Inside the Statehouse
October 1, 2017
October 4, 2017
Judge Roy Moore and his wife, Kayla, made their traditional horseback ride to their voting place in Gallant in Etowah County, last Tuesday and when all the votes were counted that night, they won a resounding victory. Moore’s capture of the GOP Senate nomination was impressive. A 55-45 margin is not a total trouncing, but is considered a landslide.
Despite being outspent by the Washington establishment 15-to- 1, Moore prevailed. His solid bloc of conservative evangelical voters stood strong against an avalanche of negative ads.
When the Washington Beltway Big Money interests pony up, they bring with them the best and meanest pollsters and media consultants in the country. They congruently polled and told Luther Strange to tie himself inextricably to Donald Trump. Luther stuck to the script perfectly. Trump even came to Alabama to endorse Big Luther. It was to no avail.
When you are able to have $15 million spent for you and the president and vice president fly in to endorse you, you can look in the mirror the next day and honestly say; “I did all that I could do to derail the 10 Commandments Judge. Four months from now Mitch McConnell and crowd will be saying, “Here comes the Judge.”
The GOP Senate runoff was finalized last Tuesday, but it was probably decided last year and the dye was more than likely cast in February and April when the race officially began.
When disgraced and disregarded governor, Robert Bentley, gave Attorney General Luther Strange the Senate seat appointment in February it was the kiss of death. Folks in Alabama have never liked someone getting appointed to an office. When George
Wallace was in his heyday of popularity, he would appoint someone to a political office, and they would invariably lose every time. Alabamians tend to resent this means of arrival into a political post. They especially look with a disparaging eye when they get
selected by a governor who they are investigating for corruption while you are the state’s chief prosecutor. It appears clandestine and casts a cloud of conspiracy over the deal. Perception is reality in politics.
Big Luther was likely laid to rest in April when newly minted governor, Kay Ivey, changed Bentley’s decision to delay the Special Election to fill the remaining time of Jeff Sessions term from next year’s 2018 election to a Special Election this year.
Luther took the appointment with the assumption that he would have the luxury of nestling into the seat for almost two years and running as a veteran incumbent with two years under his belt and every race on the ballot the same day; two years for people to forget the appointment, plus 15 million dollars of Washington money is a lot safer bet than seeking election in a Special Election less than six months after the Bentley appointment against religious folk hero Roy Moore.
Judge Moore was poised to win whatever he sought in his next pursuit of office. When the state judicial inquiry commission removed him from the Bench for espousing his judicial opinion against gay marriage, it made him a martyr among conservative Alabamians. In the Heart of Dixie that was a very good hand to be dealt.
It made folks mad when the federal courts took him out of office for displaying the Ten Commandments. However, the wrath that his removal from the bench last year evoked was enormous. Especially, after he had been elected by the same voters because they liked his socially conservative stances.
Private early polling of the 2018 Governor’s race revealed that Moore was the frontrunner in that race. That is probably why Kay Ivey called for a Special Election as one of her first acts as Governor. She knew that Moore would be lured into the Senate seat, which better suits him.
There is a lot of talk and speculation that the Democratic nominee, Doug Jones, can make a race of it when the General Election is held on December 12. Jones is a good candidate. However, he is a true national liberal Democrat who proudly espouses the liberal agenda of the Democrats.
It is still very doubtful that a Democrat can win a statewide race in Alabama, especially for the U.S. Senate. However, it will be fun to watch.
September 27, 2017:
As one of America’s most conservative states, we have a history of electing very conservative senators. Jeff Sessions proved to be one of the most archconservative members of the U.S. Senate during his 20-year tenure.
Another archconservative that served 10 years in the Senate from 1968 to 1978 was the great Jim Allen. Jim Allen had an illustrious career in Alabama politics. He was born and raised in Gadsden. He served in the Alabama House and the Alabama Senate from his native Etowah County. He was elected to his first term as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama in 1950, and to a second term in 1962. He was Lieutenant Governor during George Wallace’s first term as Governor. He was also a very successful lawyer in Gadsden.
Jim Allen is known most prominently for being the most astute parliamentarian in Alabama political history. He developed this trademark early in his career and honed it during his terms as Lieutenant Governor. Most state senate observers, say that Allen had no peer when it came to knowing its parliamentary rules.
Allen went to the U.S. Senate in 1968. Many political experts expected Allen, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, to run for governor in 1966 when George Wallace could not succeed himself and failed to get the legislature to change the succession law. But Allen was a savvy politician who never lost a political race. He knew that Lurleen Wallace, as proxy for George, could not be beaten in 1966. He opted to lay low and take on the aging Lister Hill’s seat in 1968.
As expected, Hill announced early that he would not run for reelection in 1968. However, he did an unexpected thing and endorsed Congressman Armistead Selden to become his replacement. Selden was an eight-term congressman from the Black Belt and Hill had grown fond of him.
Another obstacle arose for Jim Allen. Wallace also backed Selden although not openly. Wallace and Allen had become friends and allies, but Wallace blamed Jim Allen for not gaveling through his succession bill in 1965.
So Allen began the race with both Lister Hill and George Wallace on the other side. However, Allen had gotten to know a lot of the Wallace organization and wound up with at least half of the Wallace crowd.
As the campaign began, there were riots in Washington. It was a time of civil unrest over the Vietnam War and the civil rights marches and landmark civil rights laws were fresh on people’s minds. Alabamians were sick of Washington.
Allen came up with the best campaign slogan of the last 60 years. He ran against “The Washington Crowd.” He had a very graphic photo of the riots and used the photo in his message of running against the Washington Crowd. Of course, the subtle subliminal message was that Allen was against the liberal Washington establishment that had forced integration and civil rights on the South.
Jim Allen became the conservative, anti-civil rights, pro-South candidate with that slogan. He tied Armistead Selden to the Washington crowd and won.
When Allen arrived in the U.S. Senate, the Dean of its Southern delegation was the venerable Richard Russell of Georgia, a master of the rules and the filibuster. He led the powerful bloc of Southern U.S. Senators. Because of their seniority, they ruled the Senate. It had taken a massive movement to steam-roll the Civil Rights legislation over this bloc.
Richard Russell, knowing of Jim Allen’s reputation as a parliamentarian, brought him under his wing and made him his protégée. He told Allen from day one that the only way that he would be a power in Washington was to master the rules of the U.S. Senate. Allen took Russell’s advice. He learned the rules so well that he was considered the most able parliamentarian in the Senate during his first term.
Allen became the stalwart leader of the conservatives during his years in Washington. His positions were very reflective of his Alabama constituency. He almost single-handedly led the charge to thwart what he considered the giving away of the Panama Canal by President Jimmy Carter.
He had been fighting this battle for several months. He also had to fight diabetes. He came home to Alabama very tired one weekend during this fight and succumbed to a massive heart attack at his Gulf Shores condominium at age 65.
Jim Allen was a great Alabamian. Hopefully, the person we elected yesterday will be another Jim Allen
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 http://www.steveflowers.us.