Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Primaries next week

  Folks, our primaries are next week! On the Democratic side, the presidential preference primary will be the big show and will be interesting to watch. On the right, the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate seat will be the marquee event.

  In addition to the Senate race, we have two open Republican Congressional seats in the First and Second Districts. We also have some important statewide Supreme Court and Appellate Court races on the ballot.

  Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Greg Shaw and Shelby County state Senator Cam Ward are both running to be the Republican nominee for the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Place Number One.

  Shaw is one of the most introverted, dignified individuals who ever ran for statewide office. He takes his role as a monk-like non-talking judge to heart. He has not and will not campaign. He thinks it is beneath the jurist to talk to people, much less campaign or shake hands. 

  On the other hand, Sen. Cam Ward is the ultimate people person and campaigner. Ward has worked the state from one end to the other, campaigning in every nook and cranny and county. He has outworked Shaw 20 to 1. However, ultimately in today’s statewide politics, it all boils down to money. 

  Ninety-five percent of the people who vote Tuesday will not decide or think about who they are going to vote for until next week. Then after they vote and elect one of them, they will not be able to tell you who they voted for, or for that matter, who is on the Supreme Court. This one will be interesting and probably close. Whoever gets the most votes Tuesday will be sworn in for a six-year term in January. Winning the GOP nomination for a judgeship in Alabama is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie. 

  Two Jefferson/Shelby metro candidates are vying for a seat on the Court of Civil Appeals. State Representative Matt Fridy and Phillip Bahakel are vying for Place Number 2 on the Civil Appeals Court. 

  The presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Mary Windom, should waltz to re-election. However, Criminal Appeals Judge Beth Kellum, who has done an excellent job, could have a tougher race with two opponents.

  PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh has an also-ran liberal candidate in her race.

  The winners of the March 3 GOP Primary (or runoff on March 31) will win the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts and go to Washington for two years.

  The First District Mobile/Baldwin race is the best, and it totally up in the air. It is a three-man race between former state Sen. Bill Hightower, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, and Mobile Alabama state Rep. Chris Pringle. It will be interesting to see which two make the March 31 runoff.

  Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman is the front-runner to win the open 2nd Congressional District seat. The question is: can he win without a runoff? It may be difficult with seven people in the race. He will ultimately win.

  As I earlier stated, the GOP contest for the U.S. Senate is the marquee event on the scene next week. Jeff Sessions is the favorite to win back his seat. However, it will not be a cakewalk. It is doubtful he can win without a runoff. It is a spirited and close race between Coach Tommy Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne to get into the runoff with Sessions. Former Chief Justice Roy Moore has done very little campaigning and will probably get less than 10% of the vote.

  All indications point to former Vice President Joe Biden winning our Democratic Presidential Primary. Over 75% of the votes cast in our Alabama Democratic Primary will be by African-American voters, and Biden has received overwhelming endorsements from almost all of the African-American leaders and groups in the state. In addition, the two leading African-American elected Democratic leaders, Congresswoman Terri Sewell and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, have endorsed Biden. 

  However, Joe Reed’s powerful Alabama Democratic Conference has endorsed former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. It will be interesting to see how Bloomberg fares in Alabama next Tuesday. He has spent a lot of money.  

  You will see an initiative on the ballot that will ask you if you want to make members of the Alabama School Board appointed rather than elected. Gov. Kay Ivey is promoting a “yes” vote. She believes an appointed Board is better for education. She would appoint the state's School Board if the measure is approved.

  Y’all don’t forget to vote!

  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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