The same, or different?

June 28, 2017

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

Are we going to be the same, making the same decisions over and over again, and hoping for a different result? (The definition of insanity.)

Or will Alabama voters decide what we’re doing is not working, and make some new choices?

We’ll have a good indication with the upcoming Special Election for the US Senate in Alabama, a vote to replace former Senator Jeff Sessions, who became President Donald Trump’s choice for US Attorney General.

This is not a rhetorical question.

The Special US Senate Election has lots of candidates, including some we’ve seen, in my view, too much of: former State Attorney General Luther Strange, who was appointed to the position by disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley. There’s also former and twice-disgraced Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore. And there’s US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Madison) who gets a free run at the office, since he doesn’t have to stand for his House seat this year.

Choosing any of those three means business as usual. It’s voters saying, “We’re happy with the direction our State is moving, so let’s just keep doing the same.”

That can’t possibly be the truth, can it?

Fortunately, though, we have a lot of candidates, on both the Republican and Democratic sides, from whom to choose. There are about a dozen Republicans running, and another eight Democrats.

That’s plenty of choices for voters – if they want to go in a different direction.

We’ll get a good idea where voters stand on Aug. 15, when Republicans and Democrats make their initial choices in the party primaries. With so many candidates, there may need to be a runoff, and that’ll happen on Sept. 26. The General Election is Dec. 12, so Merry Christmas.

Voters need to examine each of the candidates, in both parties, and make informed decisions. And, though it is a Special Election, they need to vote.

We’ve been traveling a pot-hole rutted street in Alabama. Republicans, who gained a supermajority in the State Legislature in 2010, have clearly demonstrated they have trouble governing. They so displaced Democrats, they really had nobody to battle, so they turned and battled each other, much to Alabama’s distress.

In the wake of that, former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was booted out of office in disgrace after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges; Bentley resigned in disgrace after, at the very least, feeling up his top aide and doing some other nefarious stuff; and Chief Justice Roy Moore was once again removed from office after failing, once again, to follow a Federal Court’s direction.

Moore no doubt is one of the favorites in the Senate Special Election, but he shouldn’t be. We should be over him by now. Strange, who was once a fairly progressive, moderate Republican, is toeing the far-right agenda of most Republicans and was appointed to the Senate under a cloud. Mo Brooks is identified with the House Freedom Caucus, which is so far out there, it’s, well, out there.

On the Democratic Party side, there’s former US Attorney Doug Jones, the favorite; and the first openly gay candidate for US Senate, Michael Hansen, a political activist and nonprofit executive.

One wonders, however, if the Democrats have their act together enough in Alabama to field a successful candidate. We’ll have to see.

But most important, we need to see voters in Alabama do something different. To indicate that they’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.

Voting for the status quo is not the way to go. The winner of the Special Election has to run again in 2020, so picking someone new doesn’t mean picking someone for forever.

Alabama voters have a chance this year and next (State offices General Election) to show the same isn’t good enough. So let’s do it.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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