By now, we all know the much-publicized saga of Stephen Nodine, the outspoken former Mobile County Commissioner who stepped down from office after being indicted for murder following the death of Angel Downs on May 9, 2010.
Ultimately, the prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Nodine in 2012 — a deal that had the former commissioner pleading guilty to felony perjury and harassment charges.
Nodine would serve a 15-month sentence for a federal gun crime of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms and two years in a Baldwin County facility for the perjury and harassment charges.
One would think a murder indictment and prison time would be the death knell for any future political aspirations, but it is hardly deterring Nodine, who is once again talking about a run for Congress for the seat currently held by Rep. Bradley Byrne as an independent or under the Libertarian Party banner.
Nodine as a Libertarian candidate makes sense given his dealings with the criminal justice system, be it for the Downs death or his other run-ins with the law. In 2009, for example, workers at a Mobile County garage found a pill bottle with marijuana inside in his county-issued truck.
One could argue that would win you instant street cred with the Libertarian crowd, so why not?
Nodine admits he’s not a textbook doctrinaire Libertarian Party candidate, but if you’re within the hierarchy of the Alabama Libertarian Party, Nodine might be your best bet — if for no other reason than the press coverage that could come with it.
“Obviously I know some of their platform, some of the issues,” Nodine said in an interview with Lagniappe. “Like immigration and abortion I differ with them on. But after what I’ve been through, certainly a party that sees the justice system in a different light than the Republican Party.”
In 2013, Nodine made overtures about a possible run as a Republican, but that was shot down after local GOP party officials said no.
Although he wouldn’t be able to vote for himself, constitutionally Nodine meets the qualifications to run. Article I, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution requires a member of the House of Representatives to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for the last seven years and a resident of the state where they are elected.
But this run will be somewhat of an uphill struggle if Nodine takes the plunge.
According to the Alabama secretary of state’s website, he’ll have to submit a petition with enough signatures to meet or exceed 3 percent of voter turnout in Alabama’s first congressional district for the last gubernatorial election. That will require nearly 6,000 signatures and Nodine admits he’d probably have to come up with more like 8,000 given the possibility that some of those signatures would be thrown out.
Third-party candidates haven’t fared well in Alabama elections, with the exception being George Wallace, who won Alabama running on the American Independent Party ticket against Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey.
More recently, Loretta Nall made national headlines when she ran as the 2006 Libertarian Party gubernatorial nominee against Bob Riley and Lucy Baxley. Nall literally campaigned on her cleavage, with the slogan “More of these boobs, and less of these boobs,” referring to her own boobs in the former and Riley and Baxley as boobs in the latter.
Nall failed to meet the 40,000 signature requirement to get on the ballot in 2006 and was forced to run as a write-in candidate and got only 235 votes in the general election that was won by Riley.
According to Nodine, one of the possibilities that exists to emerge victorious on Election Day 2016 is one with the current Republican Party presidential front-runner Donald Trump being denied the GOP’s nomination and ultimately being forced to run as an independent candidate.
“I do believe Trump will be denied,” Nodine explained. “He could win it all, but the Republican Party — the establishment will not allow him to be the nominee, period. And so you saw over the weekend the tone starting to change in his tune, and I truly believe he’ll run as an independent once he’s denied the nomination and they will deny him that nomination.”
“If he runs as an independent and I run as an independent, it’ll probably help me,” Nodine added.
Should Nodine be successful in his quest to get on the general election ballot, that is when things will get interesting.
As of Nov. 6, no candidate has qualified to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the first congressional district, so theoretically you could have a head-to-head match-up between Nodine and whoever emerges as the GOP candidate, which will be contested in the March 1, 2016, Republican primary between incumbent Bradley Byrne and Dean Young.
Beyond that race, the winner will have likely spent a lot of capital on the primary fight and could conceivably be limping into the general election without a Democratic choice on the ballot and Nodine as a third-party candidate instead.
Nodine would probably still be a heavy underdog in any contest against Byrne or Young.
However, if his Trump theory were to come into play, if he could peel off a small fraction of Republican voters and if he were able to rally most of the Democratic voters to come to his side, that could be enough for his opponent to take him seriously.
“I’m tanned, rested and ready,” Nodine declared.