The only sport that Alabamians enjoy more than Alabama politics is college football. We especially love the Alabama vs. Auburn football game. Folks, this is Alabama/Auburn week in Alabama. The Alabama vs. Auburn annual event is one of the fiercest of college football rivalries. It is the game of the year. It is a state civil war that divides friends and even families. It is bragging rights for the entire year. The loser has to live with his boasting next door neighbor for 364 days. It seems that one must choose a side no matter if you despise college football and could care less who wins. Newcomers to our state are bewildered on this fall day each year. They cannot comprehend the madness that surrounds this epic war. It is truly that, a war. It is the game of the year.
Young boys all over Alabama grow up playing football in their front yards and dream of playing in this big game. It is said that when these two rivals meet one can throw out the record books. However, that is not necessarily true. In fact, in 90 percent of the games the favorite has won. A lot of SEC championships and bowl games have been decided in the game. It has made many Alabamians’ Thanksgiving holiday either joyous or sad. I liked the rivalry better when it was played at Legion Field, but I am an old-timer in heart and age.
The game was not played for 40-years between 1908 and 1948. Myth has it that the game was halted because of the intense rivalry. That is not the case. The true history of the ceasing and renewal is that after the 1907 games, the schools could not agree on the terms of the contract. The dispute involved meal money, lodging, officials and how many players each side could bring. Football was not the passion it is today so the two schools let the matter rest and the fans did not seem to care.
That began to change as college football grew to a major sport in the 1940s. When the series resumed, a popular myth was that the Alabama Legislature called a special meeting and forced the teams to play. This never happened, but the Alabama House of Representatives did pass a resolution in 1947 to encourage, not force, the schools to meet in football, and the officials at Alabama and Auburn agreed. The Presidents of Auburn and Alabama simply talked with each other and decided it would be in the best interest of the schools to start playing again on an annual basis.
The contract was drawn up, the papers signed and the rivals literally buried the hatchet. On the morning of December 4, 1948, the president of each school’s student bodies dug a hole at Birmingham’s Woodrow Wilson Park, tossed a hatchet in and buried it. The series began again in 1948 with a 55-0 Alabama victory and the teams have squared off every season since.
Alabama leads the series 45-36-1. This record reveals that Alabama has not dominated the series, like it has against other SEC rivals and other national
In the political arena, the University of Alabama alumni have dominated the
Alabama political scene. During the 60-year period from 1910 through the 1970s, almost every Alabama Governor, U. S. Senator, and Congressman was a graduate of the University of Alabama, either undergraduate, Law school, or both.
Currently, our state’s most prominent and powerful political figure, Richard Shelby, is a graduate as an undergraduate and the Law School at the University.
A couple of Auburn men broke through the ice to grab the brass ring of Alabama politics, the Governor’s office, Gordon Persons won in 1950 and Fob James, a former Auburn halfback won in 1978 as a Democrat and came back and won a second term as a Republican in 1994. In recent years, since 1982, Governors George Wallace, Don Siegelman, Bob Riley and Robert Bentley have all been Alabama Alumni.
However, our current Governor, Kay Ivey, is an Auburn girl through and through. She and her best friend, Jimmy Rane, became political allies at Auburn. They both have turned out fairly well.
Newly elected State Representative, Wes Allen of Pike County, was a walk-on wideout on one of Alabama’s National Championship teams. He was coached by Gene Stallings and Dabo Swinney. Wes’s father is State Senator Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa. This is a first in Alabama political history, a father and a son tandem serving in the Alabama Legislature together.
November 21, 2018
Analysis of General Election
A few last thoughts and observations on our November 6 General Election in Alabama.
Our new 55th Governor looked and sounded more like the old Kay Ivey, than the one we have seen the past few years and during the campaign. She was vibrant, succinct to the point, had a perfectly timed and unscripted victory speech. Her green jacket was becoming. She will be a good governor. She will tackle the tough issues the state must face in the next four years, especially our infrastructure needs.
She is extremely qualified and ready to be governor. She is a real Republican with a real Republican super majority State Legislature. There are 27 Republicans and eight Democrats in the Senate. The numbers are 77 Republicans and 28 Democrats in the House.
Kay also has a unique and advantageous relationship with all of the Alabama Senate. She was the presiding officer of the Senate the last six years and was considered fair and impartial. She worked with and developed a very good working relationship with the GOP leadership. The three primary leaders of the Senate, Del Marsh, Jabo Waggoner and Greg Reed, have a close knit, trusting bond with Kay.
Kay not only becomes the 55th Governor, she is the first Republican female elected as governor and the second female governor in our state history. Ironically, Kay cut her teeth in politics working in our first female governor, Lurleen Wallace’s campaign for governor. Kay was a student at Auburn University. Little did she know that 52-years later she would be the second female governor of our State.
The more things change, the more they stay the same in Alabama politics. The Alabama that Kay Ivey and I grew up in and knew 50 years ago was totally
Democratic. In fact, the word tantamount was used continually to describe the dominance of the Democratic Party. It was an accurate statement. The dictionary describes tantamount as “the same as.” Today I use the word tantamount when explaining winning the Republican Primary in Alabama. We were a one-party state 50 years ago and we are a one-party state in statewide politics, today. The difference is we changed parties. We are now a Republican state, yesteryear we were a Democratic state.
Winning the Republican nomination for statewide office in Alabama is tantamount to election. The proof is in the pudding. We have 29 elected statewide offices in Alabama, all 29 are held by Republicans. I’m not prophetic, but allow me to share a short passage with you from my column the week before the election. “In bygone days the Democratic Primary nomination was tantamount to election. Today, it is just the other way around. Nowadays, winning the Republican Primary is tantamount to election in the good ol’ Heart of Dixie. The more things change the more they stay the same in Alabama politics. Boy, when we change, we really change. We were a one-party state then and we are a one-party state now. When Kay Ivey won the GOP mantle back in June, she essentially won the Governor’s race.” That was my statement Wednesday before the election. My belief was overwhelmingly confirmed on Tuesday, November 6th. We are a Republican state and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. That was my foremost takeaway from the election.
My second observation is akin to my first, we are so Republican that folks are just voting a straight ticket. We have joined the rest of the Nation in that we simply vote straight Republican or straight Democratic. Our voting has become nationalized. Over 65 percent of Alabamians voted a straight lever ticket. It is primarily along racial lines. Alabamians are essentially African American Democrats or Caucasian Republicans. Therefore, Alabama is a red Republican state for statewide politics. However, just the opposite is true for the metropolitan counties of Jefferson and Montgomery. If you are going to win a countywide office in these locales, you must run as a Democrat.
The third takeaway was the tremendous turnout at the polls. A record-breaking 50 percent of Alabamians voted on November 6th. Again, this was driven by national politics. Folks are either hardcore, conservative Republicans or hardcore liberal Democrats. There are few in between. Alabamians voted the national party brand. It is apparent that more Alabamians like and agree with Donald Trump than they do with Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama.
November 28, 2018