Steve Flowers’ Inside the Statehouse - March 14, 2014
Posted by: wthompson
Date: Mar 14 2014 12:16 PM
Inside the Statehouse with Steve Flowers
March 14, 2014
Last week we highlighted and handicapped the statewide races for the top five constitutional offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer and agriculture commissioner. All of these offices are held by incumbent Republicans. Therefore, it would be an upset if any of them went down to defeat.
In fact, currently there are 31 statewide elected offices in Alabama and all 31 are held by Republicans. However, the Democrats have fielded a respectable slate of candidates. We will see if indeed winning the GOP primary is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie.
The scene is set for there to be donnybrooks for the two low profile secondary statewide offices of secretary of state and state auditor. There are three gentlemen seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of state. Whoever wins the Republican primary will waltz to election in November.
Reese McKinney is the former Probate Judge of Montgomery County. He served 12 years in that capacity and did an excellent job and is well known in the River Region.
State Rep. John Merrill of Tuscaloosa is finishing his first term in the House of Representatives. He started campaigning over a year ago and boy has he campaigned. He has blitzed the state covering every county at least once. He has raised over $300,000 and has also received some significant endorsements, including the Alabama Farmers’ Federation.
Like Merrill, Crenshaw County Probate Judge Jim Perdue has traversed the state. Perdue has been very active in the Probate Judge’s Association and hopes to parlay these relationships into a grassroots victory.
It appeared early on that the Secretary of State race would be the best statewide contest this year. However, the open office of State Auditor may eclipse that three-man race. There are now four men seeking to follow Samantha Shaw in this obscure administrative office.
A young candidate, Adam Thompson, was in the race early. He currently works in the Secretary of State’s office and is familiar with the machinations of both the Auditor and Secretary of State’s duties. Another candidate is Hobbie Sealy, a retired Air Force Colonel from Montgomery.
There are two colorful political characters who jumped into the Auditor’s race on the last day. Jim Ziegler has been around state politics for over 30 years. He won a seat on the PSC as a young man and has run for a lot of offices since then. He is currently a Mobile lawyer and zealous Tea Partier.
The zaniest character in the race for Auditor is Dale Peterson, he lost a race for Agriculture Commissioner four years ago but he became infamous for a YouTube video that went viral where Peterson appeared wearing a cowboy hat and toting a gun. He has since been arrested twice for shoplifting. Peterson’s wife Kathy, who has also lost a statewide race, will be on the GOP ballot as well. She is a candidate for the PSC against incumbent Jeremy Oden.
The best race of the year will be for the open congressional seat in the 6th district. State Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale chose not to run for reelection to the State Senate in order to make his second race for the congressional post. He is the darling of the Tea Party right but is not a good fundraiser. Beason starts with the best name identification.
A second prominent candidate will be wealthy businessman Will Brooke. He is a former head of the Business Council of Alabama. It is unknown how much of his own money he will spend. It will be interesting to see if someone can buy this seat. It is probably the most sophisticated in the state.
State Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood is popular and has put together an early grassroots campaign organization in the district. He is a tireless campaigner.
A political newcomer, Dr. Chad Mathis, an orthopedic surgeon from Shelby County has raised the most early money, although most of it is his own.
Gary Palmer has toiled in the right wing vineyards for decades as the chief officer of the conservative Alabama Policy Institute. He could be formidable.
The other two candidates rounding out the seven-man field are Pelham manufacturer Tom Vigneulle and Birmingham attorney Robert Shattuck. This could be a good race.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in more than 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us. He can also be found on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SteveFlowersInsideTheStatehouse) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/SteveFlowersAL).