By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— Two new polls give our State’s only registered Independent Legislator a reason to smile. It is also an occasion for heartburn among the Republican elite, who have yet to defeat Senator Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb).
Two, separate public opinion surveys recently conducted in the 29th State Senate District, show that Smith is viewed very favorably in the Wiregrass District:
“I’m humbled by the results of these two recent polls,” said Smith, “My goal as a State Senator has always been to earn the trust of the people I serve as their voice in the State Senate.”
A poll paid for by Smith campaign and conducted by Marketing Research Insights showed that of the 68 percent of the voters who knew Smith well enough to have formed an opinion of her, 76 percent held a favorable opinion. A poll fielded by the Capitol Center Survey Research poll showed that out of 80 percent of voters who said that they knew the Senator well enough to hold an opinion, 71 percent were favorable.
Of the 83 percent of all voters who had made up their mind on the question of re-electing Smith, or simply preferring a new Senator, over 60 percent said they definitely wanted to re-elect Smith, an Independent.
Veteran campaign consultant, Jack Campbell, said of the polling results, “These numbers reflect Harri Anne’s continued popularity with the voters, particularly strong in view of the fact she will run as an Independent candidate.”
Smith was forced to run as an Independent, after a failing out with then ALGOP Chairman Mike Hubbard.
Smith first won her Senate seat running as a Republican in 1998, defeating incumbent Republican State Senator Chip Bailey. In the general election, she defeated Democrat nominee Mac Palmer 61percent to 39.
While Smith caucuses with the Republicans, she remains an Independent and will run as one in 2014.
“In the coming months I will be gathering signatures to allow me to be on the ballot as an Independent candidate for re-election in 2014,” said Smith.
A small group of Republican party bosses have drafted County Commissioner Melinda McClendon of Dothan to challenge Smith. The recent Capitol Center Survey poll asked voters who they favored between Melinda McClendon and Senator Harri Anne Smith and of the 81 percent who were decided about their choice, Smith received 62 percent and McClendon got 38.
According to the polls, over two-thirds of all voters said that Senator Smith’s work helping the victims of the Samson shooting, assisting victims of the Midland City “Boy in the Bunker Case,” helping military families and all that she did to bring more jobs to the Wiregrass were strong reasons they favored her re-election.
For now, Smith says she is focused on the Legislative season which begins in January:
“I will continue to work for my constituents, and I ask for their prayers and support as we tackle the issues before us.”