Inside the Statehouse
January 1, 2018 | View PDF
A few months back the Jefferson County Republican Party honored our Senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby. It was held at The Club in Birmingham. The view from atop Red Mountain from this elegant club is spectacular, especially at night from the ballroom. The glass enclosure allows you to see the grandeur of the Birmingham skyline. As you glimpse at the scene you can see many of the buildings that are the heart of the University of Alabama/Birmingham.
As the tribute to Shelby began, I looked out over the night sky and caught a glimpse of the $70 million Shelby Biomedical Research building. I thought how appropriate that they were honoring a living legend in Alabama political history. Senator Shelby has been an integral part of the growth and expansion of UAB. The UAB Medical Complex and Research Center is now Jefferson County’s premier economic engine and employer.
In fact, UAB and the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville are Alabama’s crown jewels now and for the future. It could be said that UAB and the Redstone Arsenal have flourished because of Richard Shelby and his prowess at bringing home the bacon to Alabama over the past 30 years.
In my book, “Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories,” which was published several years ago, I have a chapter devoted to and entitled “Alabama’s Three Greatest Senators.” Two of those Senators served as a tandem in Washington during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Lister Hill and John Sparkman were powerful and revered statesmen.
Hill, a Montgomerian, served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years from 1938 to 1968. He was a congressman from the second district for 12 years prior to going to the U.S. Senate during the FDR New Deal.
Prior to becoming a U.S. Senator, John Sparkman was a congressman for eight years from his native Tennessee Valley. When he retired in 1970, he had been in the Senate for 32 years – the record for an Alabama U.S. Senator.
Sparkman is the father of the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. In fact they ought to name Huntsville Sparkmanville. Lister Hill whose legacy was in health care was the Father of UAB.
Senator Shelby has sustained these two giant legacies. He has used his power and influence to fuel the continued growth of these two pivotal cogs in Alabama’s economic engine. They are both reliant on Federal dollars which Shelby has supplied.
Hill and Sparkman were both University of Alabama graduates. Law school and undergraduate. They both were Student Government Presidents. Shelby was also a product of the University of Alabama. He was a Tuscaloosa lawyer prior to going to Congress in 1978. He had served eight years in the State Senate prior to his departure for Washington. He served eight years in Congress prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986.
He was reelected to his sixth six-year term last year. This time next year, he will surpass John Sparkman’s 32 years in the Senate and will have the record for longevity in the U.S. Senate from Alabama. I would contend that Richard Shelby has eclipsed Hill and Sparkman in Alabama political history when it comes to power and influence in Washington.
Many times it is difficult to ascertain or recognize greatness when it is current. However, history will record that Richard Shelby would arguably be considered Alabama’s greatest U. S. Senator.
John Sparkman chaired banking and had a legacy with housing Americans. Lister Hill authored the Hill-Burton Act which built hospitals all over America.
Richard Shelby has been Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. He has been Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is currently Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.
Folks, what that means is that nothing becomes law in the United States or no budget or U.S. appropriation is approved without the consent of our Senior U.S. Senator.
Richard Shelby has reached a pinnacle of power never before seen in Alabama political history.
It really does not matter who is our Junior Senator. As long as we have Richard Shelby we do not need a second U.S. Senator.
Entering the 2018 Election Season
January 3, 2017
As we enter the 2018 campaign season, many of you have asked me to look back and analyze the 2017 Special Election Senate race and explain in depth what happened and why. The most asked question is how could a Democrat win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama and does this mean that we are now
possibly a two party state? I will give you numerous answers, however, the simple answer to why a Democrat won is that Roy Moore was the Republican nominee. Are we a state that can go either way in an open U.S. Senate seat? As we have just seen, it is possible but not probable.
The Democrat, Doug Jones, won in the perfect storm. We will probably never have this same scenario again. There are two maxims in politics that over my years of following politics never fail and become truer and truer. The more things change, the more they stay the same. One is money is the mother’s milk of politics. The second is that more people vote against someone or something than vote for someone or something.
To the first adage, money is the mother’s milk of politics, nine times out of ten when one candidate out spends the other the one who spends the most usually wins. When one outspends the other 3-to-1, they always win. In this race, the National Democratic Party saw an opening and they seized on it.
The people in blue America are mad as hell that Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton. Our senate race was the only race in town or should we say the country. Not only do Democrats despise Trump, but when they heard that Alabama had a Republican candidate that is a pro-God, pro-gun, gun toting, antiabortion, horse riding, religious zealot that said that he was not only against gay marriage but said that gays were legally committing bestiality, the nation saw Roy Moore as a little extreme in today’s America. In addition, a good many people around the country believe he is a pedophile.
The liberal and gay money flowed into here by the barrel. It came from New York and San Francisco and all liberal pockets in America. The bottom line is the Democrat, Doug Jones, outspent the Republican, Roy Moore, 6-to-1; 18 million to 3 million and that does not count the soft money spent by the National Democratic Party that was spent on getting out the vote.
The book was written on Moore from the get go. The first poll and the last poll revealed that 30 percent of Alabamians would vote for Roy Moore come hell or high water. However, he is so polarizing that a whopping 70 percent said that they would not vote for him under any circumstance.
The reason that he won the Republican nomination was that his 30 percent
became accentuated due to turnout. His voters are more ardent, fervent and frankly older. Moore’s 30 percent did indeed vote on December 12. The
problem for Moore was that the 70 percent that detest him voted more than was expected.
The biggest part of that 70 percent was African American voters who voted in epic, unparalleled proportions. It was statewide. It was not only in the urban counties of Jefferson, Montgomery, and Mobile and the Black Belt. This tidal wave occurred in all 67 counties. African American voters came together in a crescendo and sent Roy Moore to a watery grave. Doug Jones owes his election to the Black voters and he knows it.
A significant number of urbane, upscale, more educated business establishment Republicans voted against Moore, pragmatically. The image that Moore
portrayed to the nation was bad for business and economic development. The best example of this was the results in Madison County. Huntsville is Alabama’s crown jewel and economic engine. They generally vote Republican. Moore lost Madison County by 20,000 votes.
Senator Richard Shelby contributed to Moore’s defeat. His refusing to vote for Moore and his open acknowledgement that he cast a write-in vote for an
unknown Republican gave credence and impetus for other Republicans to follow suit. There were about 22,000 write-in votes. Moore lost by 21,000.
How does this play into 2018. It gives Walt Maddox and Sue Bell Cobb hope and credence that under the right and perfect circumstances a Democrat can win. However, it probably does not change the fact that a Republican gubernatorial or senatorial candidate will be favored to win 60/40. Luther Strange or Mo Brooks would have won the Senate race 60/40.
- U.S. SENATOR Oath of Office
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
image: U.S. Constitution
The Constitution sets three qualifications for service in the U.S. Senate: age (at least thirty years of age); U.S. citizenship (at least nine years); and residency in the state a senator represents at time of election. The details of these qualifications were hammered out by the Constitution's framers during the Constitutional Convention in 1787.