing what state troopers already do,” he said. Shannon Clark, circuit judge nominee, was also present.