Apparently, we have an election in a couple of weeks.
Judging by the ads on the ol’ flat-screened boob tube, it seems we will be choosing between Ron DeSantis or Andrew Gillum for governor and Rick Scott or Bill Nelson for senator.
Oh wait, that’s not us.
Are we even having a general election here in Sweet Home Alabama?
I do occasionally see a spot or two mixed in with the endless political ads from Florida, with whom we share a media market, for some guy named Walt who is 45 and a woman named Kay who has a dog named Bear. (Strange choice for an Auburn grad; shouldn’t it be Bo?)
But other than that, it has been a snoozer of a general election season. Which I guess is to be expected in a red, red state where most of the mudslinging and money is spent on the primary, as it is considered a given the Republican will waltz into office.
And it seems that conventional wisdom will prevail in the governor’s race.
Even though Gov. Kay Ivey refused to debate her opponent, wouldn’t send in answers to questions about her positions for the League of Women Voters’ website and put the bare minimum of effort into outlining her beliefs on her own campaign website, while also dealing with persistent rumors about her failing health and advancing age, Ivey will most likely stroll right back into the governor’s mansion with relative ease. And this from a woman who was never even elected to this particular office in the first place, so we never even got to kick the tires on her for governor in previous elections.
I am sure this exact same scenario plays out in the bluest of blue states, where there are Republican candidates who have no chance. I get it. We live in the world of tribal politics, where party means more than person (usually — except in extreme cases like Roy Moore). And I understand there is a reason for that — there’s at least a general sense of what it means to identify as a Republican or Democrat and a set of shared values.
But I still feel to my very core that “we, the people” should get as much access and information as possible about the candidates who want to serve us. They work for us. And they should provide information and make themselves accessible. To refuse to even participate in the process (even if you know you are the frontrunner) is just so arrogant. And I mean that for any race, in any state, no matter what your party affiliation or if the pundits all agree your opponent doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in an Alabama August. If you run for office, you should have to debate and answer questions, even if it’s just to seal the deal with your party’s base. And sadly, that was not done in this race.
But if you are fighting an uphill battle in a state where your political party is not dominant, you also have to run an almost flawless race. And that also was not done.
Walt Maddox just never really caught fire. After Doug Jones’ victory I really thought some of the same fervor would be channeled into Maddox. But I haven’t really seen that at all. And I don’t know why. By all accounts, Maddox should have been an even more exciting and energetic candidate than Jones — and more palatable to independents and moderate Republicans. I hear he was even encouraged by some GOP operatives in the state to run as a Republican.
But just in my own circles, which contain folks from all parts of the political spectrum, I hear no one talking about this race. At all. During the Jones/Moore race that is all anyone could talk about. But if people are talking about politics now, it’s still all about Trump (love him or hate him or hate his Tweets and petulance but love my tax cuts and judges) and/or the Kavanaugh hearings.
The Maddox yard signs you see versus the ones during Jones’ race pale in comparison. And Maddox’s ad campaign has been pretty forgettable and uninspiring.
Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s just that even though Ivey has her own set of issues, her number one quality is she isn’t as bad a candidate as Roy Moore, which, of course, is realistically the main reason Doug Jones is the Democratic senator from Alabama, too.
And things are going pretty well in the state. I mean, for a state that has myriad problems, is almost always rife with corruption and ranks last in almost everything you can be ranked in, it still seems like we’ve had some wins on the economic front of late, so there’s that.
But, as always, turnout will still be a factor.
In other states, with more competitive races for senate and congressional seats that have gotten national attention, the thought seems to be there will be record turnout on both sides. I’m not so sure that will happen here. Will Alabama Republicans be complacent because they think they have this, and more Democrats show up because they are more energized (more so over national politics) and just want to prove a point? Or will Democrats stay home because they think it’s a waste of time, at least on a state and local level? I don’t know, we shall see. My feeling is it will probably be pretty consistent with previous elections that don’t have someone accused of fondling 14-year-olds on the ballot — so in other words, pretty low across the board. And probably few surprises.
But there are some local races in which turnout will be key in determining the winner, including the one for Alabama House District 97 between Steve McNair and Adline Clarke and the circuit judge race between Karlos Finley and Brandy Hambright. Those will definitely be the ones to watch on Nov. 6.
I’m just ready for Nov. 7 to get here, though, so I can stop hearing about Rick Scott’s messy grandkids and Bill Nelson’s space walks.
In democracy, those who cannot vote for candidates in a different state should not have to endure the mind-numbing television advertising of said candidates.
I’m pretty sure Ben Franklin said that. Or I’m sure he would have. In any case, he would say, “Go vote! We fought a revolution to give you this precious right, you bunch of ungrateful freaks. Please don’t let us down.”
Sadly, we probably will, Ben. We probably will.
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