Suzelle Josey to challenge Bryan Taylor for Senate District 30 seat

The Alabama State Senate Chamber.  Suzelle Josey, a former spokeswoman for Chief Justice Roy Moore, plans to challenge incumbent Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, in next year's primary.  (Montgomery Advertiser file)

The Alabama State Senate Chamber. Suzelle Josey, a former spokeswoman for Chief Justice Roy Moore, plans to challenge incumbent Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, in next year’s primary. (Montgomery Advertiser file)

A former spokeswoman for Chief Justice Roy Moore plans to challenge incumbent Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, for a state Senate seat encompassing parts of Autauga and Elmore counties.

Suzelle Josey of Deatsville, currently a part-owner of an insurance firm, said in a phone interview Friday she wanted to bring a “strong Republican woman’s voice” into the Senate.

“I think it’s important to have the voice of Republican women,” she said. “It can bring a different perspective. When you have a room with different genders, you’re going to bring different perspectives to the table.”

Taylor, an attorney and Iraq War veteran, served as an aide to former Gov. Bob Riley before defeating then-incumbent Wendell Mitchell, a Democrat, 57 percent to 43 percent in 2010.

“Since 2010, Alabama has added more than 40,000 new jobs, unemployment has dropped, we’ve enacted some of the strongest ethics laws in the country, and we’ve cut nearly $1 billion in wasteful government spending,” Taylor said in a statement. “My focus is on the upcoming legislative session and continuing to build on these successes.”

Josey, 50, previously ran for the GOP nomination in Senate District 25 in 2002 and 2006, losing both times. Josey also unsuccessfully ran for Autauga County Commission in 2012. She has served as vice-chairwoman of the Association for Judeo-Christian Values, and has worked with the Christian Coalition of Alabama.

Josey she was strongly anti-abortion and pro-school choice, saying competition “has always driven and produced the most effective results.” Josey also suggested the state should look at private prisons to address the overcrowding situation in Alabama’s corrections system, and that “common sense business principles” would help bring rising state spending on Medicaid under control.

While describing herself “as pro-gun as you can possibly get,” Josey said she felt the sweeping gun rights bill passed by the Legislature last year was unnecessary, saying Alabama already had strong gun laws. She said she also had reservations about the so-called “parking lot provision” allowing employees in certain cases to bring guns to their workplaces, provided the firearms are locked and stowed away.

“I’m very pro-Second Amendment rights, but I’m pro-business in the aspect that businesses have to make decisions that best allow them to operate a business,” she said.

The 35-member Alabama Senate currently has five women: Senate Minority Leader Vivian Davis Figures of Mobile, a Democrat; Democrats Linda Coleman of Birmingham; Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer and Tammy Irons of Florence; and independent Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb. Smith held her Wiregrass seat as a Republican from 1998 until 2010, when the party denied her ballot access in the primary, due to her endorsement of Democrat Bobby Bright in a congressional race in 2008. Smith won re-election as an independent.

Josey has been married to her husband Pace, an engineer, for 32 years, and has three adult children and three grandchildren.

Taylor reported $11,360.79 on hand in his last campaign finance statement, filed on Oct. 2. Josey’s campaign finance committee was appointed this week.

Senate District 30 currently encompasses Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Pike counties within lines that make the district look like an upside-down mallet. Under redistricting, the district next year will be redrawn into a more compact district, taking in parts of Autauga, Chilton, Coosa and Elmore counties.

– posted by Brian Lyman

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