Monday, May 31, 2010

31 MAY 10: A Judge, a King and Other Things

Happy Memorial Day to you - but if you're driving across Alabama today, please don't jump to conclusions. Some people waving flags on street corners could actually be politicians, thinking more about what Tuesday means to them than what Monday means to all of us.

The rotation of the calendar makes this holiday the eve of the Alabama Primary. In other years, primary eve is Jefferson Davis's Birthday. That's still a state holiday - but this is one year when candidates can pander to current veterans and the U.S. flag more than Civil War families and that other banner.

Change is likely across Alabama state offices, as term limits prevent Bob Riley from seeking a third term as Governor. Apparently Riley realizes his popularity is waning - because in years past, the Governor would have asked his wife to run for the office.

Bob Riley says he's not endorsing anyone for Alabama Governor. But in recent days, his name has appeared on an endorsement for an Attorney General candidate. Riley is for Republican Luther Strange, which must make Troy King feel estranged.

It was Governor Bob Riley who appointed Troy King Alabama Attorney General. But their feud over electronic bingo at Victoryland clearly has caused a political division. And you have to say the Governor is consistent in his anti-gambling stand - when it comes to this Republican race, he refuses to straddle.

We'll get back to the statewide offices - but plenty of local positions are at stake in the Alabama Primary. Have you seen the commercial with outgoing Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell endorsing Heath Taylor? After all these years of Taylor being Boswell's mouthpiece on television, it's now the other way around.

Sheriff Tommy Boswell appears on TV with his grandchild - and after urging you to vote for Heath Taylor, he says it's time to go fishing. Boswell wants me to think he's going after fish. But somehow I suspect he'll keep looking for marijuana patches on the way to the lake.

Heath Taylor faces Jeff Gibson in the Democratic Primary for Russell County Sheriff, with no Republicans running. Gibson told WTVM last week he's running as a candidate of change. Given his background, Gibson's first change may be to reassign deputies to track down stray dogs and cats.

Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed is trying to unseat State Rep. George Bandy. I'm surprised Reed hasn't caused stirred up more media attention in this race - you know, like bringing Bill Madison over from Columbus to make race-related accusations.

Then there's the Alabama State Senate seat Myron Penn is surrendering. If all you watched were Columbus TV commercials, you'd think Billy Beasley was running unopposed. You'd also conclude he'd get up at 4:00 a.m. if someone in his district wanted to hold a political rally at a Waffle House.

In reality, Billy Beasley is part of a five-way Democratic primary for State Senate. His main opponent seems to be longtime Tuskegee politician Johnny Ford - who sometimes leaves the impression he won all his campaign money by playing electronic bingo at Victoryland.

Johnny Ford blamed his last campaign loss on a failure to use the Internet. He promised to do better this time - and sure enough, he has everything from a website to YouTube and Twitter areas. I'm sure voters are especially grateful for Ford's admission on Myspace that he's a straight Virgo. [True!]

Johnny Ford warned on Facebook recently some State Senate candidates may be resorting to "vote buying." He quoted an African-American man as saying, "You've got to pay just like the White folks: $25 for my vote." A state once known for poll taxes now may be offering refunds....

(From what we can tell, Ford does NOT resort to vote buying. His approach has been very different - with online pleas for people to send HIM ten dollars for last-minute campaigning.)

While Johnny Ford has tried to ride the greyhounds use the Victoryland drama to win the State Senate election, Billy Beasley hasn't brought up the electronic bingo controversy at all. Instead, we've heard Beasley is a wonderful pharmacist with a plan to bring jobs to every Alabama county. Why he didn't think of that plan as an Alabama House member, I'm not quite sure....

Back at the top of the ballot, seven Republicans and two Democrats want to succeed Bob Riley as Alabama Governor. Democrat Ron Sparks leaves little doubt about one of his big issues, as road signs declare: "SPARKS LOTTERY." If he wins, watch for signs this fall saying: "SIEGELMAN FAILED."

Ron Sparks is challenged in the Democratic Primary for Governor by Congressman Artur Davis. One East Alabama blogger suspects Davis has tried on purpose to irritate fellow African-American leaders, in hopes of winning Euro-American votes. C'mon now - maybe he's simply one of the few House members who actually read the health care reform act before voting against it.

The Republican race for Alabama Governor includes another bid by former Chief Justice Roy Moore. During a recent visit to Opelika, Moore touted the fact that he's led a branch of state government. Of course, some of us remember how he also was led away from it....

Only one Republican has bought time on Columbus television to promote a campaign for Alabama Governor. Bradley Byrne promises in one ad he'll "clean up Montgomery." If only Byrne had cleaned up the scandals in the two-year college program before stepping down as its chancellor....

And we can't forget the Alabama race which has become an Internet sensation. Dale Peterson's commercial for state Agriculture Commissioner is now at around 1.4 million views on YouTube [20 May]. Peterson actually might be better off NOT becoming the Republican nominee -- because with his shotgun and horse, he could make more money as an opening act for Sarah Palin speeches.

It's the longstanding custom of this blog NOT to make any political endorsements. For one thing, not one single candidate in the Alabama Primary has offered me 25 dollars - not even for advertising.

If the lack of an endorsement or political advice frustrates you, I'm sorry about that. You may be reading this on Memorial Day, but for me it's simply another Independence Day. Or is that Independents?

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