Is the Speaker involved in the District 74 primary race?

The special election for District 74 has been somewhat quiet, but apparently there has been activity behind the scenes. After the June Primary Election produced no clear winner, it became obvious that a runoff election would be necessary between Charlotte Meadows and Michael Fritz. Meadows, who has served on the Montgomery School Board and run for the legislature before, benefits from greater name identity. But Fritz, a local bankruptcy attorney, says he has the support of House Speaker Mac McCutcheon.

“The speaker (McCutcheon) is supporting me. (Steve) Raby is making phone calls on my behalf. The why, I don’t know. But the speaker is supporting me,” Fritz told The Montgomery Independent.

Steve Raby is known to political insiders, pundits and spectators as the House GOP Caucus’ top fundraiser. Supposedly, McCutcheon hired him for that purpose. Fritz says he speaks to Raby “just about every other day.”

There is an unwritten rule in the Alabama GOP that party leadership does not take sides during a Primary. During the primary election Daniel Sparkman, who served as a spokesman for Gov. Kay Ivey was one of the contenders in the primary along with Fritz and Meadows. But Sparkman came in fourth place out of six capuring only 11% of the vote. Ivey did not endorse Sparkman in the Primary. It is true that Rep. Terri Collins has donated $200 to Meadows’ campaign. Collins is chair of the House Education Policy Committee. That notwithstanding being chair of a particular committee and leading the entire Alabama House of Representatives are not comparable. Furthermore Meadows describes Collins as a friend.

There were rumors that McCutcheon was turned off from Meadows because she said she would not have supported the gasoline/driver’s license tax that was passed by the legislature in a special session earlier this year. But Meadows says that is not true.

“My position is that I would have supported the gas tax. But I believe Speaker McCuthceon has been hearing several things about me that are not true. I’m scheduled to meet with him soon and I look forward to speaking with him directly,” Meadows said. Fritz told The Montgomery Independent that he would also have voted for the gas tax.

Meadows said that she doesn’t know why Speaker McCutcheon would choose to support Fritz over her, but she also said she does not know that it is true.

“Certainly there is no evidence that the Speaker is supporting Mr. Fritz that I can see. It is not reflected on his (Fritz’s) campaign finance report,” Meadows said.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports Fritz has $4,296.32 cash on hand as compared to Meadows’ $18,778.36. Fritz says that he believes he could prevail with only another $15,000.

“I don’t think I need that much. I think I could do it for less than $15,000. It is a small district. Targeted social media is not that expensive. Also my opponent has some negatives. I’m not anti-Charlotte. I like Charlotte, but one in every four doors I knock on they say, ‘I can’t stand her. I’m going to vote for you.’ That is without even knowing who I am. I would like to raise 30 or 40 (thousand), that would make it a lot easier. But I think I can do it for 15 or 16 (thousand),” Fritz said.

If Fritz is not picky about where the money comes from he might look to the Alabama Education Association. While Meadows has enjoyed support from PACs associated with: ALFA Insurance, Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Homebuilders Association, and Alabama Trial Lawyers Association, she is not likely to see a check from the AEA which has differing insterests, and according to Meadows different values, from her.

“Maybe Mr. Fritz can look to the AEA for campaign money, but I would not take any money from them,” Meadows said.

Fritz has only received contributions from two PACs, the Alabama Poultry Trust and SEA-PAC. Interestingly SEA-PAC’s stated purpose is to support judicial candidates in the Mobile and Baldwin County area, candidates seeking the election to the Alabama Supreme Court and candidates seeking statewide office - none of which describe Fritz’s campaign for the District 74 seat.

The runoff election will be held August 27, 2019. Normally runoff elections have lower turnout than the Primary or General elections that trigger them, but in this case Meadows says she expects the runoff will perhaps garner more voters than the primary because it will be held the same day as the Montgomery municipal elections.