On Wednesday, Greenville businessman Tim James formally launched his campaign for governor on the steps of the Capitol Building. James is running against the legalization of medical marijuana, the grocery tax, gambling, and vowing to stand up against federal mandates.

1819 News spoke with James just moments after his announcement.

“The Governor has been a friend of my family for 40 years,” James said. “Somebody needs to take control of the reins of the executive office.”

James promised to oppose individual mandates from the federal government, such as Biden’s controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“I can tell you one thing,” James said. “The only vaccine passport you need you can put in your pocket. This is a copy of the United States Constitution.” 

James held up a copy of the Constitution.

“Sometimes a state needs to stop and say we are not going to do it,” James said. “They just don’t have the stomach for the fight I’m afraid."

James said that last year’s decision by a bipartisan majority of state legislators to make Alabama the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana was, “A terrible decision.

“Right now, I am not standing out on a limb by myself,” James said. “The Attorney General of Alabama said don’t do it. Some 23 district attorneys, about a third of the district attorneys in the state, said don’t do it. They did it anyway. [M]edical organizations in this country ... said don’t do it. Everybody was saying don’t do it and they did it anyway.”

James slammed the bill for setting up a system where Alabamians, with a doctor’s recommendation, can purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary.

“They walk in and behind the counter is a guy who probably worked at a carwash last week,” James said. “He is your pharmacist. This is not about revenue.  This is about selling this marijuana.

“This is not about medicine.  This is about peddling dope on the streets of Alabama. They are very clever. They call it doses. It is not doses, it is pot.”

James in his announcement speech said that he was going to push the legislature to eliminate the state's 4% tax on groceries.

1819 News asked James how he would replace that $600 million hole in lost revenue in the budget.

“Six hundred million dollars?" said James. "I had $500 million. We are going to fill it with cuts and growth. The growth is what amazes me, and I am not talking about the federal money. The growth is several times the rate of inflation.

“I will bet you a plug nickel there has not been a lot of belt-tightening. We are going to find there hasn’t been very much belt-tightening.”

James predicted that his administration would be able to find, “Fat in every department from top to bottom that could be trimmed.”

Gov. Kay Ivey, who is running for re-election, commissioned a gambling study commission in 2020, headed by former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. That commission found that the state of Alabama could generate an additional $800 million in revenue each year by passing an omnibus gambling package. That package, which is being carried by State Sen. Greg Albritton, reportedly includes a state lottery, a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians allowing the Tribe to move to class one gaming, class one gaming at all of the state’s dog tracks, a new Indian casino in north Alabama, class one gambling at the old Country Crossing facility in Dothan, and a statewide sportsbook.

James announced his opposition to the proposed expansion of gaming in the state.

“First of all, the poorest third of your population funds your gambling,” James said. “The negative costs were higher than the revenue and that is study after study. Gambling has to be one of the most studied issues in America.

“Most of the time you can walk a block or two blocks and you see decay everywhere,” in towns with gambling facilities, James said.

James also blasted the Ivey administration for its last in the nation's education performance.

“Education has crashed in Alabama and [this happened] while revenues are skyrocketing. We have been in a tailspin in education,” James told Right Side Radio host Phil Williams. “We’re dead last in the U.S. in K-12. It’s inexcusable and embarrassing. When other states are saying “thank heavens for Alabama’’ it’s a real issue.”    

James said he is for school choice.    

“I think for the first time in our lives we have a chance at really changing the educational system in the state because we are dead last and nowhere else to go," said James. "When moms and dads hear how bad it is based on actual scores and we are dead last in the country, people will be very angry. There is something about listening to anybody sit around and talk about giving raises and throwing money at it – that’s what we have been doing for a decade and we have been in a tailspin for 10 years. We are going to come with a plan where the entire system needs to be deconstructed to its foundation and rebuild it from bottom-up, with school choice at the center.”

James told reporters that his first commercials will be up statewide on Friday. He told Williams he raised over $1.6 million in a month.

The Republican primary is on May 24.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.