Friday, November 2, 2018

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - General Election next week

  This time two years ago, I was bubbling over with anticipation with expectations that I would have two years of fun following an exciting governor’s race. Well, Ole Robert Bentley spoiled my parade.

  Back in the old days, governors could not succeed themselves. They were governor for one four-year term and then they were out. That means we had a governor’s race every four years, and man, would they be doozies! We would have 10 candidates, and about half of them would be “run for the fun of it” candidates. The most colorful would be Shorty Price. 

  However, there would be three to four viable candidates. This handful of big-time candidates would fight it out for a place in the runoff. It would be for a place in the Democratic runoff. In bygone days, winning the Democratic primary nomination was tantamount to election. 

  Today, it is just the other way around. Nowadays winning the Republican primary is tantamount to election in the good ole Heart of Dixie. The more things change, the more they stay the same in Alabama politics. Boy, when we change, we really change. We were a one-party state then, and we are a one-party state now.

  When Kay Ivey won the GOP mantle back in June, she essentially won the governor’s race. By the way, she won her Republican primary impressively, 56 to 44. Ironically, she is poised to win the General Election by about the same margin. She will win next Tuesday because she is the Republican nominee.

  When Bentley left office early in disgrace, that allowed Ivey to ascend from lieutenant governor to governor. She was wise and politically savvy enough to not rock the boat. She has surrounded herself with good people and has run an excellent campaign. As the quasi-incumbent, she has been able to look very gubernatorial. Her mature, grandmotherly appearance and demeanor have actually been an asset rather than a deterrent. Most folks who vote are older and look a lot like Ivey. 

  She has done an exemplary job of not saying anything about pertinent issues or debating. Her handlers knew how to take advantage of incumbency and show her cutting ribbons and kissing babies. Ivey has been around a while. She cut her political teeth campaigning for the Wallaces - George and Lurleen. Her subtle message was, I’m the conservative female Republican candidate. In the primary, she ran on a platform of saving Confederate monuments. In the fall, she ran an ad with school children, and, of course, contrary to the demographics of today’s Alabama classroom, all the school children were little white girls. The Wallaces would have been proud of Ivey.

  Walt Maddox, the dynamic Democratic nominee for governor, is the best candidate that the Democrats have fielded in more than two decades. He is bright, articulate, energetic, and well qualified, having served as mayor of Tuscaloosa for more than 10 years. He has run an excellent campaign. He has raised good money, primarily from grassroots Alabamians. However, he is a real card-carrying Democrat. If the polls had shown he was closing in, Ivey’s folks would have played the ace of all race cards. Maddox supported and voted for Barack Obama. Ivey will beat Maddox because she is the Republican nominee and he is the Democratic nominee.

  The two rising political stars in the state, John Merrill and Will Ainsworth, will win their races for Alabama Secretary of State and lieutenant governor, overwhelmingly. They will be vying to see which one is the top vote-getter on the ballot.

  These two may also be vying to be the Republican to take out Doug Jones in 2020. Whoever is the Republican nominee will beat our anomaly Democrat Senator. Mr. Jones sealed his fate by voting against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. We have essentially ceded our second seat in the Senate to California. Doug Jones and Dianne Feinstein are in the same boat philosophically and with their voting.

  There may be one Democratic surprise next week. Long-time conservative Democratic lawmaker, Johnny Mack Morrow, may pull off an upset victory over a Republican incumbent in a Northwest Alabama state Senate race.

  Y’all vote Tuesday. 

  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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