Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Turnout is everything

  The big question in the Alabama U.S. Senate race: Will allegations against Roy Moore and his purported propensities 40 ago cause him to lose? We will soon see. The election is less than three weeks away.

  The book on Moore is easy to read. The polls have consistently revealed that 30 percent of voters like him, and 70 percent do not like him.  He is a polarizing figure and is well known.

  However, the real poll that counts is the one conducted on Election Day. The reason that he won the GOP primary was that his people showed up to vote for him. His followers are more ardent, fervent, and quite frankly, older. Older voters are a lot more likely to vote than younger voters. Therefore, his 30 percent becomes more accentuated and rises to 51 percent. If he wins on December 12, it will be because of the turnout. His 30 percent will turn out. The Democrat, Doug Jones, really has no following. It is all about Moore. The votes that Jones gets will be the Democratic base coupled with those disenchanted with Moore who dislike him enough to go vote for a Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat. As George Wallace used to say, “More people vote against someone than for someone.”

  My guess is that Moore’s 30 percent is unswayed by the Washington Post revelations. They look upon it as a scurrilous last-minute political attack by the Washington establishment and left-wing media. Some suggest that it may have energized his base. They feel that he has been unduly attacked. They simply dismiss the allegations as untrue and fabricated and are suspicious of the timing. They ask why these accusers came forward four weeks before the election and not years ago. The wall around the 30 percent dedicated to Roy Moore appears impregnable.

  Turnout will be the key to this election the same way it was in the primary. The 75-year-old deacon of the First Baptist Church of Gadsden is going to vote. The question is: Does the soccer mom in Homewood go vote?

  Roy Moore’s fate is not the only one to be decided in December. The fate of Business Council lobbyist Billy Canary may also be decided in December.

  BCA’s leadership will change at their annual meeting on December 1. Perry Hand of Baldwin County will take the reins of the once powerful organization. Hand is a very well regarded gentleman in the private and public sector of Alabama. He is an engineer by profession and a principal in Volkert Engineering. He has been an outstanding businessman, road builder, state senator, and Secretary of State.

  Canary has basically made the Business Council a joke among powerful legislators. He is so disliked and disrespected that he is thought of as a clown or caricature. In visiting with the majority of Republican senators, they say he has never even said “hi” to them. He walks the halls occasionally with a haughty, arrogant air and snubs all nine of the Democrats in the state senate as well as the 26 Republicans. I could not find one state senator who would say anything good about the New Yorker. They snicker and say that no bill will pass their committee if he is for it.

  Alabama State Senator Slade Blackwell, a respected businessman and staunch Republican from a silk stocking Jefferson County area, said Canary actually does the BCA more harm than good. He said the BCA members would be better served to give campaign money directly to candidates than have it tainted by Canary. Blackwell, who also chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, has only spoken to Canary one time in seven years.

  Dr. Paul Bussman, who is very independent and represents Cullman and parts of Northwest Alabama as a Republican state senator, said that Canary threatened him so abrasively over a piece of legislation in his first term that when he got home he wrote a check for $26,000, the amount the BCA had given his campaign, and sent it back to Canary with the message to not ever speak to him again.

  The well-liked, mild-mannered, pro-business state senator, Shay Shelnut, said Canary has never spoken to him in his entire five years in the Senate. This is the prevalent theme among most Republican members of the Senate. 

  The most important senator, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, has barred Canary from his office.

  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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