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Sunday, December 30, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

After a half-a-year-plus absence, I have returned to the pages of : the Press-Register:

Due to date change, state’s primary vote will matter this year
Sunday, December 30, 2007
By STEVEN L. TAYLOR
Special to the Press-Register

The new year will be a political one, without a doubt. For the first time since the advent of the current nominating process (i.e., basically 1972), we have wide-open races for the presidential nomination in both political parties.

Indeed, the sheer mass of politics for the year 2008 is going to be so great that it was necessary for it to protrude back in time into 2007 (if not 2006), as Campaign 2008 has clearly been anything but contained to one calendar year.

And while the drama of politics is lessened in our state, given that our statewide offices are not up for grabs until 2010, we do get to partake of the’08 fun. There may be some preliminary shades of 2010 on the horizon as well.

There are two elements of 2008 that will be of interest to Alabamians. Specifically, we have a prominent role to play (for a change) in the selection of presidential candidates; and we have an open seat in our congressional delegation (Terry Everett is retiring from his 2nd District seat).

Before it became all the rage for states to move their primaries, Alabama did so in early 2006, taking us from almost last (June) to the front of the pack (Feb. 5).

While the impact of this move has been diluted by the fact that a number of other states have also moved to the same date, or near it, we voters in Alabama should remain quite grateful for this shift. We will matter this year, which is something that has not been true for a long time.

Given the tightness in both the Democratic and Republican contests, it will be interesting to see how much attention Alabama gets in the run-up to February.

In terms of attention, we will be competing with states across the country, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York and Tennessee.

The candidates will literally have to be all over the place. Some do not have the funds to do so, however, and will focus on either large, delegate-rich states or on specific states where they think they have a real shot.

One would expect, for example, social conservative and former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee to heavily focus on Southern, Bible-belt states. Likewise, one would think that Democrat Barack Obama would also spend a good bit of time in the South courting the African-American vote.

As such, Alabama could receive a healthy share of attention starting in late January. In fact, given that in the early goings every vote and potential delegate counts greatly, the state should get attention like never before.

Beyond presidential politics, there is also an interesting congressional angle to consider. Terry Everett, the longtime representative from the 2nd Congressional District, has announced his retirement and the race is on to fill that slot.

The seat is safely Republican, having been held by the GOP from 1965-93 by William L. Dickinson and by Everett from 1993 to the present. During that period, elections have rarely been competitive, with Everett’s only real contest being in 1993, when he bested George Wallace Jr. by two percentage points.

Beyond that one contest, Everett won an average of just over 69 percent of the vote each time he sought re-election.

The past suggests, therefore, that it is quite likely that a Republican will gain the seat. But it also suggests that if a Democrat is to have a shot, it will be in this cycle, as the winner of the seat is likely to keep it for some time.

As such, there is a real possibility that the Democrats will attract quality candidates to compete in the primary for the first time in a decade and a half.

Still, the real interest will be on the Republican side, as the winner of that primary has the chance to win a long-term presence in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The fact that in the post-2000 census redistricting, the 2nd District became more Republican bolsters that fact.

As a postscript (or perhaps a foreshadowing), 2008 will also see the beginning of the 2010 race for governor of Alabama.

Given that Gov. Bob Riley will have to step down due to term limits, the race will be wide open in both parties.

Candidates for their parties’ nominations will need to start jockeying for position going into 2009, because organization-building and fundraising will have to commence well in advance of the 2010 primaries.

Will we see old-guard politicians rising up for a run at office, such as Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr.? How about young up-and-comers, like Attorney General Troy King?

Will another member of our congressional delegation take the Riley route from Congress to the governor’s mansion — say, Artur Davis? Will a newcomer break onto the scene?

It’s all speculation at this point, to be sure, but interesting possibilities abound.

All we really know at this point is, for the student and observer of all things political, there will be plenty to keep us occupied.

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One Response to “PoliColumn: Looking to Alabama Politics in ’08”

  1. Ed Sistrunk Says:

    Dear Poliblogger,

    I posted your article on my site. Thanks Ed

    http://grassrootsconservativemajority.com

    Note: I am interested in posting more of your articles on my site. Send me a email when you think there is an article that my readers would be interested in.


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