By Grant Hallmark
Alabama Political Reporter
Political insiders within the Alabama Republican Party expressed dismay about State Sen. Scott Beason’s candidacy announcement. “We are staying as far away from this as possible,” one politico said.
By this one quote, we can predict what Beason’s primary hurdle will be during the campaign: a complete lack of support from the state party. He has been involved in state politics since 1998, though he did not become a household name until the bingo trial last year. Beason taped conversations he had with fellow politicians and bingo interests in order for the state to more effectively prosecute corrupted officials. While there is a general consensus the officials were involved in corrupt action, the prosecution failed with a lot of help from Beason. According to Judge Myron Thompson, the judge that ruled over the bingo trial, Beason lacked the credibility the government sought to establish, and this was primarily due to his political and racial bias. The self-taped piece of evidence of this bias is the now-infamous “aborigines” comment about black patrons of bingo halls. This made “Scott Beason” about as common a conversation topic as college football in our great state.
His championing of the highly controversial immigration bill written by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach kept his name in the news and associated with controversy. The constant questions about the constitutionality and intents of the immigration law have led the state senator to blame the media. “This controversy is from the mainstream media… they are determined to damage Alabama’s reputation,” Beason said of the ‘Birmingham News’ and the Associated Press.
However, his opponent in the upcoming campaign is experiencing a whirlwind of possibly career-ending controversy of his own, and it is on a national level. Representative Spencer Bachus, an 11-term congressman from Vestavia Hills, has been accused of insider trading. And this accusation is not the normal, “Martha Stewart-like” insider trading. Bachus allegedly profited from privileged information about the recession by betting against the U.S. financial industry. He is the current chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, so he has meetings with the Treasury very often. ‘Salon’ has it that, after receiving the devastating information about the impending fallout into the “real economy” from the financial sector from Ben Bernanke, the Congressman bought options on Proshares Ultra-Short QQQ. In other words, he shorted the market. After the fall he knew was coming, he sold the options for double of what he purchased them for.
The show ‘60 minutes’ has produced and aired a piece on his insider trading, ‘Politico’ has been following the story intently. There is no question this is part of the national conversation now, especially since the topic of income inequality is now ubiquitous. Bachus has not only come to represent the greedy one percenters, but he has also the flag of a Washington Veteran draped around his neck. Though, he no longer enjoys the privilege of the establishment. According to ‘Politico,’ the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (arguably, more powerful than the Speaker) has “smacked” Bachus down.
This is not exactly a desirable position. Beason will run as the anti-establishment candidate in an anti-establishment region, in a year when the establishment is represented by a black, liberal president. Beason has not only the anti-Washington position to enjoy, but some of his faults could be seen as positives in the 6th District. The accusations of racism associated with his comments during the bingo trial will most likely be seen as “honesty” or “straight talk” in this district. And, the tough Kobach immigration bill is pretty popular outside the urban areas of the state. Beason could be seen as the unfiltered “straight-talker” Alabamians tend to like these days.
However, what Congressman Bachus lacks in joe-sixpack street cred, he makes up for in money. There is no doubt Bachus will be able to outraise Beason, given his 20 years in office and his extensive network from the financial services committee and the national Grand Ole Party. Though he is on the outs with the party and the fundraising faucet may not flow as freely as they would before his insider trading controversy, he still has the network in place.
The only way Beason can combat this is with extensive organizing on the ground, requiring a tapping of the Republican activist well. But, with a party that wants to stay as far away from him as possible, that well could be quite dry for him.
This race comes down to one question: which hurts worse, being isolated from the national party or the state party?
By Grant Hallmark