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Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times

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Beyond the obvious:
Tuesday's winners and losers

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Bob Riley winner. Luther Strange loser. John Tyson loser. Sue Bell Cobb winner. These are all as obvious as the sweat on George Bush's brow.

But the candidates themselves are only a part of an election story, and oftentimes a relatively small part. There were plenty of other winners with puffed-out chests when the sun came up Wednesday. And all across the horizon the landscape was littered with as many losers.

Let's take a look.

1. Trial lawyers. Senate stays in their hands. Beachhead established on Supreme Court. If they had lost CJ race they literally may have just had to quit trying. Have, if not a friend, at least not an enemy in the AG, governor's offices.

2. AEA $1.9 million loan proved its worth. House and Senate are favorable to their interests. Any chance of legislation to prohibit conflict of interest legislation, double dipping is dead.

3. Populists. Alabama Dems and Repubs are all just different shades of conservatives. What distinguished two major Dem victories was that their candidates tapped into "I'm going to fight for the 'lil guy mantra." Repubs, Folsom and Cobb showed Dems possible path to future victories.

1. Mountain Brook. After the Amendment One thumping, which was conceived in Mtn Brook, they must be thinking they might just be out of touch with the 'lil guy.

2. Marty Connors, Jerry Lathan and Repubs who told everybody they were going to take over the Legislature.

3. Riley coattails."
-- RLI, GOP adviser

"Six Democrats in the Senate (Wednesday) have just released a statement to the press saying they intend to organize the Senate in a 'bi-partisan manner.' They are Senators Preuitt, McClain, Butler, Poole, Means and Holley. Assuming they can reach a deal with the Senate Republicans, which is not a certain thing, they will have at least a majority to organize the Senate. These six may be the biggest winners yesterday if they can pull this off.

The next biggest winner is Jim Folsom who becomes the odds on favorite to be the Democratic nominee for Governor in four years, though that is far from meaning he will be elected Governor.

The Senate Republicans gained more seats in Alabama than Republicans did in any other state and have new clout in the body and with the folks around the Senate hallways. Speaker Seth Hammet held the House Republicans to no net gains. And Bob Riley became just the third person in Alabama's history to win a second consecutive term. Those are all winners.

The losers are Luther Strange and his A-Team backers, who nonetheless ran a great race after coming out of nowhere; Rep. Mike Hubbard, the House Minority leader, who worked valiantly only to fail to add a single net Republican seat; Democrats in southwest Alabama who lost the Gary Tanner Senate seat and Skippy White House seat, but preserved the Pat Lindsey Senate seat; and the members of AEA whose dues will now be used to pay back a $1.9 million loan that was spent to accomplish nothing for them or for education."
-- YTW, area attorney

"Winners would include the State Democratic Party. They showed that they can still win when they have strong candidates ... Folsom, Sue Bell Cobb, Ron Sparks, Susan Parker, etc.

Also, the Dems held the legislature despite a big effort headed by (GOP leader) Jerry Lathan.

The local Democratic Party showed that while a candidate had better odds as a Republican, a local Dem such as Chip Herrington could come close....and with adequate funding and a larger (and more typical) turnout in the African-American community, he can win.

Jo Bonner may end up getting a shot at Appropriations. As a result of various losses yesterday, he might be able to run for one of the spots that could open on the House Appropriations Committee.

Mobile is a loser. (U.S. Sen. Richard) Shelby won't have as much money that he can earmark as a ranking member of the CJS Subcommittee. This hurts the University of South Alabama and its cancer center.

Loser: The prospects for EADS now that  (U.S. Sen. John) McCain (R-AZ) won't chair the Armed Services Committee."
-- RRT, lawyer/lobbyist

"Winners: The voters -- showing both parties that they will not blindly vote a straight ticket. Also, the regulated utilities got who they wanted on the PSC.

Losers: Mountain Brook community. Also, the Business Council with its emphasis on Luther Strange and Drayton Nabers. Also, state Republicans who had predicted major pickups in the Alabama House and Senate. They had also predicted Pat Lindsey to be gone for certain as well as some north Alabama Democrats."
-- SSB, former legislator   

"Unfortunately, Democrats statewide were the winners, strange as it sounds. Thinking back through the last five Governor races (Riley/Siegelman, Siegelman/James, James/Folsom, Hunt/Hubbert, Hunt/Baxley), each was very close and very well funded on both sides. This is the first time that the Democrat was so underfunded that they could not get their message out and put money on the street to ensure turnout in the black areas and by public employees and retirees. I thought this would mean that the telephone polls over counted the black and labor vote and that a larger than anticipated margin would show up for winning Republicans in the non-controversial races, such as appellate judgeships, and that Cobb and Folsom would win only narrowly.

I was wrong.

It's kind of like Whoville. Christmas showed up anyway. One perverse result of all of this may be that the black leadership will not be able to shake down Democratic candidates as much as in the past."
-- IDC, ex-GOP committeeman

"Loser -- state GOP. 
"There is an internal battle in the state GOP between the Country Club faction and the social conservatives (aka First Baptist Republicans). If George (Wallace) Jr. is our nominee, I am confident that we win the L.G. race.

This problem is not as pronounced as in the national party, but it still exists. Case in point, sit back and watch the maneuvering over the next year or so for GOP positioning to replace Gov. Riley in 2010.
Bradley Byrne, Mike Hubbard, Luther Strange, Troy King, maybe Beth Chapman or a prominent U.S. Senator?

Also, as good a guy as Drayton Nabers is, he clearly was defined as a country club guy with too close for comfort ties to big business.  Which is unfortunately true. I think we must re-establish our social conservative populist message, but I consistently fall into the First Baptist Republican category

Loser -- national GOP
"... for obvious reasons. We need new leadership and more attractive, appealing candidates.

Another loser -- (Mobile County Commissioner) Mike Dean.
"I think we know who his Democratic opponent in '08 will be. A certain unemployed, ex-state senator. I know I said (before) that a Democrat can't win in south or west Mobile, but the one exception may be this very unpopular county commissioner. We, the local GOP, would do well to take Mike out in the primary.

Biggest Loser -- the business lobby.
(They) "... demonstrated that they don't have the fortitude or the willingness to win the Legislature. Of course, there are exceptions, but way too many business groups gave a pass to Paul Hubbert's lackeys in the legislature. It's unfortunate for Alabama

Winner -- Paul Hubbert.
It cost him several million dollars, but he basically kept the status quo in the legislature.

Winner -- Sam Cochran.
He might be the most popular elected official in Mobile County

Biggest winner -- Ben Brooks.
He beat a veteran politician, who was one of the best at attracting crossover voting in an area where he was well-known.
-- RCA, south Mobile Republican

"Alabama and Mobile could lose on the project funding that we have benefited so much from over the last number of years. Don't think it will be that bad (Brookley Field closing) but expectations should be lower. We have been really fortunate for the last several years."
-- EKO, shipping interests

"My loser of sorts is Riley. The two people that tried to ride his coattails were Strange and Nabers and they both lost. He was strong but he must have been wearing a blazer and not tails.

Another potential loser could be (juvenile court referee) Andrea Pennington if (Juvenile Judge-elect Edmond) Naman decides to replace her."
-- WAW, Mobile lawyer

"I think the election shows that the Dems statewide are not dead yet (e.g., the number of votes Lucy received notwithstanding the poor campaign/candidate). Also, Folsom and Sue Bell winning. It strikes me that the irony is that the best candidate was probably Tyson and he lost with the ad saying he could not get a serial killer to trial for a year and King did it in a few months -- and Tyson was running as a 'crime fighter.' Typical Tyson, though, dragging his feet on everything. Since when in Mobile did it take a year to get anything to trial, much less to indictment?"
-- APT, former judge

"I would think we’ve probably seen the last of Lucy Baxley. She ran one of the worst campaigns in modern history and will join her ex-husband as a footnote in the state’s political annals.

Albert Lipscomb’s defeat should theoretically be the death knell of his political career ...  but he seems to be on his way to becoming the next Jim Ziegler, perpetual candidate.

The BCA had mixed results last night: Obviously, they took the big enchilada with Riley’s re-election, along with their endorsed congressional candidates, but their picks lost the lieutenant governor’s race, the chief justice of the Supreme Court seat, and a number of down ticket races, including Place 3 on the Court of Criminal Appeals, and a number of State Senate races, including District 22. Look for a possible shakeup in their governmental affairs division.

It will be interesting to see what Sue Bell Cobb does as chief justice. She will now control the purse strings for the state’s court system, as I understand it, and who knows whether the courts will prosper or suffer under that power? And what effect will a Democratic chief justice have on the all-Republican court?

Even though the GOP won the top seat, they ultimately could become losers thanks to Jim Folsom’s election last night. If the talk of Riley’s VP run in 08 has any credibility at all, the GOP strategists who were looking to see Luther Strange propelled into the governor’s office must now be shaking their heads with concern. If Riley pursues other interests before 2010, that makes Folsom the governor. As it is, he will be positioned to run for the open seat in 2010, no matter what.

Jo Bonner remains Congressman for life, or as long as he wants it, but he may discover that the seismic shift in national politics has suddenly made his job a whole lot less fun. As a very junior member of the minority party, he will have far fewer perks and far less power than he enjoyed previously.

Sam Cochran, similarly, is now Sheriff for Life. Every nut in the county will come out to run for sheriff every four years, but Sam should cruise to re-election easily.
-- BGE, political consultant

"Loser -- negative advertising.
This time, the one first throwing the mud may have splattered it backward. The neg ads were insulting to watch. I hope people are getting smarter when it comes to neg ads and that this election, good or bad, sends a message to the consultants."
-- PHS, Mobile attorney

"The environment lost an amazing leader in John Tyson. Troy King has never been supportive of health and the community, shown clearly when he bends his opinions to match the wishes of big business and industry. His support of Alabama Power against Clean Air was a last straw, but I don’t think people knew how bad of a decision that was (or that it was his job).

The other thing that makes me sad is that the issue of environmental protection simply hasn’t been brought up. If people knew more how many of these candidates were voting on environmental issues, we might see different results."
-- H2O, environmentalist

"One winner would be Alabama's political dynasty families. After George Wallace, Jr. lost during the primary it appeared as if those days were gone, but with Folsom winning it shows family name can still get you elected. Granted Luther Strange wasn't the greatest candidate and there were other issues at play, but the ethically-challenged former governor probably wouldn't have made it if his name wasn't Folsom.

Gerrymandering -- With such a big win by the governor, there should have been more legislative seats change hands. With the districts stacked the way that they are, it is almost impossible to unseat a well-funded incumbent.

Mobile GOP -- For the first time in my memory they swept every competitive seat.

"I would say another winner would be the good ol' boy unsaid agreement between the Mobile GOP and the Mobile Dems not to run candidates against certain incumbent judges. This is a practice that I have never understood and never will. Why not run to win for every office? This free pass is a bad practice for local democracy."
-- ESR, onetime GOP candidate

"Mobile is going to suffer. (State) Senate is not going to change enough for two freshmen Repubs to get anything. Oh well!"
-- GEF, Democratic lobbyist

Loser -- Mobile economic development.

"If the Air Force proceeds with the acquisition, and the decision was based solely on the merits of the product and price, Northrop Grumman’s KC-30 would take it hands down. But we are not confident that the Democrats are committed to replacing the tanker fleet."
-- HST, economic development figure

Winner -- Circuit Judge Rusty Johnston.
"(He) received the highest number of votes of any uncontested circuit judge position.

Loser (in the column of things the public doesn't notice) -- Circuit Judge Herman Thomas.
"(He) received the lowest number of votes and the highest number of write-ins for any incumbent judge."
-- DBB, political consultant

Winner -- Timbes & Yeager.

"After dad's accident, I just knew that Ben (Brooks) would want to go somewhere else for the remainder of his campaign, but he didn't. He stuck with us and said all along that we were going to win this one for dad (political consultant Bill Yeager who was struck by a car and died just as the campaign was getting revved up) -- and we did. Ben was honored that his campaign was one of dad's last. I had not really had time to stop long enough to worry about what would happen if we lost, until Monday when we had done all we could do and things were eerily quiet. By (Election Day), I was in a deep depression and could not even look at dad's picture. I wanted to win so bad and knew it was going to be close. I didn't want to disappoint him. I dreaded going to Ben's victory party -- what was I going to say? When the numbers started coming in, I realized the turn out was not as high as we thought. (Opponent) Gary wasn't doing as well in some of the precincts as we thought. Things were looking up, but still close. When Mae Eanes came in with fewer than expected votes, I was getting more confident, but still nervous. Finally all precincts were in, the numbers verified and Ben was declared a winner! My face drained of color, my hands started shaking and I said a silent prayer of thanks to EVERYONE above!

My mother (was) visiting relatives in Memphis. I called her ... with the election results. She summed things up pretty well - "Dad doesn't seem to be helping much with Alabama football, but he sure was watching over the elections for us!"
-- Sherry Hall, Timbes & Yeager

Loser -- Mobile.
"The one that jumped to mind late last night is the affect the swing in the U.S. Senate is going to have on Mobile -- direct and perhaps immediate. We are competing with Washington state for the Tanker refueling project.

One of the reasons we have advanced this far is Shelby's reputation as a superior deal maker and his spot on Appropriations and Chairman of an "A" committee -- Banking. It lends itself to lots of horse-trading ... and Sessions' spot on Armed Services. Bonner never factored in as best I can tell.

Anyway, now Washington State has two D senators and Patty Murray is on Appropriations and Norman Dicks in the House is now in the majority and 3rd on approps -- This can't be good for the project. 

The oversight of a "foreign" company building these tankers may be more than Airbus can stand at this point.

"I have to say Sam (Cochran) is a winner for getting the most votes of anyone (local and statewide) in Mobile County.

Is Mike Dean a loser? Word around last night is that Tanner will take him on. Dean got a break when Spencer Collier moved over to the DUI school and took himself out of the race. Another race against Tanner could get expensive."
-- IBC, Mobile attorney

Winners --  The Mobile County electorate who have apparently fallen in love with the ease of write-in voting inherent in the new paper ballot system.

Winners: Superman, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and a host of other cartoon celebrities who have now become viable candidates in the minds of some Mobile County voters.

Loser:  Probate Court Judge Don Davis who has two years to make all his poll inspectors and workers forget their experience with the new write-in vote phenomenon.

Winners: Chris Brown and Jon Gray who worked with Ben Brooks and Edmond Naman respectively.

Losers: MDI, the new political consultants on the block, who worked with Herrington. The consulting landscape will continue to adapt and adjust to the loss of Bill Yeager in the lead-up to 2008.

Winner:  Mobile County Republican Party despite all the hand-wringing over the national scene. The local GOP re-elected Jo Bonner, swept all countywide contested races, protected two school board seats, picked up one State Senate seat and outpolled statewide Democratic candidates with very few exceptions. Beyond the results on Tuesday, the Mobile Republican party has shown a significant shift from 2003-04 when the battles over Amendment 1 and Roy Moore caused friction with Governor Riley. Since 2004 the leadership in the local party has been solidly behind the Governor and those within the party who opposed him have either gotten on board or have been marginalized in their influence. That process will continue apace as the prominence of certain long-time “players” continues to diminish and the core of the local GOP continues to reform.

Loser:  Republican efforts to “take over” the Alabama legislature.  Promises of massive fundraising, a “Contract with Alabama” and Rove-esque political gamesmanship fell flat and the results proved it a failure. No gain in the House and two seats in the Senate does not a “Republican Revolution” make. This is especially true when you factor in that certain conservative Democrats were “targeted” by providing assistance to their more liberal opponents in the Democratic Primary only to have those nominees beat the Republican head-to-head Tuesday. The theory that taking down the “conservative Democrats” in order to make it easier to define the race in the general election did not stand up to the test of applied science. Some Dems are now promising to caucus “independent” of Lowell Barron but that does not equate to pushing the GOP agenda.

Winner: Alabama Trial Lawyers who now have a roadmap for winning a Supreme Court race. Just get a cherub-faced judge who can play children’s church tunes on the piano and run them against a career insurance company executive who looks like central casting’s response to a call for either Woodrow Wilson or a Puritan minister.

Losers: Woodrow Wilson and Puritan ministers who apparently have no future in Alabama politics.
-- BMP, area GOP lawyer

Loser who may be a winner: Chip Herrington.
"I think Chip Herrington ran a good, clean race and I would not be surprised to see him back in the picture for other judgeships and maybe as a Republican.

Tanner ran his usual negative campaign but this time, Brooks (as I encouraged him to do) fought back. If Tanner decides to run again, especially in County Commission 2008, he will find that the people will have long memories and (he) will be defeated again. I was somewhat surprised at the Lindsey victory in his district but not at his vote in Mobile County. As of today I do not know what the results are for the state in the other senate races but if the Republican pick up 2 or more seats look for some big changes."
-- GOG, former GOP public official
Loser -- Tyson.
"I would also think we've seen the last of Tyson on a statewide level. I think he was headed for the governor's race. Now, the Dems are left with nothing. Folsom? Big Luther beats him easily in four years.

Winner -- local court system.
JoJo's win also has a huge significance in how the courts run. She is widely loved by everyone. She will do the things the judges have felt needed to be done. And she will cooperate with them like they haven't seen since Maurice Castle. I know my personal feelings really overwhelm my thinking here, but I really think JoJo can have a big impact on the courts."
-- MRC, longtime local political observer

"The biggest winners are certainly Gov. Riley, because of his margin of victory. He should not take it as a mandate from the voters because you have to factor in his opposition (or, rather his lack of it). I don't know of any candidate that would garner less support than Lucy. Even (Democratic attorney general candidate and Nazi sympathizer) Larry Darby would have run stronger. Personally, I think that Riley has done a fairly competent job and deserved re-election.

Another huge winner is Sue Bell Cobb. Her stock is like Google right now. I don't know that Nabers suffered such a devastating loss because he probably couldn't be elected to any higher office than that which he enjoyed. Lucy's loss is not big, because it was totally expected. Even her margin of loss. She should never have been on the ballot and I'd be mildly interested to see who actually coughed up the $1.5 million that she raised. I'm sure it was from folks that HAD to contribute.

The absolute biggest loser has to be Luther Strange. He had a good shot at LG and designs on a gubernatorial race in 2010. He is probably alone with a fifth of Jack Daniels about now, dreaming of what might have been.

Ben Brooks was a big winner in a very close race. If Ben can keep a lid on his haughtiness and preachiness, he could eventually run for higher statewide office ... I think that Gary Tanner will enjoy his soon-to-be new hobby of grazing in the pasture.

The biggest loser of all is Don Siegelman. Had he run a tight ship and not gone astray, he would have been re-elected as Governor and would have been a darkhorse contender for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination (or at the very least, Vice-Presidentail nomination). If you think that Luther Strange is hugging his JD bottle, what do you think is going through Siegelman's mind (other than praying for a new trial)?

If Tyson had access to more money and could have afforded more television, he'd be AG today."
-- PST, marketing executive

"Although he didn't win, (Mobile attorney) Claude Patton made an amazing showing (in a state criminal appeals court race as a Democrat). Considering he had very little money at all, ran state wide, ran against a strong incumbent with a war chest, and had never run for anything before, he is a true winner. Now he's got name recognition to go further. All the Democratic nominees for the judicial races did great, but he stands out."
-- NFD, Democratic candidate

Winners and losers that were not reported on election night:

(Local GOP chairman) Mark Erwin -- Only county to vote all winning R's;
Probate Judge Don Davis -- First paper ballot general and he's still alive;
TV stations -- Most money spent in Alabama history (again)
(The late) Bill Yeager -- Even from the blue heaven, he can still make that little extra happen for Ben Brooks;
County voters -- Still vote more steadily than city folk

Connie Hudson -- No more Ben Brooks
Bob Riley -- Meet Ben Brooks
(Disqualified incumbent Juvenile Judge) Pam Millsaps -- Just awful lack of oversight.
-- YAK, media adviser

Loser -- Pat Lindsey's liver?
"Probably. Of course mine is a loser, too, as I am usually with him!"
-- TAJ, lobbyist

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