Where are Baxley, Folsom and the Democrats?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Black Belt is by-and-large a Democratic region, but increasingly Republican pockets are popping up all over the place.

One of those pockets can be found here in Demopolis, where Gov. Riley, Luther Strange U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and even U.S. Sen. John McCain have come stomping for votes &8212; either for themselves (as with Riley and Strange) or for someone else (as with Sessions and McCain).

These candidates understand that every vote counts, and demographics continue to change in an increasingly polarizing political environment.

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But what of the Democratic candidates? Where are Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and Jim Folsom Jr.?

The Black Belt region is a political stepchild to statewide office-seekers in many respects. Ou rpopulation is both highly diverse and highly scattered. Outside of a few enclaves of highly concentrated partisan votes, most politicians and political operatives realize this about our area.

But it makes us no less valuable, especailly to Democratic voters. The bread and butter for statewide Democrats are rural voters, minority voters and older voters who have lived in virtually the same place over the course of their life.

While Republicans are &8212; at the very least &8212; paying lip service to historically Democratic voters by attending rallies in pockets of traditionally Republican voters, Democrats are ignoring their base.

What further confuses us as to the noticeable absence of both Baxley and Folsom is that neither are in the driver&8217;s seat. Baxley&8217;s political future seems to be already decided. Folsom, however, is running neck-and-neck with Strange. But Folsom must battle the governor&8217;s coattails, which now are extending into Folsom&8217;s backyard.

In the end, neither Republican is likely to carry the heart of the Black Belt, but they are likely to increase their numbers in the Republican areas, and their appearances here will likely switch some undecideds &8212; and some unlikelies &8212; their way..

That may not bother Baxley much, but Folsom could pay the price in a tight race.