Recently, at a meeting of the Republican Women of Coffee County, Tim James, Lindy Blanchard, and Dean Odle took the podium to discuss the priorities of their gubernatorial campaigns.

The gubernatorial candidate forum was hosted on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Ozark. All Republican candidates were invited to attend, but only three appeared. Lew Burdette, a fellow gubernatorial candidate, currently ill with COVID, briefly phoned-in.

Dean Odle was the first to take the podium. Odle opined his frustrations with how the state and federal governments have handled the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that early treatment options were either ignored or suppressed. 

“The difference, I think, between me and my opponents is that I look at things a whole lot differently,” Odle said. “I do not trust the government. I do my research, and I put out facts, and I am willing to speak the truth even if it’s being censored.”

James took to the stage to discuss Marxism, which he described as a threat to the people of Alabama, designed to remove God from society, to be replaced with government. James claimed that Marxism came with a three-pronged, non-violent attack against America. According to James, the first assault was removing voluntary prayer in school; the second was Roe v. Wade; and the third was Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same-sex marriages under the law.

“We are hanging in the balance like scales. And either we are going to continue down this line and follow this godless Marxist way… or we are going to turn this nation back to our Judeo-Christian [roots]that we were created on," said James. “I’m in this race for our children and your children. We are in a defining moment. This is the moment we either turn the nation back, or we go the way of hell.”

Lindy Blanchard was last to the podium and expressed broad agreement with her fellow guests but gave a detailed explanation of where she will place her priorities. Education and the removal of the current curriculum will be the top priority for Blanchard, as she feels that the current curriculum is the reason for Alabama’s low K-12 success.

“The first thing I do as your governor if you choose to vote me in is get rid of Common Core," said Blanchard. “We are overtaxed, obviously, because we have a surplus. We need to freeze the gas tax. We need to look at occupational licenses that are having to be bought by business people and the business privilege tax. We need to make it easier for people to succeed and not harder.”

During the Q&A, all three candidates showed universal agreement in supporting constitutional carry, supporting law enforcement, doing away with Common Core, and refusing to mandate COVID measures. Gambling was a significant focus of the Q&A portion, leaving the three candidates to make their case quite clear.

Blanchard stated that she would allow for gambling in the state, so long as the legislation made a proper distinction between the lottery and gaming, could be voted on by the citizens of Alabama, and “didn’t pick winners and losers” on the business side of things. Blanchard clarified that she herself does not gamble but stated that the decision should be left up to the people.

Odle said he “would not stand in the way” of Alabamians who desire to have a lottery, but he does not want a lottery in the state. He said that he would not support any casino gaming in Alabama.

“All we are doing is opening the door for more organized crime to come into this state,” Odle said. "It’s just opening the door for evil and corruption and bribery; we don’t need that.”

James clarified that a governor does not have any control over Constitutional amendments, which would be required to legalize gambling in the state.

“I am against gambling, all of it,” James said. “If the legislature makes a run at it, I’ll tell the people of Alabama that I’m against it – this is why– and they’ll vote the way they chose.”

James concluded his time by both asking for support and delivering a hopeful prediction. 

“Alabama is going to lead this nation, you watch. It has been spoken. Alabama is a special place, and the roots that have been sown here in the years past are going to come to fruition, and we should be thankful to God for it.”

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