The Political Round-Up
Winners, losers & the to be determined
in this most strange political season
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
This political season calls to mind the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."
And Tuesday's election results and the campaign leading up to them are definitely interesting, and foreboding as well. Still, as always, the voters deliver unto us winners and losers. So with that and as has been custom with Mobile Bay Times, we again turn to our array of savvy politicos to drill into the results far deeper than the less schooled to see beyond the obvious winners and losers and share their insight.
First our query and then Part One of the replies.
Query: Super Wednesday has arrived for Mobile Bay Times stellar collection of political soothsayers who are once again called upon to sort the winners and the losers and those somewhere in between from Super Tuesday's election results. As has been MBT's custom, your response will be anonymous unless you specifically ask to be identified.
"Two facts: First, Trump did not get the high percentages across the deep south except in Alabama. Trump was limited to the 30s almost everywhere. The media on Monday were talking about figures as high as 49% for Trump across the board.
Second, the media, particularly CNN, predicted that Trump would lock up the nomination on Super Tuesday. After Super Tuesday, the media, especially CNN, reported that Trump swept to success across the nation and ignored the fact that his numbers were not nearly as high as predicted and his opponents seemed to be gaining ground on Trump.
I wonder if the people have noticed these problems. CNN’s interests are clear. Perhaps, MSNBC also. However, I am not so sure of Fox. Maybe Fox is trying to get back in with Trump.
This race from the beginning has been extraordinarily strange. Our citizens have finally realized that the government does not do what they want but serves the interests of the 'establishment.' Thus, they are searching for an anti-establishment winner and Trump, amazingly, has positioned himself at that position. His past indicates Trump is selling fiction, not fact. However, is it too late to educate the 'poorly educated?'
The anti-Trump candidate is not clear now but (Fla. Sen. Marco) Rubio and (Texas Sen. Ted) Cruz appear to be leading in this category. The rest appear to be finished.
Initially, I liked (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich. However, Ohio is too late for Kasich who will vanish by the end of March. The least offensive anti-Trump candidate before the last week was Rubio. However, Rubio tried to become very juvenile and very offensive like Trump in the last week. Which one is Rubio?
"Here are some initial thoughts.
First, (Republican Senate challenger) Jonathan McConnell learned the lesson of tugging at Superman’s cape.
Second, (U.S. Rep.) Bradley Byrne is likely out of the woods, maybe for the rest of his Congressional career. (Byrne foe) Dean Young’s commercials are among the most potent I have ever seen. But Young didn’t have the money to run a winning campaign. It is unclear if a stronger candidate could have changed the equation.
Third, it was a good night for (Mobile-based political consultant) Jon Gray. He ran Shelby’s operation in Southwest Alabama, plus he had a win in his circuit court race over a very strong candidate with a lot of bench and bar support. He also came closer than most observers thought possible in the Carl/Wilcox race. She was double digits behind right up to a few weeks ago, and she ended up down by only a few points."
"I am sitting at my desk now looking at the county-by-county vote totals and it appears GOP voters in Alabama are incredibly motivated, based on the fact that yesterday's primary turnout was 40% greater than 2012's turnout, which was very good. Nearly 900,000 votes were cast in the primary, bringing out many first-time voters. That's a big win for the GOP, as these new people tend to get engaged with a good number becoming participants in the political process (campaign volunteers, community workers, and even candidates). The Alabama Republican Party benefits from a big turnout primary. Senator Richard Shelby, and U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby were all big winners, overcoming spirited primary challengers despite the mix of new voters who tend to be anti-incumbent in their leanings.
Losers - Obviously, the Democrat Party loses when all the attention, energy and campaign resources are focused on the GOP. It's going to be a long and lonely nuclear winter for the party of Obama and Clinton, and not just here in Alabama. Republicans voted in much greater numbers in the SEC Primaries and Caucuses than Democrats, 8.5 million vs. 5 million. This translates to a huge enthusiasm gap, which doesn't bode well for Democrats in the fall."
"Biggest loser is the USA for obvious reasons. Second is (Mobile County Commissioner) Connie Hudson. She is not a Queen maker (reference her support for state Rep. Margie Wilcox who sought to unseat incumbent County Commissioner Jerry Carl)! Last is trial lawyers/Mobile County Republican Executive Committee. That alliance could not elect their man to the circuit court bench."
"(GOP congressional challenger) Dean Young, loser. He should have never been in the race. When he ran in '13 it was a close race and I understand that he lacked a campaign team this time around and that could have been the difference in what should have been a watershed moment for him in the year of TRUMP. Maybe those guys saw the writing on the wall or maybe Young didn't have the money to invest but I don't know anyone who thought this guy had a chance. Three times is not the charm. I doubt four or five will be either, but Bradley should pay him to keep running. It makes Byrne look strong pulling 61% as the establishment's establishment Republican.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, winner. Done. No more elections for life and he only had to spend $7 million of his $20 million. He made Christmas for a lot of people in Alabama -- most certainly all the TV stations he poured money onto. Expect to see a lot of positive coverage from them in thanks for his donations to their bottom line.
(Mobile County District Attorney) Ashley Rich, loser. Makes two endorsements and loses the judicial endorsement and barely wins the commission one. She didn't learn very much from her friend (Mobile County Sheriff) Sam Cochran who only picks winners. Worse yet, she has likely made a mortal enemy of Wilcox and other members of the legislature while they are considering a tax increase she has requested. If the proposed tax increase had any chance before the endorsement, it is certainly dead now. At the same time she clearly worsens the relationship with Commissioner Connie Hudson who campaigned against Jerry Carl. Rich seems to have taken a high-handed attitude to working out her political troubles. She needs to be finding a kinder, gentler path forward or she will find herself stuck in a corner alone. John Tyson, she is not.
Loser Jerry Carl. He won against Dean with 70% of the vote and while he wins another round, he is clearly wounded squeaking out a 52/48 race and losing a majority of the voting precincts according to the media. He has been very vocal in his alternate positions. He has been very bold in going after people and making enemies and it is clear that this is not a good future for him. He might not have lost, but he is by far the weakest member of the county commission and likely to be isolated in his effectiveness going forward unless he makes some drastic changes.
Winner (U.S. Sen.) Jeff Sessions. He took a front row seat on the Donald Trump bus early in the race way back in the summer when The Donald appeared in Mobile. Sessions was said to have been on the plane briefing the candidate on immigration. It has been said that he was very impressed with the man's desire to learn, and his intellect saying that his stage persona is more of an act and that the guy is very smart. That is yet to be seen, but Sessions is no dummy. Even as a right wing leader, he chooses his battles carefully and rarely aligns himself with unrespectable people. Sessions brought a lot to Donald Trump in credibility and he has made himself a winner getting on board early in this race."
My presidential candidate dropped out earlier so I went into Super Tuesday as an open minded voter and interested observer. Donald Trump was the obvious winner. As the talking heads and pundits are now realizing there is something going on here that feels like 1980 …Trump is stirring the Republican base, Independents, and others who don’t normally vote Republican or even vote in a way that Reagan did in that campaign. While I am still cautious regarding Trump, the possibility that longtime friend Senator Jeff Sessions could be his VP, Attorney General, or other position in his administration, certainly lends him a great degree of credibility with me and my family. And if Jeff is close by him in any capacity no question it will help him with the more conservative Republican voters.
Bottom line: in the General Election, it’s going to be all about voter ‘turnout.’ Democrats, proven by the 2012 get out the vote IT machine that reelected Obama, have that down to a science. The only way for the Republicans to win is fielding a candidate who excites more voters to turn out and that now likely appears to be Donald Trump."
"Loser: The Baldwin County Board of Education. Their financial problems cannot be overstated, and the loss of one part of the tax vote will put even more strain on what is already a terrible situation. To make matters worse, and adding to the urgency of the dire financial problem, was a very frank assesment by Dr. Hope Zeanah to the School Board at it's work session on Nov. 17, 2015, wherein she revealed that test scores showed Baldwin County students testing lower than Mobile County students in key areas.
Short Term Winner/Long Term Loser: "Dr." Lou Campomenosi and the Baldwin County "Common Sense Tea Party" group. This group campaigned against the renewal of expiring school taxes and against the addition of new taxes in 2015. At that time, they were able to not only defeat new school taxes, but to stop the renewal of ongoing taxes which supported the schools. Their success in that campaign has greatly contributed to the dire financial hardship in which the schools presently find themselves. The result is that most opinion makers now feel emboldened to be critical of this group, which is now perceived as a group of older, non-forward looking cranks and troglodytes whose activities are ruinous to Baldwin County schools and will hurt property values in the long run.
Winner: The Fairhope City Schools movement and Fairhope City Council Member Diana Brewer. The tax loss means fewer teachers, overcrowded classrooms, worsening conditions at existing facilities, lack of elective course offerings at the high school level, etc. This will play well for the City Schools folks in Fairhope, led by Brewer, who are already attempting to push the narrative and perception that the Baldwin County Board of Education is a top-heavy, under-performing, tax wasting entity controlled from Bay Minette.
Winner: Bayside Academy. The ongoing turmoil with property taxes and the Baldwin County Board of Education has caused the private Daphne academy's enrollment to swell. Two local realtors have told me that they are being told by prospective Baldwin County home-buyers that happen to be Airbus executives that part of their compensation package includes money towards tuition for their children to attend private school."
Baldwin County lawyer
"Winner – James Patterson, who won a spot on the Mobile County Circuit Court bench over the legal establishment’s hand-picked candidate.
Loser – James Patterson, who stepped on a lot of toes during the campaign and who made some very bad decisions that showed questionable character. Patterson will not be invited to join the other Judges for lunch anytime soon, I promise.
As an attorney, I am embarrassed by some of Patterson’s campaign tactics, such as putting his campaign stickers on moon pies and throwing them off his Mardi Gras float."