State’s second-highest office has lost some luster
At mid year last year it appeared that at least twelve serious candidates would run for Lt. Governor. However, as the qualification deadline ended only four Republicans and one Democrat answered the bell.
One of the reasons that the race has sparked little interest is that the Senate has stripped the job of all of its previous power. Therefore, there will be little special interest money going into the race. Instead the money will gravitate to Legislative and Judicial races.
As a result of the little money that will be given to this race, someone who already possesses name identification starts as the favorite. Therefore, George Wallace Jr. will be favored in the Republican Primary. However, Luther Strange a longtime Washington big business lobbyist from Mountain Brook has raised some significant early money and may give Wallace a good race. Mo Brooks from Huntsville will do well in his vote rich county, but has very little name identification outside of the Tennessee Valley.
The late entry of Jim Folsom Jr. to the Lt. Governor’s race has raised the excitement level of the contest. The prospect of a Jim Folsom Jr. vs. George Wallace Jr. battle evokes great anticipation among old longtime political observers. Folsom is the only Democrat in the race and this will help him immensely in fundraising. He will raise a lot of money by virtue of his having been Lt. Governor and Governor. He is a natural and successful money raiser. In contrast the winner of the Republican primary will be broke and beat up from having gone through a bitter primary. Folsom is an expert on reading polling data. You can bet that he was reading polls up to the day of qualifying. His entry indicates that the tea leaves show him to be favored to win in November.
There are some other great races shaping up for the next six months. Two Judicial races will be worth watching. One is the battle for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Drayton Nabers, the incumbent by appointment, will be facing a tough primary battle from Roy Moore ally Tom Parker. This should be interesting. Whoever prevails in the primary will have a tough row to hoe against Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Sue Bell Cobb, one of the best Democratic candidates on the ballot. This one should be close.
Another Judgeship race shaping up will be for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Bernard Harwood, a Republican. The Republicans will have a hotly contested primary race with Appeals Judge Glen Murdock and former Supreme Court Judge Jean Brown fighting it out for the chance to face Democrat John England, a former Supreme Court Justice.
The Attorney General race will be a close one between Democratic Mobile District Attorney John Tyson Jr. and Riley appointee Republican Troy King. King has primary opposition from long time Montgomery Republican Mark Montiel.
The Secretary of State race will pit two politically ambitious women. Republican State Auditor Beth Chapman will challenge Democrat incumbent Nancy Worley.
All four of the above races should be interesting and should be rated as toss ups at this time.
Several incumbent secondary state officials should be safe bets for re-election. Jan Cook seems to always easily win by putting big green signs up all over the state. This Democratic veteran office holder has been in office over twenty-four years despite being crucified by the press unmercifully. She always survives. She will be challenged by a Republican, John Rice, in her re-election campaign for a PSC seat.
Kay Ivey should win re-election as State Treasurer and keep that office in the Republican column. By the same token, the Democrats should retain the constitutional Agriculture Commission post with incumbent Ron Sparks, although he will have a contest with former Republican State Senator Albert Lipscomb.
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.