Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The political graveyard is full of Congressmen who have tried to run for the U.S. Senate

  The field is probably formulated for our 2020 U.S. Senate race. A Republican will be heavily favored to capture the seat currently held by our Democrat U.S. Senator Doug Jones. Alabama is one of if not the most Republican states in the nation. It is quite an anomaly that a liberal Democrat has sat in that seat for over a year.

  Recently I got a very nice letter from a lady who reads my column regularly. She kindly told me that she has read my column religiously for over a decade and that she trusts my analysis of Alabama politics. She, however, said, “Mr. Flowers, I notice how you are always sounding the opinion that Doug Jones will most surely be defeated in 2020. You also take that position regarding all Democrats on your television interviews. You may well be right in predicting that since the state is so blindly in love with Trump. However, it strikes me that you could on occasion lend your voice to positives about Doug Jones and others and perhaps give more balanced information. No need to stoke the fires of "it’s all over before it is." You might even cause some voters to think about the alternative to the Roy Moores and Gary Palmers of the world.”

  My response to her was as follows, “Thanks for your nice note, and thanks for reading the column. I have strived over the years to be objective, nonpartisan, nonjudgmental, and to not express my personal opinion of candidates or issues. I simply attempt to analyze and formulate analysis and explain to my readers, listeners, and viewers what is happening and why it happened to my fellow Alabamians. I personally like Doug Jones, and although he is more liberal than most Alabamians, he is a good man. However, from an objective viewpoint as an Alabama political columnist and commentator, Alabama is a very red Republican state. The results of last year’s gubernatorial race confirmed that for me. Walt Maddox was the perfect moderate candidate. He got 40 percent of the vote in the general election. That appears to be the maximum threshold for a Democrat in a statewide race in the Heart of Dixie. Jones will be hard-pressed to hit that 40 in a presidential year.”

  Having shared that dialogue and my opinion with you, it brings us to this question: Which Republican will take Jones place next year? I first posed this question in April. It was before the horses were lined up and we speculated that there may be some of our Republican congressmen who might take the plunge. Congressman Robert Aderholt opted out early. With over 20 years of seniority in the House and in line to be Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he has wisely chosen to stay where he is and stay the course in Congress.

  My suggestion was that Congressman Mo Brooks would be a strong candidate. He has a true conservative pedigree and is loved by the Washington right-wing groups. He is also from the vote-rich Huntsville-Tennessee Valley area.

  Brooks quickly informed me that he did not want to risk his safe House seat to gamble on the Senate race and lose his seat. When he ran in 2017, it was a special election and he had a free shot and didn’t risk his Congressional seat. This same reasoning has given pause to a good many Congressmen over the years who would love to be a United States Senator.

  I told Mo Brooks I did not blame him for his reluctance to gamble. I shared this story with him. When I was a young boy, I cut my teeth politically campaigning and working for my congressman, Bill Dickinson. He was a great Congressman and served the old Second District for 28 years. He was a stalwart advocate and savior for the military bases in Montgomery and the Wiregrass. One day when we were riding down the road together, I remember I was driving him to Opp to speak to the Rotary Club, I asked him why he didn’t run for the U.S. Senate. He shared an old adage he had heard in the congressional cloakroom. He said, “Steverino, the political graveyard is full of Congressmen who have tried to run for the Senate.”

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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