By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—It’s never too early to start the next campaign. With just over two weeks before Election Day 2014, a poll is making the rounds in Alabama Republican circles this week, showing the top choices among Republicans for the Governor’s race in 2018. The poll was sponsored by the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government and conducted by Spot On Strategies Group.
The poll of 608 Republican voters included several household Republican names, including several who have run for or held statewide office. Several mayors and legislators were also added to the list. In all, 12 names were tested with an option for “Other” as a 13th option. Not surprisingly, “Unsure” led the pack four years out, with nearly a quarter of the sample registering as unsure who they will back in 2018.
The Top 3 finishers were, Luther Strange (Attorney General), Bradley Byrne (Congressman), and Tim James (Businessman), three Republicans who have run statewide within the past four years.
Luther Strange finished first with 15 percent. There is little doubt his continual presence on television for the past few months in his quest for re-election for Attorney General helped lift him to the top position.
Tim James finished second with 14 percent. James ran an extremely close third in the GOP primary for governor in 2010. He also ran a distant third in the 2002 GOP primary for governor. It is clear he still has a loyal, but small following around the State.
Bradley Byrne finished third with 12 percent. Byrne finished with a plurality of the GOP primary vote for governor in 2010, but got beat handily by Robert Bentley in the runoff. Byrne has since run a successful special election for congress in Alabama’s First Congressional District and will be elected to his first full term this November.
Those choosing “Other” took fourth place with 11 percent. This is probably not surprising four years away from 2018. However, what is surprising is that combined with “Unsure,” those unwilling or unable to select one of the twelve named participants, represented a healthy 35 percent of the sample.
The “also rans” included Sandy Stimpson (Mayor of Mobile), Greg Reed (State Senator), Arthur Orr (State Senator), Dick Brewbaker (State Senator), Del Marsh (Senate Pro Tem), Mike Hubbard (Speaker of the House), Tommy Battle (Mayor of Huntsville), Paul DeMarco (State Representative), and Martha Roby (Congressman).