By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday evening in Montgomery, U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones stepped out of a downtown restaurant, where he was meeting with a group of local educators and lawmakers about “education issues,” to speak with reporters.
It was endearingly uneventful.
There were no threats. No cameramen were shoved. No one screamed at reporters. No one disparaged large groups of Americans. No one poked fun at anyone else. And everyone seemed pleased, if a bit bored, with the entire thing.
It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in weeks: A candidate for U.S. Senate actually acting like a candidate for U.S. Senate.
Jones came out and wanted to discuss issues. Things like education and jobs.
(Speaking of jobs, if the Jones campaign doesn’t spend the remaining time until the Dec. 12 election hammering the fact that Roy Moore is a job killer — someone who could chase away relocating companies with his archaic, embarrassing social stances — everyone on that campaign should never work in politics again).
Anyway, Jones answered a few questions, said Roy Moore isn’t fit to run for any office because of his tendency to get kicked out of office and then went on his way.
I kept waiting on someone to get hit with a chair or something.
But no, just a regular ol’ media session with a guy running for Congress.
Meanwhile, to the south of us, the Roy Moore Holy Rolling Dumpster Fire and All-Star Grifter Brigade made a stop in Theodore, at the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church, which sounds like the name that an author not from the South would give to a Southern church in a novel.
Things went a tad differently there.
First, the “rally” was more of a church service, with the tax-free church allowing a candidate for U.S. Senate to stand in the pulpit and tell everyone why they should vote for him.
It did not go smoothly, starting with the music portion. As the media and voters took out their hymnals, they likely didn’t realize that the man leading them in song was the Rev. William “Bill” Atkinson, a longtime pastor in the Theodore area.
I’m guessing that no one from the Moore camp bothered to Google the speakers, because if they had, they would have quickly learned that Atkinson was convicted in 2012 of obstructing an investigation into sex abuse at a Honduran orphanage he and his family operated.
According to an al.com story from 2012, Atkinson’s oldest son, Will Atkinson, was suspected of molesting several orphans. A different son, Jonathan, discovered the abuse and set up a surveillance system that caught his brother committing the acts. Bill Atkinson ordered his sons to destroy the evidence and attempted to quickly defund and shutter the orphanage. When Jonathan refused to go along with the scheme, he told al.com that his father disowned him and cut off funding to the orphanage.
A jury in Theodore found him guilty. And after a brief prison stay, he returned home to apparently become the only male member of the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church with the ability to say, “open your hymnals to page ….”
And of course, the embarrassments didn’t end there.
A couple of hecklers were booted from the church during Moore’s speech, with one loudly asking if the entire town was lying about Moore’s past. Because by now, with the mounting allegations of his apparent preference for teenage girls when he was a 30-something man, most of the town would have to be lying.
But such things did not faze Moore.
He went right ahead with usual spiel about how the gays, lesbians, “transgender mafia,” socialists, communists, establishment Republicans, liberals, Democrats, drug pushers, terrorists and the entire cast of “Hamilton” are against him.
He referenced some phony story about how the accusers — the real women whose claims Moore has still been unable to refute with any piece of evidence — were linked to the illegal drug trade. That’s right, Leigh Corfman is a secret plant of Pablo Escobar.
It’s so absurd, you have to ask yourself repeatedly if this is real life.
But then, there was Doug Jones, just chatting quietly with teachers about things that matter. Not crazy at all. Just eating barbecue and being normal.
How on earth is this race still in doubt?
Opinion | Tommy Tuberville ran a good, disciplined campaign for Senate
Old political maxims clearly played out true to form in the GOP runoff for our junior U.S. Senate seat on July 14.
Tommy Tuberville ran a very wise and disciplined campaign. He steadily stayed on point and simply said I am going to support Donald Trump. Undoubtedly , when Tuberville decided about a year ago to leave his Florida home and run for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, whoever was advising him knew that the only issue was going to be who could cozy up to Donald J. Trump the most. They gave Tuberville the script and he followed his playbook to perfection. He never deviated and never got distracted by issues, questions, or debates. He simply rode the Donald Trump horse all the way home.
Trump is very popular among Republican voters in the Heart of Dixie. That same horse will more than likely carry Tuberville to victory over Doug Jones in November. Trump will beat Joe Biden 60–40 in the state and Tuberville’s numbers over Jones should be close to that same margin. There will be a lot of straight ticket voting in the Fall. There are more Republican voters than Democratic voters in Alabama.
Therefore, Tuberville’s victory illustrates two cardinal maxims of Alabama politics. Number one is more people vote against someone or something than for someone or something. Trump said he did not like Jeff Sessions and asked Alabama GOP voters to vote against him and they obliged Trump. Secondly, Tuberville kept it simple. He epitomized the old saying, “Keep it simple stupid.” It is called the KISS formula. He stayed on message just like a parrot. He did not have to say much. Trump said it all. It also accrued to Tuberville’s advantage that he was a nonpolitician and Washington outsider. Sessions had sat in this seat in the Senate for 20 years.
Coach Tuberville began the race with some significant name identification. Thus, the third maxim, you must have name identification before you have a chance to win. People are not going to vote for someone they have never of. Tuberville’s name identification numbers were 35% going into the race, which was about as high as Jeff Sessions and a little higher than Bradley Byrne. That is truly a testament to how popular college football is in Alabama.
It had been 10 years since Tuberville had coached at Auburn, but Auburn fans traditionally stick together. I suspect every Auburn football fan in the state voted for Tuberville. It is like one big family. It is not just called the loveliest village on the plains, it is also referred to as the friendliest place you ever visited.
Coincidentally and ironically, Tuberville’s victory is a carbon copy of another Auburn man’s victory for governor 32 years ago. Forrest “Fob” James won the 1978 Governor’s race with the same KISS formula as Tuberville.
Fob James had become wealthy by starting and running a barbell manufacturing company in Opelika. When Fob signed up to run for governor, the press wrote him off as a rich gadfly. Fob quietly used his millions to sign up the most brilliant campaign media strategist in the South, Deloss Walker. Fob was told by Walker never deviate from the script I give you and do not answer any questions.
There were three heavy weights expected to finish first, second and third. Former Governor Albert Brewer, Attorney General Bill Baxley, and Lt. Governor Jere Beasley. As Walker expected, all three spent their time and money beating up on each other while Fob rode a yellow school bus over the state simply saying I am getting back to the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic. Thus, more people vote against someone and the KISS formula.
Walker’s initial polling showed that Fob actually had some name identification from being an Auburn football player in the 1950’s. He was a pretty good halfback. That poll also picked up that Auburn Alumni yearned for an Auburn man to become governor.
In this most recent race, it helped Tuberville immensely that the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) endorsed him early in his quest. This key endorsement gave him credibility and early impetus. Most of the farmers on the endorsement committee by the way are Auburn graduates and Auburn football fans.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
See you next week.
Opinion | The inevitable is inevitable
Donald Trump, in full panic mode – and that’s dangerous for the nation – floated the idea Thursday morning in (of course) a tweet that perhaps the Nov. 3 election should be delayed.
We knew it was coming. One event Trump does not want this year is an election. He’s completely bungled the federal (and state) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and, in fact, made it much worse. More than 150,000 Americans are dead; hundreds of thousands more permanently injured. That’s because Trump basically golfed, held rallies, touted fake cures and treatments for the virus, and, as a result, destroyed the economy and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American lives.
Of course, Trump wants to delay the election. He’s so dim, he believes that’s the only way he can stay in office. Except, like on most things, he’s wrong. The president’s term ends Jan. 20, 2021. After that, if there isn’t a president to inaugurate, that opens the possibility House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could become president. That is choice.
But it won’t happen. Because the November General Election will not be delayed. The president can’t do it on his own. It takes an act of Congress to move an election. Remember, too, that if the presidential election is delayed, so are the congressional races. That could conceivably keep Republicans in control of the Senate when an election could very well give that control to Democrats.
That won’t happen, either. Because the November General Election will not be delayed.
Besides, this nation held elections during the U.S. Civil War and in world wars and during other crises and pandemics.
My bet is both of Alabama’s U.S. senators, Richard Shelby and Doug Jones, will oppose moving the election. Jones, a Democrat, is on the ballot against Trump sycophant and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Jones wants the matchup, because he’s faring well in the polls, and he’s clearly the far better candidate. Shelby is a pragmatist. He knows in the long run (and short run, for that matter), there’s only a dead end for Trump. Shelby usually will go along to get along, but he broke ranks with other mainstream Republican politicians in 2017 by opposing the election of alleged child predator and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Too bad other Alabama Republicans in Congress are so far up Trump’s ample bootie that they won’t stand up to him. That’s the way of Republicans, though: Party over country; billionaires over the workaday folks. Weirdly, in Alabama, most common folks support Republicans who want to keep them on the margins; Republicans, who want to keep them in their “place.”
Here’s the real reason Trump would like to see the election postponed:
Trump is terrified. The most important factor to him in the election is himself, and he’s going to get clobbered, if polls hold.He needs to somehow save face if there is any way possible, and there likely isn’t any way possible. Every day Trump spouts something else offensive, or insulting, or just plain stupid and idiotic. He supports Confederate flags and generals and statues, sends secret police to round up Black Lives Matter protesters, then refuses to accord proper respect to honor the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Alabama native and one of the most distinguished civil rights leaders in the nation.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama attended Lewis’ final memorial in Atlanta on Thursday. Trump suggested we delay November’s election.
Every day, Trump’s support wanes.
The economy is close to complete collapse, and Republicans in the Senate and the president can’t figure out the next COVID-19 aid package to help hurting Americans. Democrats in the House passed a plan more than a month ago, a plan to keep unemployment benefits flowing, to support schools, to increase COVID-19 testing. The Republican plan has billions for fighter aircraft, a new FBI building near Trump’s Washington hotel, and, yes, more tax breaks for the nation’s richest people. Oh, and it slashes federal unemployment support for those workaday Americans from $600 a week to $200 a week. A $1,600 a month pay cut. Nice.
Trump and Republicans have walled themselves into a bad place, and, unlike the president’s boondoggle border wall, this wall isn’t easily scaled or breached.
Republicans, and especially Trump, want to delay the inevitable. But here’s the problem with that: The inevitable is, yes, inevitable.
Opinion | It will be Trump vs. Biden in November. Conventions will be anticlimactic
The presidential race is onward. It will be incumbent Republican Donald Trump vs. former Vice President and 36-year veteran Democrat, Delaware U.S. Senator Joe Biden in the November 3rd General Election.
Both men have clinched their parties’ nomination. Therefore, the Democratic convention, July 31-August 2 and the Republican convention set for August 25-28 will be anticlimactic. It is doubtful that either convention will break any television rating records.
However, there will be one record shattered in this year’s presidential contest. Trump and Biden will be the two oldest presidential contenders in history. Biden is 78 and Trump is 74. Actually, Trump was the oldest person to ever be sworn in as president four-years ago. So if Biden wins he will really break the record at 78.6 years. By the way, the youngest president was John F. Kennedy, who was 43 when he was sworn in as president in January of 1961.
This has already been one of the most unusual presidential election years in American history. The COVID-19 pandemichas turned the world upside down, especially the American economy. The economy is the pivotal issue that decides presidential elections. Prior to the pandemic, the economy was Trump’s trump card. The economic collapse caused by the pandemic was not Trump’s fault but it happened on his watch. There is an old political maxim that says, “If you claim credit for the rain, then you gotta take blame for the drought.”
Trump was not in the lead prior to the pandemic disaster. He is certainly behind the eight ball today. The country is divided like never before in our history. You either live in a red Republican state like Alabama or a blue Democratic state like California. Under the electoral college system of selecting our president, the election is won or lost in the swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Current polling has Biden ahead in all of these pivotal states. He has double digit leads in Michigan and his birth home of Pennsylvania. It looks like Joe Biden is favored to be the next president at almost 80 years old. Therefore, it is extremely important who he chooses as his running mate to be vice president.
Biden has unequivocally stated that his vice–president will be a female. His choice probably will boil down to California Senator Kamala Harris. Originally, it was between Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar and Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator Klobuchar would have been an excellent choice. She was well qualified and thoroughly vetted. She is Minnesota’s senior senator having represented her native state since 2006. She is very popular in her home state and would probably have brought the swing state of Minnesota into the Democratic column.
However, she withdrew her name for consideration after it became apparent that the Democratic Party base demanded Biden choose a female candidate of color.
Senator Kamala Harris, 55, has had a stellar career. She is very well qualified to be president. She ran an excellent campaign for the Democratic nomination earlier this year and is a U.S. Senator from the largest state in the Union.
She was Attorney General of California prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate from the Golden State. She classifies herself as African–American. Her mother was an Indian/American/Canadian cancer researcher. Her father was a Jamaican born businessman.
By selecting Senator Kamala Harris, Biden chooses a person of non-white ethnicity. African American women are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and the most reliable Democratic voters. Senator Harris would energize the base. Turnout is the key to any election.
Odds are that if Joe Biden is elected president in November, he will probably be a one-term president. At almost 80, it is doubtful that he would run again in 2024. Therefore, his choice for his running mate and vice president would be favored to be elected president in four years and could become president before then.
There is a tried and true maxim in politics, more people vote against someone than for someone. The Democrats’ plan of attack is for Biden to do nothing, say nothing and let Trump beat himself.
It will be an interesting and important choice for Biden as he or his advisors select his vice-presidential running mate. Again, turnout is the key. Therefore, do not count Donald Trump out until it is all over. Republican voters who are older turnout to vote at a higher rate than Democratic voters who are younger. You can bet your bottom dollar that Trump will carry Alabama over Biden in November.
See you next week.
Opinion | Why should Will Dismukes resign?
Will Dismukes and his love for all things confederacy aren’t an outlier in the Alabama Republican Party. The party has sought those voters. It has encouraged those views. It has backed legislation supporting those insane beliefs.
There is no reason for state Rep. Will Dismukes to resign. Not as far as the Alabama Republican Party is concerned.
Oh, sure, a few members of ALGOP have made splashy headlines over the last two days, as they’ve called for Dismukes to resign or generally berated the young Republican for his decision to post about attending the birthday party for the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
But really, what right do Alabama Republicans have to call for Dismukes to resign?
This is the sort of behavior, the sort of people — the hate and ignorance and callousness and racism — that ALGOP has been embracing for years. The party has pandered to it, encouraged it, raised money off of it and never — not even a little bit — felt bad about it until the day it might cost them votes.
I mean, stop it with the “this is not my party” nonsense.
What are you talking about this isn’t your party? Have you been living under a rock?
Let us review, please.
You are the party that a few years ago passed the most racist immigration law in America, correct?
You are the party that repeatedly pushed for and eventually passed a law to protect confederate monuments, correct? (It’s also worth noting that the original version of this law would have allowed for removal of Civil Rights Movement monuments.)
You are the party that had a member — a member who is still serving — pass around an email during a legislative session about training monkeys, a thinly-veiled, racist reference to black Democrats, right?
You are the party that pushed for a new voter ID law that solved zero issues with fraud and placed another roadblock between Black voters and the polls, right?
You are the party that broke the law to pass the AAA act, which rerouted public schools’ dollars from Alabama’s poorest and Blackest schools to private schools, helping to aid white flight, right?
You are the party that earlier this year passed a resolution calling for forcing out Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar because you believed Facebook memes, right?
You are the party that for years has resisted criminal justice reform, to the detriment of thousands of Black Alabamians and their families, right?
You are the party that routinely — with a wink and a nod — paints a picture of Black families on public assistance as moochers and deadbeats, slicing the benefits to the bone and requiring worthless drug tests, right?
You are the party that has remained silent as Black Alabamians rallied for better representation, more equal justice and the removal of Civil War participation trophies, correct?
You are the party that has repeatedly coddled the believers of the “lost cause” theories of the Civil War, told them their opinions were just as valid and went to bat for them on legislation, correct?
You are the party that continues to protect the funding of the Confederate Memorial Park — Alabama’s most well funded park, right?
This is who the ALGOP is. Stop pretending otherwise because Dismukes didn’t know better than to do the quiet parts in public view.
Had this happened prior to the current reckoning taking place in America, not a peep would have been said. How do I know this? Because it’s not like Dismukes has been hiding his racism this whole time and then slipped up.
The guy is active on social media, routinely referring to the Civil War as the “war of northern aggression.” He has attacked Black Lives Matter, said nasty things about those wanting to remove confederate statues and went on a media campaign to save the funding for Confederate Memorial Park.
Not a single elected Alabama Republican ever uttered a word.
Just like no one in the ALGOP ever speaks up when Mo Brooks goes on one of his weekly racist rants. Or the Trump administration does something blatantly racist. Or one of the state party members posts a racist meme on social media.
Never a peep.
These things matter. And they don’t just matter in the absolute worst cases, when voters might turn away and public sentiment is decidedly against you.
They matter every single day to minorities in this state and around the country. Not for some petty political reason, but because these issues are a matter of fairness and decency for other human beings.
So, sorry, but as it stands, Will Dismukes and his love for all things confederacy aren’t an outlier in the Alabama Republican Party. The party has sought those voters. It has encouraged those views. It has backed legislation supporting those insane beliefs.
You don’t get to run away from years of that deplorable behavior with a few press releases and tweets.