From the Statehouse
You know the results of Tuesday’s primary election and I do not because this column had to be published before the voting. However, my prediction is that whichever candidates won in the Republican primary statewide will go on to victory in November.
We have become a reliably Republican state from top to bottom. When it comes to presidential politics we have been safely in the GOP column for 48 years. Since 1964 the Republican standard bearer has carried Alabama 10 out of 11 times. The one exception was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter was a Georgia neighbor, devout Southern Baptist peanut farmer and his plurality in the Heart of Dixie was very narrow. No Democrat has come close to winning Alabama since the Carter anomaly 36 years ago.
The margin of victory in the state for the GOP presidential nominee has crept up incrementally over the last four decades. In 2008 we gave John McCain one of the largest margins of victory of any state in the union. It is a safe bet that whoever the Republican nominee is will beat Barack Obama in Alabama by a record margin. We will be one of the most one-sided states in the nation if not number one.
It looks like Mitt Romney will probably be the Republican nominee. However, it does not matter. Mickey Mouse would beat Barack Obama in Alabama this year. We are, and will continue to be, one of the safest Republican states in America when it comes to presidential politics.
This is now also true when it comes to state politics in Alabama. Just look at the facts. Our governor, lieutenant governor, and all seven constitutional officeholders are Republican. All nine members of our Supreme Court are Republican and now our legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. When you include the state appellate court judges, along with our Supreme Court and our administrative officials, the count is 26 to 0 in favor of the GOP. All three branches of state government, Executive, Judicial and Legislative, are controlled by the Republican Party. The first two branches unanimously.
We are a Republican bastion and will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future. We vote Republican in any year. However, this year will be overwhelming. With Barack Obama on top of the ticket it will be devastating for any Democrat brave enough to face the avalanche. It would be especially difficult for a Democratic judicial candidate. Alabamians decided about two decades ago that they wanted Republicans on their courts and especially their high court. The lone Democrat left on the Supreme Court was Sue Bell Cobb and she saw the writing on the wall and quit about a year ago in deference to getting washed away by a tsunami this year. You can bet your bottom dollar that all five Supreme Court seats up for election in November will remain with the Republican Party. The lineup will remain 9 to 0 GOP on the high tribunal.
The highest profile, as well as most important, race on the ballot Tuesday was for Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. The Chief Justice in Alabama not only sits on the Court and makes very important judicial decisions, they also write opinions like the other eight justices. More importantly, he also is the Chief Executive Officer of the entire Alabama court system. Whoever wins this post will inherit a difficult task given the financial straits facing the court system. The courts are taking it on the chin in the legislature’s attempt to balance the state general fund budget.
The contest between Charlie Graddick, Chuck Malone and Roy Moore may very well have ended with a runoff. The two frontrunners will face off on April 24. The election is now held in the GOP primary because winning the Republican primary is tantamount to election in Alabama, especially this year.
You might say that Lyndon Johnson drove a stake into the heart of the Democratic Party in Alabama in 1964 and Barack Obama will drive the final nail in the coffin in 2012.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 72 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.