Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: On to 2018

  We still have the culmination of the race for the seat of Jeff Sessions set to be determined in less than five weeks on December 12. Roy Moore, as the Republican nominee, is the favorite. However, the Democrat, Doug Jones, could make it a closer race than first thought. He has raised some money and gained some traction, and Moore has a good many detractors among Republican and independent voters.

  The 2018 races are looming on the horizon. All of the horses may not be at the gate yet. However, we are only seven months away from the GOP Primary. What at one time looked as though it would be a titanic race for governor may not be as good as first thought. Governor Kay Ivey is in the catbird’s seat to win a four-year term of her own. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle appears at this time to be her most difficult hurdle. Birmingham evangelist, Scott Dawson, is poised to be a dark horse.

  The Lt. Governor and Attorney General races appear to have the potential to be the most interesting races. You will also have a donnybrook contest for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court between current Justices Lyn Stuart and Tom Parker. These two will square off in what will be a battle between the Republican establishment versus the Evangelical Tea Party Right.

  Secretary of State, John Merrill, will run for reelection to his office for a second four-year term. He will be a prohibitive favorite to win reelection. He is the best retail politician in the state.

  It is yet to be determined what State Treasurer Young Boozer or State Auditor Jim Ziegler are going to do in 2018. 

  Boozer is term-limited. He will have served his two four-year terms. He has to either run for something different or go to the house. His wife, Sally, probably prefers the latter.

  Jim Ziegler can run for reelection as Auditor, and that is probably what he will do. However, he may opt for the Attorney General’s contest. His name ID would bode well in that race. Speaking of name ID, former AG Troy King would be head and shoulders above the crowd if he were to run for his old job. Currently, the field is made up of former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, Birmingham attorney Chess Bedsole, and Robert Bentley appointee, Steve Marshall.

  College football and politics are often compared. Florida Coach Jim McElwain found out quickly that losing three in a row can be a career-changer. Butch Jones at Tennessee is headed for the same fate. But while winning and losing appears to make a real difference in competitive athletics, the same rule does not seem to hold true when it comes to the head job at the Business Council of Alabama.

  This past competitive legislative session, the BCA, under Billy Canary’s coaching, lost three in a row, but Canary seems to be secure in his position. BCA went into the session with three legislative priorities, and they went 0 for 3. Now, in competitive athletics, that will send you job hunting. 

  The Alabama Education Association appeared to be dead and buried. However, AEA beat BCA in a head-on match this past legislative session, and there is every indication that AEA is building a sizable war chest for the 2018 campaigns. Right now, the AEA supporters have got to be cheering for Billy Canary and praying that the BCA will keep him on. The same holds true for the state’s trial lawyers. With Billy Canary calling the plays for BCA, the plaintiffs’ bar, AEA, and every other left of center group has got to be looking forward to the matchup.

  There is another perspective that becomes particularly important in the 2018 election year. With BCA’s record, recent controversies surrounding Canary and BCA, and Canary’s abrasive New York personality, who would want to be seen as part of the BCA team? Veteran legislators and newcomers seeking office will quickly declare themselves free agents and will reject identification with BCA. 

  Furthermore, why would anyone considering contributing to political candidates in 2018 and wasting their contributions by giving it through BCA? It only makes sense to make contributions directly to candidates or through other PACs not affiliated with BCA.

  When a football team starts losing, it can take a long time to turn the record around, but the first thing you do is fire the coach. If BCA has any hopes of scoring victories in future legislative sessions or in next year’s political season, they better send a moving van to Canary’s house soon.

  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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