Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Gerald "Dino" Dial even spends like a Republican!

Tip of the tam to Doc's Political Parlor and Lawn Mower Repair for much good work and especially this Anniston Star gem locked behind their subscription wall. Here's the Star's Brian Lyman on Dino Dial's incredible spending:

"Dial spends $445,613 in a month" - 06-01-2006

MONTGOMERY – Sen. Gerald Dial spent $445,613 last month in a bitter fight with challenger Kim Benefield for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate District 13 seat.

The Democratic incumbent from Lineville started the month with $225,000 and raised about that much additional during the month, but has spent all but $9,000 of it.

The spending — which works out to about $3.55 for every person in the district — is unusual for a state legislative primary, and it underscores the rancor between the camps.

Dial spent only $76,000 on his entire 2002 re-election campaign, and no local senator spent more than $150,000 in that race. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lucy Baxley spent $245,000 on her campaign in the first three months of the year. “I never dreamed we’d spend this kind of money,” Dial said Wednesday. “This is absurd, but we’ve had to answer the lies and misleading things that have been put out.”

Benefield, a Randolph County circuit court clerk, did not return four messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The race in the district, which includes Cleburne County, has been furious from the get-go.

Mailings from the Benefield campaign have accused Dial of “partying” with lobbyists and digging the state into debt.

Dial has used mailings and television ads to accuse trial lawyers and Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, of trying to unseat him, saying Barron is out to get him and other Democratic senators who worked to reduce the President Pro Tem’s power in the last session. “He is soliciting money from trial lawyers,” Dial said.

Barron denied the accusation Wednesday, saying that Dial “is struggling because of his record.”

“I have a campaign of my own, I am involved 100 percent in my own campaign, and I’m not involved in Sen. Dial’s campaign,” Barron said. “I think (Benefield) is a very fine candidate, I am aware of newspaper articles and wire stories, and she is indeed an outstanding candidate.”

Dial’s latest finance reports, filed Monday, show that roughly $400,000 of his money has gone to Matrix, a Montgomery consulting company that purchases television and radio ads and mails out campaign announcements to voters.

Benefield’s last campaign report, filed on May 5, said she had $7,500 on hand, from two checks listed as received on July 14, 2006, about 44 days in the future. Her campaign has circulated several mailings through the district since then.

Dial joined with Democratic Senators Jim Preuitt, Larry Means and Jimmy Holley to form an anti-Barron coalition on the Rules Committee in the last legislative session. The Rules Committee decides what legislation goes out to the Senate for a vote, and controlling the committee can influence policy.

Dial also has been outspoken in supporting some of Gov. Bob Riley’s initiatives, particularly the governor’s proposal to spend $500 million on capital improvements to schools, which the incumbent senator said would help rural school districts. The proposal did not come to a vote.

The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary will face Republican attorney Jim Ingram in the general election.

David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, said it’s not unusual to see an incumbent who is feeling threatened spend a large sum of money.

“To be an incumbent is to be paranoid,” he said. “Whenever you face a challenger who seems to have support, whether they have money, you never know. It’s an all or nothing proposition. If you lose, you lose everything.”

Lanoue said it’s not unheard of for outside groups to be spending money in primaries, though it’s usually directed at races for governor or federal offices.

“It’s not as common as legislative races, and it’s less common in the legislative primaries,” he said.

Dial said he never has spent $445,000 in such a short time period, but he accused his opponents of spending even more money in the race. He is still raising funds to keep up the advertising.

“I’m just overwhelmed by it,” he said. “We had to get up on TV, and that eats us alive.”

I noticed Dino had dropped a few dimes for all his many ads in The Randolph Leader yesterday. As for their content, the state is supposed to fund I think every service Dino claimed credit for. Now I know the Goat Hill crowd, with Dino and Richard Laird being as polished practioners of the pork process as perhaps as our area has ever had to pander to in order to get our piece of the pie, yet for The Dino to audaciously claim that as a positive thing simply chaps my hide. You and the other Goat Hill goombas hold our folks in line with how the state flushes money through our "representatives". If the locals that elect you are too ignorant to learn the facts then maybe you/they deserve each other.

I also think it odd that Dino is railing about "trial lawyers" when I understand he sought the endorsement of The Alabama Trial Lawyers Association and has cashed the check they gave him. Although I'd long ago let my membership lapse in that I did little plaintiff's practice, I believe in this organization, especially in Alabama with our dreadfully weak protections for consumers. The AlaTLA Mission Statement reads:
To preserve the adversary trial system as it now exists and to fight for the preservation of the rights of individuals; to resist any efforts to curtail the rights of persons who have been injured to seek redress in a court of law; to continue the education of the plaintiff's bar in all phases of trial practice; and to safeguard and defend the advocacy system so that the rights and remedies of all individuals are protected. In other words - TO SERVE AND PROTECT THE PUBLIC.

Are some "trial lawyers" just interested in their pocketbooks? Certainly so! I know that from long experience and yet even when they are they still "do good" often. The idea that rogue lawyers are filing all these junk lawsuits has been a good tool of the insurance companies and others that are trying to roll things even further right for the benefit of big business yet is far more fantasy than reality. But what about the Big Mules? They will admit that profits is their game so at worst the plaintiff's bar balances things out. Hush Dino! Especially when you cashed their check!

Furthermore, what is up with the military people in your ads. Is that even appropriate under military rules, although from what I understand Dino has run afoul of those before, at least at the federal level. Something about upgrading his uniform. And exactly where have YOU defended us Dino? My understanding is that you've been part of the politics in the Alabama National Guard yet are hardly holding rank in the federal component of the Guard. Maybe it was a testing misunderstanding that I've heard has dogged the Dino with the feds? Maybe they their "Army of One" campaign confused you Dino yet "pimp my rank" is surely not what they intended!

The Clay Combover has gotten his feeling hurt he claims yet I expect it is more about the Big Mules worried they are about to lose their boy. The SOS has reports on Dino available here. Patrick Casey pulled lots of votes with no real money or organization last time so I'm optimistic Kim Benefield is about to send you home Dino. Maybe The Emerald Triangle can find a capacity for you to serve your, I mean our, interests. After you helped fund that commission conduit it is the least they can do. Peace ... or War!