Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama
State Sen. Tom Butler’s District 10 seat is attracting considerable chatter lately. The longtime legislator has not said if he will or will not seek reelection. However, that hasn’t stopped “the vultures from circling” according to an insider. Names of those reportedly interested in taking over the seat include Madison Mayor Paul Finley, State Rep. Phillip Rigsby and Gwen Shelton, the former regional director for Sen. Tommy Tuberville. No word yet if Butler’s 2022 general election opponent, Kim Lewis, will also throw her hat into the ring. Butler will be 80 years old in April.
Jordan-Hare Stadium Top 5 … for smokers
If you need to light up and catch a smoke during a football game, apparently Auburn is one of the more smoker-friendly places in football. The ranking by vape manufacturer Yocan Vaporizer assigned each stadium a score out of 10 based on three key metrics – smoking provisions (including distance to nearest cigarette retailer), crowd levels, and exit accessibility – which impact how long smokers must wait before their next cigarette. The top 10 are the Cotton Bowl (Dallas), AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas), Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.), Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium (Austin, Texas), Jordan-Hare, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (aka The Swamp, Gainesville), Spartan Stadium (E. Lansing, Mich.), Kyle Field (College Station, Texas), Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, Ind.), and Beaver Stadium (State College, Pa.) According to a Yocan spokesperson, “Smokers who find it difficult to combat their cravings when attending a game will need to establish strategies and healthy coping mechanisms to minimize the risk of mood swings.”
After Scofield, who’s got next?
Word in Montgomery continues to center around Sen. Clay Scofield taking a top job at the Business Council of Alabama despite his efforts to tamp down speculation. While that news has captured imaginations in Montgomery, closer to home in Marshall County, focus has shifted to who might enter the special election to replace the senator should he jump to the private sector. Two House members from the county, Wes Kitchens and Brock Colvin, have reportedly lined up consultants and plan to make the race which is essentially a free shot for them as they would not have to give up their current House seats to run. Kitchens, elected in 2018, is better known in Montgomery circles and serves as the vice chair for the House Republican Caucus. Colvin, one of the youngest members of the Legislature at the age of 28, was elected to the House in 2022 but is no stranger to the Senate having interned for Scofield and Sen. Arthur Orr. If the race happens, expect the BCA and their new in-house politico to have an opinion on who should get the nod.
Southern Table opening in Athens
We hear The Southern Table in Athens will be opening their doors soon. The famed restaurant by chef Ryan Yokley that began in Pulaski is relocating to Athens. Known for their elevated southern cuisine and hospitality, the new Southern Table will be at 105 N. Jefferson Street just off the city postcard-perfect square.
GOP challenge in Madison County?
Politics in eastern Madison County are about to heat up. It seems two-term Commissioner Craig Hill is drawing interest from a couple of possible opponents in the March 24 Republican Primary. Names that are making the rounds in political circles are Don Dukemineer and Dusty Yarbrough. Political insiders believe any challenge to Hill will face an “upHill” battle as the incumbent remains popular within his district. Also noteworthy is that, with redistricting, Hill has picked up a lot of new voters within Hampton Cove, an area that historically has been very friendly to the incumbent.