February 28, 2024 - Primary Next Week

This coming Tuesday, March 5, is Primary Election Day in Alabama. Your vote next week is probably as important this Tuesday as it will be in the November general election because winning the Republican nomination for a statewide position in Alabama is tantamount to election.

We have an early primary election this year because we are part of the Super Tuesday GOP Presidential Primary caravan. 

We do not have any close or interesting Alabama statewide races this year.  The four Supreme Court seats up for election are held by popular incumbents, who are unopposed.  The only contested Supreme Court race is for Chief Justice.  Current Supreme Court Associate Justice Sarah Stewart is favored to win this race.  She is imminently more qualified than her opposition. Justice Stewart has been on the Supreme Court a decade, and prior to that was a Circuit Court judge in Mobile for 16 years.

There is an open seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals where two assistant Attorney Generals, Thomas Govan and Rich Anderson, are running.  Govan received most of the business and conservative groups’ endorsements and has worked the state diligently. 

Republican Civil Court of Appeals Judge Chad Hanson is up for reelection next week. He is doing a good job.

Popular conservative PSC President, Twinkle Cavanaugh, is up for reelection this year.  She will win overwhelmingly as she should.  She is the glue that keeps the PSC running smoothly.

One of the best races on the ballot next week will be for the newly drawn 2nd congressional district.  This new seat was drawn by the federal courts to create a second majority minority district.  When the federal courts drew the new lines, they strived to make sure that the new district would favor a Democrat.  The proof in the pudding was an index attached to the plan presented by the Special Master selected by the Court, which revealed that in 16 of the last 17 General Elections a Democrat would have won this seat had it been on the ballot.

The new 2nd district includes all of Montgomery and extends through the Black Belt and gathers most of the Black voters in Mobile. There are 12 Democratic candidates vying for this seat.  Therefore, there will more than likely be a runoff for the Democratic nomination on April 16. There is no telling who will be in the runoff. Few, if any of the candidates, live in the district.

There are seven Republicans vying for the GOP nomination in the new 2nd district.  There will more than likely be a runoff in this race, also.  The three favorites to get one of the two runoff posts are former Montgomery State Senator Dick Brewbaker, current Escambia County State Senator Greg Albritton and Montgomery Attorney and Monroe County native Caroleene Dobson.

By virtue of redrawing the 2nd district, the federal courts have made the revised 1st district one of the most conservative and Republican in the nation.  They combined the Wiregrass with the upscale, growing, suburban enclaves of Baldwin and Mobile Counties. Two incumbent Republican Congressmen, Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), were placed into the same district and are pitted against each other. 

Jerry Carl should be favored because two thirds of the voters in the new 1st district are in his current Baldwin County district. Baldwin County is one of, if not the most populous counties in the state. It has 246,000 people and comprises 1/3 of the population of the new 1st district.  Half the votes cast in next Tuesday’s Republican Primary will be cast by Baldwin County residents. Thus, Baldwin County is the battleground for this congressional election. 

Almost every voter in Baldwin County is a Republican and very conservative. Barry Moore, who hails from the Wiregrass, faced an uphill battle when attempting to convince Baldwin County voters that he was more conservative than their own Jerry Carl. However, despite Carl’s perceived advantage over Moore, current polling reveals this is a close race. The winner of the Carl vs. Moore race next Tuesday wins it all because there are no Democratic candidates in this super Republican district.

Should Moore prevail, he owes his soul to the rightwing, anti-Trump, “Daddy Warbucks,” Club for Growth PAC. It is expected that this PAC is playing big for Moore like they did four years ago when they elected him to the old 2nd district. 

Our two most popular and powerful Republican Congressmen, Robert Aderholt and Gary Palmer, are up for reelection this Tuesday. They both have token opposition. To lose either of these congressmen would be devastating for Alabama.

If you want your vote to count in this 2024 Presential Election year, then you need to go to the polls next Tuesday, March 5.

See you next week.

February 21, 2024 - It Appears the Qualification to Run in the Democratic Primary for the New 2nd Congressional District is You Should Not Live in the District.

“Friends and Neighbors” politics and “all politics is local” has gone by the wayside.  Instead, we are a state and nation divided along partisan and racial lines.  In Alabama almost all White voters are Republican and almost all Black voters are Democrats.  Most folks vote lockstep along party lines.

The federal courts have picked up on this and decided to plow new ground and create a second minority district for us here in Alabama by taking redistricting out of the constitutionally designated power of drawing lines away from the legislature and using the Voting Rights Act as precedent to draw their own lines.  When they drew the new lines for a second Black/Democratic district, they strived to make sure that the new district would favor a Democrat. The new district includes all of Montgomery and the counties surrounding Montgomery and extends through the Black Belt and gathers most of the Black voters in Mobile. It has attracted a host of aspiring, ambitious, Black politicians from every corner of the state.  

Federal law does not require a candidate to be a resident of the Congressional District to be elected to it. Believe you me, these Democratic aspirants have taken full advantage of that loophole.  It appears that the best qualification to run in this new 2nd District Democratic Primary is you should not live in the district.

This race is chaotic and it is impossible to tell who is leading or who will win.  It is a real comedy show.

You might assume that a sitting legislator might be the favorite, even though all of those legislators running live outside the district. For example, the three highest profile Democrats are Representative Anthony Daniels, Senator Merika Coleman, and Representative Juandalyn Givan and they live in Huntsville, Bessemer, and Birmingham, respectively, and represent those locales in the legislature.  Thus, they cannot even make a pretense of moving into the Congressional District they are running for.  They cannot even vote for themselves.

Two other legislators, Jeremy Gray of Opelika and Napoleon Bracy of Saraland live close to the lines but are not quite in the Congressional District.  However, Jeremy Gray has made a concerted effort to move his residence a few miles over to Phenix City, which is in his legislative district.  I was told this by a young lady working for his campaign who had a Tampa, Florida telephone number.  By the way, I do not know how people ascertain your private cell phone number,  but she got it and called me at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning to explain Jeremy’s move.  I told her she should not tell people that because it would appear odd he actually lived in the district.

I had mistakenly said that Napoleon Bracy lives in Prichard, which is in his legislative district and actually in the new Congressional District.  I received a barrage of emails explaining that Napoleon lives in Saraland, which is not in the district.  Thus, Napoleon is complying with the requirement that to run successfully you should not live in the District.

The most pronounced candidate to correct me on his residence is Mobile candidate Shomari Figures.  Young Mr. Figures’s claim to fame, and qualifications are that he is the son of veteran state Senator Vivian Figures and the late Senator Michael Figures.  Up until a few months ago, he worked in Washington which I mentioned in my previous column, and which I thought was good publicity for him. He called me at 7:00 a.m. one morning on my private cell phone number and was adamant that he had moved home to Mobile and had gotten a Mobile residence.  He continued to barrage me with emails demanding to say that he now officially lived in Mobile.  My advice to him was that if he wants to be considered a credible candidate that is not the best route to becoming a viable candidate in this District. To the contrary, it appears it is better to not live in the District.  

I will give the same advice to the other six Democratic primary candidates, if you happen to live in the district, do not admit it.  You will be automatically dispelled as an odd ball and loser because you may very well be the only one running who lives in the district.

This one is fun to watch, a real novelty.

See you next week.

February 14, 2024 - State Senate Leaders

Last week we discussed the Alabama House of Representatives and highlighted the leaders in the House.

This week we will talk about the prominent members of the very powerful Alabama State Senate.

To begin with, the State Senate is made up of 35 members.  The body is overwhelmingly Republican.  There are 27 Republicans and a mere eight Democrats.  This qualifies for what is called a super majority Republican State Senate.  

Our Alabama Constitution is very antiquated and rests all power, even local power, in the legislature.  That means that an inordinate amount of legislative time is spent on local legislation.  Passing local legislation is not a major problem for legislators from rural and smaller counties.  However, that is not the case for Alabama’s most populous county, imperial Jefferson.  

The state’s largest county is very diverse and therefore this legislative delegation is diverse and divisive.  It has been my observation over the last 60 years that Jefferson County has had internal fights over their local issues, and it spills over onto the floors of the House and Senate.  During my 16 years in the legislature, it was not unusual for an entire legislative day to be consumed while we watched Jefferson County legislators embroiled in an intense debate over whether alcohol could be served on Sunday in their county, while very important state issues languished.

For the first time in my memory, two legendary Jefferson County State Senators, Jabo Waggoner, and Rodger Smitherman, have forged a bipartisan working relationship that has made for a harmonious working partnership for the good of Jefferson County and the state.

State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia) is the Dean of the Senate.  He is one of the most respected and accomplished state Senators in Alabama history.  Indeed, he has the longest tenure of legislative service in the history of the state, 50 years. Jabo Waggoner also chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which sets the agenda for the Senate. 

Jabo is in an elite leadership group of the Senate, which includes President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Education Budget Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), and General Fund Budget Chairman Greg Albritton (R-Escambia). The new majority leader of the Alabama Senate is Senator Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro). He is well respected and meshes well with Pro Tem Greg Reed.

State Senator April Weaver (R-Bibb/Shelby is doing an excellent job as Chair of the Health Committee. Senator Tom Butler (R-Huntsville) is a veteran legislator and is looked to on health issues, along with Senator Weaver.  

Senator Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) is doing excellent work as Chairman of Judiciary.  Senator Dan Roberts (R-Jefferson) has become the go to leader on business issues and is a workhorse senator. Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) is a medical doctor, who is very well liked and respected.  He is effective and a good team player.  

Senator Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) is doing an excellent job. He is young and has a bright future.  Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) is a quiet, effective leader who does not seek glamor, but gets things done.  He is head of the Legislative Council for the entire legislature.  Senator Andrew Jones (R-Cherokee/Etowah) and Senator Randy Price (R-Lee County) are workhorses for their districts.  

Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Autauga) is a stellar leader in the Senate.  He is a favorite of Governor Kay Ivey.  Chambliss has been the Sponsor of most of the major legislation including Prisons and Roads over the past few years.  Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) continues to be a strong conservative voice for Tuscaloosa. Senator Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva/Houston) is an outstanding senator.  He, like, Givhan is quietly effective.  He gets things done for the Wiregrass.

Freshman Republicans Josh Carnley (R-Coffee), Jay Hovey (R-Auburn), and Keith Kelly (R-Anniston) are fast studies and well-liked team players.

Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) is a very likeable and effective minority leader.  He is aided by the aforementioned Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) as well as respected and revered senate leaders, Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) and Senator Billy Beasley (D-Barbour).  

Newcomers to the Senate Merika Coleman (D-Bessemer) and Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) have become immediately effective having served previously in the House.  The State Senate is full of leaders.

See you next week.

February 7, 2024 - Legislative Session Begins this week – Players to Watch in the House.

The 2024 Legislative Session has begun this week. It can last three and a half months from February 6 to May 20.

The Alabama Legislature is a very conservative body. It has super Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House. The Senate is made up of 27 Republicans and a mere 8 Democrats. The House has 77 Republicans and 28 Democrats. Therefore, the budget that is produced is very conservative and prudent. 

Alabama is one of only a handful of states that has two budgets. We have both an Education Budget and a General Fund Budget. Passing these two budgets is the only constitutional mandate required of the legislature in their annual Session. The budget Chairmen in each body are very powerful. They basically craft the budgets.

The budget chairmen in the House are Rex Reynolds, R-Huntsville, who heads the General Fund and Danny Garrett, R-Trussville/Jefferson who writes the Education Budget. In the Senate, Senator Greg Albritton (R-Escambia), chairs the General Fund and Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), who crafts the Education Budget. These gentlemen are prudent and competent in their budgeting.

Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter has built an excellent leadership team that works well and delivers results. General Fund Chairman Rex Reynolds was the Police Chief of Huntsville, then City Administrator of the State’s largest city. He has taken to his job like a duck to water.  Education Budget Chairman Danny Garrett is a successful businessman, who looks after the Education revenue as though it is his own money. Speaker Pro Tem Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is a very active Pro Tem.  He has emerged as an outspoken leader. Rules Chairman Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn) has become a real leader in the House. He is universally liked with a winning personality. 

Three major committee chairmen in the House are doing a very good job.  Representative Jim Hill (R-Moody/St. Clair) chairs the Judiciary Committee. As a former judge, he is perfect for the post.

Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) chairs the Health Committee. This is the appropriate committee for a Dothan Representative since healthcare has become the most important industry for the hub of Wiregrass. Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) chairs the House Education Committee. Ms. Collins is a former banker and has become the go to lady on Education matters.

Veteran Representative Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) continues to be held in high esteem in the House. He mentors new legislators. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest/Madison) is a close ally of the Speaker and is emerging as a leader, as is Representative Matt Simpson (R-Mobile) Simpson is a former prosecutor and took the lead in passage of tough anti-fentanyl legislation. Reed Ingram (R-Pike Road) is a powerful force in a quiet way. He usually wins at whatever he is after.

The following House members have become leaders, also. Randy Wood (R-Anniston), Randall Shedd (R-Arab), Ginny Shaver (R-Cherokee), Tracy Estes (R-Winfield/Morgan), Rhett Marques (R-Enterprise), David Standridge (R-Hayden), David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook), Jim Carns (R-Birmingham), Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby), Corley Ellis (R-Columbiana), Debbie Wood (R-Valley), Alan Baker (R-Escambia), Chris Sells (R-Butler), and Chris Brown (R-Mobile) are veteran conservative leaders. Chris Blackshear (R-Russell), Jeff Sorrells (R-Hartford), Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile), David Shaw (R-Vestavia), Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa), and Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville) are very popular and successful legislators. New young Republican stalwarts to watch are Scott Stadthagen (R-Decatur), Corey Harbison (R-Goodhope), James Lomax (R-Huntsville), Troy Stubbs (R-Wetumpka/Elmore), and Ben Robbins (R-Sylacauga).

Several freshmen, who came to the House with some experience and have been immediately effective, include Marcus Paramore (R-Troy), Susan Dubose (R- Hoover), Leigh Hulsey (R- Helena) and Bill Lamb (R-Tuscaloosa).

By far, the most effective Democrat in the House is Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville). There are quite a few veteran Democratic leaders in the House.  Most of them are ladies and they have been in the House of Representatives a long time. Leaders like Laura Hall (D-Huntsville), Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston), Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) and Berry Forte (D-Barbour) would be hard to replace.

Other Democratic leaders are Prince Chestnut (D-Selma), Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville), Kelvin Lawrence (D-Hayneville), Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), A.J. McCampbell (D-Marengo), Mayor Sam Jones (D-Mobile), and Napoleon Bracy (D-Mobile).

There are three freshmen Democrats from Montgomery that bare watching Penni McClammy, Kenyatte Hassell, and Phillip Ensler.

It all begins this week.

January 31, 2024 - 2024 Legislative Session Begins Next Week

The 2024 Legislative Session begins next week.  It will be difficult to replicate the success of last year’s regular session.  The 2023 year was a premier year for any first year of a quadrennium. Indeed, it may be one of the most momentous in state history.  It was historic because of the vast amount of money available to be appropriated.  When asked what grade I would give the legislative session at its conclusion, I gave it the highest I have ever given: B+.  It would have gotten an A, but legislators were given such a leg up by having so much money to spend that it was like they were being able to take their finals as an open book exam. Last year’s Education Budget was an historic $11.5 billion.  The $3 billion General Fund Budget was also recordshattering.

The legislature granted $150 to $300 one-time tax rebates to all Alabama taxpayers.  State employees and all educational employees, including all teachers, received a 2% percent cost of living raise.

The legislative leadership for the next three years of the quadrennium was established. In the State Senate, President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Education Budget Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Rules Chairman Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia), and General Fund Budget Chairman Greg Albritton (R-Escambia), will be kingpins. In the House of Representatives, the key players will be Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Dekalb), and because of their positions, Education Budget Chairman Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and General Fund Budget ChairmanRex Reynolds (R-Huntsville), and Rules Chairman Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn) are leaders.

The bottom line big three leaders of the legislature are Greg Reed, Arthur Orr, and Nathaniel Ledbetter.  Reed and Orr are veteran Senate leaders.  Senator Reed, by virtue of being the leader of the Senate, is powerful. Senator Arthur Orr has settled in as a power to be reckoned with as the long-time veteran Chairman of the Senate Education Budget Committee.  He has written so many education budgets that he wields a lot of power with his pencil.

The new kid on the block in this triumvirate of power is first term Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter. Speaker Ledbetter may very well be the most powerful person in the Alabama Legislature. He has molded the House around him.  His entire inner team of Garrett, Reynolds, and Lovvorn are all first year major committee chairmen, who are very loyal to Ledbetter, as are all of the other major committee chairmen and almost all of the Republicans in the House.  He has also won the support and trust of the House Democrats. I have not seen thiskind of bipartisan cooperation and harmony in the lower chamber in a long time, if ever.

Ledbetter’s down home, quiet, honest and compassionate leadership is paying dividends for the success of the legislature, as well as the state. Ledbetter has a loyalty among the 30 freshmen legislators never before seen.  The reason is simple.  He, along with his friend, the crafty, savvy, Huntsville political guru, Steve Raby, elected most of them.  He and Raby raised most of their campaign money and crafted their campaigns.  Folks don’t forget that kind of help, but their loyalty is also based on the fact they like and trust Ledbetter.  He is sincerely interested in them.  He wants the House to work and succeed because he wants the state to succeed.  He also does not have a big ego.  He is not driven by self-indulgence or gratification.

Nathaniel Ledbetter was born and raised in Dekalb County.  He was first elected to the legislature in 2014.  So, it has only been nine years ago that he was a freshman, like the ones he is leading.  Ledbetter was elected Majority Leader of the House in 2017, only three years after his arrival.  He worked very closely with his ally, former Speaker Mac McCutchen, for five years.  He was the choice of McCutchen to succeed him as Speaker.

Before his election to the legislature, Ledbetter was also on the City Council and the Mayor of Rainsville.  He is close friends with legendary Alabama lead singer Randy Owen.  They both love their Sand Mountain home.

Nathaniel Ledbetter will continue with his calm, collected and reasonable leadership this year and the remainder of this quadrennium, and probably for years to come.

See you next week.


The most interesting race to watch this year in Alabama will be for the newly drawn second congressional district.

The new seat was drawn by the federal courts to create a second majority minority district in Alabama.  Currently we have six Republicans and one Democrat representing Alabama in Washington.  If a Democrat wins the seat, we will have five Republicans and two Democrats on the Potomac in 2025.  The new seat includes all of Montgomery and extends through the Black Belt and gathers most of the black voters in Mobile.

The race to fill the new open second congressional district is very crowded.  When the federal courts drew the new lines, they strived to make sure that the new district would favor a Democrat.  The proof in the pudding was an index attached to the plan presented by the Special Master selected by the Court,which revealed that in 16 of the last 17 General Elections a Democrat would have won this seat had it been on the ballot.

It is a monster of a field seeking the seat.  The Montgomery and Mobile television stations will make some money on this race, both preceding the March 5th primary and after the primary because there will be a runoff in both Republican andDemocratic primaries six weeks later.  There will be a boatload of money spent by both national parties, shipped into Alabama for the November General Election.  This will be one of the most pivotal, marginal swing seats in the nation.

The Democratic field includes State House Minority Leader, Representative Anthony Daniels, who lives in and represents a district in Huntsville. Although Anthony has deep ties to the district, he was born and raised in Bullock County where he graduated high school and was a basketball star, and he has extensive family in Troy.  His uncle is a recently retired city administrator and his grandmother, Mrs. Eva Daniels, was a revered leader in the Bethel Baptist Church in Troy.

Representative Napoleon Bracy, who actually lives in the district and has represented Prichard in the State House for a decade will be formidable.  

Shomari Figures the son of legendary state Senator Vivian Figures, has ties to the district having been born and raised there. However, he currently resides in Washington where he has been Deputy Chief of Staff to the U.S. Attorney General.

Two Jefferson County legislators, Senator Merika Coleman of Pleasant Grove/Bessemer and Representative Juandalyn Givanof Birmingham, have joined the fray in the Mobile/Montgomery seat, as well as Opelika State Representative Jeremy Gray, who is also from outside the district but at least close to it.

Federal law does not require that a candidate be a resident of the congressional district to be elected to it.  In fact, the early favorite to win this crowded Democratic race is probably Anthony Daniels of Huntsville.  If indeed he does ultimately win, it will be the first time in my lifetime that I have ever seen someone elected to a congressional district they did not live in and actually represented a legislative district in a distant part of the state.

There are eight Republican candidates in the race for the new second district. The Republican favorite will be former Montgomery State Representative and State Senator Dick Brewbaker.  His family has owned a car dealership in Montgomery for three generations.  His four terms in the legislature, along with the Brewbaker Motors advertising in the Montgomery media market for over the last 30 years, gives him immense name identification in Montgomery and the surrounding counties.

Brewbaker’s biggest Republican challenge may come from veteran South Alabama State Senator Greg Albritton, who is from Conecuh/Escambia counties.  He will be able to raise sufficient funds because he is Chairman of the State Senate Budget Committee. He also has some name identification in the Mobile area of the new district.

The third major Republican to watch in this race could well be young Montgomery attorney Caroleene Dobson. She hails from Monroe County in the southern part of the new second district. Her family has deep roots in that area and are prominent cattle farmers. By garnering the coveted Alfa endorsement, she hasbecome a player in the race.

A Republican can win this seat, especially one from Montgomery/Pike Road.  This one will be fun and interesting to watch.

See you next week.

January 17, 2024 - 2024 IS AN ELECTION YEAR

This is a presidential election year. Our GOP Presidential Primary is our election in the Heart of Dixie. We are a one party state, especially in presidential races. Alabama is one of a group of states that will hold its Primary early, March 5th to be exact.  Therefore, we will be going to the polls in less than two months to vote for President.

The presidential contest will more than likely be a rematch between Democratic sitting President Joe Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump. Americans are not too enthused to see this replay.  I have never seen such a weird presidential matchup or unusual scenario in my lifetime.  

The old political truism, “more people vote against someone than for someone,” will definitely come into play in this presidential race.  More people would rather vote for anyone than Trump or Biden.  I have never seen two candidates for president with this high negative polling numbers.  Indeed, if Republicans were to nominate anyone besides Trump, they would beat Biden. By the same token, if the Democrats were to nominate anyone besides Biden, they would beat Trump.  If indeed Biden and Trump are the nominees, you will see a low voter turnout come November.

As I remind you every four years, we do not elect our president by direct vote. You vote for electors that go to an Electoral College and cast their votes.  Under the “winner take all” Electoral College System, if a candidate wins a state by one vote, they get all of that states electoral votes.  We have become such a polarized partisan electorate there are less than 10 of our 50 states that matter in a presidential contest. The race for president will be determined in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Georgia.  The few truly independent voters left in these pivotal swing states will decide the presidency.  Both parties will concentrate their efforts and resources in these states.  

The straight party lockstep voting mentality of American voters has become so entrenched that in at least 40 states the race for president has been predetermined.  As I have often said, “If Mickey Mouse were the Republican nominee, he would carry Alabama.  By the same token, if Donald Duck were the Democratic nominee, he would carry California.”  It will be fun to watch.

We do not have many good races to watch in Alabama.  We have four seats on our State Supreme Court up for election this year.  However, popular Republican Justices Will Sellers, Jay Mitchell and Tommy Bryan are all running unopposed and will be back for six more years.  Justice Sarah Stewart is opting to run for Chief Justice, leaving her seat open.  It will be filled by Republican Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Chris McCool, who like Sellers, Mitchell and Bryan garnered no opponent, Democrat or Republican.

The Chief Justice Race is the only contested Supreme Court Seat.  Justice Sarah Stewart has two opponents, Bryan Taylor and Jerry Michael Blevins.

The Democrats have fielded a candidate in the Chief Justice Race.  Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin will be on the ballot. However, winning a statewide race in the Heart of Dixie as a Democrat is difficult to say the least and not only improbable, but maybe impossible.  There are 29 elected statewide positions in Alabama, all 29 are held by a Republican.  

There are two Republican Assistant Attorney Generals, Thomas Govan and Rich Anderson, running for Chris McCool’s seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Both are well qualified for this appellate post.

Under the federal court’s decision to realign our Congressional District lines to try to create a new minority Democratic district in the state, all of our powerful incumbent Congressmen have altered districts.  However, our veteran seniority member’s districts have probably been enhanced to their benefit.

Republican Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Mike Rogers, and freshman Republican Dale Strong have no or token opposition. Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell is also getting a free ride.  

This is not the case in the newly drawn first district. Two incumbent Republican Congressmen, Jerry Carl (Mobile/Baldwin) and Wiregrass Republican Barry Moore were placed into the same district and will be pitted against each other in a March 5th primary contest that will be decided that day as it is a super Republican district.

By far the biggest race in Alabama this year will be for the newly drawn open second congressional district in Montgomery to Mobile.  We will discuss that race next week.

See you next week.

January 10, 2024 - MORE OBSERVATIONS FROM 2023

My notebook of observations from 2023 was so full that I will continue this week.

Our new United States Senator, Katie Boyd Britt, has proven to all of us that she is indeed the superstar we predicted she would be. She is sensational. She has certainly not disappointed. She is on course to be one of Alabama’s greatest senators in history if she does not become President first.

During 2023, I had the opportunity to speak to a leadership group from the University of South Alabama during their visit to the Capitol. I visit with them every year. They have an outstanding Governmental Affairs Director, Nick Lawkis. Included in the group, was a young lady from Enterprise named Camille Bonura, who was SGA President at USA in 2022. She is currently in graduate school at USA and serving as a graduate assistant for USA President Jo Bonner. Camille reminds me so much of another young lady I met from Enterprise 20 years ago named Katie Boyd. In fact, she is almost a Katie Boyd clone. Both are brilliant and from Enterprise. Their families are close. Katie Boyd Britt even babysat Camille and was one of her dance instructors.

Speaking of young promising people, 26 year old Hoover/Vestavia lawyer Derek Chen is the most politically connected person I have ever encountered at such a young age. He is friends with almost every legislator and lobbyist in the state. 

One of the most brilliant and promising young leaders in the state is Senator Tommy Tuberville’s assistant, Emory Cox. Young Mr. Cox is a 28-year-old native of Pell City. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University. Emory is Senator Tuberville’s senior economic advisor. Before his current role with Tuberville, he was an associate director of the White House National Economic Council under Larry Kudlow at the Trump White House for three years.

Governor Ivey did a good day’s work when she garnered veteran Tuscaloosa legislative leader Bill Poole to be Finance Director. Bill Poole wrote the state education budget for a decade as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Budget Committee. He quietly sits back in a large private office in the Capitol suite adjoining the Governor’s office and writes the state’s budget. Although he was in public office for decades, he seeks anonymity and does not like the spotlight or fanfare. He is still young. You may not have heard the last of Bill Poole politically.

The brightest star in the University President’s category is by far Jacksonville State University President Dr. Don Killingsworth. Jax State longtime board leaders are so proud to have Dr. Killingsworth they could burst a button. You should hear Chairman Randy Jones and JSU lawyer and state political veteran Charlie Waldrep brag about Don Killingsworth. Don was Jax State’s lobbyist for over a decade. He became acting President in October of 2019, and full President in 2020. Under his leadership they have over $200 million in infrastructure improvements on campus in the works. Jacksonville also has a very good and nationally acclaimed football coach in Rich Rodriquez. They are having fantastic run under his tutelage.

Calhoun County has a very promising and personable County Commissioner named Lee Patterson. He represents the Jacksonville area of Calhoun County. He and his wife Susan are Calhoun County natives and live two miles north of Jacksonville on a family farm. Lee is Present-Elect of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. He will take over as President of ACCA in August of 2024. He will be following Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight.

The next Probate Judge of Lee County will be an outstanding young man named Jere Colley, Jr. Jere is a practicing attorney in Opelika. Lee County is a Republican bailiwick. Young Jere Colley won the Republican nomination unopposed. This is a testament of the respect and popularity for Jere and his family. He will be following the popular 18-year veteran Republican Probate Judge Bill English.

I have known young Jere Colley all of his life. His mama and daddy, Dr. Jere and Judy Colley, are my lifetime friends. We grew up together in Troy. My good friend, Jere Sr., is a revered, retired veterinarian in Opelika.

Veteran Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle will coast to reelection for his fourth, 4-year term as Mayor of Alabama’s most prosperous and largest city this year. Tommy Battle has overseen and been the major integral ingredient of the amazing story of Huntsville, Alabama.

2024 will be a fun political year. Our presidential party primaries are right around the corner – March 5 to be exact.

See you next week.


I know we are in a new year, but allow me to look back into 2023 and share with you some observations and accolades from the last year.

My old friend Mac McArthur has been Executive Director and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of the Alabaman State Employees Association for 26 years now. He is one of my best friends and we talk about once or twice a month. Our conversations last an hour as we enjoy regaling stories of Alabama politics. Nobody knows Alabama political stories or Alabama political history better than Mac.

Mac McArthur has accomplished something never before done in state history for state employees. State workers have received a cost of living raise for five of the last six years. In addition, they have benefited from the state picking up most of the tab for the increased cost of their health insurance escalation. In bygone years, state employees would get a cost of living raise about every six years.

I continue to be impressed by State Senator Will Barfoot. He has become very effective in only his second term. He is very popular around the capitol and extremely popular in his Senate district. I bet if you polled his counties of Crenshaw, Elmore, the suburbs of east Montgomery and his hometown of Pike Road, Will would be the most popular public official in those venues. He is also an astute and fair Chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee.

However, Barfoot probably would not outdistance the mayor of Pike Road, Gordon Stone. Even though still young, Mayor Gordon Stone has become a legend. Gordon was elected to the small community of Pike Road City Council in 2000. He became the first mayor in 2004. He has planned and overseen the amazing growth of Pike Road from a community of less than 1,000 people to a city of approximately 10,000 today. He has been mayor of Alabama’s fastest growing city for 20 years.

It seems only yesterday when Gordon and the beautiful Ellen Mosely were young lobbyists at the Capitol. They met around Goat Hill and married. They have been married for 34 years. Gordon heads the Association of Higher Education. Ellen’s father was a long time superintendent of Ozark City Schools.

While we are talking about Montgomery area political folks, Montgomery State Senator Kirk Hatcher is the real thing. He is a genuine and sincere gentleman. He is really an educator and church leader at heart. He is not a politician. He is a Christian public servant, who loves his community and church, which he grew up in.

Senator Kirk Hatcher and Senator Will Barfoot have become good friends of mine and sometimes seek my counsel on Alabama politics. I have told both over the years that they have more power and influence as one of 35 State Senators than one of the 435 members of the U.S. Congress. Barfoot (R-Pike Road) and Hatcher (D-Montgomery) would have been favorites to be the Republican and Democratic nominees for the new 2nd Congressional District. However, it appears they have taken my advice and settled into their state senate seats. I guarantee you that both will have a better lifestyle being one of 35 Alabama State Senators and spending every night in their own beds in Montgomery as opposed to flying back and forth to Washington every week and being lost as last on the totem pole in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Alabama Community College System has taken their rightful place as the King of Higher Education in the state. With 24 colleges and more than 130 locations and 155,000 students, they are the primary vehicle for providing workers and managers for today’s economy for Alabama businesses, both large and small. Jimmy Baker has done an outstanding job as Chancellor. His years of experience in state government and, more importantly, in the business/private sector, has allowed him the foresight to lead in the development of jobs that are most needed today for Alabama economic and manufacturing growth.

Jimmy Baker has a right hand man that has evolved into his mainstay. Dr. David Walters, the Vice Chancellor of Adult Education and Special Projects and Systems Initiatives is just what his title states. He wears three hats and works nonstop. Each one of his titles is a full time department head’s job. He is a real workhouse for Jimmy Baker and ACCS. He is a tireless worker and enjoys and thrives on what he does. He believes in his mission and is passionate about it. Even though he works three jobs, he finds time to enjoy his family.

We will continue next week.

December 27, 2023 - Roger Bedford Remembered

As is my custom, my yearend column is devoted to acknowledging meaningful Alabama political leaders who passed away during the year. This year I will highlight only one. Roger Bedford passed away in October at 67. He was not just a meaningful Alabama political figure; he was a giant. Roger died far too early. Roger was a good friend, legislative colleague, and a great state Senator. We came to the legislature together in 1982. 

Roger Bedford was born July 7, 1956 in Russellville. He played high school football at Russellville High School, which was a powerhouse program. He was president of everything in High School and then went on to University of Alabama and then got his law degree from Cumberland School of Law and practiced law for his living in Franklin County.

Senator Roger Bedford was first elected to the Alabama Senate in 1982 at the age of 25. He actually qualified when he was 24. He is the youngest person ever elected to the Alabama State Senate. Bedford served in the State Senate for 30 years and was an integral part of that body for most of those years. He was referred to as the legendary lion of the Alabama State Senate.

Bedford was renowned for being a retail politician. He loved and worked his district. For close to three decades, he represented the Northwest Alabama counties of Colbert, Franklin, Fayette, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion, and Winston. He represented them well. That area has had some legendary power players. Names like Rankin Fite, and Fuller Kimbrell preceded Bedford from their neck of the woods. These giants were adept at bringing home the bacon from Montgomery. Bedford probably eclipsed them in longevity and largesse.

My column appears in virtually every newspaper in Roger’s Northwest Alabama District, and I would peruse these papers. Hardly a week went by without Roger’s picture in every paper. He was either handing out a check, attending a county commission meeting or eating supper with some sweet little old ladies. He truly loved to “politick” and he loved his people. He had immense statewide influence as Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee, but he always thought first of his Northwest Alabaman constituents. He knew the people of his district like the back of his hand. His folks knew him well and loved him dearly. He knew half of his constituents by name.

One day in the height of his senate reign, he asked me to come up and spend a day with him and see the high school he had built for his alma mater, Russellville High School. I knew it must be nice, but when I saw it, I could not believe it. The school looked like it belonged in Mountain Brook. It was a spectacle replete with tennis courts, the whole nine yards. It was unbelievable and it was evident and obvious that he had taken full advantage of the Chairmanship of Finance and Taxation.

The day I visited with him and saw his school, he called everyone we saw by name. He knew every person in the main downtown meat-and-three diner where we ate lunch. He flashed that brilliant smile and said, “Flowers, I sat with three different coffee clubs at this diner starting at 6:00 this morning before you got here.” As we sat there you could tell by the way they looked at him that they loved ole Roger as he flashed every one of them that big smile.

Bedford was a born politician. Most people expected Roger to be Governor or United States Senator. George Wallace recognized Bedford’s potential immediately. He asked Roger to introduce him at most of his rallies throughout the state in his last race for Governor in 1982. Wallace’s kickoff rally at the Jefferson County Convention Center that year drew thousands of “Wallace-ites.” Heading the event was none other than Tammy Wynette. The crowd went wild when she sang her famous ballad, “Stand by Your Man.”

It was only fitting that a 25 year old state senator-elect from Franklin County introduced Wallace and the famous Tammy Wynette, who hailed from Roger’s county. She was born and raised in Red Bay in Franklin County.

Roger had lost the love of his life, his wife, the beautiful Maudie Darby in 2022 to cancer. Roger and Maudie have one son, Roge, who lives in Tuscaloosa.

Roger Bedford was a legend in Alabama Politics.

Happy New Year.