MONTGOMERY — November 2014 may seem like a long way off, but GOP elected leaders past and present are gearing up — and saving up — to protect the gains they’ve made in state offices and keep interlopers off their Republican ballots.
The Alabama 2014 political action committee states its mission is to preserve the Republican majority in the Legislature. The group has raised more than $1 million as of this month, according to its latest finance report.
The PAC was formed in 2011 by former Gov. Bob Riley. He, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said they created the PAC to keep RINOs — Republicans in Name Only — out of their elections.
Now, Hubbard, R-Auburn, has created his own PAC, called Storming the State House, a reference to his book about the 2010 Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature. He told the TimesDaily his PAC will complement Riley’s 2014 PAC.
“This is a leadership PAC that is under my control,” he said. “The sole purpose is to protect our folks.”
Unlike 2010 when the biggest political battles were in the general election, Marsh said many of them will happen months earlier in 2014 GOP primary.
“It is concern of the Republican Party that we keep an eye on who is running in the primaries,” he said.
State parties don’t typically get involved in supporting one candidate over another in primaries, but PACs like Riley’s and Hubbard’s can.
Hubbard said current Republican lawmakers likely will be “attacked” in their primaries by more liberal candidates.
“I don’t believe the people who were down here in power so long are going to give it up easily,” he said.
While you can’t do a DNA test on a candidate to know their true political makeup, you can do a lot of background checking on would-be-Republicans and the special interest groups that support them, Hubbard said.
The philosophy is not new in Alabama politics. Democrats, when they controlled state politics for generation, often complained that some candidates ran on their ticket because they were not electable under the Republican Party banner.
Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said some more liberal-minded politicians will try to get in the Republican primaries and the more conservative leaders should try to stop them.
“What good is a brand if it is watered down and doesn’t stand for anything?” said Henry, who was elected in 2010.
Mary Sell covers state government for the TimesDaily. She can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.