The Political Round-Up
Winners & Losers, Part 2
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Alabama politics, it's the greatest show on Earth.
It's just intermission of the 2010 election cycle and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the July 13 runoff campaign and the November general election to match the drama of Tuesday's party primaries. Political scientists and assorted amateur politicos will study these primary campaigns and results for years like archeologists sifting through the ruins of Pompeii.
As has become MBT custom on the day after the election carnage, we turn to our coterie of politically astute observers to share their insight with "winners and losers" as a launching point.
Winners to varying degrees include Ashley Rich, Robert Bentley, Hallie Dixon, David Green, Ron Sparks, Joe Reed, Hank Sanders, Luther Strange, Jo Bonner, Darren Flott, Napoleon Bracy, John McMillan, Bradley Byrne, among others. Losers are Artur Davis, AEA, Judy Newcomb, John Tyson Jr. (who was also a winner of sorts with Rich's victory in the GOP DA's primary), Mark Erwin, George Wallace Jr., to name a few. And some of the winners may not be winners so much as losers-in-waiting.
Okay, hombres, los ganadores & perdedors?
"Biggest loser was 'the political group' backing Erwin including elected officials. Their failed attempt in last two elections to take over Mobile, plus Nodine mess, has taken away the wind in their sail. Bradley is another big loser, to squeak in after spending big dollars is shocking. If Bentley's in the runoff, Bradley loses; James' people bitter with BB and will not vote for him. Roy Moore people will not support BB either. Paul Hubbert is a big winner, accomplished half his goal, damaging BB, and now will take him down in July, then throw support to Ron Sparks and complete his mission."
- 30 second TV ads funded by AEA and union boss Paul Hubbert putting his people in the Republican primary;
- Black political groups who got mad when Artur Davis didn't bow down to them and went with Sparks;
- John McMillan's tractor green and yellow signs;
- The parents of Young Boozer for that name.
- The English language being slaughtered by Ron Sparks on statewide TV speaking about school children;
- Incumbents who were beaten just because they were incumbents but were good servants of the people.
Robert Bentley: Win, lose or draw, a candidate rarely considered to be a legitimate contender has managed to come to bat with the big boys. He has thrown a kink in what many people thought would be a Byrne/James contest. He offered an alternative to candidates who chose to sling mud rather than focus on the issues. Ultimately, even if he doesn't make it in the run-off, he has gained, shall we say, 'political capital' for the future.
Ron Sparks: Just a year ago, I heard many Democrats consider his run against Artur Davis a form of political suicide. I think he has silenced the doubters and has shown he can pull votes from a variety of supporters. Maybe his stance on gambling and electronic bingo played a substantial role in his victory. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the general election against his Republican counterpart.
Ashley Rich: In her first run for political office, she ran a clean, honest campaign and ran on her credentials and chose to take the high road. The general election should be exciting with her running against Don Foster. Two very qualified and intelligent candidates. Mobile County wins no matter who the victor may be in November.
Vivian Figures: The plan of Herman 'Spanky' Thomas to get vengeance on those who dare cross him backfired, and Vivian is victorious once again.
Artur Davis: He turned his back on his political base, and they rewarded him by not giving him votes and endorsements. He has crossed too many Democrats in the past and now he will be out looking for a job come January.
Tim James: While he may make a run-off, he made himself a national joke with his ridiculous ads. He has made Alabama fodder for political jokes once again and that is NOT what we need.
Troy King: With all the gambling controversy, it was bound to happen. He's had a storm around him for quite a while and I think people got to the point where enough was enough. The gambling issue was just the last nail in the coffin.
Mark Erwin: Stay away from Steve "The Hammer" Nodine. Period.
Herman Thomas: It's time to sing 'Happy Trails' to the world of politics."
"I just reviewed the polling results published in the Birmingham News on May 26. It is obvious that for whatever reason, the polls were just flat wrong. While I have, in the past, found polling to be fairly accurate, some factor came into play in this election that apparently a large majority of the pollsters missed. Unless they can develop a good rationale for this anomaly, the pollsters could be the 'Biggest Losers' in this election."
"In Mobile County, Mark Erwin's 'too-close-for comfort' relationship with the incarcerated Steve Nodine wiped out any chances he had for the DA's office. And justifiably so. But I have a feeling that former U.S Attorney Don Foster may be a stronger candidate against Ashley Rich in November than first thought. The only other race which interested me was the Vivian Figures/Herman Thomas race. And that outcome was really no big surprise as Ms. Figures just spanked the former Judge Thomas. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But in reality and in my opinion, it would've been a travesty for District 33 if Mr. Thomas would've won.
In Baldwin County, Judy Newcomb finally got her comeuppance due to her disorganized and sometimes incompetent management of the DA's office. New-comer David Green ran well and it'll be an interesting dogfight in the run-off with former Newcomb right-hand assistant, Hallie Dixon. The only other race which was a little surprising to me was Baldwin County Sewer Services' employee Tucker Dorsey out-polling incumbent Wayne Gruenloh in the Place 3 race for the Baldwin County Commission. In my opinion, I believe that's more of a vote against Gruenloh than for Dorsey.
In the statewide races, Troy King's AG reign thankfully ended. His bingo fight with the popular Governor Riley was most likely the difference for Big Luther, even with Strange's supposed big oil ties. The two big surprises of the evening (at least to me) were the poor showing of Artur Davis, losing BIG to Ron Sparks on the Democratic side, and of course, Robert Bentley's strong Republican gubernatorial showing, no matter whether he's in the run-off or not.
Stay tuned, as it'll be a knockdown six weeks."
Eastern Shore politico
"TV stations were winners as usual. Negative ads were losers. Kay Ivey proved the adage that it doesn’t matter what you say just spell my name right. Gambling was a winner. Forgoing pay was well received by a public that cannot stand that politicians get paid."
I'm out of town ... so I have not had a chance to review the results. Initially, it does appear that law enforcement has a say in DA races."
"The winners were those candidates who chose to run positive campaigns not based on political gimmicks and traditional smut ads. People like Vivian Davis Figures and Ashley Rich and Robert Bentley (possible runoff candidate). Bradley Byrne got a good lesson in flooding the airwaves with incendiary ads that label all teachers as crooks and thieves simply because of a small group of people who chose to do something unlawful and his denial that he was once a committed and fervent Democrat didn’t set well either. His failure to support the school tax in Baldwin County without offering a solution himself, lost him votes among Baldwin County people who were willing to do what it took to keep schools going. Mark Erwin now knows that all of his behind the scenes work to destroy the local Democratic party and Brad Warren and his attempt to smear John Tyson and Ashley Rich to protect his protégé’, Steve Nodine, finally caught up with him.
Warren was a big winner by the way. Brad is now on the SDEC. Hooray for him and Vivian Beckerle went all Herman Thomas on Betty Gartman.
People are sick of labels and mudslinging and it would behoove those in the runoff to remember that!"
Independent & lovin' it
"Winner: 'Col.' Tom Parker. It is kinda funny to me that all of the self-proclaimed intelligentsia was trying to throw out ol' Col. Tom and got a big FAIL.
Losers: Champ Lyons and the BCA, who were pushing Eric Johnston."
"Once again, our democracy lost a bit with such a low voter turnout. In addition, considering the effort put into the gubernatorial primary, I would say that AEA leadership lost a bit. The runoff will tell us more. Integrity won out with the win of Ashley Rich and the loss of James Gordon."
"As usual the biggest losers are the citizens of Mobile County. With the exception of Prichard, we got more of the same from this primary. However, I think more of the same was better than the change candidates for the most part. Thank goodness Nodine’s man Mark Erwin didn’t win. Can you imagine what that DA’s office would have been like? Hopefully 'Spanky' Thomas will fade into oblivion now, but his ego will probably not let him. As far as the U.S. Representative seat goes, it was one tea partier against another. It looks like the lesser of the tea partiers pulled it off. As for Baldwin County; Hoss was too strong and the student has surpassed the teacher in the DA’s race. "
"In the Baldwin DA’s race, the biggest winner is NOT Hallie Dixon; it is David Green. The best case scenario for Dixon would have been a run-off between her and Newcomb. Dixon would have been assured the election by receiving nearly all of the leftover Green vote. Because of profound animosity between the Dixon and the Newcomb camps, Dixon is unlikely to receive much (if any) support from the 30% of voters that supported Newcomb’s third place finish.
Result: David Green becomes the next DA in Baldwin County --- easily."
Here's some that relates more to the environment:
Chip Brown, who took up the mantle of private sewer regulation in Baldwin County, lost in his bid for the Republican nomination for Public Service Commission, Place 2. Terry Dunn from Southside will represent the GOP. What is not clear is: will this set back Baldwin County citizen concerns about the PSC regulating private sewers? Will that be lost with Brown's defeat Tuesday or will the PSC be receptive to those concerns nonetheless.
In Baldwin County, Place 2, Daniel Dyas' arrest and conviction on charges of domestic violence against his estranged wife eclipsed a surprisingly progressive platform of smart growth and environmental protection for the county. Despite explosive growth, hurricane damage, and now the BP oil spill threatening its shores, too few Baldwin County leaders have put smart growth and environmental protection at the top of their platforms. Let's hope the message doesn't get lost with the messenger."
I was surprised and pleased to see Davis get destroyed and glad to see Byrne is out in front. In the county commission races, I have supported Bishop but think James would do a good job as well. I'm really pulling for Tucker Dorsey as his heart is definitely in the right place and he will definitely stand up and do right for the people of the county. As far as the DA races go, I was glad Rich won and figured that was a no brainer after Erwin name kept getting mentioned in association with Nodine even though he didn't do anything. I was expecting a runoff between Judy and David over here and I anticipate David will come out on top. Also I knew King would get ousted."
"I think the traditional 'voting sheet' barons of the block vote were winners. Apparently (I haven't analyzed the precincts) the endorsements by ADC and New South still carry a lot of weight. I would have never expected Ron Sparks to have beaten Artur, and I think this eliminates an African-American candidate from serious consideration for a statewide post in my lifetime. Sad."
Ashley Rich was a very big winner. She ran a great campaign and let the press work the Erwin/Nodine connection to Mark Erwin's detriment. I think she will be very hard to beat in November and at her young age, could be DA for a long time. She worked very hard and her overall theme stayed positive.
Vivian Figures -- She received 2/3rds of the vote against an opponent who certainly ran on nothing more than a vendetta against her. She kept her cool and her class both during the election and on election night.
Statewide, Robert Bentley was the big surprise to me. His ads were very effective. I felt like I was watching someone whom I could trust like my grandfather. His low-key style and 'I won't take a salary' type comments came at the right time for the voters -- they trust him. If he makes the run-off, Bradley Byrne better watch out. At a time when people are generally not happy with the political establishment, he comes across as an honest outsider.
Ron Sparks -- big winner -- the only candidate who supports the lottery and it worked -- in the Democratic primary.
Luther Strange's campaign was very effective and he has to be the favorite in November for AG.
Mark Erwin, unfortunately, as he would have made a very good DA. The decision to go to Nodine's house 'the morning after' was his undoing in this race. I suspected he might lose the race because of that, but was still surprised at the lopsided margin of defeat. This proves the 'David Thomas' theory -- Nodine has become so toxic in the last few weeks that many that were close to him will come to political ruin.
Speaking of political ruin, Herman Thomas was a big loser, as he was 'spanked' by Sen. Vivian Figures. His transparent attempt at vengeance against Vivian Figures failed miserably in that he only got 1/3 of the vote. I would be surprised if he is elected to political
office any time this decade.
Judy Newcomb was a big loser. For an incumbent DA to draw a crowded field of competitors is a bad sign. For her to fail to make the run-off speaks volumes as to the dissatisfaction of the citizens (and the local
Statewide, Troy King was a very big loser. I think the very public feuding with Riley over gambling and all of the problems he has had (grand jury investigations, etc.) caught up with him and the voters were just tired of him and his bad hair. Luther Strange did a great job of hammering away at him during the campaign. It took a Strange man to chop off the head of the King!
Roy Moore was a big loser. Expected to challenge for the runoff, he was easily left in the wake of Robert Bentley and finished 4th. Moore's political star has done nothing but fall since his removal from office
as Chief Justice a few years back. He has now run for Governor twice and failed to even win the Republican primary. The voters have said less of Moore is a good thing.
Artur Davis was a monumental loser. Bucking the old guard ADC, etc. is only part of the answer for his downfall. How could he lose by that margin? He is young enough to where he can come back, but the margin of defeat may discourage potential supporters the next time he runs for office.
Two more just for fun: Orlando Bethel -- Baldwin County's craziest sheriff candidate in history somehow managed to capture 7% of the vote. The question that should be asked is: how could nearly 2,000 Baldwin
Countians vote for him? Sure, if Bethel had somehow won, it would have been entertaining to see the county coroner have to arrest him the first time Bethel committed some type of minor misdemeanor while in office, but really? 2,000 votes? Pretty bad ... but not nearly as bad as...
James Potts, the candidate for governor who technically polled 0% of the vote in the Republican primary. How would you like to be that guy when
you are at the next family reunion?
Cousin: 'James, how's it going?"
James: " Nearly 500,000 people voted for Governor in the Republican primary and I polled 0% of the vote with only 1,500 votes. The good news is that I am so anonymous in this state that I can do whatever I want
whenever I want wherever I want and no one will know it's me!"
"Loser, no surprise -- Judy Newcomb. The amount of votes David Green received surprised me because he is young and in-house counsel, so one does not see him around much."
"Big winner? Don Foster. Just kidding. Bentley is a big winner. He could win the Republican nomination if it is perceived that he can win by voters. Losers were local Republican Party leaders who supported Erwin. The State of Alabama was a loser along with Artur. Color of skin does not trump black political leaders. Alabama is not ready for a progressive middle of the road black who does not have support from black power brokers. Biggest loser? Tim James, a/k/a Fob Jr. How many millions to chase impossible dream? He needs to go build a bridge."
"I have maintained for quite some time that public frustration would boil over, creating an atmosphere very hostile to incumbents. People are tired of Republicans protecting the oil, insurance and banking industries while Democrats protect very costly social programs that are in many instances offensive to Alabama sensibilities. The average voter feels isolated because neither party seems to represent them. The general election in November should prove interesting as Republicans and Democrats begin slugging it out.
The most obvious surprises had to be Ron Sparks crushing defeat of Artur Davis in the Democratic Primary and Dr. Bentley's strong finish in the Republican Primary. Dr. Bentley's showing may be more telling in that I believe it demonstrates the very same frustration mentioned above. It appears that a great many voters grew weary of the James/Byrne campaign efforts and decided late to vote for Bentley. If a recount shows Bentley in a runoff with Byrne, I would think that Bentley would pick up considerable support from James' voters. A James/Byrne runoff would probably be a slight advantage to James by virtue of the Bentley votes. In either event, Byrne has to overcome his appearance of superiority and arrogance to win the 'bubba' vote, and I question his ability to do so.
Steve Nodine's legal issues created collateral damage for Mark Erwin which could not be overcome. Ashley Rich won in part by the negative publicity received by Erwin following Nodine's arrest and Mike Dean's pre-election call for Erwin's county services to end. It appears that much of the conversation about Nodine was designed to aid Ashley Rich.
Who was the winner? I think the winners are all of us who no longer (for a while) have to listen to these incessant commercials which do little other than foster the notion that none of the candidates are worth voting for."
"I was stunned at how badly Artur Davis was beaten and I was delighted that Vivian (Figures) won. I really thought Mark Erwin would do better but I guess the Nodine touch was too much to overcome."
- 1. Candidates who did not resort to mud slinging -- this resonated with voters this year. Ashley Rich and Robert Bentley are prime examples;
- 2. Incumbents -- Name recognition is still king with the exception of Parker Griffith (bad, bad year to be a party switcher to the GOP) and Judy Newcomb (whose bungling of the Wilson murder and the initial freedom of Nodine hurt her) with most incumbents winning decisively;
- 3. Robert Bentley -- Very good chance of him becoming Alabama's Governor if he gets into the run off with Byrne. His message plays well across party lines.
- 4. Republican County Commission 2 candidates -- With hotly contested Republican run offs, their race should receive a lot more attention;
- 5. AEA -- With only 28% of the statewide vote, Byrne is vulnerable in the runoff, and James and Bentley are palatable to the organization;
- Ron Sparks -- The Teflon don of Alabama politics, even though an ultimate win by a Democratic candidate for Governor is highly unlikely this year, unless James and Byrne continue the slug fest.
- 1. Old political maxims -- Saying a white Democratic candidate cannot beat a black Democratic candidate in the Democratic primary is a fool's mantra. Of course, Sparks is an unusually strong Democratic candidate;
- 2. The Republican Party -- They are being forced further and further to the right; the candidates continue to break Reagan's eleventh commandment of 'not speaking ill will of a fellow Republican,' and they have no concise message except for "no new taxes" pledges. This will do long term damage to Republicans, but may take decades;
- 3. Artur Davis -- Any political aspirations he has in this State above his gerrymandered district are kaput. Alabamians still don't look past color, even Democratic primary voters.
- 4. Oil damaged Gulf --Tom Parker used every buzz phrase in the Republican vernacular including 'tea party,' 'constitutionalist,' 'God fearing conservative,' etc. Translation: 'This Alabama Supreme Court will continue to side with big business and fail to protect the average Alabamian. BP, everything will be okay.' It is high time that judgeships become non-partisan elections or appointments;
- 5. Democratic Party -- All they are able to hold onto are gerrymandered districts that favor incumbent African-Americans. There are NO county wide Democratic office holders in Mobile or Baldwin counties (other than three circuit judges) and there won't be for several election cycles. Republican voters voted over 2 to 1 in Mobile County and over 9 to 1 in Baldwin County.
"I am overjoyed that Ron Sparks won. It tells me that Democrats realized, as I preached, that although we had two good candidates one could not win in November, but the other has a chance. Now, it's up to
us to take this chance and make it a possibility. I know it can be done. I would like to study the vote precinct by precinct and county by county before making any predictions."
"Big Winner was Alabama Democratic Conference. Not only did it, along with New South and other organizations, convincingly defeat Artur Davis, but also in the Democratic Attorney General’s race, its endorsed candidate, James Anderson, overwhelmed New South’s endorsed candidate Michel Nicrosi."
The voters of Senate District 33/the State of Alabama. Had Herman Thomas pulled off an upset victory over Vivian Davis Figures, Alabama would have become the 'whipping boy' of late-night pundits and the media. Pun very much intended.
The State of Alabama. No matter who is elected Governor now, the state wins. A Roy Moore win would have set back the state by at least 50 years, and you could kiss new investment goodbye.
Those who value experience over politics. Ashley Rich, as much as she may be disliked among certain circles for her aggressiveness, was far more qualified than her opponent, whose experience largely amounted to being a party hack. Additionally, Erwin showed especially poor judgment in meeting with and consoling Steve Nodine in the hours immediately after he allegedly killed his mistress.
Herman Thomas. Done. And done.
George Wallace Jr. Probably the end of his political career, on the heels of his failed attempt to capture the lieutenant governor’s seat.
Artur Davis. Wow. He went from being the 'sure thing,' darling of the progressives, to not even showing up on Election Day. He got spanked like a convict in Herman Thomas’ private chambers.
Troy King. He may be able to find a job selling used cars somewhere."
"MDI Media. Emerging as agency of choice for the shrewder political candidate."
"Obviously the most significant loser in the Baldwin County races was Judy Newcomb. Apparently, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with her leadership. Judy should do well as a private attorney without the demands of administration. The fact that Bishop and Gruenloh, as incumbents like Judy, received less than 50 percent of the vote is an indication of the general dissatisfaction with the leadership in Baldwin County. These are hard times and there are no easy answers. We need to stop acting like there are.
Artur Davis abandoned his base and it showed. The only way that Democrats will be able to win in Alabama is to act like Democrats, not like Democrats who are acting like Republicans. Artur violated one of the oldest maxims of politics: "Dance with the one what brung ya'." Artur has a future in politics and in Alabama. He needs to take a long hard look at who was providing him political advice.
It was not a mystery that Troy King lost. The real mystery was: 'How did he ever get elected in the first place?' Has there ever been a more inept attorney general?"
"My only surprise was Hallie Dixon. In speaking with Baldwin County lawyers I frequently heard about David Green and negative comments about Judy Newcomb, but I just did not hear the buzz about Hallie.
I was also surprised by Dr. Bentley's strong showing. I think his positive TV commercials really paid off. Everyone was tired of the negative ads about Bradley by Tim James and I think they liked Dr. Bentley's fresh approach -- no negative and no pay for him as Governor resounded with voters.
Mark Erwin killed his own campaign. Steve Nodine was toxic and Mark got burned."
Artur Davis: I can only attribute this to a very low Black turnout and rural white Democrats being fed up with Obama and Washington. Although I do understand the ADC endorsed Sparks.
Erwin - Rich: I can only credit John Tyson's popularity and Ashley's hard work. The word is that (Mark) never got around to seeing certain people in the community, after being told to go see them specifically, and she did see every one of them.
Troy King, Judy Newcomb, Roy Moore.
Ten penny nail in the coffin: Figures over Thomas. Obviously the community has rendered their opinion on that issue."
"I know we have lost as good a district attorney as we can afford. I hope Dixon or Green are willing and able to put in the work to do a good job. I was pleased with the votes Bob James got; if we have a run off, he should win. I was pleased that Tucker Dorsey did well against Gruenloh. We need competent and energized leadership on the county commission."
"The criminals of Mobile County are the ultimate losers.
Ashley Rich winning puts a 'real' prosecutor in the District Attorney's office. With all due respect to John Tyson and his job over the years, this lady is experienced, passionate, capable and energetic. She holds outstanding respect from the law enforcement community. Now, with the Sheriff's Office operating at an all time efficient level, and a strong vigorous District Attorney, they will together fight crime with a fury. No more 'politicians' in these critical positions. These two top law enforcement county positions are held by experienced, educated, committed professionals."
"I'd say Dr. Bentley may potentially be a big winner by making the runoff and killing Tim James' hopes. We knew Byrne was going to make it, but I assumed James or Roy Moore would be contender.
Tim James' camp has to be licking wounds today and wondering if it was 'common sense' and such negative campaigning that turned away voters in the end ... or was it the now famous Saban gaffe?"
"I believe the winners at this point are the conservatives in Alabama who want to see the state progress to the next level. I am a supporter of Bob
Riley and feel overall he has done a very good job, especially for South Alabama, more so than any governor in a mighty long time. I believe that
Bradley Byrne is the best candidate running for the top spot and will take us to that additional level of respect in education and economic improvement. I do believe the people win in this case because I feel Dr. Bentley appears to be equal to the challenge just with less experience and I prefer the top executive to have some basic knowledge of how Montgomery works. Otherwise within a short period he/she is just a pawn of the power brokers who have controlled this state for too long in their self serving status! So the
people win in this race.
And by the way I feel either can beat Mr. Sparks in the final run. Alabamians have spoken loud in regard to gambling, out of control unethical politicians and power brokers with way too much $$$$$ influence over the legislature. Also, and most important issue, we must remember that these two Republicans signed a commitment to assist with the insurance problem we have in this state which is a state wide problem as other areas are beginning to discover. We must have someone who will accept this mantle, championing the cause by telling Lowell Barron, representative of Fyffe, AL. et al how the economy works and what real estate lost values mean to education by way of reduced ad valorem taxes, and the loss of funding statewide.
As for the Congressional race, Jo Bonner once again showed his strength as a masterful politician, and Mr. Gounares should feel good about his entry in the arena. This should have been a good lesson for a young guy who has a future. Again people want the top guy, the chief executive, to have experience. Obama is a prime example of one who has not a clue about the job and is in way over his head. Gounares should consider running again for a position more close to home and do like others do by doing a good job and
gaining name recognition. He has a bright future.
Baldwin County wins with Hoss Mack winning outright and good candidates in the runoffs. We cannot lose in the DA's race, which I believe at this point requires good management skills as a higher priority than prosecution ability. That may sound strange but a good manager will have good prosecutors working in the proper places but there is more to being the top
person than being the very best at the service provided, understanding what the mission is and how to accomplish is the most important, not feeling that
one person is the answer to the problems which exist.
As for the county commission it appears that the time may be here for new blood. Good candidates all, and good to see new young folks running. The next generation of leaders are upon us and the future looks bright as do the candidates."