Republican candidate for governor Lew Burdette spoke to the members of the Mid-Alabama Republican Club (MARC) in Vestavia Hills on Saturday. 

“Everywhere we go, there are packed rooms across the state,” Burdette said. “People tell me, ‘Lew, we are so ready for change. We are ready for something different.’

“I am running for governor because I so dearly love the state. We have been at the bottom in education, prisons, crime and healthcare. We have a mental health crisis.”

Burdette said that Alabama is the fourth most conservative state, but it breaks his heart that it is the fourth most politically corrupt state.

Burdette said that Alabama is one of five states that allow unlimited corporate and PAC contributions and claims this is a “legalized political payoff system.”

“From day one, I self-imposed a $10,000 limit on any political contributions I received. They said, ‘You are crazy! You cannot do that; it is not a level playing field.’ They are right; it is not a level playing field.

“The incumbent governor [Kay Ivey] received $1.75 million from a DC PAC. That is wrong.”

Burdette said that he favored limiting campaign contributions and increased transparency.

“It is 100% grassroots donations,” Burdette said of his campaign. “Yes, I am bought and paid for by the people of Alabama in a wall of $22 donations.”

Burdette said that the first thing that Ivey did when she was elected was to raise fuel taxes.

“Those Rebuild Alabama signs are nothing but a PR campaign for the governor," said Burdette,

Burdette accused the governor of “strong-arming [legislators] to vote for things they don’t want to vote for.”

He stated that he will work for term limits. Burdette also promised to “work for change” and be “a true political outsider,” describing himself as “a common-sense Alabamian,” citing his upbringing and resume.

“I grew up having to sack groceries in my dad’s smalltown grocery store,” Burdette said. “I was at Books-a-Million for 13 years, working my way up to chief operating officer.

“Running this state is big business. I know the heartbreak of losing a business. We opened the first bookstore [Kindred] in [Centerpoint] and had great success. We opened the second bookstore a month after 9/11 and could not survive the fallout of that. I spent the last 19 years at King’s Home.”

Burdette called himself a “staunch defender of the Second Amendment.

“I was kidnapped, shot, tossed in a well and left for dead,” he said, recounting a criminal attack that occurred to him after leaving his father’s grocery store in his youth.

“Get to know me. See that I am a common-sense businessperson that is going to go to work the first day, roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

The MARC meets on the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Vestavia Hills Public Library.

Lindy Blanchard, Burdette, Stacy George, Ivey, Tim James, Donald Trent Jones, Dean Odle, Dave Thomas, and Dean Young are all running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Yolanda Rochelle Flowers, Patricia Salter Jamieson, Arthur Kennedy, Chad “Chig” Martin, Malika Sanders Fortier and Doug “New Blue” Smith are running for the nomination in the Democratic primary.

Both primaries are on May 24.

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