The Political Round-Up
Ignorance, prejudice where you least expect it;
Jo was a go for gov; Even steven, ouch?;
Classic hide & seek; Hear ye, hear ye;
Fred keeps the beat; Hudson eyes third term
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
In 1964 when Jack Edwards and other "Goldwater Republicans" headed north toward Washington and their newly-won congressional seats, Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton decried the infestation of the GOP with "rednecks and racists."
Stung and a little troubled by Scranton's blanket insult of his fellow Republicans, many if not most of whom the Scranton, PA scion neither knew nor indeed could even name, Edwards hopped in his car and drove to Harrisburg, PA. Scranton received him and the men talked for about 90 minutes, Edwards recalled. Afterwards, Scranton took to the steps of the state Capitol and apologized publicly for negatively characterizing a group of people based on ignorant assumptions and regional prejudices.
Scranton aside and 45 years later, the GOP hasn't completely shed a perception that it offers safe haven for "rednecks and racists," suggested Edwards to a standing room only gathering of more than 100 Monday for his talk to an Eastern Shore Republican Women luncheon meeting at the Fairhope Yacht Club.
The "racist" tag seemed and seems especially odd, Edwards remarked, when the Birmingham-born Republican considered that in Alabama the Democrats' symbol had been a rooster proclaiming "white supremacy." A further irony, said Edwards, was his own voter registration efforts in behalf of blacks in the 60's, including in Wilcox County in 1965 when the president of Tuskegee University came to Camden to vouch for the literacy of the high school principal before the Board of Registrars.
Every such instance also represented a nudge toward the day when Edwards would fail to carry the county, Edwards observed wryly.
"Every time it happened, it cost me a vote," he said. "And when there were enough, it cost me the county."
Regardless, the political reality today is a dearth of minority representation in the Republican Party, said Edwards.
While Edwards' message on "The Future of the Republican Party," -- greater strength and viability through greater diversity within its ranks -- was not novel, it remains relevant, he said.
The country is much changed and the GOP risks a long stay on the sidelines if it doesn't try to keep pace without abandoning its core beliefs on the role of government in a democratic society, said Edwards.
The GOP leadership appears to understand the necessity of reaching out to under-represented demographic groups, he said, noting the "smart move" selection of Michael Steele as national GOP chairman and, locally, the elevation of George Williams of Bay Minette to a senior vice chairmanship of the state Republican Party. While Edwards said he doesn't know Williams, he said Steele makes an impressive appearance in various national media forums as an advocate for the GOP.
Edwards, 80, devoted more than half of his time at the podium to answering questions. His comments in response included:
- Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was an exceptional revolutionary who would have been better served to remain a revolutionary while leaving the speakership to "some quiet soul."
- As prospective GOP presidential contenders in 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin probably need more seasoning. With more experience, both are good bets to be seen on the national stage in the future.
"She (Palin) shook up the election something fierce when she got nominated (as GOP presidential nominee John McCain's vice presidential running mate)," said Edwards. "Over a period of time the media went about finding a lot of things they didn't like about her, including her lack of experience, and they let her have it."
If she gains the proper experience, said Edwards, the voting public, and perhaps even the media, will "find her much more acceptable in the future."
- While not proclaiming him officially his candidate in 2012, Edwards said Mitt Romney has the look of a winner. Unfortunately, said Edwards, the Christian right in 2008 soured on Romney because he is a Mormon, dashing his vice presidential viability. (Coincidentally, Greg Albritton, the Republican attorney from Atmore who is seeking the GOP nomination for the open state Senate District 22 seat in an upcoming special election, was present and campaigning. The former state legislator is a Mormon.)
- On Bob Riley: "The best governor this state has had in my lifetime."
"If Albert Brewer had had more time, he would've been a governor like Riley," said Edwards.
- Bradley Byrne would "make an excellent governor." He acknowledged state Treasurer Kay Ivey and Greenville businessman Tim James as serious contenders. He did not mention Troy University President Jack Hawkins.
According to Edwards, Byrne, as chancellor of the state's two-year college system, is taking the fight to the political titans and enemies of progress in Alabama. Specifically, he mentioned Paul Hubbert, executive director of the Alabama Education Association, an organization of the state's teachers.
"Bradley still has some major battles worth winning right where he is," said Edwards. "If Paul Hubbert comes back and takes control (of the state school board) that would spell trouble."
While Byrne's influence as chancellor was valuable, he would not be without resources in the political/educational arena as governor, conceded Edwards.
- The state needs to rid itself of the "racist language" in its 1901 Constitution. It is unfortunate that the political climate in Alabama is so cynical and distrusting that a convention or measure with that -- the elimination of "racist language from the state's Constitution" -- as its sole objective is not possible, said Edwards.
Among the notables in attendance were Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb, District Judge Jody Bishop, County Commissioner David Ed Bishop, Rebecca Byrne, Baldwin County Republican Party chairman Don McGriff, state Sen. Ben Brooks and state Rep. Joe Faust.
Close call for Bonner
At one point in his deliberations over a bid for governor in 2010, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner was all in. That was in mid-December. Then, on a "rite of passage" deer hunting trip with his 10-year-old son on Dec. 29, the realization hit him in the face like a freezing north wind. He reversed his decision easily. Fourteen, 15-hour work days Monday-Friday; weekends in Fort Payne, Mobile, Florence, Dothan. That only after raising $10-15 million and surviving a grueling campaign. With a young teen and near teen, the 49-year-old congressman said his and his family's priorities rendered the timing not right.
Bonner said he actually got more encouragement and pledges of financial support for a governor's race from Huntsville and Birmingham and generally locations outside the 1st congressional district.
Bonner headlines black history month lunch
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner will headline a Mobile GOP Black History Month Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18 in the Museum Hall at Bishop State Community College Central Campus.
Mobile GOP Black History Month Awards will be presented.
What's fair in love, war and politics?
Fair or not, will the Mobile section of Alabama's congressional delegation's general negative stance on the stimulus package hurt the area's chances to land all or part of the $40 billion aircraft refueling tanker contract? Or will Artur Davis' influence and desire to be governor trump all the nasty things Sens. Shelby and Sessions and Cong. Bonner have to say about the Obama administration's initial forays in trying to boost a sagging economy?
Classic Hide & Seek
The Gulf Coast Scholar & Sports Foundation will not conduct a press conference this week to answer questions about the finances of last fall's Gulf Coast Classic, an event culminating in a football game between Alabama State and Southern at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, according to a spokesman. The GCSSF took over the game in 2008 and received a $275,000 appropriation from the city. Ultimately the game incurred a deficit of more than $188,000. City Council President Reggie Copeland has called on the game's organizers to fully disclose its finances while making needed changes toward improving the GCC's prospects for success. GCSSF Treasurer Ray Lapierre last week said a press conference would take place to address Copeland's concerns, but he said Tuesday a decision had been made to postpone the press conference because GCSSF representatives were in sensitive negotiations and did not want to jeopardize them.
GCSSF directors and others have talked of landing a major sponsor, but efforts to confirm the sponsor's identity have not yet succeeded.
Hear ye, hear ye
Ron Wallace, who has announced his candidacy for the District 3 seat on the Mobile City Council in municipal elections this summer, said he will hold his first District 3 community meeting Thursday, Feb. 26 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Dauphin Island Parkway branch of the Mobile Public Library. Wallace urged district residents and business owners to attend and to bring their ideas for improving the district and the city.
Richardson sets Beats 30-32 meets
Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson will hold a
District One Beats 30, 31 and 32 Community Meeting Thursday, Feb. 19 at the Dumas Wesley Community Center (126 Mobile Street), starting at 7 p.m. Key City department heads will be in attendance.
Going for 3
Mobile City Councilwoman Connie Hudson announced her bid for a third four-year term in a recent letter to supporters.
"It is my utmost desire to continue to serve the citizens of Mobile with an emphasis on conservative fiscal management of tax dollars, an agenda that prioritizes public safety, public serve and infrastructure improvements, and the recruitment and expansion of jobs and job programs for our area," she wrote.
She enclosed a self-addressed envelope for donors to use in contributing to her campaign.