By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
This is one of those corny columns. Ready?
GET OUT AND VOTE ON TUESDAY! Take a couple of minutes, and do your duty.
Yep, it’s a “Go-Vote” column, and there’s a reason. On Tuesday, Alabama voters are supposed to go to the polls for the Democratic and Republican primaries to elect party representatives for the special election for U.S. Senate. That’s the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions resigned to become President Donald Trump’s Attorney General.
One could bet, after being Twitter-shamed by Trump time and time again, that Sessions is regretting that decision. He puts on a “brave” face, if Sessions has a brave face, but there’s no doubt that Trump’s vicious Twitter finger has been an embarrassment, to both Trump and Sessions.
After Sessions went to the Justice Department (and got what he deserved for trusting Trump to act with any sort of dignity), former Gov. Robert Bentley, before he was disgraced and forced to resign, appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to Sessions’ Senate post.
That appointment in itself was controversial, considering Strange was supposed to be investigating Bentley for some weird stuff he did as governor. Yes, weirder than boob-squeezing his top aide, Rebekah Mason, half his age. The squeeze and the eighth-grade comments Bentley made about Mason that were recorded, were the beginning of the end for Bentley. Finally, Bentley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics charge and had to resign as part of the plea deal.
At first, Bentley had decided Strange wouldn’t have to stand for election until 2018, but new Gov. Kay Ivey changed that shortly after she was sworn into office.
Now, we have an election on Tuesday to decide who should be the Democratic and Republican nominees for U.S. Senate.
On the Republican side, it’s been a nasty, brutal campaign, mainly between Strange, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Madison), and disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, twice removed from the state Supreme Court for, if nothing else, actions unbecoming a Chief Justice.
So that sets up this corny column: Don’t let a minority of voters decide who is going to represent you in the U.S. Senate. Go vote, and let your voice be heard.
We shouldn’t have to urge eligible voters to cast their ballot. It’s one of our privileges in a free society, but that’s also a responsibility.
Alas, many Alabamians – most times, indeed, a majority of eligible voters – fail to bother to cast a ballot.
This Tuesday’s special election looks like another one where most Alabamians will leave it up to somebody else to make their decisions. (And then they’ll gripe at the choices made!)
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told The Associated Press that he’s expecting only 20 percent to 25 percent of voters to turn out. And that’s registered voters, people, not the total of Alabamians who are eligible to vote. Of course, if you’re not registered to vote, you’ve already abdicated your right to have a say.
How bad could it be? In the 2014 General Election, when voters were deciding the governor and other statewide constitutional offices, along with both the State House and Senate, only 41 percent of registered voters bothered to show up.
After Tuesday’s special election vote, a runoff, if necessary, will be held for both parties on Sept. 26. The General Election is in December, during the Christmas season.
We could see minuscule voter turnout across the elections. And that’s terrible.
Also terrible is that Moore and Strange are expected to be in the runoff for Republicans. That simply means Alabamians are happy with the way things are. How could they be? Only they can say. But on Tuesday, we’re unlikely to see anything new.
Unless people vote. VOTE, PEOPLE! VOTE!
In the Democratic Primary, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, environmentalist Michael Hansen, and Naval Academy graduate Robert Kennedy Jr. (no, not of those Kennedys) are considered the top contenders.
But if voters don’t turn out in large numbers in both primaries, we’ll wind up with pretty much the same we get every election: The same. And to that, we’ll add an “h,” so that we can say the same is a shame. A real shame.
Corny me, I’ll be voting Tuesday. And corny me urges you to vote as well.
That special U.S. Senate race is the only item on the ballot. It won’t take long.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]