Summer Political Happenings
As the long hot summer ends and Labor Day approaches, let’s take a look back at what occurred over the last three summer months, politically.
First of all, it was one of the hottest summers on record. Temperatures soared into the hundreds as early as late June. On one of those late June days, one of the hottest political events of the year occurred. The annual Tomato Sandwich Lunch event hosted by Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate was the biggest, yet. The 20th annual Tomato Sandwich Lunch held at the Ed Teague Arena near the Garrett Coliseum was a must-be-at event for Alabama political elite.
The Tomato Sandwich Lunch promotes produce from local farmers and encourages people to eat Alabama grown products. Alabama based vendors donate all of the food for the event. Pate was a master host to over 500 attendees.
In attendance were U.S. Senator Katie Britt, State Treasurer Young Boozer and Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth. PSC member Jeremy Oden came from Cullman and State Board of Education President Wayne Reynolds came from Athens.
State judges in attendance were Supreme Court Judge Greg Cook, Criminal Appeals Court Judge Bill Cole and Civil Appeals Court Judges Matt Friday and Bill Thompson.
Legislators spotted were State Senators Josh Carnley and Will Barfoot, as well as Representatives Jerry Starnes, Margie Wilcox, Van Smith and Ed Oliver.
There were dozens of local county commissioners from all over the state.
Many of the state’s most prominent lobbyists were there along with many of the governor’s Cabinet members.
Alabama Power Government Affairs guru Houston Smith, as well as Alfa Executive Director Paul Pinyan were prominent. In fact, most of Alfa’s governmental affairs folks were at this very fun and political event.
During the summer, everybody and their brother, or at least everyone who won a 4-H speaking contest, entered the race for the Republican nomination for president. There must be 20 people running against Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. This is just what Trump was hoping for. It splinters the anti-Trump vote to such a degree that it virtually assures him the nomination.
During the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Alabama’s Congressional districts were gerrymandered to keep Black voters from being able to elect a second Black Democrat to Congress. Alabama currently has six white Republican Congressmen and one Black Democratic Congresswoman, Terri Sewell.
In July, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin won a special election to fill a seat on the five member Jefferson County Commission. His election was like manna from Heaven for the Jefferson County Republican Party. The commissioner, who departed this important seat, was a Republican. The commission had a three to two Republican majority. Therefore, it was an important election for the state’s largest and most important county.
Mike Bolin had just retired from the Alabama Supreme Court after 18 years on the state’s high tribunal. He had been probate judge of Jefferson County for 16 years prior to his service on the Supreme Court. He only retired from the Supreme Court due to a state law that prevents judges from running for reelection after age 70.
Bolin is Jefferson County through and through and one of the most respected gentleman and public servants in Jefferson County and Alabama. The imperial county of Jefferson is fortunate that Bolin was available and ready to serve.
His swearing in ceremony occurred on a sweltering hot July 31. The large Jefferson County Courthouse commission chambers was overflowing. It was a congregation of who’s who of Jefferson County politics.
Hope you had a good summer. Happy football season and happy Labor Day.
See you next week.
Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Flowers may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.