Primary runoffs are next week



By Steve Flowers

Well folks, if you voted in the Republican primary you may want to go back to the polls next week and finish selecting the GOP nominees for several important state offices.  If you are a Democrat the only reason you will need to vote on Tuesday is if you have a runoff in a local race and there are very few of those around.

    We are still a very red Republican state.  There are 29 elected statewide officials in Alabama.  All 29 are held by Republicans.  When all the votes are counted in November, that 29 out of 29 figures will more than likely be the same in the Heart of Dixie.  The Blue wave has not reached here.  There were twice as many Republican voters as Democratic voters on June 5, 590,000 to 283,000.  

     In addition to having all 29 state offices held by Republicans, six out of seven of our members of Congress are members of the GOP.  That will also remain the same when the dust settles in the fall.

     The only contested Congressional race is for the Second District, which encompasses most of the Montgomery River Region, including Elmore and Autauga Counties, coupled with the Wiregrass.  It is a very conservative district.  Therefore, it is a Republican seat.  The winner of the GOP runoff between Martha Roby and Bobby Bright will be the Congressman.  Whichever one is elected will vote consistently conservative with the GOP leadership in Congress.  

     Roby is on the ropes because she vowed openly, two years ago, that she would not vote for Donald Trump for President.  That unnecessary display of disloyalty has made her very unpopular in the district.  Trump has a 90 percent approval rating among Republican primary voters in southeast Alabama.  She would have lost two years ago if the primary had been held after her statement.  There was an unprecedented number of write in votes against her.  She has been considered very vulnerable since that time.  

     National special interests stuck to their script and stayed loyal to the incumbent and loaded her up with Washington money.  She was able to outspend her four male opponents by an over 2 to 1 margin.  However, she fell short in the primary garnering about 38 percent.  Bobby Bright received 27 percent and is well known and liked in the district.  However, President Trump’s endorsement of Roby three weeks ago may have wiped the slate clean for Roby and given her a clear path to reelection.

     Winning the Republican nomination for Attorney General and Lt. Governor in Alabama is still pretty much tantamount to election in Alabama, although the Democrats have a viable candidate for Attorney General in young Joseph Siegelman in November.  Don Siegelman’s son Joseph along with youthful Tuscaloosa mayor, Walt Maddox, have viable chances of winning as a Democrat in November.

     The GOP race for Attorney General has been the best contest in the primary season.  Troy King began the race as the favorite and will probably prevail next Tuesday.  There were four formidable horses in this race.  King has previously served as Attorney General and therefore was perceived as the incumbent.   Bentley appointee Steve Marshall had been a Democratic DA for a while.  This one will boil down to who votes.  

     In a GOP runoff, only the hardcore Republican base will vote.  Those voters will not be excited about Steve Marshall who was appointed by Robert Bentley and as late as a few years ago was expediently a Democrat who was appointed by Don Siegelman. In fact, he voted for and contributed to Barack Obama.  My guess is that folks will vote for Troy King, a lifelong Republican.

     The race for Lt. Governor will be close between Twinkle Cavanaugh and Will Ainsworth.  This contest has attracted more attention and money than ever.  The odds say that there is a 50-50 chance that whoever wins this contest next Tuesday will ascend to Governor over the next few years.  Our current governor moved from Lt. Governor to Governor without being elected.  It has happened more than once over the past few decades.

     If you vote on Tuesday, you will be in a pool of about 10 to 12 percent of voters.  Therefore, if you show up, your vote will be enhanced exponentially.

America is many things, including Trump and Folsom



By Steve Flowers

Otto Whittaker wrote the following essay, “I Am the Nation” in 1955 as a public relations advertisement for the Norfolk and Western Railway.  The message found in Mr. Whittaker’s essay is still appropriate for this Independence Day, so I have chosen to include it below as part of my weekly column.

    “I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate.  The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because I offered freedom to the oppressed.  I am many things and many people.  I am the Nation.

     I am 213 million living souls – and the ghost of millions who have lived and died for me.  I am Nathan Hale and Paul Revere.  I stood at Lexington and fired the shot heard around the world.  I am Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry.  I am John Paul Jones, the Green Mountain Boys and Davy Crockett.  I am Lee and Grant and Abe Lincoln.

    I remember the Alamo, the Maine and Pearl Harbor.  When freedom called I answered and stayed until it was over, over there.  I left my heroic dead in Flanders Fields, on the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea.

    I am the Brooklyn Bridge, the wheat fields of Kansas and the granite hills of Vermont.  I am the coalfields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania, the fertile lands of the West, the Golden Gate and the Grand Canyon.  I am Independence Hall, the Monitor and Merrimac.  I am big.  I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific – my arms reach out to embrace Alaska and Hawaii – 3 million square miles throbbing with industry.  I am more than 5 million farms.  I am forest, field, mountain and desert.  I am quiet villages – and cities that never sleep.

     You can look at me and see Ben Franklin walking down the streets of Philadelphia with his bread loaf under his arm.  You can see Betsy Ross with her needle.  You can see the lights of Christmas, and hear the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” as the calendar turns.

     I am Babe Ruth and the World Series.  I am schools and colleges, and churches where my people worship God as they think best.  I am a ballot dropped in a box, the roar of a crowd in a stadium and the voice of a choir in a cathedral.  I am an editorial in a newspaper and a letter to a congressman.

     I am Eli Whitney and Stephen Foster.  I am Tom Edison, Albert Einstein and Billy Graham.  I am Horace Greeley, Will Rogers and the Wright brothers.  I am George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk and Martin Luther King.  I am Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman and Thomas Paine.”

     Today, we have Donald Trump.  Our current President is the most unbridled and shoot from the hip President I have witnessed in my lifetime.  He is amazingly similar to Alabama’s most colorful and uninhibited governor, Big Jim Folsom.  Similar to Folsom, Trump has a childlike disrespect for decorum.

     Recently, Trump was making a speech that someone had written for him.  He read to a large audience, “This 2018 election is as important as the 2016 election.”  He paused and said, “I don’t know who wrote that.  I don’t know that I really believe that, and I don’t think y’all think I do either.”

     Similarly, Big Jim Folsom in his day was to address the American Textile Association meeting, which was being held in Montgomery.  At that time Textiles was Alabama’s largest industry.  Ole Big Jim had been in Mobile for a week on a fishing expedition with some of his buddies.  As Governor Big Jim was to give a welcoming speech to the Textile executives and dignitaries from throughout the country, the state troopers drove Big Jim hurriedly from Mobile to Montgomery.  As he was getting out of the car to walk into the hotel to give his welcoming speech, an aide handed him the speech to give, which Big Jim had not seen.

    He got up and started reading the speech and it was full of all kind of statistics. He read, “Alabama has over 200,000 people employed in the textile industry.  It accounts for one out of every four jobs.  We are the second leading textile state in America.”    Big Jim paused in childlike amazement with his mouth wide open and blared out in a loud and astonishing voice, “I’ll be doggone, I didn’t know that!”

    See you next week.

The most interesting races



By Steve Flowers

The best races of the year have been for Attorney General and Lt. Governor, as well as Agriculture Commissioner and for the 2nd Congressional district.

     The Attorney General post is considered the best stepping-stone to Governor and U.S. Senator.  It is very high profile and prosecutes bad guys who go to jail and cannot vote against you, and you look like a good guy to the rest of the law-abiding voters in the state.  Therefore, in recent years it has attracted ambitious politicians rather than veteran dedicated prosecutors.  These aspirants were novices at being lawyers, much less prosecutors.  They sought the position for political posturing rather than the job as the state’s top law enforcer.  We have not had a tough former DA since the days of Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick.

      As the race began, there were three major candidates with prosecutorial experience.  Troy King had been Attorney General; Alice Martin had been the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama and had handled numerous major high-profile convictions.  Even the Bentley appointee, Steve Marshall, had been a district attorney.

     Troy King had begun the race as the front-runner simply because he had some name identification from having been Attorney General.  Early polls showed him with around 27 percent with Martin and Marshall at 10-12 and Chess Bedsole at 5-6.

     The final results wound up mirroring the amount of money spent by the candidates.  There was an amazing correlation to money equals media equals name identification, which results in votes. “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

      Troy King and Steve Marshall ended up in a dead draw with 28 percent each. Alice Martin got 23 percent and first-time candidate, Chess Bedsole, got a surprising and impressive 21 percent.  He got a great vote in Mobile and Birmingham, especially in the silk stocking boxes.  His $1 million media buy did not hurt.

      The runoff between Troy King and Steve Marshall will be interesting.  Again, it will probably boil down to money.  Marshall made the runoff by outspending Alice Martin significantly.  He used the power of incumbency to strong-arm contributions.  Both candidates will have to go negative.  Marshall is more vulnerable.  He campaigned for Obama and was a Democrat only a few years ago.  He was appointed DA by Democrat Don Siegelman and was appointed Attorney General by Robert Bentley.  These are not good calling cards in a GOP Primary runoff.  King will be the favorite on July 17.

      The winner will not get a free ride in November.  The aforementioned Don Siegelman’s son, Joseph Siegelman, won the Democratic nomination on June 5 and will be a viable opponent in the Fall.

      The Lt. Governor position has very little power.  However, over the past few decades the Lt. Governor has risen to Governor quite a few times.  Therefore, this race has gotten a lot of attention from voters and campaign donors.  Twinkle Cavanaugh entered the race as the favorite simply because of name identification.  Will Ainsworth and Rusty Glover had very little of that.  However, Ainsworth came to the dance with the ingredient to buy name ID.  Money is that recipe.  He had it and he spent it.  Twinkle wound up with 43 percent to Ainsworth’s 37 percent and Glover’s 20 percent.

      Twinkle will be a slight favorite in the runoff.  However, if Ainsworth spends another million and stays with negative or some say comparison ads, it will be close.

      Rick Pate bested Gerald Dial 40 to 30 in the Agriculture Commissioner race despite Dial outspending him with a catchy jingle ad.  Alabamians inexplicably have a way of ascertaining who the farmer in that race is. Pate was the only farmer. The Alabama Farmer’s Federation Endorsement helped him in the first primary.

      Over 61 percent of the 2nd Congressional District GOP voters voted against incumbent Martha Roby.  Bobby Bright may very well win this rematch, which has been years in the making. Bright is well known and liked in the District, especially in the Wiregrass where he was born and raised as well as in Montgomery where he was Mayor for 10 years.