It’s amazing to think we’re less than three weeks away from Election Day, which is going to make roughly half the country extremely unhappy. Yes, just about every presidential election leaves a very large percentage of the populace dissatisfied with the results, but 2020 promises to make supporters of the losing side jump-off-a-bridge unhappy.
So, perhaps we should savor this next 20 days — as bitter and divided as it will be — because we may look back in a month or two and think of mid-to-late October as the Salad Days of 2020. Both presidential candidates have made it clear the only way they can lose is via some electoral chicanery, so the stage is set for lawsuits, recriminations, head-busting and confusion like we’ve never seen before.
But it’s going to be tough to relax in these golden 20 days, especially here in ’Bama where one of the most important U.S. Senate races is taking place between incumbent Democrat Sen. Doug Jones and former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville. If you turn on the boob tube, these guys are ripping each other apart at every commercial break, which probably isn’t going to help that whole savoring-these-20-days thing much.
Polling suggests Tuberville has a big lead over Jones, despite the latter’s much deeper pockets. Jones is thought to be one of the most endangered incumbents in this election, which has Democrats in a hot lather to keep him as they eye taking control of the Senate. Republicans are in just as hot a lather to get rid of the unicorn senator and return this red state seat to what they see as its rightful place under GOP control.
Unfortunately, as has become the new standard, we’re not going to get a chance to see these two stand on a stage and debate each other. In Alabama, at least, whoever is leading in the polls will refuse to debate. Gov. Kay Ivey played things this way in her successful election, and Tubby is following suit. Another part of the pageantry is the person behind in the polls clamoring for a debate.
Maybe it’s an antiquated way of thinking, but I still believe the people who want these very important, very powerful jobs should have to at the very least stand on a stage and interrupt one another constantly. Hopefully, in some cases, they might even actually talk about their positions on certain issues. But we appear fated to have to rely more and more upon sound bites and attack ads to figure out who we’ll vote for.
Left with those options as ways of getting to know the candidates, neither comes off looking particularly good I suppose.
Doug Jones has done a reasonably good job as senator, but has one massive flaw: He’s a Democrat in a Republican state. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, but it definitely makes it harder for him to beat Tuberville. Seeing Jones trying to placate this hard-right state while also staying true to his beliefs is tough to watch sometimes.
Jones has been firmly and loudly pro-abortion rights and has voted predominately with the Senate’s Democratic leadership. That’s a high hurdle for him to clear, which is probably why he’s trailing in all the polls.
Tuberville has the right background — football coach, avid Trump supporter and fabulous head of hair — but his weaknesses are of a much more personal nature. First, there’s the “carpetbagger” issue. Did he just move here from Florida to run for office? Does it really matter, especially if you coached Auburn to an undefeated season?
Much more concerning are Tuberville’s personal finances and associations. This is where he’s getting hit the hardest. The New York Times piled on this week, dropping a story about Tubby’s “Financial Fumbles,” as they put it. Not much of what was written was anything that hasn’t been out there for months, but there were attempts to kick up some new sand.
In Tuberville’s case, his biggest issue was involvement with a trading firm, TS Capital, which lost millions and sent his partner to jail. That partner, John David Stroud, was said to have lost about $1.2 million trading and misappropriated another $2.3 million living the high life on investors’ savings. He was sentenced to a 10-year timeout in the pokey for all that fun.
Tuberville ran into no criminal legal trouble for his involvement, but was sued and ended up losing more than $2 million.
It’s not a good look, for sure, but it’s also pretty hard to say he made off with other people’s money when he lost so much of his own.
The Times’ article went to great lengths to paint Tuberville as being “involved” in two other Ponzi schemes, but it would be much more accurate to say he was at least a victim of one and had almost nothing to do with the other.
In the first, Tuberville lost another $2 million investing in GLC Enterprises, a scam that burned several coaches and football players to the tune of $80 million and sent one man to jail for five years. Tuberville’s name isn’t even mentioned in the 2012 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) press release about charges against the men running GLC.
The third “fumble” mentioned by the Times involved Tuberville and his wife buying a house using an LLC set up by a lawyer who later pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that had nothing to do with Tubby or his house. Because a lawyer set up your LLC there’s guilt by association for anything else he does? It was a pretty bad reach by the Times.
That’s not to say there’s no reason for concern that Tuberville, at minimum, appears to have lost $4 million to scams and was in business with a guy who went to jail. Of course, he’s hardly the first rich guy to make bad investments, but it still doesn’t instill a tremendous amount of confidence in his financial acumen.
It’s also much easier for those of us who never have any money to invest to be critical or say it proves he’s not too bright. I’d imagine if you had millions it might be easy to make some bad choices.
Will any of that matter? I doubt it. Tuberville’s financial issues were all out in the open before he trounced Jeff Sessions. I’m guessing voters are much more concerned about whether he supports Trump and whether Jones will vote against the Supreme Court nominee. We’ll see in 20 days if I’m right.
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