Jim Zeigler may give conservative rebuttal to State of the State address

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State Auditor Jim Zeigler announced over the weekend two “taxpaying anti-establishment conservative” groups have asked him to give an unorthodox response to Gov. Robert Bentley‘s State of the State address next week.

The annual gubernatorial address to the Legislature, set for next Tuesday, Feb. 2 on Groundhog Day. The State of the State is traditionally followed by a “rebuttal” from leaders of the opposing political party. Senate Democratic Leader Quinton Ross and House Democratic Leader Craig Ford are set to give responses on behalf of the minorities in both chambers.

But Zeigler says two right-leaning groups, Alabama Tea Party Conservative Coalition and the Common Sense Campaign, have requested an additional response.

Both groups are represented by spokesman Dr. Lou Campomenosi, who said Alabamians deserve to hear from an anti-establishment Republican as well as from the party’s standard bearer, Bentley.

Despite coming out aggressively against the federal government on Syrian refugee relocation, health care, and other sundry issues, Bentley has been attacked by many conservatives throughout the state as insufficiently conservative.

Campomenosi, a former candidate for Baldwin County School Board among other offices, is among the most outspoken of Bentley’s intra-party critics. Zeigler, for his part, has also been vociferous in his disapproval of the governor. Most recently Zeigler targeted Bentley for allegedly spending a portion of a settlement the state received after the 2011 BP oil spill on renovating an official residence in Gulf Shores for personal reasons.

Zeigler said Sunday he will review the requests to give a State of the State counter-rebuttal and decide whether or not to deliver it by Wednesday.

Bentley recently told AL.com he will not offer any plans to increase taxes or close loopholes in his speech next week, a subject that has rankled many of his GOP peers despite a substantial budget hole facing state government in Montgomery in recent years.

“I have three years left in my administration and I have some major things that I want to get accomplished over the next three years, and I’m going to be pushing those things, and I think the people of Alabama, when they hear them in our State of the State, they’re going to be excited about what we’re trying to do,” said Bentley.

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