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House Minority Leader Promises Bipartisan Cooperation

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Democrats may be outnumbered by Republicans in the Alabama House but the Democratic Caucus can be a valuable ally in the search for jobs and profitable businesses to boost Alabama, House Minority Leader Craig Ford told the Business Council of Alabama’s Tuesday Briefing.

Ford, D-Gadsden, was today’s speaker at the BCA Tuesday Briefing that is held each Tuesday during weeks the Legislature is in regular session. Today marks the 21st legislative day of the 2016 regular session that cannot last beyond 30 legislative days.

Today’s briefing was sponsored by Vulcan Inc., whose president and CEO, Tommy Lee, is the BCA’s chairman for 2016. Lee introduced Ford, a fellow Auburn University graduate.

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Republicans have controlled both the House and Senate since 2010 and Rep. Ford said because of that there are partisan issues. But he pledged cooperation from his side of the political aisle.

“The Minority Caucus will do whatever we do to help the BCA to create economic incentives that attract jobs and help the state,” Rep. Ford said. “Both parties want what’s best for the state of Alabama.

“We want to work together,” Rep. Ford. “I don’t feel the economy and jobs have a D or an R next to them. We all want to stand for the same thing, we all want to get to the finish line but it’s all according to how we do it.”

Rep. Ford is in his 16th year in the House and was chosen Minority Leader by his caucus in 2010. He is an owner of an insurance agency and weekly newspaper in Gadsden. Rep. Ford is the sponsor of several constitutional amendments to legalize gaming and a lottery and use proceeds for education.

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Rep. Ford’s talk was informational and entertaining. He took a point of personal privilege to talk about his well-known sports family from East Gadsden.

His uncle, Danny Ford, played football for Coach Paul W. Bryant at Alabama in the 1960s and became the head coach of Clemson University when he was 30.

Danny Ford’s first game as head coach was the 1978 Gator Bowl against Ohio State University led by the legendary Woody Hayes. Rep. Ford, then a boy, had a sideline pass and was able to follow his uncle onto the field.

“Woody Hayes had all his team out there warming up and stretching,” Rep. Ford said. “I was hanging on my uncle’s leg and he didn’t know what he was doing, I’ll be honest with you.”

Rep. Ford said his uncle noted to the head referee that the Buckeyes remained on the field beyond what the rules allowed.

“The referee turned around and said, ‘You want to tell Woody Hayes that, I sure as heck aren’t’,” Rep. Ford said. “We went back to the locker room.”

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Clemson won the game and three years later the Ford-led Clemson Tigers won the national championship.

Rep. Ford said sports and successful businesses and associations have similarities.

“My Uncle Danny won the national championship at age 33,” Rep. Ford said. “He had a lot of great assistants. You’re only as good as the people around you.”

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Dana Beyerle
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