The Alabama Federation of Republican Women (AFRW) will meet in their biennial convention this Thursday and Friday in Huntsville, and excitement is in the air.

When a statewide organization has a nominating committee put forth the slate of candidates to run for its offices, usually that's it. The nominees go in with no opposition.

Well, that's not the situation with the AFRW this year. An organized effort will make nominations from the floor to run for president of the group and maybe for other offices.

The nominating committee's candidate for AFRW president is long-time Republican worker Tiffany Noel of Huntsville. She served as a key staffer, first to fourth district U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) and later to fifth district former U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).

The announced candidate who will seek nomination from the floor is Baldwin County Republican activist Judy Barlow.

Other candidates could be nominated from the floor.

Barlow is retired from FedEx and is president of the Eastern Shore Republican Women. She is active in "The Mighty Alabama Strike Force," which organizes teams of Alabama Republicans to go to political hot spots in other states and support GOP voter registration and turnout. Barlow and the strike force recently worked in South Florida.

Noel now works for "Kids to Love," a well-known and long-time non-profit in Madison that places kids in need into foster homes, assists fosters, and runs a home for girls aging out of foster. This relationship could create an issue in the AFRW election. Kids to Love is in a dispute and has lawsuits against the Department of Human Resources in Montgomery. DHR stopped allowing placements by Kids to Love earlier this year. Kids to Love sought an injunction and won in trial court and in the state supreme court.

Kids to Love has submitted an open letter and a petition to Gov. Kay Ivey asking her to direct DHR to cease interference with Kids for Love's activities. 

Will the Republican women leaders who support the fostering activities of Kids for Love tend to back Tiffany Noel to lead the GOP group? Will those who support the Ivey administration tend to back Judy Barlow?

There is a potential federal issue as an undercurrent among the GOP women. Noel worked for Brooks, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, winning a run-off seat but losing to now-U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery). Noel was a strong and visible supporter of Brooks during the campaign.

Will the former Brooks supporters tend to support Noel, whom they know well? Will Britt supporters tend to back Judy Barlow? 

There is a geographical issue in the race. Noel is from the Tennessee Valley of North Alabama, where the congressional districts she worked in lie. Barlow is from Baldwin County in coastal Alabama. Will North Alabama GOP women trend for Noel, coastal Alabama, and maybe the Wiregrass (home of Britt) trend for Judy Barlow?

The GOP women agree on most issues. Their biggest point of agreement is that they will support the eventual Republican nominee for president and oppose Joe Biden.

Will the GOP women's group competition be divisive, or will it be healthy and interest-building?

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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