- AL Reading Service
Four Republicans and six Democrats are vying for the governor’s seat in the June 5 Alabama primary. Here are profiles for the gubernatorial candidates, compiled in conjunction with the independent journalism site BirminghamWatch. So far, 10 candidates have raised more than $10 million for campaigns. Find out the top campaign contributors, and hear WBHM’s interviews with the candidates.
While you’re here, BirminghamWatch has candidate profiles for:
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY – GOVERNOR
Name: Anthony White
Political races run: None
Political offices held: None
Professional experience: Owner, White’s Photography; veteran, U.S. Army; ordained minister.
Education: American InterContinental University, 2007-2010; Eufaula High School, 1996-2000.
Main issues: White’s website says he will prioritize creating jobs, expanding Medicare and Medicaid, appropriating funds to the state’s educational system, and allowing a vote on a statewide lottery.
Note: WBHM has requested an interview with White, however the candidate has not yet scheduled one.
Name: Doug “New Blue” Smith
Political races run: Ran for Alabama commissioner of agriculture and industries, 2014.
Political offices held, including dates: Director, Alabama Development Office.
Professional experience: Chief administrative assistant, office of Gov. Lurleen Wallace; chief administrative assistant, office of Gov. Albert Brewer.
Civic experience: Commander in headquarters, Alabama National Guard; executive officer, Army Reserves; past president, Alabama Cable TV Association; former board adviser, NCTA; past national president, American Low Power TV Association; past president and chairman, LSMAC Inc.; past president, General Partner of Satelink Ltd.; former officer and board member, Inland Broadcasting; former officer and board member, Eagle Inc; past state vice president, Alabama Jaycees.
Main issues: Smith’s website says he plans to prioritize overhauling the Department of Commerce; create the Bank for Small Businesses to finance 200 small businesses; reactivating the state’s comprehensive development plan; creating a pilot program of Montessori pre-K schools; offering two years of technical college debt-free to underprivileged students; passing a new ethics bill; merging the state’s Mental Health Department with the Department of Public Health; recommissioning all National Guard armories; implementing zero-based budgeting for the state budget; and starting an office of information to improve government accessibility.
Name: Walt Maddox
Political offices held: Mayor, Tuscaloosa, 2005-present; city councilor, sixth district, Tuscaloosa, 2001-2005.
Professional experience: Field director, Alabama Education Association; executive director of personnel, Tuscaloosa City Schools.
Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham, masters degree, public administration; University of Alabama at Birmingham, bachelor’s degree in political science; Central High School, 1991.
Civic experience: Fellow, Program on Crisis Leadership at Harvard University’s School of Government.
Main issues: Maddox’s website states that he will prioritize improving the state’s workforce development and training; making college affordable; passing legislation to rebuild Alabama roads and bridges; expanding Medicaid; and implementing a lottery to fund education in the state.
Name: Sue Bell Cobb
Political offices held: Chief justice, Alabama Supreme Court, 2007-2011; judge, Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, 1995-2007.
Professional experience: Adjunct law professor and consultant, Faulkner School of Law, 2012-present; president, Next Generation Consulting, 2011-present.
Education: Juris doctor, law, University of Alabama School of Law, 1981; bachelor of arts in history, University of Alabama, 1978.
Civic experience: Volunteer, Children First Foundation, 1995-2012; past president, Alabama Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; honorary member, Alabama Council on Crime and Delinquency; past chair and member of the National Assembly, Board of the Alabama Division of the American Cancer Society; former board member, Campaign for Alabama; past member and officer, Evergreen Industrial Development Board; member, Farrah Law Society Board of Directors; member, Montgomery Kiwanis Club.
Main issues: Cobb states on her website that her priorities as governor would be to ensure quality healthcare for families, create new jobs by investing in infrastructure, implement a “modest” gas tax and toll roads, establish a state lottery to fund education, and reform criminal and juvenile justice systems by creating regional diversion community centers and work-release programs.
Name: James Fields
Political offices held: Ran for lieutenant governor, 2014; District 12 Representative, Alabama House of Representatives, 2008-2010.
Professional experience: Pastor, North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, 2000-present; pastor, St. James United Methodist Church, 2006-present; assistant director, Alabama Department of Industrial Relations; Golden Rod Broiler Poultry Processing Plant; Lansing Industries; Cullman Products; Bowden Electric Motor Co.; Cullman Medical Center, 1970.
Education: Marine Corps Officers School, 1976-1978; Jacksonville State University, bachelor of science in law enforcement, 1977; Gadsden State Junior College, 1973-1975; Hanceville High School, 1973.
Civic experience: Director, Alabama Wildlife Federation; vice chairman, Cullman Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees; board member, Hanceville Civitan; charter member, Colony Lions Club; board member, Victim Services of Cullman; board member, Cullman American Red Cross; board member, Cullman County Extension Program; board member and past chairman, North Alabama Council of Governments; board member, Parenting Against Drug Use; member, CRMC Community Outreach Committee; head, Amateur Athletic Union; board of directors, Community Action Partnership; board of directors, North Alabama Head Start Program; member, General Board of Christian Unity; board member, Interreligious Concerns of the United Methodist Church.
Main issues: Fields has said he plans to prioritize funding education, create a high-speed commuter rail system, improve the state’s vocational training resources and reform the state prison system.
Name: Christopher Countryman
Political races run: None
Political offices held: None
Professional experience: Senior sales associate, Gander Mountain, 2013-2014; district sales manager, Dothan Eagle, 2010-2012; courier, Dothan Eagle, 2009-2010.
Education: Studies leadership and administration at Harvard University, 2015-present; Grand Canyon University, bachelors of arts in government and law, 2015; Global University, 2000; Northview High School, 1998.
Civic experience: Activist, Equality Wiregrass, 2015-present; Civil Air Patrol.
Main issues: Countryman’s website says he would prioritize expanding hate crime laws, increasing the accountability of law enforcement, reforming education through incentives for educators and schools, and reforming state ethics laws.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY – GOVERNOR
Name: Tommy Battle
Political offices held: Mayor of Huntsville, 2008-present; Huntsville City Council, 1984-1988.
Political races run: Unsuccessful run for mayor of Huntsville, 1988.
Professional experience:Owner and founder, Battle Real Estate, 1992-present; manager, Britling on the Highland, 1980; worked at Mobile shipyards and Birmingham restaurant while in college, and at Green Valley Drugs during high school.
Education: University of Alabama, B.S. degree in business, 1977, served on the SGA, UA debate team; chaired the College Republicans. Graduate of Berry High School in Birmingham.
Civic experience: Former chairman of the board, Early Works, a Huntsville-based group of history museums; former board member, Huntsville solid waste disposal authority and Huntsville Emergency Medical Services; chairman, Alabama College Republicans.
Main issues: Battle’s campaign promises responsible, conservative leadership to win the battle for Alabama. Battle points to successful economic development and job creation during his time as mayor of Huntsville. Job creation included more than 24,000 new jobs over the last decade, including 2,000 with Polaris, 300 with GE Aviation, 2,000 with Remington and, most recently, 4,000 with Toyota-Mazda plant. He also boasts of Huntsville’s eight-straight Triple-A credit rating and the generation of $4 billion in economic investments for the city during his tenure. He favors a vote on a lottery that would equally benefit all citizens and budget reform for Alabama and wants to emphasize workforce development and rural economic development as governor. (Compiled from campaign website.)
Top contributors: Moving Alabama Forward PAC, Huntsville, $113,000; Dorothy S. Davidson, Huntsville, $52,000; Francisco J. Collazo, Huntsville; Randall A. Schrimsher, Huntsville; Science & Engineering Services LLC, Columbia, MS; W.S. Propst, Huntsville; William R. Battle III, Tuscaloosa, $50,000; Jeff Benton, Huntsville, $32,000; Cathleen O. Anderson, Brownsboro, $25,250; Dynetics Inc., Huntsville; Reed Contracting Services,, Union Grove; Woody Anderson Ford, Huntsville, $25,000.
Name: Scott Dawson
Residence: Birmingham resident and native of Ensley.
Political races:This is Dawson’s first political race.
Professional experience: Founder and CEO of Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association (SDEA), 1987-present, Birmingham-based national Christian outreach organization; ordained minister, Roebuck Park Baptist Church, 1993; worked at Western Supermarket during college and at Shoe City in Five Points West during high school.
Education: Ensley High School, 1985; Samford University; master of divinity degree, Beeson Divinity School, 1993.
Main issues:Dawson says he is “an outsider’s outsider who is resolved to implement conservative reforms that will work, create an environment of efficiency and integrity, and make Montgomery into a place that serves the people again.” His priorities include recruiting industry while empowering those businesses that are already here with free market policies and rolling back onerous regulations. Other priorities include helping Alabama students excel by keeping Washington, D.C., out of our educational decisions, countering drug addiction by requiring drug-testing for students who participate in extracurricular activities and bringing back mentorship and vocational tech. In addition, Dawson says “we’ll refuse to be silent while abortion clinics legally murder and fail to report suspected child sexual abuse — all lives matter to me.”
Top contributors: David Green, $100,000; Bradford & Company, $25,000; Robert Hutson Jr., $22,500; McGehee Engineering Corp.; Bruce C. Dunbar Jr., $20,000; Joe Headley, $19,920; Bradford & Sons LLC, $19,500; Smith Family Tire Wholesale, $17,500; Smith Family Tire Inc.; Erwin Brother’s Entertainment; Dotry Enterprises LLC, $15,000.
Name: Bill Hightower
Political offices held: Alabama Senate, District 35, 2013-present. Chairman of the Senate’s Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee and vice chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee.
Professional experience: Owner of several small businesses, 2011-present; previous employment with Emerson Electric, AlliedSignal, Eaton and Balfour-Beatty.
Education: Vanderbilt University, MBA; University of South Alabama, B.S. degree in commercial banking and finance; additional studies in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science; Murphy High School.
Civic experience: Board member, Outback America, a Christian organization holding family camps; board member, N.E.S.T., an organization serving needs of the Strickland Youth Center; executive committee member, Alabama and Mobile Republican parties; board member, Bethany Christian Adoption Services; past president, Toastmaster International; past corporate chairman, United Way; member, Alabama State Health Planning Counsel; member, American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax & Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Main issues: Hightower’s platform includes banning earmarks in state budgeting, budget reform, enacting term limits, banning sanctuary cities, improving roads, bridges and infrastructure, protecting the unborn, improving distance learning and high school readiness, and prioritizing job growth and workforce development. He notes that he is an NRA member with an A-Plus rating from the NRA as a legislator.
Top contributors: Warren Nicholson, $30,000; BWR Co. LLC; DE; DC Co. LLC; Johnson Kries Construction; Real Estate Equity Investments LLC; Theodore Industrial Port; W.F. Trick, $25,000; Brian Cuccias; Henry B. Fulgham; William D. Dement, $17,500; Kykenkee Inc., $15,000.
Name: Kay Ivey
Residence: Montgomery resident and native of Camden.
Political offices held: Alabama governor, 2017-present, having ascended to governor in April 2017 when then-Gov. Robert Bentley resigned; lieutenant governor, 2014-2017; state treasurer, 2002-2014.
Professional experience: Assistant director of Alabama Development office; reading clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives; bank officer; high school teacher.
Education: Auburn University, B.S. degree, 1967; Wilcox County High School.
Civic experience: Civic honors include the ALFA Service to Agriculture Award, Newmax’s 50 Most Influential Female Republicans, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2016 Public Service Award, and River Region Magazine 2017 Citizen of the Year; Member, Alabama Forestry Association and Montgomery Rotary Club; board member, Montgomery YMCA, and Girl’s State (first Girls State alumnus to be elected to an Alabama constitutional office).
Main issues: Ivey’s platform includes job creation, protecting Second Amendment rights and pro-life policies, improving education, and “standing up for the little guy and the forgotten.” Ivey’s platform points to her accomplishments as governor including 13,000 new jobs (4,000 with Toyota-Mazda), $6 billion in new business investments, record Pre-K funding, record low unemployment and banning lobbyists from executive branch appointments.
Top contributors: James W. Rane, $200,000; Louis W. Breland, $100,000; Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, $85,000; Franklin PAC, $55,000; Bizpac, $51,000; Alabama Power Co. Employees State Political Action Committee; BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama; MCG PAC; Roy H. Drinkard; Volkert Inc., $50,000.
Note: Gov. Ivey has not agreed to an interview with WBHM. Also, Republican candidate for governor Michael McAllister died in April.