The fast-approaching election for governor finally hit its stride this week when state Sen. Bill Hightower threw a curveball and released his medical records while calling on other gubernatorial candidates to do likewise.
Included in the 15-page dossier on Hightower’s health were notes from his doc about his excellent health and the enviable results of his latest colonoscopy. Hopefully Hightower’s example will lead to voters being able to lay out the colonoscopy results of all gubernatorial candidates for side-by-side comparison before heading to the polling booths. Or perhaps the next televised debate could feature the candidates lined up, knocked out and ready for a group scope. People do love reality TV.
I’m going to skip the obvious joke about how such a procedure would definitively tell us which candidates are most full of (expletive deleted), and just note Hightower’s reasons for giving us all a peek where only his gastroenterologist has gone before is clearly an attempt to knock a chink in the sitting governor’s armor. As she sits back avoiding debates and launching one ad after another making absurd claims about the wild successes of her year-old governorship, Kay Ivey is seen by most political observer as simply coasting to the Republican nomination.
Whether that will happen or not, she’s been a tough one to engage.
Hightower seems to be attempting, in not-so-subtle fashion, to draw attention to Ivey’s age — 73. He bluntly makes the point that we don’t want to have another governor who can’t finish his/her term, which kind of does make me want to have a peek at her colon, liver or heart — whichever the senator feels is most likely to sputter out over the next four years.
But in an age when we can’t even see the president’s tax returns, the chances of buffaloing Ivey into telling us how much high blood-pressure medication she eats each day (if she, in fact, does) are slim. The frustration is understandable, though. Smart politics for Ivey in this primary is to make it as dull as possible. Showing up to a debate and possibly getting your clock cleaned is never a great idea for the frontrunner, but ducking them doesn’t give voters much opportunity to kick the tires when all the models are on the same showroom floor.
Following the hurricane of ridiculousness and corruption that was the Robert Bentley administration, it makes sense Ivey has a high approval rating. So far, at least, she hasn’t had affairs with advisers, created secret payment schemes for top aides or called upon the head of ALEA to act like a mafia goon.
But over the past year Ivey also hasn’t really given us much oomph. She’s promoted sort of a feel-good, maw-maw-is-cooking-you-Sunday-dinner type of vibe, but I do think it’s worth asking ourselves if a 40-year denizen of Goat Hill politics is really who we want leading this state into the future. And maybe that’s what we should all be focused on more than liver spots and cholesterol levels.
Most certainly for the people of Southwest Alabama, continuing to support candidates who treat this part of the state like captured territory is obviously not in our best interest. We have repeatedly been trampled by the Legislature and heard nary a word from whichever governor was sitting in office.
The theft of millions in BP money that rightfully should have come to Mobile and Baldwin counties is a prime example. The rest of the state simply wanted the money and we didn’t have the clout to do anything about it. Bentley went right along, and so did Kay Ivey.
The result was our two counties — which were actually physically and economically affected by the spill — ended up with $120 million, while about $540 million was scooped up by the Legislature and the Luv Guv to pump into the financial holes created by their poor management. It’s amazing to think Mobile and Baldwin didn’t even rate getting half of the BP money.
If you need a more recent example of this kind of dismissive treatment, look no further than the recently enacted “brunch bill.” Retiring state Rep. James Buskey put together a bill that would simply bring Mobile County in line with most of the state and allow our municipalities to decide whether they would allow alcohol sales in restaurants on Sundays before noon. Ivey wouldn’t sign it. She just quietly let it become law without it carrying her Jane Hancock. For some reason, though, she quickly signed a similar bill into law for Jefferson County.
How strange. If drinking alcohol goes against Gov. Ivey’s personal moral code I could perhaps understand her desire not to sign either of these bills, but in both cases they were giving the counties the same rights almost every other county got the year before.
True, it’s not a big deal and the results were the same, but it does make you feel a little like the ugly stepchild.
What we need in this part of the state — the second largest population center in Alabama, by the way — is a governor who can look south and see more than the port and the gubernatorial beach house. We haven’t had that.
Frankly, I have to wonder if it isn’t time for the political Balkanization of Alabama. We need to look at Montgomery as a battleground and the leadership from the rest of the state as unconcerned about our needs at best. Is a governor who won’t sign mimosas at brunch into law going to do anything to get the I-10 bridge built?
So far this election season, a few gubernatorial candidates have sat in the hallowed Lagniappe conference room and talked about how important this area is to the state. We’ll take them at their word until proven otherwise.
Perhaps at some point before the primaries in June, Gov. Ivey will become available to the press and the public in this neck of the woods and we can ask her about her plans for South Alabama, and maybe even why she didn’t sign that bill or stand up for us getting our fair share of BP money when she was lieutenant governor. And maybe we’ll get her latest dental records as well.
Somebody needs to become the candidate for the southern part of the state, whether it’s Sen. Hightower or a carpetbagger who realizes there’s no way to win without us.
We need candidates to show us the love, not their colonoscopy results.
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