How weak has the BCA become?

 

 

BY: STEVE FLOWERS

As I mentioned last week, we will have a plethora of political contests to follow next year and the field is beginning to formulate.

The governor’s race is always the marquee event. However, the most important races will be for the 35 State Senate and 105 House of Representatives seats. These legislative races will be where most of the special interest money will gravitate.

There will be an unprecedented number of state senators not running for reelection. However, the nucleus and bulk of the State Senate leadership is planning to return. Veteran leaders Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia), Del Marsh (R-Anniston), Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Jimmy Holley (R-Coffee), Arthur Orr (R- Decatur), Cam Ward (R-Shelby), and Jim McClendon (R-St. Clair), will all run for reelection. Along with rising stars, Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), Clay Schofield (R-Marshall), Clyde Chambliss (R-Autauga), Shay Shelnut (R-Trussville), Slade Blackwell (R-Jefferson), as well as Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) and Tom Whatley (R-Auburn).

This cadre of Republican leadership returning portends that the State Senate will be where the power will be concentrated when the next quadrennium begins in Montgomery.

The same scenario will occur in the House. There will also be a good deal of turnover in the lower chamber However, the nucleus of leadership will return and will more than likely all stay in their leadership positions. The top five leaders will remain intact. Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville) as Speaker, Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) as ProTem, Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) will continue as Chairman of the Education Ways and Means Committee and Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) will be Chairman of Ways and Means General Fund Committee. Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) will steer the Rules Committee.

One center of special interest power that will diminish significantly is the once vaunted Business Council of Alabama, unless they replace Bill Canary, their much beleaguered CEO. It has been rumored for over a year that he will be replaced.

In the past few months, the omnipotent power in Alabama politics, Alabama Power, made it perfectly clear that either Canary goes or the Company would have to reconsider its participation. The company’s last minute withdrawal from the annual BCA Governmental Affairs Conference was a clear message. But just to make sure the message was received, Alabama Power President, Mark Crosswhite, met with Canary in a gentlemanly fashion. He summoned Canary to the company’s downtown Birmingham headquarters and politely explained to the New Yorker that BCA’s failures and lack of leadership are a major concern to the company. Crosswhite then met with some key members of BCA’s board to make Alabama Power’s position clear.

Canary is telling his BCA bosses that the meeting with Crosswhite was a great success and everything was just a misunderstanding. But the only one who misunderstands, it seems, is Canary. Alabama Power was the integral factor in organizing the Business Council several decades ago. Their financial contributions to the BCA comprise over 25 percent of the group’s income.

In addition to the Power Company’s disenchantment with Canary, our senior Senator, Richard Shelby, has made it clear to BCA members that Canary is so out of favor with him that he is no longer welcome in his office and furthermore should not bother to call his office for an appointment.

Folks, what that means is that the BCA with Billy Canary on board has absolutely no power in Washington. All seven of our Congressmen and whoever our new senator is pales in power to Shelby. Shelby is more powerful that all eight put together, and believe me none of them want to offend him. He not only trumps them, he trumps Trump.

Canary is not only a pariah in Washington, he is a joke in Montgomery. Most folks thought he would be indicted with Mike Hubbard. His credibility has continued to diminish since that time. His cavalier, sinister, overbearing, and boorish New York behavior has made him a caricature.

In private conversations with most Republican and Democratic legislators, they will snicker and say if the BCA board is stupid enough to allow Canary to stay we will take their money during the 2018 election cycle and then ignore him for four years just like Shelby.

The BCA with Canary is a dead-man walking. They are a powerless joke. If a business were smart they would give their contributions directly to the candidates, rather than through a defunct organization led by a has been. You can bet your bottom dollar that is what ALFA and the Alabama Power Company will be doing.

Kay Ivey has made it official that she is a candidate for governor. She enters the race as the clear favorite.

Like football, the political season kicked off

 

 

BY: STEVE FLOWERS

Labor Day is the traditional kickoff to an election year.  Folks, our quadrennial gubernatorial election year is going to be a doozy.  We are in for one heck of a political year next year.

Besides the Governor’s race, we have an open Lt. Governor’s race, an open Attorney General’s race, an open Treasurer’s race, and an open Agriculture Commissioner’s race.  We have statewide races for Secretary of State and State Auditor.  We have five seats up for election on the State Supreme Court.  One of those will be a hotly contested battle for Chief Justice.  We have two seats up for election on the Public Service Commission.

More importantly, we have local races on the 2018 ballot.  Local races drive the turnout; all politics are local.  All 67 sheriffs run, all probate judges run; there will also be local judicial races and all circuit clerks run.

All seven of our congressional seats will be on the ballot.  Two of those seats will be in play.  Second District Congresswoman Martha Roby is vulnerable and will be challenged and Fifth District Congressman Mo Brooks angered the Washington establishment Republican moneyed power brokers by challenging Luther Strange and he will be in a battle for his political life.

The most important races will be for the 35 state Senate seats and 105 House of Representative seats.  An unprecedented number of Senators and Representatives will not be running for reelection.  Those legislative races will be where most of the special interest money will gravitate.  Money follows money.  The Legislature appropriates state dollars as well as makes state laws.  The Governor proposes and the Legislature disposes.

I have observed Alabama politics for quite awhile and 2018 is set to be the best circus I have seen, and I have seen some good ones.  There may have been better governor’s races, but from top to bottom of the ballot, this may be the very best.

The governor’s race is always the marquee battle royale in Alabama politics.  It will get cranked up immediately after the September 26 Republican Senate primary contest, which Roy Moore will probably win.

Kay Ivey will officially announce soon.  She really began her campaign the day she was sworn in earlier this year.  One of her first acts made her a player in the 2018 gubernatorial contest.  Robert Bentley had initially called for the open Senate race to be in 2018.  However, Ivey had seen polls that revealed that Roy Moore was going to win whatever race he ran for in 2018, whether it was Governor or U.S. Senator.  The vague state Judicial Inquiry Commission made him a martyr and hero when they removed him from his Chief Justice post.  Neither she nor any host of potential horses would have beaten the Ten Commandment’s Judge.  However, she knew that the U.S. Senate seat would allure him and it did.

It was an adroit, brilliant Machiavellian move by Ivey.  She has moved into the governor’s office and looks gubernatorial.   She is in the catbird’s seat in the race for a full four-year term. Her move to have a special election this year rather than a regular election year not only enhanced her odds for election it also cost the state over $10 million.

State House of Representatives, Ways and Means Chairman, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, has wisely and prudently prefiled a bill to clarify the law and clearly state that the election for a vacated Senate Seat would be held with the next general election.  It will save the cash strapped General Fund a lot of money in the future.

Even though Kay Ivey will be running as the incumbent in the upcoming gubernatorial fray, her entrance has not deterred some major players. Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Battle, will be a player.  He could run on a platform of saying if I can make the rest of Alabama a semblance of Huntsville, I am your man. Agriculture Commissioner, John McMillan, has won two statewide races and is in the race.

Several other viable candidates are not scared of the aging Ivey.  Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington, Birmingham Evangelist Scott Dawson, and State Senator Bill Hightower are already in the GOP contest.

Surprisingly, two Democratic thoroughbreds are poised to run.  Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb are ready to pull the trigger.

PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh has moved to the Lt. Governor’s race.  This is a wise and prudent move by the 50-year old state political veteran.  She will be a prohibitive favorite to win that race.  It is purely a name identification contest.  Her positive name ID is very high.

Get ready: Roy vs. Luther

 

 

BY: STEVE FLOWERS
Most people would assume that as the race for the open U.S. Senate began that Luther Strange, the appointed incumbent, was the favorite. However, polling indicated that Roy Moore was the favorite and still is as we head towards the September 26 runoff.
   The initial polling showed that Moore had a hardcore 30 percent. It was and is as solid as a rock. He had 30 percent from the get-go. He had 30 percent midway in the race and he had 30 percent at the end. It was also a fact that with a low voter turnout that his 30 percent would become accentuated because the final poll and the one that counts is election day and who actually shows up to vote. Moore’s supporters are more ardent and are going to show up to vote for him come hell or high water. They are also older, and older people tend to vote; 65-80 year old voters are always more likely to vote.
   The turnout on August 15 was 18 percent and Moore’s vote total was 39 percent. Allow me to crow a little – the day before the election I predicted an 18 percent turnout and that Moore would get 39 percent. I missed Luther Strange by some six points. I had him at 27 percent. He did better than I thought. He garnered 33 percent.
   There was only six points separating Strange and Moore. This is not an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. My early handicapping of the runoff has it as a dead heat between Moore and Strange.
   As the race began, it was apparent that it was a two-man race between Moore and Strange. Moore began with an immovable evangelical block and the Washington Republican Senate leadership made it clear that they were going to treat Strange as an incumbent and that they were going to give him unlimited resources. They weren’t just whistling Dixie. They put their money where their mouth was. They must have spent $5 million.
   When you have that kind of money and the national powerbrokers and hierarchy dictating their choice, you not only have all the media ads available, you also have access to the very best hired guns, pollsters and media gurus in the country. They are the best gunslingers in the land. They do not lose many gunfights and they like to go negative.
   It was obvious that these pros saw that Donald Trump or at least his public policies are extremely popular among Alabama Republican primary voters. Therefore, their script for Luther Strange was to say he was on Donald Trump’s side and would be for the Trump agenda to make America great again.
   Luther stuck to the script and did a good job avoiding any negative questions about the questionable Robert Bentley appointment. Unlimited money washes away any unsavory scenarios and allows you to dictate the narrative.
   The early polling revealed that the Bentley appointment was an albatross for Luther. I do not personally believe that Luther and Bentley ever discussed the Bentley investigation. However, to most people it looked as though the appointment was a brazen deal or at least collusion and in politics, perception is reality.
   Therefore, for this reason on Luther’s part and for obvious reasons on Moore’s part, they both began with high negatives. Internal polling showed that there was fertile ground for a third person to win this race.
   That third person emerged in the form of Tennessee Valley Congressman, Mo Brooks. He is a firebrand arch conservative intellectual, Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, true believing ideologue. He was bold enough to take on the Mitch McConnell super PAC big money Washington establishment. He had $1.2 million in his Congressional campaign account and 20 percent statewide name recognition from his Congressional district.
   Mo did not plan on being shot at by a left wing Bernie Sanders socialist nut while practicing baseball for the Republican Party baseball team. However, the exposure gave him $2 million in free publicity. You could have no better introduction to Alabama GOP Primary voters.
   The Washington Luther Strange gunslingers saw the momentum that Mo had. He was about to catch Luther and they stopped him dead in his tracks with an ad that said he was not going to vote for Donald Trump last year.
   When Trump endorsed Big Luther it closed the deal. Luther had his place in the runoff and Mo has to fight to keep his U.S. House seat.
    The final results were predictable. Roy Moore led with 39 percent; Luther Strange got a strong 33 percent; and Mo Brooks finished with a respectable 20 percent.
   The runoff between Strange and Moore is too close to call at this time.