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Press-Register - Wiseguys, Absentee Ballots and a Happy Mom

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Did Boeing Co. 's top executive pay a Sopranos-style visit to Alabama's congressional delegation?

That's the buzz in Washington state, where Boeing assembles its planes. According to a report in Washington CEO, a Seattle-based business magazine, Boeing's Jim McNerney tried to strongarm Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions out of supporting the U.S. Air Force's decision to award its jet tanker contract to rival Northrop Grumman Corp.

"Word is that McNerney told the Alabama delegation that if they didn't pipe down and back off, Boeing would start pulling work out of its rocket factories, which contribute some $700 million to the Alabama economy," reporter Richard Corliss wrote, referring to the company's missile defense work in Huntsville.

Shelby, Sessions and U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner , R-Mobile, all dismissed the report, saying no such meeting took place. Boeing declined to comment.

'Slap in the face'

State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures , D-Mobile, took umbrage when she learned that Sessions, whom she will try to unseat in November, voted by absentee ballot in Tuesday's primaries.

"Not being here to cast his vote or to campaign for votes is a slap in the face to the people of Alabama," she said at her victory party Tuesday at Saucy-Q Bar-B-Que restaurant.

Sessions stayed in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Neither he nor his representatives could be reached to respond to Figures' remark.

Figures may be the underdog in the race, but she saw an encouraging omen in her polling place: the Michael Figures Community Center, named for her late husband, who also served in the state Senate.

"I was very touched by it," Figures said, adding that this was the first time she has voted there in a statewide race in which she was on the ballot. Her previous polling place was LeFlore High School.

Juan gone?

Juan Chastang might be a Mobile County Commissioner when the general election is held Nov. 4, but his name will not appear on any ballot.

Chastang did not submit an application to run as an independent by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline that Alabama enforces so primary losers can't run in the general election.

Chastang had said he was considering an independent run, but he could not be reached for comment last week.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is expected to return Chastang to the County Commission District 1 seat he held before being kicked off by federal judges last May.

Mother knows best

Baldwin County Revenue Commissioner Phil Nix's mother, Anne Nix , said after voting at the Fairhope Civic Center Tuesday that she supported Teddy J. Faust Jr., who beat Ron Scott in the two-man Republican Primary race to replace her son.

"He and (Phil) grew up together," she said. "I just think he is the very best qualified for that job."

Anne Nix attributed her son's recent challenges to mounting political pressure from the state Department of Revenue, with little support from the area's state representatives. Nix didn't run for re-election.

"I am happy he is out," she said. "He will live longer."

Strange bedfellows

Alabama Republican Party officials howled over the candidacy of Mobilian Paul Christopher for the state school board, saying that though he was running as a Republican, he received money from Democratic interests and the Alabama Education Association teachers union.

But a review of campaign finance records indicates that the Republican Party also benefited from some of the same political action committees that helped fund Christopher's campaign. Christopher lost in Tuesday's Republican primary to incumbent Randy McKinney, who goes on to face Democrat Kenyon Berry in the Nov. 4 general election.

Nine PACs from the same Montgomery address that gave Christopher a combined $110,000, all on May 14, also contributed to organizations that fund the Republican Party. For example, the PACs gave the Republican State Leadership Committee $30,000 for the Tuesday primaries as well as the Republican House Caucus $3,000 and the Republican Senate Caucus $7,500.

The records showed no direct contributions from the AEA to any of the PACs in question.

Despite substantially outraising his opponent, Christopher was buried by McKinney in the primary vote. But he did manage to find a few chinks in McKinney's armor.

A very few.

In Mobile County, Christopher won four precincts — Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, Figures Recreation Center, Bishop State Community College's Carver Campus and the Mobile Civic Center. Combined margin of victory in those four boxes? Twenty-five votes to 19.

Christopher even found some supporters in McKinney's home county of Baldwin, winning the Lottie Fire Department precinct by 20 to 13.

Of course, McKinney won his home precinct in Orange Beach 856 to 112.

Church Belle

It's not very often that voters cast their ballots at a church that is led by one of the candidates.

But that happened Tuesday at the Rock of Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Mobile, one of the polling sites in Tuesday's primaries.

Fleet Belle , a Democrat who is heading toward a runoff for his seat on the Mobile County school board, is the founder and pastor at Rock of Faith.

Belle, who was appointed to the school board in 2006 and is now its president, received 56 percent of the vote at his home church, one of his best precincts that night. Interesting for some political observers, though, was that 44 percent of voters there picked Belle's opponents: Levon Manzie (21 percent) and Robert Battles Sr. (23 percent).

Overall, Belle received 42 percent of the vote in District 4.

He faces Manzie, a 25-year-old college student who is also an assistant pastor at St. Joseph Baptist Church in Whistler, in a July 15 runoff for the Democratic nomination. No Republicans are running in the general election.


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