Campaign season taking a walk in the mud
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — I have covered or been involved in more major state elections than most folks (15 in all) and I don't recall one quite like the one voters will settle next Tuesday.
We have a governor's race where all the polls show that Republican Bob Riley will win by a landslide over Democrat Lucy Baxley. In fact, the only thing in doubt there, if those polls are right, is how early in the evening next Tuesday will Baxley concede.
Further down on the ballot are two other races for state office which appear equally one-sided — and the leaders in both of them are Democrats.
Every poll shows Democrat incumbent Ron Sparks far ahead of Republican Albert Lipscomb in the race for agriculture commissioner and Democrat Jan Cook holding an overwhelming lead over Republican John Rice for a seat on the Public Service Commission.
If nothing else, these numbers suggest Alabama voters know how to split a ticket. But while we have what appears to be landslide victories in these three races, most of the other races are simply too close to call.
The most recent numbers show Democrat Jim Folsom Jr. has a two percentage point lead over Republican Luther Strange in the race for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Republican Drayton Nabers and Democrat challenger Sue Bell Cobb are in a dead heat in the race for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The latest poll shows that Republican Atty. Gen. Troy King has opened up a slight lead over Democrat John Tyson 44 percent to 37 percent.
Regarding the campaigns themselves, they have degenerated into the ugliest in memory, and none more so than the races for chief justice — the highest judicial office in the state — and attorney general — the top law enforcement office in the state. This mud-slinging reached a new high (or should it be new low?) last week in the attorney general campaign.
Atty. Gen. King ran a commercial in which a well spoken woman, whose mother had been brutally murdered in Mobile, accused Tyson, the district attorney of Mobile, of dragging his feet on the case. She then asked King to take over the case. He did, and swiftly got a conviction.
Tyson responded with a commercial denying any foot-dragging on his part but then inexplicably attacked the murder victim's daughter who appeared on the commercial, pointing out that she had been convicted of property theft a number of years ago.
The unbecoming ugliness in the Nabers vs. Cobb race for chief justice, coupled with the enormous amount of money now spent on judicial races in Alabama, may give impetus to the long-sought goal of many –to do away with the election of state judges entirely.
As well-meaning as that goal is, there is no evidence that members of the Legislature would go along with a plan to deny the people the right to elect their state court judges.
Loretta Nall of Alex City, a Libertarian write in candidate for governor of Alabama, appeared on the nationally televised show, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”, on MSNBC a few days ago, and forgive me, she surely won the “Booby Prize.”
Ms. Nall (how can I say it delicately?) is well endowed. In fact in one of my columns some months ago I made reference to the amount of cleavage she was showing in a photo than ran with my column. She picked up on my line and has run with it like you wouldn't believe.
She now has T-shirts which have pictures of the other gubernatorial candidates on them and with the message: “More of these boobs (over her photo) and less of these boobs (over photos of Riley, Baxley and Siegelman).”
By the way, in the TV interview, Ms. Nall described me as a “dirty old man” and thanked me for getting her the “horny man vote.” I can't deny I am old, but I shower every day.
She also said that if she loses the governor's race — which she surely will — she intends to run for the U. S. House in 2008 from the Third District, a seat currently held by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks.