Why are you voting for that candidate?
That’s an important question as you prepare to go to the polls next Tuesday and cast votes for the people who will lead this state. The people who will control hundreds of millions of dollars. The people who will manage your tax dollars and be responsible for public education and infrastructure and health care.
And I don’t believe many of you have put much thought into it.
I say that not because I believe you to be dumb or uncaring, but because I’ve taken the time over the past several days — because I’m somewhat insane — to immerse myself in the campaign ads and media interviews of 12 Republican candidates running for the state Legislature.
These dozen races are considered to be “competitive” in the political world, meaning the two candidates are within a few polling points of each other — few enough that the vote could go either way on Tuesday. These are the GOP candidates: Jim Carns, in House District (HD) 48; Jamie Kiel, HD 18; Debbie Wood, HD 38; Ed Oliver, HD 81; David Wheeler, HD 47; Alan Baker, HD 66; Andrew Sorrell, HD 3; Wes Allen, HD 89; Rodney Sullivan, HD 61; Brett Easterbrook, HD 65; Larry Stutts, Senate District 6; Tom Butler, SD 2.
I’ve listened to every ad they’ve paid to produce. I’ve read every word on their campaign Facebook pages and/or campaign websites. I’ve watched their speeches at a variety of events, like the Republican Women’s luncheon. I’ve read through their interviews in local newspapers and on local TV stations.
Here is what I learned: None of them have a plan for doing anything.
That sounds like hyperbole, but it is most definitely not. It is also not exaggeration or even a smidge of an overreaction.
These 12 people have no plan for governing if they’re elected.
Let me be crystal clear: I’m not saying their plans are bad, or that they’re so dumb that they couldn’t possibly work.
Because that’s all these 12 have done.
Don’t believe me? Check for yourself.
Find me Sorrell’s plan for funding public education. Or Wheeler’s plan for bettering our atrocious health care system. Or Wood’s plan for doing ANYTHING. Or the plan Stutts — a licensed (amazingly) medical doctor — has for preventing the closures of rural hospitals. Or Sullivan’s plan to strengthen ethics laws. Or Oliver’s plans to solve our prisons issue.
These things do not exist.
I’ll be honest with you: the lack of a plan for any issue from all of these candidates — including the incumbents — caught me off guard. I went to their’ websites and dug through their media coverage thinking I could write a column comparing their ideas to the Democrats who were challenging them.
Instead, what I found every time was some version of the following: “(Candidate X) supports our public schools and teachers and knows that a quality education is vital to a strong work force. He/she wants to see more technical training programs.”
Or this: “(Candidate X) is concerned about the closing of rural hospitals and the rising costs of prescription drugs and health care. He/she will work to find the best solutions for these problems facing our communities.”
Those are not plans.
Those are lists of things that they like.
In real life, saying you “support improving infrastructure” without offering a plan to pay for that infrastructure improvement isn’t a political position. It’s just listing things you like.
That is especially true in a state that’s already facing a half-billion dollar budget shortfall.
But what makes it all even more egregious is that the Democratic candidates all have a plan for doing these things.
There’s a gas tax for infrastructure. The expansion of Medicaid to address rural hospitals, prescription drug costs and mental health care. A lottery to pay for public school improvements, teacher raises, expanded pre-K and college tuition programs. And upholding the current ethics laws to ensure an honest government.
Republicans have now been in charge of this state for eight years. Whether you love or hate what’s happened in that time, there’s one thing for sure: They should know better than anyone the problems facing Alabama, and they should be offering detailed plans for correcting those problems.
But from Gov. Kay Ivey on down, they’re not.
At a point, don’t you have to ask yourself why you’re casting that vote?