Inside the Statehouse
August 1, 2020 | View PDF
How Has Coronavirus Affected Alabama Politics?
As we end the first half of 2020, there is no doubt that the Coronavirus is the story of the year. The Coronavirus saga of 2020 and its devastation of the nation’s and state’s economic well-being may be the story of the decade.
How has the Coronavirus affected Alabama politics? The answer is negligibly, if at all. The Republican Primary runoff to hold the Junior U.S. Senate seat was postponed by the virus epidemic. It is set for July 14, which is right around the corner. The race between Tommy Tuberville and Jeff Sessions should be close and interesting.
The virus delay did affect this race in one regard; if the vote had been held on March 31, as planned, Coach Tuberville had the advantage and the momentum. The almost four-month delay might have stymied that train. To what degree we will not know until the votes are counted in three weeks. Tuberville’s campaign has been totally based on his being loyal to Donald Trump.
Both Sessions and Tuberville were given a golden opportunity to use the four-month hiatus to do some good old-fashioned one-on-one campaigning, if only by phone. If one of them did, it could make the difference. We will soon see. People still like to be asked personally for their vote.
The next elections will not be until 2022. It will be a big year. It is a gubernatorial year, and there might very well be an open U.S. Senate Seat.
Senator Richard Shelby will be 88. It would be a blessing beyond measure if he ran again. However, at that age he might choose to retire. Governor Kay Ivey will be 78 in 2022. She will more than likely not run for a second term.
One development that has occurred during the virus saga is that Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth has made it clear that he will be running for governor in 2022.
If it were not apparent before, it is obvious now. He inserted himself into the Coronavirus episode. In many instances he appeared to usurp the center stage from Governor Ivey.
The young Lt. Governor first urged aggressive public health response, differing from Governor Ivey’s. She made a comment about his out of nowhere position. She then forgave him and gave him a position on one of her many meaningless task force bodies.
Ainsworth then changed courses and tweeted that the state’s businesses should reopen prior to the Governor’s recommended date. She seemed neither undeterred nor miffed by his second assertion of his policy position. Having been around Alabama politics a lot longer than Ainsworth, she may be savvy enough to know that she is giving him just enough rope to hang himself.
Kay cut her political teeth campaigning for Lurleen Wallace for Governor in 1966. That was 15 years before Ainsworth was born in 1981. I doubt he knows of a similar scenario that played out 50 years ago where a Lt. Governor got too big for his britches and overtly tried to play Governor.
George Wallace had won his second term as Governor in 1970. If you count Lurleen’s 1966 victory, it would be his third straight gubernatorial victory. He was running for President in 1972 and was gunned down by a crazed assassin in a Maryland parking lot. He was near death from the multiple wounds and had to be hospitalized in Maryland for three to four months. It was a miracle he survived.
Another young Lt. Governor Jere Beasley had been elected to the post in 1970, primarily because the Wallace people had supported him. Beasley seemed to insert himself overtly as governor during Wallace’s bedridden absence. The Governor’s people actually had to fly him back home from his recovery for a day so that he could remain governor.
Folks never seemed to forgive Beasley for this ambitious assertion of power. In his next race for reelection as lieutenant governor, Beasley trailed Charles Woods in the first primary and barely won the runoff. Four years later, in the monumental 1978 Governor’s race – which Fob James ultimately won –
Lt. Governor Jere Beasley finished in fifth place, even though he spent the most money.
Speaking of money, losing the 1978 Governor’s race was the best thing that ever happened to Jere Beasley. He began practicing law in Montgomery and became one of the most prominent plaintiff lawyers in America. He and his wife, Sarah, have had a much happier and more prosperous life out of politics.
It will be Trump vs Biden in November.
Conventions will be anticlimactic.
The presidential race is onward. It will be incumbent Republican Donald Trump vs. former Vice President and 36-year veteran Democrat, Delaware U.S. Senator Joe Biden in the November 3rd General Election.
Both men have clinched their parties’ nomination. Therefore, the Democratic convention, July 31-August 2, and the Republican convention set for August 25-28 will be anticlimactic. It is doubtful that either convention will break any television rating records.
However, there will be one record shattered in this year’s presidential contest. Trump and Biden will be the two oldest presidential contenders in history. Biden is 78 and Trump is 74. Actually, Trump was the oldest person to ever be sworn in as president four-years ago. So, if Biden wins, he will really break the record at 78.6 years. By the way, the youngest president was John F. Kennedy, who was 43 when he was sworn in as president in January of 1961.
This has already been one of the most unusual presidential election years in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, especially the American economy. The economy is the pivotal issue that decides presidential elections. Prior to the pandemic, the economy was Trump’s trump card. The economic collapse caused by the pandemic was not Trump’s fault, but it happened on his watch. There is an old political maxim that says, “If you claim credit for the rain, then you gotta take blame for the drought.”
Trump was not in the lead prior to the pandemic disaster. He is certainly behind the eight ball today. The country is divided like never before in our history. You either live in a red Republican state like Alabama or a blue Democratic state like California. Under the electoral college system of selecting our president, the election is won or lost in the swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Current polling has Biden ahead in all of these pivotal states. He has double-digit leads in Michigan and his birth home of Pennsylvania. It looks like Joe Biden is favored to be the next president at almost 80 years old. Therefore, it is extremely important who he chooses as his running mate to be vice president.
Biden has unequivocally stated that his vice-president will be a female. His choice probably will boil down to California Senator Kamala Harris. Originally, it was between Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar and Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator Klobuchar would have been an excellent choice. She was well qualified and thoroughly vetted. She is Minnesota’s senior senator having represented her native state since 2006. She is very popular in her home state and would probably have brought the swing state of Minnesota into the Democratic column.
However, she withdrew her name for consideration after it became apparent that the Democratic Party base demanded Biden choose a female candidate of color.
Senator Kamala Harris, 55, has had a stellar career. She is very well-qualified to be president. She ran an excellent campaign for the Democratic nomination earlier this year and is a U.S. Senator from the largest state in the Union.
She was Attorney General of California prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate from the Golden State. She classifies herself as African American. Her mother was an Indian/American/Canadian cancer researcher. Her father was a Jamaican born businessman.
By selecting Senator Kamala Harris, Biden chooses a person of non-white ethnicity. African American women are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and the most reliable Democratic voters. Senator Harris would energize the base. Turnout is the key to any election.
Odds are that if Joe Biden is elected president in November, he will probably be a one-term president. At almost 80, it is doubtful that he would run again in 2024. Therefore, his choice for his running mate and vice president would be favored to be elected president in four years and could become president before then.
There is a tried and true maxim in politics; more people vote against someone than for someone. The Democrats’ plan of attack is for Biden to do nothing, say nothing and let Trump beat himself.
It will be an interesting and important choice for Biden as he or his advisors select his vice-presidential running mate. Again, turnout is the key.