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Political Potpourri

I hope you all voted in the primaries yesterday. You have an advantage on me in that I have to go to press with my column before Wednesday, my publication date. Therefore, you know the results. However, I doubt there are any surprises.

We do not have any good state races this year. We have four open seats on our State Supreme Court. However, three of the four are held by popular incumbents, none of which received even token opposition from either Republicans or Democrats. Justices Will Sellers, Jay Mitchell, and Tommy Bryan won reelection to new six-year terms on the State’s high tribunal, yesterday. Winning the Republican nomination is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie. All nine of our Supreme Court posts are held by Republicans.

Another very popular jurist, Chris McCool of Pickens County lore, is moving up to one of the four open seats on the Supreme Court. Judge McCool is moving up from the Court of Criminal Appeals to the Seat being vacated by Sarah Stewart who is running for Chief Justice.

Speaking of popular State Judges, my friend Bill Thompson has retired from the Court of Civil Appeals effective February 1, 2024. William “Bill” Thompson served 27 years as a Judge on this Appellate Court including the last 17 years as the presiding judge. Bill Thompson is the longest serving judge in the Court of Civil Appeals, and the longest serving presiding judge in the history of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. He was first elected in 1996 and was reelected in 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2020. Hopefully, he will have an enjoyable retirement. Judge Thompson grew up in Autauga and Elmore counties. He and his wife, Melinda, live in Homewood where they raised their three children. Governor Kay Ivey made an excellent appointment to this plum vacant appellate court seat by selecting Elmore County Circuit Judge Bill Lewis. He is a fantastic appointee.

My friend Tom Parker will be retiring as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court at the end of the year. Alabama has an antiquated law that requires judges to retire after age 70. Tom and I went to Boys State together in 1969. He is from Montgomery, me from Troy. We became friends there and have remained so over the years. He and his wife Dottie are high minded and quality people.

Fortunately, the newspapers in the state do not have a mandatory age 70 retirement mandate so I will keep writing this column for a few more years.

One of my favorite political legends in state history is former Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley. Bill is now in his 80’s and remains one of Alabama’s premier defense attorneys. Back in December the presiding judges and Bar in Houston/Henry counties honored Bill with a portrait unveiling in the Dothan Courthouse. The portrait was hung in the courtroom that Bill grew up in watching court as a boy in Dothan. His daddy was Presiding Judge Keener Baxley. He and his daddy would walk home together to have lunch with his mama Mrs. Leema. Bill became District Attorney of the Houston/Henry Circuit at the ripe age of 24. He was elected Attorney General of Alabama four years later at 28. Bill moved to Birmingham to practice law after politics. His brother, Wade Baxley, remained one of the most prominent lawyers in Dothan until he succumbed to cancer. The portrait and ceremony meant a lot to ole Bill.

While we are on the subject of old friends and Alabama political legends, my peer and lifetime friend George Wallace, Jr. has penned a marvelous book about his daddy, Governor George Wallace, Sr. The book came out last year. It is entitled simply, George Wallace, from Segregation to Salvation. George tells the story of his growing up the son of one of the most well-known and controversial figures in American’s 20th Century. He talks about how his father truly changed and had the courage to ask for forgiveness and how he meant it. Obviously, Black Alabamians believed him, because Black Alabama voters elected George Wallace to his final term as Governor in 1982.

George Wallace, Jr. is truly a very genuine, good guy. He has the same quiet, humble, and unassuming manner as his mother, Governor Lurleen Wallace. He had a successful career in politics himself. George, Jr. served two terms as Treasurer of the State of Alabama, as well as two terms as Alabama Public Service Commissioner. George and his wife, Elizabeth, live in a suburban Shelby County, Highway 280 neighborhood and very much enjoy their peaceful life together.

See you next week.

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.steve@steveflowers.us.

 

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