By Glynn Wilson –
When Birmingham attorney Doug Jones tossed his hat into the ring as a Democrat to run for the United States Senate last year and ended up beating the radical, right-wing conservative Republican former judge and alleged teen sexual molester Roy Moore in December, Democrats all over the state and country saw it as the beginning of a “blue wave” coming in the 2018 midterm elections in November.
According to Twitter feeds I’m following, candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run for office as Democrats, although some analysts are already beginning to question if there will be enough qualified candidates with enough name recognition and money to actually make this happen in such a conservative, Republican red state like Alabama.
The New York Times already has stories questioning whether Democrats have what it takes and showing Republicans resurgent, and even President Trump’s job approval rating is up to 40 percent today, according to Gallup.
The Anniston Star newspaper in Alabama, which used to be called the “Red Star” for its liberal editorial stance back when the color red stood for “commie” instead of Republican — which you can’t read anymore because of a capitalist paywall — is questioning whether Democrats can sustain this “blue wave.”
Nationally, there should be enough animus towards Donald Trump as president to give Democrats a chance to take back a majority in the House or Senate or both in 2018. But it will not happen by default. Qualified candidates with some name recognition and the ability to raise money will be required. Does the Democratic Party have enough of a bench? We will see.
Statewide, a number of candidates are tweeting a good game. We will see if they have what it takes to catch on as Doug Jones did.
As of Monday, Feb. 5, the so-called “Alabama Legislative Blackout” period is over, meaning candidates may begin to raise money on this day.
The general election vote will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, later this year, but first candidates must run in party primaries and stand for election June 5, unless they plan to run as independents. If a runoff is required, those elections will be held July 17.
Statewide offices up for grabs this year are of course the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. There are also three seats on the Alabama Supreme Court up for grabs, as well as three seats on the Courts of Criminal and Civil Appeals. There are two seats open on the Public Service Commission and four seats on the State Board of Education.
Since the period for qualifying to run for office does not end until Friday, Feb. 9, the Secretary of State’s office has not listed all the candidates yet who have qualified. There is a list on the website for the Alabama Democratic Party and the state Republican Party’s website.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who inherited the job from deposed Governor Robert Bentley, appears to be particularly vulnerable to challenge. She will face opposition in her own party from Tommy Battle, Scott Dawson, Bill Hightower and Michael McAllister.
According to the Democratic Party’s list of candidates who have qualified to run, which we assume will be updated through Feb. 9, there are five Democrats who have declared their intention to run for governor. They are former state Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb, the candidate with the most name recognition and potential to do well with the fired-up female vote, along with James Fields, Walt Maddox and Anthony White. I can’t tell you much about these candidates yet, because quite frankly, none of them are very well known.
Only Will Boyd has qualified to run for Lt. Governor as a Democrat. The seat for the presiding officer in the state Senate is vacant until the 2018 election, according to Alabama law. Kay Ivey was elected to the post until she assumed the governor’s office in the chain of succession when Bentley was removed from office. Republicans Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Rusty Glover are running for the position.
So far, only Birmingham Attorney Chris Christie has declared he’s running for Attorney General as a Democrat.
This is the state’s top law enforcement position now occupied by Steve Marshall, who was appointed by Bentley back when to replace Luther Strange. Bentley also appointed Strange to the Senate seat formerly occupied by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions, now held, of course, by Democrat Doug Jones. Marshall has qualified to run as a Republican along with Chess Bedsole.
It is rumored that former Attorney General Troy King may be coming back to run for that office again, as well as former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, which could make for an interesting race.
Martin was the U.S. attorney in Birmingham appointed by President George W. Bush who brought the first criminal case against HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy for cooking the books and crashing the stock. She lost that trial, of course, which resulted in a not guilty verdict. Scrushy was later lumped in with former Governor Don Siegelman and convicted in another trial in Montgomery.
You may recall that King was basically run out of that high paying job back in 2008 because of a widespread rumor that he was a closeted gay Republican hypocrite who had sort of made a name for himself by taking on the sex toy shops in Montgomery and then allegedly got caught in an affair with a male staff aide.
The rumor was never confirmed or denied. Since King never denied the charges, no newspaper or television news station ever reported the story officially, but it was widely known anyway from talk radio, online newspaper discussion forums and blogs.
I wrote about it back in the day, hoping to get the news media in Alabama to investigate and get to the bottom of the story.
But King just sort of slinked off and disappeared back then. Most people thought he would never be heard from again in politics. If he is planing on running for public office again, it will be interesting to see what strategy he has in mind. He has to know the old rumors will come back to haunt him again.
So what’s his plan? Come out of the closet and run as the first gay Republican Attorney General in Alabama political history? Or perhaps he has decided to take the tack of President Trump and Roy Moore, that is to say, deny, deny, deny and hope to turn the bad publicity against the “liberal media” to propel him back into office?
Hey, it worked for Trump. He may be known as a “pussy grabbing” male asshole who is known to have treated women badly and even paid off prostitutes to keep quiet in the past. But he’s still the president, at least for now.
It didn’t quite work out so well for Roy Moore. Charges that he liked to manipulate and date teenagers while he was an assistant district attorney in Gadsden while in his 30s, true or not, may have cost him a U.S. Senate seat. He is now defending himself in a defamation lawsuit from one of the women who leveled charges against him in the Washington Post who says his denials and lying about it libeled and slandering her reputation.
Hey, they say politics makes strange bedfellows, but we are not sure “they” meant this when they came up with the phrase.
In other statewide races, two Democrats have qualified to run for Secretary of State, Lula Albert and Heather Milam. Three Republicans have qualified: David L. Black, Stephen D Evans and John McMillan.
Miranda Joseph is running as a Democrat for State Auditor. She will face Stan Cooke or Elliott Lipinsky, whoever wins the Republican primary.
Republicans Gerald Dial and Rick Pate are running for Secretary of Agriculture and Industries. No Democrats have declared in those races yet
Republican Jeremy H. Oden is running for Public Service Commission Place 1 and Republican Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. is running for Place 2. No Democrats have declared.
For State Board of Education, no Democrats have qualified. Republicans Melanie Hill, John Taylor and Tracie West have qualified to run in District 2. Cynthia McCarty will run in District 6 and Rich McAdams will run in District 8.
If you are a political news junkie, there be could be some interesting action in store this year. The #MeToo movement is still in full swing, along with the #TimesUp movement. Women are becoming involved in politics like never before. They will be a force to reckon with in this election. Since their power is mostly on the side of Democrats, watch for some interesting insurgent races.
© 2018, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.