Political fortunes come and go

October 18, 2017

By Steve Flowers
Inside the State House

Now that the dust has settled from the Republican Senate primary, we can focus on the much-anticipated 2018 elections.

Kay Ivey is definitely running for governor. She raised over one million dollars in a few short weeks in August with an exploratory committee. As of the last reporting period, she has raised $1.2 million followed closely by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who is at $1.1 million.

Ivey has been running a stealth campaign traveling the state and looking gubernatorial. On a recent day in Tuscaloosa, she visited the University of Alabama and then mid-morning, visited a pre-kindergarten class in the Druid City. Allow me to share a story surrounding Kay’s Tuscaloosa visit.

The University’s television station, WVUA, has a star, veteran, news anchor, Lynn Brooks. They have a large Tuscaloosa and West Alabama viewing audience. Lynn and her husband, who is a Tuscaloosa attorney, adopted a little 6-year old girl less than a year ago. They adopted little Emma in a magnanimous venture through the Department of Human Resources.

Little Emma had a traumatic first 5 years to say the least. However, Lynn and her husband have brought her out of her shell and given her a wonderful middle class life. She arrived without clothes or dolls. Lynn quickly got her three new dolls. Two of them were obvious Disney princesses. One was nameless. Like most 6 year olds today, they are quite precocious and computer and television savvy. Emma watches TV and names her third doll Kay Ivey. Her momma asked her why she named her doll Kay Ivey. Emma said, “Mom, don’t you know that Kay Ivey is the President of Alabama, like Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

Well guess what folks, that day the real Kay Ivey came to Emma’s school, Verner Elementary in Tuscaloosa, on Emma’s birthday. Emma told her mama casually as she was preparing for school that morning that the real Kay Ivey was coming to her school today for her birthday.

Some last thoughts on the just completed GOP Senate primary. Luther Strange garnered some powerful enemies during his 6-year tenure as Attorney General and they came back to haunt him. Bob Riley was ready to pounce on him after his boy, Mike Hubbard, was prosecuted. A second enemy evolved in the form of mega rich, plaintiff trial lawyer, Jere Beasley.

Beasley has always liked Roy Moore. He and his wife Sara are very devout religiously and are admirers of Roy and his wife, Kayla. In addition, Moore did not toe the business line on Tort Reform, which endeared him with Beasley the state’s most prominent personal injury attorney.

Beasley mostly aligns with liberal Democratic politicians like Barack Obama; however, in the race between Luther Strange and Roy Moore he raised money for his buddy Moore. Beasley had a further incentive because Luther as Attorney General had cut Beasley’s firm out of the settlement dollars from the BP oil spill.

There are multiple stories in Alabama political lore where someone loses a major race for political office and turns around to make a lot more money, and have a more prestigious and rewarding life after politics. They will all say, “Losing that race was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Jere Beasley epitomizes that story. He lost the 1978 governor’s race in a political defeat, but has gone on to glory and riches as a plaintiff attorney.

Actually, Luther and Beasley have more in common than they may realize. They both ended their political careers on the same ignominious note. It has been 40 years since Beasley’s infamous 1978 debacle race for governor. He finished a dismal and distant fifth in that race, finishing behind Sid McDonald, Albert Brewer, Bill Baxley, and the ultimate winner, Fob James. Beasley had been running fulltime for eight years and as Lt. Governor raised an immense amount of money. In fact he raised so much money that he held the record for 40 years for the most money spent per vote gotten in a statewide race.

Big Luther, who Beasley dubbed “Little” Luther, broke Beasley’s record for the most money spent per vote gotten. When all is said and done, Luther and the Washington Super PAC’s will have spent over $15 million. In comparison Roy Moore spent around $1 million. That’s a record!

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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