Senate Race Down to the Wire
By Steve Flowers
The GOP Primary is less than two weeks away on May 24. It has been an interesting and expensive race to fill the seat of our venerable and powerful senior Sen. Richard Shelby.
There are three major primary contestants. Katie Britt, Mike Durant and Mo Brooks are the horses — or as some might say, combatants — given the nature of the prevalence of negative advertising. Two of these three gladiators will be the recipients of the most votes on that momentous day and will face off in a runoff set for six weeks later on June 21. The winner of that June 21 runoff will be our next U.S. senator. Winning the GOP Primary is tantamount to election for a statewide office in the Heart of Dixie, especially for a U.S. Senate Race.
This race will probably wind up being the most expensive race in Alabama political history, especially when you add up the third-party expenditures. In modern day national politics, a candidate’s individual war chest is not the telling story. We live in a world of third-party political action committees (PACs). These third-party PACs, based out of Washington, have spent more on their preferred candidate than has been spent directly by the candidates’ campaigns. These PACs are not supposed to coordinate with their preferred candidate, but they do. They share all information and polling, and script their attack ads based on what they think you want to hear. These innocuous PACs have the meanest hired guns, who relish negative ads and seek to destroy their opposition. Why? Because negative ads work.
The other political adage that has never changed is that money is the mother’s milk of politics. These three candidates possess or have received plenty of campaign resources, mostly from out of state. Allow me to summarize the top three U.S. Senate candidates, as well as their benefactors, their positions and potential.
Brooks is backed by the Club for Growth. This group of very rich folks want less government and free trade with China. They and Brooks are made for each other. They have been tied to the hip during his entire 11-year career in Congress. They want a senator who will have total disregard for their state or district and have total allegiance to their laissez-faire pro-China trade agenda. That is why Brooks has voted against the needs of his district and Alabama. He has actually voted against agriculture and military defense spending, which are the mainstays of Alabama.
Brooks has dropped dramatically in the polls since the race began this time last year. He will now probably finish a distant third. when the race first began and it looked like Brooks might be a player, the popular, wise and witty Republican senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, quipped, “A senate seat is a terrible thing to waste.” The runoff will probably be a Durant and Britt contest.
Durant has been the wild card in this race, who nobody saw coming, but he is a perfect prototype for winning an open U.S. senate seat, especially in a pro-military state like Alabama. Durant is a war hero, a POW, and started his own military defense business. He has spent some of his own money but has been extensively backed by a national liberal group called the “More Perfect Union PAC.” The founder and major benefactor, Jake Harriman, is striving to elect more moderates, including Democrats and Republicans. This PAC wants “Republicans in Name Only” (RINOs). Therefore, RINO probably is the more accurate description of Durant.
Durant is a phantom candidate, who has run primarily a media campaign revealing he was shot down as a helicopter pilot more than 40 years ago. If the term “carpetbagger” ever applied in modern-day Alabama politics, it applies to Durant. He has barely campaigned in Alabama, and he probably knows very few Alabamians. He hails from New Hampshire but prefers his palatial home in Colorado. A vote for Durant is like a pig in a poke, you do not know what you will be getting. However, you would be getting a person who decided he wanted to be a United States senator, but does not care what state you put behind his name: New Hampshire, Colorado or Alabama.
With Durant running a slick television-only campaign and not discussing issues, nobody knows where he stands on important issues. The one group that is extremely skeptical and apprehensive of him are the second amendment gun-owning NRA members of our state.
Britt is the mainstream conservative, pro-business candidate that understands Alabama and our needs. Most of her campaign contributions have come from Alabamians. In fact, she is the only real Alabamian in the race.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.