Se­nate race pushes back timetable for gu­ber­na­to­rial as­pi­rants

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

Those of us who fol­low Alabama pol­i­tics had cir­cled June 6, 2017, as the be­gin­ning of the 2018 gov­er­nor’s race. How­ever, we did not fore­see Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion as Pres­i­dent in Novem­ber and the sub­se­quent ap­point­ment of our U.S. Se­na­tor, Jeff Ses­sions, as his At­tor­ney Gen­eral, thus, open­ing a U. S. Se­nate seat and caus­ing the need for an unan­tic­i­pated spe­cial elec­tion for the open se­nate seat this year. There­fore, the race for Ses­sions’ Se­nate seat will dom­i­nate the po­lit­i­cal news for at least the next three months.

This Se­nate seat race has pushed back the timetable for gu­ber­na­to­rial as­pi­rants by about three months. The thor­ough­breds who might en­ter the Derby for the Brass Ring of Alabama pol­i­tics prob­a­bly have the lux­ury of wait­ing un­til La­bor Day or maybe af­ter the Septem­ber 26 GOP runoff for U.S. Se­na­tor.

How­ever they do need to de­clare by Oct. 1, be­cause qual­i­fy­ing will be­gin in late Novem­ber for next year’s June 5 Pri­mary.

Also we did not an­tic­i­pate the res­ig­na­tion of Gov. Robert Bent­ley on April 10 and the ul­ti­mate el­e­va­tion of Lt. Gov­er­nor, Kay Ivey, to Gov­er­nor.

Kay Ivey has been gov­er­nor for less than three months; how­ever, she has taken to the post like a “duck to wa­ter.” She has been de­lib­er­a­tive and de­ci­sive and looks very gu­ber­na­to­rial.

She is slowly putting her peo­ple into Cab­i­net posts. En­ter­prise Mayor, Ken Boswell, is a good choice for ADECA Di­rec­tor. This is a prime post as it doles out all the Fed­eral grants that come to the state for in­fra­struc­ture projects.

She has named Christo­pher Blanken­ship act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources. She has re­moved Serve Alabama Di­rec­tor Jon Ma­son, and Alabama Law En­force­ment Agency sec­re­tary, Stan Stabler.

Her two clos­est ad­vi­sors through­out her ca­reer have been Steve Pel­ham and Will Sell­ers. She has brought Pel­ham with her as her Chief of Staff. She has ap­pointed Will Sell­ers to a va­cant seat on the State Supreme Court. Pel­ham will be the most im­por­tant per­son in state govern­ment for at least 18 months.

Th­ese un­fore­seen events have changed the po­lit­i­cal land­scape dra­mat­i­cally when it comes to the 2018 gov­er­nor’s race.

This time last year, Roy Moore and Luther Strange were two of the lead horses for gov­er­nor. They are now the two fron­trun­ners for the open Se­nate seat. Win or lose they are re­moved from the gov­er­nor’s race.

Kay Ivey’s el­e­va­tion to gov­er­nor has made her the fa­vorite at this time. How­ever, as this past year’s events re­veal, a lot can change in a year’s time.

As we as­sess the field with less than a year to the fin­ish line, Kay Ivey is the linch­pin of the race. She is the incumbent. She has good name iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and her age, 72, is an ad­van­tage rather than a dis­ad­van­tage. She looks like your grand­mother. That sells bet­ter than young and glam­orous, es­pe­cially among fe­male vot­ers. They can iden­tify and feel com­fort­able with Kay. Cur­rently, Kay is in the prover­bial cat­bird’s seat.

The mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion is does Kay re­ally want to run for a full four year term. If she were to ask me as a friend, I would tell her no. If I were her, I would not want to go through the rig­ors of a year­long cam­paign. She can go to the house and proudly say that she was Gov­er­nor of Alabama. A 20-month tenure as gov­er­nor is not an in­signif­i­cant amount of time.

There are four sig­nif­i­cant thor­ough­breds in the race, re­gard­less of Ivey’s in­ten­tions.

PSC Pres­i­dent, Twin­kle Cavanaugh, 50, is pop­u­lar and well po­si­tioned. She has won three statewide races.

Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner, John McMil­lan, 75, has been at his im­por­tant post for eight years. He has done an ex­em­plary job. How­ever, he can­not run again. He is well liked.

Huntsville Mayor, Tommy Bat­tle, 61, will be a player in the gov­er­nor’s race. He is the pop­u­lar Mayor of Alabama’s eco­nomic crown jewel.

Jef­fer­son County Com­mis­sioner, David Car­ring­ton, 69, could be a fac­tor. He has some name recog­ni­tion from be­ing seen of­ten in the all- im­por­tant Birm­ing­ham me­dia mar­ket. If he gets strong sup­port from the Birm­ing­ham sub­urbs, he could be a dark horse.

Birm­ing­ham based evan­ge­list, Scott Daw­son, 49, might catch fire.

Tuscaloosa’s pop­u­lar young mayor, Walt Mad­dox, may make the gu­ber­na­to­rial plunge as a Demo­crat. We will see. Steve Flow­ers is Alabama’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal colum­nist. His weekly col­umn ap­pears in over 60 Alabama news­pa­pers. He served 16 years in the state leg­is­la­ture. Steve may be reached at www.steve­flow­ers.us.

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