Category: Southern politics

Oh, Mississippi.

The Democratic Party in the South is absolutely irrelevant. Tuesday’s results in Mississippi’s Democratic gubernatorial primary is proof positive of that.

In case you have been living under a rock, here’s what happened:

Terry truck driver and first-time candidate Robert Gray, who goes by “Silent Knight” as his CB handle, carried 79 of 82 counties in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He pulled more than 147,000 votes, or 51 percent, to presumed frontrunner Vicki Slater’s 87,000 votes, or 30 percent, in a three-way race.

Slater, a politically active attorney, raised more than $235,000 for her campaign and pumped in thousands of her own money. Gray raised and spent zero. He bought no advertising. No yard signs. He made only a couple of public appearances. His own family didn’t know he was running, and he didn’t vote for himself.

It seems shocking….until you take a look at recent Democratic Party primaries for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina and Tennessee. Perhaps Mississippians should be happy, as it has not emerged that their candidate for governor is an alleged sexual harasser or a confirmed homophobe. Yet.

Boldness in Alabama: The desperation of low expectations.

I witnessed something a few days ago that in over 30 years of reporting in this state I have rarely seen from politicians – boldness.

That came from Charles J. Dean last week in an opinion piece titled, “Gov. Robert Bentley and the sound of boldness“. You might be asking yourself what the Governor did to deserve such praise. Did he resolve to stay out of the campaign to unionize workers at Mercedes-Benz here in Tuscaloosa County? Did he decide that the private affairs of consenting adults was no longer his business? Did he come out and state unequivocally that, hey, maybe this Mike Hubbard guy is kinda unfit for public service? No, no, wait: he decided that the multi-billion dollar tax giveaway to private schools in the form of the Alabama Accountability Act had to come to an end?

No. None of that. Here’s the phrase from Robert Julian Bentley’s fifth State of the State address as Alabama’s 53rd governor that inspired such florid language:

“…Folks I am not going to be a governor who pushes problems aside. We’re going to solve problems as long as I am governor of this state. …I am telling you all this to say this — and to come out of a Republican governor’s mouth – after four years of saying we are not going to raise taxes, and we said that and we have not, I’m telling you the next four years we are going to raise taxes…We have to face the problems and we have to do it with boldness. You have to lead with boldness. Somebody has to take the lead and I am going to take the lead.”

Wow! He is going to have to raise taxes in order to solve a $700 million-plus long-term deficit! While that might be called “common-sense thinking” or elicit a “duh” in, say, Minnesota, it is revolutionary talk in the Heart of Dixie. So where will these taxes come from? Will the former dermatologist and state representative from Tuscaloosa suggest raising the top tax rate to make wealthier Alabamans pay more? Perhaps he planned to end tax giveaways to multinational corporations who afford to pay their taxes to do business in Alabama?

Nope.

The Alabama Democratic Party has gone silent. Good.

Nancy Worley, screwup extraordinaire.
Nancy Worley, screwup extraordinaire.

Clete Wetli, former chair of the Madison County Democrats, is upset that Nancy Worley appears to have gone silent in what has probably been one of the most news-filled months that Alabama politics has seen in a really long time. In addition to same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land due to U.S. District Court Judge Ginny Granade’s ruling (and reaffirmation of that ruling after county probate judges somehow forgot about the Supremacy Clause), the Speaker of the House looks more and more like an inmate walking. The stunning incompetence of the Republican Party in Alabama is only surpassed by the incomprehensible silence of their opposition.

Good.

Alabama Doesn’t Have a Voter Problem. It Has a Democracy Problem.

In Chief Justice Roy Moore, Alabama has the personification of any bigotry that you can imagine sitting atop its high court. Here is a guy who believed so fervently that the nation’s courts should validate only one religion and its precepts that he was thrown off the bench after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the front of the State Capitol. After founding something called the Moral Law Foundation (doing the sort of work you would expect from it and him), he ran for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2010, expecting that the love would still be there from the right-wingers that dominate the Alabama GOP. His faith was found wanting.

Then came 2012, when Roy Moore defeated sitting Chief Justice Chuck Malone in the Republican primary to advance into the general election. Now, given the sentiment that has been expressed in opinion pieces like this one, you would be led to believe that he faced a candidate of great credit to the bench and the people of Alabama in that election.