Thursday, June 3, 2010

Digital Roundtable: CCFP editors weigh in on the primary results

Joseph Patton and Josh Carples have appeared as election analysts for WAUD Radio in Auburn and on “First Call with Kevin Elkins” on WLWI 1440 in Montgomery. 

  The Democratic and Republican parties held their respective primaries June 1 to select candidates as their nominees for the November general election. Roughly a third of registered voters in Alabama participated. The run-off election for both parties - which will consist of races in which no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote - will be held July 13.

Democrat primary for governor:

  Joseph Patton: I was thoroughly surprised that Sparks won by such a margin. I was anticipating a cliff-hanger that might go through the night. I can't help but believe Davis' plan to make himself seem more independent by openly snubbing the state's largest, most influential black political organizations created a backlash that cost him some votes here, especially when he had polled so far ahead through most of this contest. How much of a role do you think that played in this?

  Josh Carples: It’s really hard for me to speculate the amount of votes those decisions lost for Davis. I’m sure some people took that into consideration, but on the other hand, there may have been some that voted for him because of those stances as well, especially if they thought it made him appear more independent.

Republican primary for governor:

  Carples: I think most of us expected a runoff in this race, however, Robert Bentley did much better than expected. The talk was of a runoff between Bradley Byrne and Tim James, but with James and Bentley being so close, it will be a few days before we will know who will run against Byrne on July 13.

  Patton: I was floored by this, especially with Bentley spending at best a fourth of what Byrne and James spent. He also made a very late surge in the polling, which begs the question: Did voters lose interest or faith in James, and/or what did Bentley do differently down the stretch to land such a large portion of those late-deciding voters?

  Since James and Bentley are only separated by about 200 votes, this could get ugly, especially considering how negative this race has already been. And with provisional and absentee ballots in play, those tend to be ripe for court challenges, especially in a race this tight.

  Carples: One thing that may have helped Bentley in the polls was his television ads that showed the bickering between Byrne and James. He positioned himself as the candidate who was above that, and did it at such a time late in the game that it may have helped, especially with voters who may have still be undecided.

Republican race for attorney general:

  Patton: I'm a little surprised that Troy King couldn't pull it out, especially with the advantage of being an incumbent. Granted, there has been some scandal during his time in office though nothing was ever proven, but Strange seems to lack any kind of applicable experience. I'd say this may play a role in November, especially with the potential baggage incurred by Strange repeatedly being painted as a "country club" Republican and the negative mark of being a Washington insider, even more so in this climate of anti-Washington sentiment so prevalent throughout the country. Do you think King's feud with the governor over bingo and other matters may have cost him some votes?

  Carples: I do think that the King/Riley feud over bingo affected this race, and I would venture to say that the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that gave control of the task force back over to Riley hurt King somewhat. Even though it was reported that the Court’s decision was a reversal of a previous decision – which means King was following the law at that time – the way it looked… the “big picture” that people saw was that King lost that battle. I also found it interesting that King’s attempt to paint Strange as a corporate lobbyist tied to the companies responsible for the current oil disaster in the Gulf proved to be ineffective. The lobbyist aspect seemed to be a bigger issue when Strange ran against Jim Folsom, Jr. for lieutenant governor four years ago.

Race for lieutenant governor:

  Patton: This race is Jim Folsom's to lose. Not only is he a powerhouse in Alabama politics, but he's also the incumbent in this race. And not only did Kay Ivey switch races mid-stream - she was originally running for governor - but it's going to be a steep climb to get away from the unraveling of the PACT program, which she administered as state treasurer  when it nearly collapsed.

  Carples: I agree. I think Ivey has an uphill battle ahead to oust Folsom. And I think the PACT program will definitely be an issue. In fact, to tie this into a primary race, I think tying PACT to George Wallace, Jr. is what helped Young Boozer win the primary for state treasurer.

Race for state treasurer:

  Patton: With Wallace’s defeat in this primary for state treasurer - a job he already held for two terms, plus getting beaten by a two to one margin by a relative unknown (Young Boozer), do you think this finally spells the end for his political aspirations?

  Carples: It is possible. Even though he has name recognition, it has not seemed to help in quite a few cases.

Democrat run-off for attorney general:

  Patton: Though in a three-person race James Anderson was clearly way out in front - ahead of second-place finisher Giles Perkins by 50,000 votes - anything can happen in a primary, especially with 50,000+ votes that went to Michel Nicrosi up for grabs. With only six weeks to campaign though, I think we've got to give the clear edge to Anderson.

  With Alabama having a clear recent history of election Republicans as attorney general, how much of a chance do you give the eventual Democrat nominee in the race against Luther Strange?

  Carples: I think it will be tough, especially considering some campaign money will be needed in the Democratic race for a runoff while Strange is preparing for November. However, I wouldn’t count it out just yet. If the Democrat can show experience and successfully paint Strange the way Troy King tried to in the primary – corporate lobbyist tied to big oil – there is a chance for the Democrats to win this one.

Congress, District 5, Republican primary:

  Patton: What do you make up Congressman Parker Griffith being ousted in his own primary by Mo Brooks? Griffith of course was elected to the House as a Democrat and recently switched parties.

  Carples: A story in the Associated Press calls Griffith’s loss “anti-incumbent sentiment.” I would think it’s local distrust. He lost his Democratic support when he switched parties, even having most of this staff walk out, according to reports at the time. The question to ask is, how much GOP support did he really have after the switch? If all politics is local, I think the Republicans in District 5 just didn’t buy it.

  Visit the Capital City Free Press for more election analysis following the Democratic and Republican run-offs set for July 13!

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