Next Tuesday, May 24, Alabamians will head to the polls to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. Though some State Legislature seats will be determined on the Democratic ballot, it is no secret Alabama is a ruby red Republican state, so the winners of many of the races on the Republican side will have an extreme advantage going into the general, to say the least. In this state, voting in May is usually more important than voting in November.
I can’t say I am really fired up to vote for any of the candidates in the statewide races. This is always the case in the primary. Somehow, people who seem to be smart, talented and reasonable human beings when they start running for a seat allow their consultants to turn them into fire-breathing, gun-toting, Trump-idolizing, pandering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator, cartoon character rednecks by Election Day. It is THE Alabama election formula. And it’s really kind of sad and pathetic to watch, and insulting to voters who crave at least a little substance.
I try to feel better about some of these candidates by telling myself at least some of them have to know how gross this whole process is, and they are just telling themselves, “I will take a very long, hot shower on May 25 or June 22 (after I win) and resume being some semblance of my former, seemingly more normal self.”
This may be wishful thinking too, but a girl can dream, right? Or live in denial? Whatever works.
There are many races — especially the local judicial ones — where I think it will be OK no matter who wins. No one is completely crazy or unqualified, it just really depends on whose style, approach or resume you prefer. Check out all of our profiles in this paper and on lagniappemobile.com to read up on the candidates and see who you like.
But I would like to offer some thoughts on the race that is troubling me the most, and that is the one for governor.
If you believe the polls, Gov. Kay Ivey is most likely going to “high step” her way right back to the Governor’s Mansion. And with a total of eight other candidates on the ballot splitting the vote for any potential run-off challenger, she may be able to do it outright.
And if she does, she will have done it by NOT debating, NOT sitting down for a single interview with any news organization in the entire state and NOT offering any substantive plans to address education, infrastructure (including the I-10 bridge), crime and gun violence, the prison system, rural health care, labor shortages and a number of other issues affecting the Yellowhammer State.
Maybe she has thoughtful plans for all of this, but how would any of us know? All we have been offered is a bunch of Southern Grandma gobbledygook. And don’t get me wrong, I love Southernisms too, but to base your entire campaign on such? Well, as MeeMaw would say, that dog just won’t hunt.
Is cartoon buffoonery all we are going to demand out of the CEO of our state? I feel like we have let her get away with this unacceptable level of inaccessibility throughout her entire career as governor just because she managed not to rub the boobies of any of her staff members. Well, at least, as far as we know.
But is that really the only standard we have? Not being involved in a geriatric sex scandal? I would hope not!
Are we going to let her cruise back into office — just like we did last time — with her and her staff doing everything in their power to prevent us from really vetting her?
I would love to use one of her other favorites to answer this question — “No way, José!”
But I am afraid we just might.
Because her opponents are either uninspiring or underfunded. The three with the best shot of getting her into a run-off are the well-funded Tim James and Lindy Blanchard and the interesting but underfunded Lew Burdette.
James has once again decided to make himself the culture warrior candidate, ranting about men in bikini bottoms like a drunk uncle at Thanksgiving.
Lindy Blanchard could have run on her own impressive business background but instead, she just tried to out-Trump everyone. Does anyone know anything else about her from her ads other than she is the Trumpiest Trumper that ever Trumped? Plus, she just didn’t get out and press the flesh or campaign enough for people to get to know her — at least not down here on the Gulf Coast.
Lew Burdette has a strong business background as the former COO of Books-A-Million and a compelling backstory about being kidnapped for ransom when he was 15 years old, shot, stabbed, thrown in a well and left for dead. Somehow, he managed to get out of it and crawl to the nearest house only to run into his kidnappers again. Luckily, they ran off, and he, obviously, was able to get help and live to tell this harrowing tale that sounds like it was ripped from a true-crime podcast. But, more importantly, unlike anyone else running for this position, he is out there talking about real issues, which should not be something that seems refreshing or special, but in this race, it’s rarer than hen’s teeth, as MeeMaw would probably say.
But, I just don’t know if he has been able to get his name and story out there enough to get past May 24. But it sure would sure make for an interesting June.
No matter the opposition, it is really important to see Gov. Kay Ivey in a run-off for a few reasons. First, it may force her into having to actually go out and campaign and speak to the media and voters — at least for a few weeks — to prove she is actually up for the job. Second, it will send a strong message to all future politicos that you can’t just rest on your incumbency and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to earn Alabamians’ votes. (Well, I mean, except make goofy TV ads.) Finally, if you believe the rumors floating around Goat Hill, a deal has been struck where she will step down before the end of her term and let Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth take over, so he can run as the incumbent in the next gubernatorial election. Who knows if that’s true, but it does make sense given their history and his behavior during this race. And if it is, and she is allowed to NOT campaign and become governor again and then essentially “anoint” the next one, well, then we really need to make her earn this term.
If we don’t, then, I guess, bless our own little hearts, Alabamians.
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