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5-0 in State Referenda: TBOR Action Back in Sweet Home Alabama June 23-29

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

TBOR Action plans to pack a week of meetings into the state where it all started - Alabama - from June 23-29. The group’s former 501c3 sister organization, Take Back Our Republic, originally opened its doors in 2014 in Auburn, Alabama, and Take Back Our Republic Action worked out of the same office from 2015 until separating in October 2021.

National Field Director Byron Shehee and Treasurer Anna Carter are still based in Alabama, while Grassroots Director Erin Yager and myself are based in Wisconsin (see bios). However, from 2005 to 2012, I ran the third largest PAC in the state, the Alabama Farmers Federation (behind only the Alabama Education Association and the Business Council of Alabama).

Alabama was also one of five states in which Take Back Our Republic Action ran statewide referenda, going a perfect 5-0, adding to our total 191-17 record on local referenda. The Alabama win occurred on Super Tuesday in March 2020. The following is a repost that originally appeared at on March 3, 2020:

SUPER TUESDAY, TBAF 5-0 (reposted from March 3, 2020)

"As election results rolled in from throughout the country, it was truly a SUPER TUESDAY for Take Back Our Republic Action, which finished the night 5-0 in state referenda. The final vote in Alabama justified the almost $100,000 in radio and social media run by Take Back Our Republic Action to stop the measure.

(Note: Original post reported the same 75% in Ohio, but was posted with 38% of the precincts reporting and vote of 271,785-89,070, but above is the final vote reported on Ballotpedia)

Take Back Our Republic (note, former 501c3 sister organization) focuses on research, education, and some advocacy on issues to repair our broken political system. The sister organization Take Back Our Republic Action focuses on winning similar reforms at the ballot box like the five votes above.

In the anti-corruption measures in North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as in the gerrymandering reform issue in Ohio, other groups were the big spenders while the two Take Back organizations focused on grassroots boots on the ground to help organize. In Michigan, Take Back focused on key earned media and $60,000 in social media ads.

However, the Alabama measure to stop the million-dollar attempt to change the elected State Board of Education to an appointed one was the first time that Take Back left the entire ground game and sample ballots to other organizations while Take Back paid for the radio ads and social media. (click for election day story here) It was great to provide the radio ads for air cover to the great groups on the ground from the conservative groups and leaders in this article including my friend Republican Andrew Sorrell from Muscle Shoals, where "they've been known to pick a song or two," to grassroots groups on the left who produced the great "Vote Joe and No" handouts at the polls throughout the state.

The Action fund committed to funding the NO effort after supporters of the measure crafted ballot language that obscured the fact that a YES vote eliminates voters' ability to elect their own State School Board members. The effort was needed to reach as many voters as possible before they entered the voting booth and were given the impression they were simply approving a name change and permitting a popular Governor to appoint team members, without informing them that these changes would REPLACE their current ability to elect those members.

Here is the actual ballot language:

Yes or No: "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to change the name of the State Board of Education to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education; to provide for the appointment of the members of the commission by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate; to change the name of the State Superintendent of Education to the Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education; to provide for the appointment of the secretary by the commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate; and to authorize the Governor to appoint a team of local educators and other officials to advise the commission on matters relating to the functioning and duties of the State Department of Education."


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