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Grading the 'Experts'

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
The Mobile Bay Times called on a number of the area's political soothsayers for their thoughts on Tuesday's party primary elections. They were afforded anonymity so that regardless of the accuracy of their observations, each could continue to maintain his/her standing as a political expert, at least at large, but not necessarily within MBT's modest offices.

HRT: A-

OK.  Here goes.

The most interesting races are the court races. This could be the last train stop for Roy Moore and his acolytes.

I predict Drayton Nabers ends up with between 55 and 60 percent.  The other non-Moore and non-(Tom) Parker candidates do even better.

This is despite the Parker ad on the murderer-rapist. While the ad is totally dishonest, it is really pretty strong. The use of the Mexican flag was a nice touch. (The ad refers to the court following foreign law.) Of course, it was a U.S. Supreme Court case that the Alabama court was obligated to follow whether they agreed with it or not. And Mexican law wasn't used even in it. Still, the "Thou shalt not lie" commandment was never one of Roy Moore's favorites and apparently the same is true of Parker.

I predict (Sam) Cochran will be way ahead in the sheriff's race. If there is a runoff, it will be with (Kyle) Callaghan or (Mark) Barlow.

(In the state Senate District 34 GOP primary), I predict (Chris) Pringle and (Connie) Hudson in a runoff.  They will be very close going into the runoff.

(In the state Senate District Senate 35 Republican race), (Ben) Brooks beats George Callahan. Speaking of dishonest, if it were an Olympic sport, Callahan would be a contender for the gold in claiming defense lawyer Brooks is a "trial lawyer." Most interesting is where Callahan got his late infusion of cash. Wanna guess?  The Tanner camp which is funded by whom? The plaintiff trial lawyers. Ain’t irony wonderful!

(For lieutenant governor), I think Luther Strange runs strong but maybe not enough to avoid a runoff with (George) Wallace.

(Troy) King trounces (Mark) Montiel (in the attorney general GOP race.) 

FCE: B+

All of the Roy Moore slate will get clobbered -- Parker, Hand, Zeigler, Fowler. People don't want anything to do with these nuts.

Riley shuts Moore the hell up. Hopefully, forever.

Also, hopefully, Drayton Nabers puts Parker away for good.

George Wallace will run ahead of Big Luther, and then take him out in a runoff.

Troy King has no trouble taking Montiel down. Then is in tough against Tyson.

Sam Cochran beats Mark Barlow in a runoff. Although Cochran has a chance to win without a runoff. DaVon Grey will easily be the Democrat. No runoff.

Ben Brooks rips George Callahan, then squeaks by Gary Tanner.

Chris Pringle beats Rusty Glover in a runoff.

Chad Fincher runs first and beats Lonnie Parsons in a runoff.

Dr. James Gordon beats (Darren) Flott in a runoff.

Spencer Collier gets nearly 85 percent of the vote.

Robert Smith by a very huge margin over Duncan Crow to replace Ferrill McRae on the Mobile County Circuit Court bench.

Pam Millsaps beats (Jeff) Glidewell (in the GOP juvenile judge primary), only to get whipped by (Democratic nominee Chip) Herrington in November.

Judy Stout easily, and Ken Megginson to replace Parsons in school board contests.

And (GOP nominee) JoJo (Schwarzauer) easily defeats Democratic nominee Marsha Guy in November to become Circuit Clerk, (meaning that Ms. Guy whips Harry Bachus in the Democratic primary).

BIG: B-

Riley v Baxley;

Wallace v Folsom;

King v Tyson;

Cobb v Nabers;

Hudson v Pringle;

Brooks v Tanner;

Cochran v Barlow.

RMN: B++

Governor: Bob Riley is on a rocket shot and, barring the discovery of embellished war records from his previously unknown swift-boat days in the 'Nam, he will be elected to a second term as Governor. In my opinion the Roy Moore crusade peaked sometime prior to the 2004 election. When his judicial slate failed to sweep in 2004 (only Parker winning a relatively tight primary race with Jean Brown) I put a peg down that his “Johnny One Note” rhetoric was starting to ring hollow with all but his most ardent followers. My sense is that mainstream, conservative Alabamians appreciate openness regarding faith but cannot imagine any multi-national conglomerate sinking billions into new operations in this state if Roy Moore is leading the recruiting delegation.

Lt. Gov: I believe Luther Strange has come from nowhere and will be the top vote getter Tuesday. Kudos to whoever operated his campaign, by far the best job I’ve seen in a while. A runoff is possible but may not be necessary.

AG: Troy will walk.

Supreme Court: All incumbents win, see Governor’s race above.

Senate 35: Brooks walks.

Senate 34: I have trouble with this one because there are three distinct communities in play -- Semmes, Cottage Hill and Spring Hill and each of the top three candidates is strong in a different area. That said, my gut tells me that Pringle and Hudson will be in the runoff. I think Rusty needed one more term in the House before he would be strong enough to win this race. However, this could well be the worst political prediction in history and I am prepared to eat every bit of it if Rusty shows some muscle.

House 102: I believe Chad Fincher and Ben George will come in one-two and then Chad wins going away in the runoff. Mark it down Lonnie Parsons is done.

Sheriff: At one time I thought there would be a Cochran vs. Callaghan or Barlow runoff, but I’m now leaning towards Cochran taking it on the first ballot. This is a classic example of two trailing candidates each Mr. Nice Guying their way right into a loss. No one has laid a glove on Cochran’s record of losing officers or being Mike Dow’s top cop for over a decade. It begs the question, if so many of the City of Mobile’s police officers wanted out of that department and into the Sheriff’s department why would the citizens of the county want to put the city’s police boss over the department all the officers were running to? It is also strange that just a year ago many of the people who are now supporting Sam were fighting mightily for John Peavy against what was perceived as the “Dow Machinery”. Oh well, Big Mike wins again.

AHC: Incomplete

Just that George C. (Wallace) ended up slinging at the end.....Luther Strange also ended up doing the same to George Wallace.....I do think the end results are going to be who walked neighborhoods.....I think shoe leather wins elections...always have, always will!

FDR: C

The real fear we all should have is the Moore/Parker slate for the Supreme Court. It would set us back somewhere near the 1920's (read Scopes Trial).

My fear is that my party will actually nominate Don (Siegelman). I like him, but I don't want us to be considered the Alabama version of Edwin Edwards.

I don't see any real surprises, but if Cochran does not win without a run-off, that will be very dirty.

With Parker's writings saying we should ignore the Supreme Court in capital cases and now Nabers attacking trial lawyers as anti-Alabama values, I guess I get to ask both to recuse themselves on my cases.

One race that could come out weird is George vs. Ben for the state senate.

November, however, will be fun.

CLP: B/B-

Smith over Crow; Cochran and Barlow in a runoff; Riley over Moore; Siegelman over Baxley; Riley over Moore; Nabers and incumbents over Parker et al [barely in Parker race]; Tall guy (Luther Strange) over Wallace; Brooks over Galahad (George Callahan); Pringle and Glover in a runoff; Stout over John Holland.

TLM: C+

Republican races -- Riley, Strange, Nabers and the rest, King etc.

Democratic contests -- Lucy Baxley, Sue Bell Cobb (for chief justice), Tyson etc.

November general elections -- Riley, maybe Jim Folsom and Tyson. The Sue Bell/Nabers race is too early to call.

By the way, the Moore/Parker issue is still out there but my sense --based on a good bit of intel -- is that it just isn't going anywhere. Also- the Nabers/Christian Coalition (business is) headed for a big showdown. They crossed a ... line with a lot of trial lawyers. If Nabers wins, there are going to be lots of challenges to him sitting on cases. The sad story of this court is correctly summed up in the dissent of Berny Harwood and Champ Lyons in the recent med-mal reversal -- a clearly result-oriented opinion that is, at bottom, very dangerous.

What an article should say is that "Alabama needs a few good men/women" to run for these important positions. Now that I have some issues nearly resolved, I'm looking.

PZS: B+

First of all, this is the most docile election season that I can remember in many years. It appears that Gov. Riley has recovered so well from his first year Amendment One failure that he virtually silenced his opponents. Money (or the lack of it) probably determined the relatively low key advertising approaches of Moore and Baxley. And it initially shaped up to have the potential of a three ring circus! Riley should beat Moore 70% to 30%. Siegelman is toast. Baxley should beat him 60%-40%, ending his political career, regardless of the outcome of his trial. Riley will beat her by about 57%-43% unless she stumbles into some real new ideas, but I understand that she had a tragic accident last week: a thought struck her mind!

Luther Strange (whom I've met and is quite the gentleman) will enjoy Riley's coattails and should beat Wallace the Younger by about 58%-42%. Wallace's stupid statement that he had "no idea" that Alabama's natural gas prices were that high" should lose him the election. Just on that absurd admission! Luther's true goal is the state house in 2010. Maybe Dow will run then. Troy King (isn't it nice that you don't hear very much from this office) should beat Tyson, but not by as much margin as the above-mentioned races. Maybe 55%-45%.

Sam Cochran should prevail and I really can't call the Senate races in Districts 34 and 35, are they? Brooks/Callahan, and Hudson, Pringle, et al? Those are interesting races.

P.S. Pringle should win 34 and Brooks 35 (after checking financial disclosure reports).

DDY: D/D- (summer school strongly recommended)

Wednesday morning many people will be wondering why they didn't see these coming or why they didn't take my action. Gentlemen have only one way to resolve a disagreement - make a wager.

Here's what I would do if I was in Vegas:

















MID: Riley in a walk; Baxley by a comfortable margin; Strange may squeeze through without a runoff; of course, Tyson and King; no idea about the locals except Callahan may surprise with a strong run.

EPH: B+

Only predictions:
Brooks: 59
Callahan: 41

More important,
(Scott) Beason: 53
(Jack) Biddle: 47

Big win for real Republicans.

Also, Gerald Dial loses to real Democrat Kim S. Benefield, and maybe even (Jimmy) Holley or (Ted) Little lose, too. Finally, the death of the "Myth of the Conservative Democrat".

ONW: A-

Here are my assessments:

Circuit Court, Place 1:  Robert Smith. Highly respected, esteemed by the bar.

Sheriff: Sam Cochran to lead the ticket. The fight is for run-off spot. I call it for Barlow;

Senate District 34:  Chris Pringle to lead. Run-off with Rusty Glover.

Senate District 35:  Brooks. Infusion of big money from Tanner side too little, too late.

House District 102: Chad Fincher to lead. Run-off, probably Ben George;

Baldwin County Commission: Frank Burt. Good steady guy;

Others: Riley in a landslide, Lucy  for Demos, Strange's big money and campaign over George Jr. for GOP Lt. Gov. spot.

WS: D

I have a gut feeling George Callahan will prevail, but its Tanner in the election. Ben has not run an attractive campaign.

I suspect the Moore slate will do better than expected. The "mainline" candidates have made a mess of it. No class. People want some semblance of class in judicial candidates, and did not get it.
On that note, a low turnout.

I will be somewhat surprised if Sam prevails in the sheriff 's race.

BWC: B

Governor -- Riley and Baxley.
Lt. Governor -- Run Off. Lets go with Strange and Wallace, Brooks stronger than expected.
AG -- King.
Supreme Court -- Nabers, Lyons, Woodall, Stuart; Brown and Murdock in run off.
Civil Appeals 1 -- Anderson.
Civil Appeals 3 -- Thomas and Wood run off.
Criminal Appeals 3 -- Crenshaw and Lambert run off.
Auditor -- Allen and Shaw run off.
PSC 2 -- Hooper and Amari run off.
Bald. Comm. 1 -- Burt.
Bald Comm. 2 -- Gruenloh.
Bald Comm. 3 -- Gruber and Mitchell run off.
Sheriff -- Mack in a close one, maybe run off. A lot of new voters and old ones want a new Sheriff.
Bald Co Coroner -- Dead Heat. Small left living.
School Board 2 -- Wills.
Amendment 1 -- Let's back into this one with a YES.

Have a great election day, vote early, and I'm sure some will vote often.