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This campaign year should be interesting

In years of yore in past Governor’s races we would have colorful “run for the fun of it” candidates, the most notably being the legendary Shorty Price.

Shorty’s antics could fill a book of its own. We have been short of these fun candidates in the past few decades.

However, this year we will have on the ballot one Loretta Nall who will be the pro marijuana candidate. She will be the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor on the November ballot. Nall is President of the U.S. Marijuana Party.

We have developing a true Shorty Price prototype in one Harry Lyons. Lyons is making his ninth statewide run for the fun of it race rivaling Shorty. His demeanor and candor are similar to Shorty.

He appeared recently before the Alabama Press Association at their gubernatorial candidates’ forum and stole the show. He runs every time there is an election, usually for different offices under a different party almost every time. He will be fun to watch.

The Republicans would like to take control of the House but as stated earlier it is difficult because there are popular veteran incumbent conservative Democrats sitting in Republican leaning seats. Therefore, they may have to wait until they retire or pass on to take these seats.

They will get a shot at three of these seats this year. Tommy Carter of Limestone will retire after 32 years. In addition, Nelson Starkey of Florence and Jack Venable of Tallassee both 30 year House veterans passed away late last year.

Venable’s Elmore County seat will likely fall to the Republicans in this heavily Republican County, a Republican won the recent special election, but it will be interesting to see how the two Tennessee Valley seats of Carter’s and Starkey’s go. Starkey’s should remain Democratic. Carter’s district will be worth watching.

A topic of conversation on Goat Hill is whether an endorsement from the Christian Coalition will be an albatross to candidates. Rumor is that candidates will use this endorsement against their opponent.

The Coalition headed by John Giles was discredited last year when it was revealed that the group was supported financially by Indian gambling interests. It is expected that candidates will run last minute ads against their opponents who are endorsed by the Christian Coalition saying that candidate is supported by out-of-state gambling interests by virtue of the fact that the Coalition has been financed by gambling.

There was talk of starting a New Christian Coalition and labeling the group headed by Giles the Old Christian Coalition with the Old Christian Coalition being the group cloaking their real agenda as being pro-gambling.

They would also expose the group’s mean spirited approach as being more like Old Testament philosophy of “an eye for an eye” and ignoring and ridiculing the poor. Whereas the new group would be for loving your neighbors and helping the poor, more like what Christ taught. It doesn’t help the old group’s image either that their primary advocate in the Legislature is one nutty, irrelevant, back bench, freshman Senator named Hank Erwin who made national news with his beliefs that God directed Hurricane Katrina to attack the Gulf Coast to destroy the people of New Orleans and Mississippi because they were sinful.

You can expect lots of negative advertisements and plenty of dirty tricks this year because sadly they work. We have a history of bitter campaigns in Alabama. A newly released book by author Kerwin Swint, entitled “Mudslinger. The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time,” lists the George Wallace vs. Albert Brewer 1970 Governor’s Race as the number one nastiest campaign of all times. It will be an interesting campaign year in Alabama.

See you next week.

-Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 66 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.