Primary season is finally coming to an end next week. And it’s been a confusing one.
So what else is new in 2020, right?
First, it was delayed from March 31 to July 14 because of COVID-19, so we got some bonus time to reflect on the candidates. Yay.
The fun didn’t stop there.
The Alabama Supreme Court just ruled Friday curbside voting and other “eased restrictions” on mail-in voting would not be allowed.
The city of Mobile and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill were going back and forth just this week about whether or not poll workers could require voters to wear masks — since the city just passed an ordinance requiring them in public places within the city limits and the Mobile County Health Department followed suit by requiring them in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Merrill has since issued guidance to probate judges around the state, saying voters could NOT be turned away if they are not wearing masks, and poll workers could not require temperature checks or other such measures.
This is what happens when issues involving voting rights and pandemics collide. Fun stuff.
But considering the uptick in new cases in Mobile County and the average age of poll workers (ancient), it would probably be best to just wear the damn mask. It’s not that hard.
And you can put your “I voted” sticker on it. Well, unless we can’t even have those stickers anymore because of COVID, which we probably can’t. Whaaaaa! (Insert sad face emoji – not the crying one, just the disappointed one with furrowed eyebrows.)
Also, you may not be voting where you normally do due to, you guessed it (ding, ding, ding!), COVID-19, so make sure to check Mobile County Probate Court’s website. They have a handy dandy tool where you can enter your address, and it will let you know where you are supposed to vote for this and every election.
So after figuring out “how” and “where” you need to vote on Tuesday, then you can focus on “who.”
I am pretty sure you have already figured that out, but I will offer some thoughts on the most high-profile races, or as I like to call them, the “hot messes,” which all happen to be on the Republican ballot for this election.
The biggest statewide race is obviously between former U.S. Senator/Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.
The polling shows Tuberville will probably win.
First, this makes me sad Congressman Bradley Byrne decided to go full on super Trumper in the primary, which just turned a lot of folks off, because it didn’t feel real or authentic for him (see videos of him screaming about Nancy Pelosi). When Byrne is his normal, calm, smart, reasonable self (which he was before and has been since losing the primary), it is obvious he would have been the best choice in this race. He knows his way around Washington, but doesn’t have Sessions’s baggage.
But we are where we are.
And now we are left with Sessions, who apparently is from Mobile, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen him in the Port City, and probably still have a few fingers left over. And this week is the first time he’s responded to an interview request from this newspaper in the 18 years we have been in business.
I really can’t remember him ever being very present or engaged back in his hometown or home state while in office. Of course, now that he is losing he is everywhere from Mobile to Montgomery to Muscle Shoals.
And now that Tuberville is winning (at least in the polls), he is nowhere to be found.
Funny how that works.
Tubs won’t debate Sessions, and he won’t talk to any media. The only place you will see him is in his goofy, fake locker room ads, where he is talking about how “weak” Sessions is. You know what else is “weak,” Coach? Hiding from the media and not doing debates.
I get why consultants force their candidates who are up in the polls to essentially go into hiding (remember, Gov. Kay Ivey did the same thing) — they can only hurt their numbers by saying something stupid. But it’s not how democracy should work — Alabamians need to be able to hear from both candidates in order to make an informed decision. (Insert flag and eagle emojis.)
So, yeah … We will get one of these guys. The one who used to hide or the one who is currently in hiding. I can’t wait. (Insert eye roll emoji.)
The other hot mess race is between Bill Hightower and Jerry Carl for the seat Byrne decided not to run for again so he could run for Senate. That did not work out so well for Byrne, and though one of these men will probably end up being our next congressman (since we live in a ruby red district and state), they both had to get down deep in the mud to do it. Will it be worth it?
At the beginning, I really kind of felt like either man would have done a fine job. But they both ran really nasty, negative campaigns with very misleading (practically false) claims in their ads against one another. I really have to wonder if they both had just run on the issues, would the race have turned out much differently?
Was all the nasty really necessary?
I do think there could be one difference maker in this race.
If Carl prevails, it will be because the PAC Club for Growth got involved in this race.
Club for Growth backed Hightower and even though PACs act independently from campaigns, the ads they ran in support of Hightower were insulting to anyone with more than one brain cell — OK, maybe five.
And Byrne (who did endorse Carl) has been on the record saying Club for Growth stopped backing him when he voted against their positions on coastal flood insurance, the Farm Bill and Austal. All issues that are very important to the residents of AL-1. He actually said they asked him to vote against the interests of his district. And if there is one time I believe what is coming out of a politician’s mouth, it’s when he or she is not running for office. So, I find Byrne’s assessment on this highly credible.
Plus, Club for Growth keeps a “scorecard” on all members of Congress, which they use to essentially keep “their” members in line. It’s really kind of like organized crime (in your best “Godfather” voice: “We are going to need you to vote for that in order to get our blessing next time!”) — and it’s exactly what people hate about politics.
With turnout typically low in primary elections anyway, coupled with the COVID-19 complications, really anything could happen. We shall see.
In any case, at least we can be thankful we can stop seeing (at least some) of these really stupid ads for a while. And in 2020, I’ll count that as a victory.
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