By Bill Armistead
As the 2012 political year comes to a close, it is not only important to remember what we accomplished this past year but what lies ahead in 2014. We can take pride in the election successes in Alabama in 2012 but we cannot, for one moment, begin to think that our work is done.
Nearly two years ago, we laid out a vision here at ALGOP called building a Foundation for our Future. The plan was simple: For the first time in history, ALGOP would invest financial resources, time and energy into county elections while growing our majority status at the state level.
The rational was sound: Many counties vote overwhelmingly Republican at the top of the ticket, yet split their vote and continually elect Democrats at the local level. We believed that If ALGOP could provide the resources and draw a distinction between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party, we would be successful. We believed that we could elect a new crop of local Republicans and begin to end the myth of the “conservative Democrat” and “in this county you have to run as a Democrat to get elected”.
The results speak for themselves: When the Foundation for our Future was announced just over a year ago, only 20 Probate Judges were Republicans and just 17 Circuit Clerks were Republicans. Now, at the end of 2012, Republicans hold 32 Probate Judge Offices and 29 Circuit Clerk Offices. That is a 60% increase in Probate Judges and 70% increase in Circuit Clerks.
Republicans also had a net gain of elected officials in 27 individual counties and elected our first ever Republicans to office in several counties. In addition, we defeated over one-half of the Democrat office holders who were on the ballot this year.
When we elect Republicans at the local level we remove one more layer of support from the Democrats and add more organizational support to our majority party status. Also, when the Foundation for our Future was announced it was pointed out that the vast majority of counties that were to be targeted in 2012 were also represented by freshman members of the Legislature who will be up for re-election in 2014.
Therefore every voter we talked to and identified in 2012 as a Republican, that was one less we would have to identify in 2014. And, for every new volunteer, supporter, and donor we activated in 2012, that was one less we would have to activate in 2014.
As proud as we are of our successes in 2012, our attention has already turned to the elections of 2014. Our Foundation for our Future plans will continue to focus on the transition at the local level from Democrat control to new Republican leadership. But, it does not stop there. We will also focus on retaining and growing our majority in the legislature as well as holding every Republican statewide office.
When you look at the 2014 elections, similar patterns emerge as they did in 2012. As an example, all 67 Alabama Sheriffs will be on the ballot in 2014. Republicans currently only occupy 24 Sheriff’s offices and 43 are controlled by Democrats. And, we cannot let that stand. We are already focusing on candidate recruitment for these offices and have identified several great candidates for Sheriff. Also, if there are any conservative Democrat Sheriffs who believe in our conservative Republican philosophy we invite them to join the Republican Party. Otherwise, we will recruit good solid citizens in our targeted counties and provide the support they need to win their election in 2014.
It has taken our Party nearly 50 years to transition Alabama from a Democrat majority state to a Republican majority state. And, I am proud to say that I was a young college student back when this all began and I got involved in Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign because of his conservative philosophy. It has been a dream come true for me to have seen our party grow from a “telephone booth” party to the majority party in Alabama. And, now is not the time to become complacent.
We know the Democrats are already working on their “comeback” strategy and we will be prepared for them. In two years they will still be the party of Barack Obama and they will not be able to separate their candidates from the most liberal philosophy and president in the American history. And, as I write this today, I cannot imagine where President Obama will have taken our country in the next two years.
We will continue to encourage all of our elected Republicans to stand firm against the overreach of the federal government and not allow our individual freedoms to be taken away from us. As the motto of the State of Alabama reads: We Dare Defend our Rights!