By Steve Flowers
The field is set for the November General Election and more than likely the races were decided on July 14. We had some good races, including the race for the junior U.S. Senate seat as well as two open Congressional seats.
Tommy Tuberville won an impressive 60-40 victory over Jeff Sessions in the GOP primary runoff for U.S. Senate. The tea leaves portend that the Republican Tuberville will defeat the Democrat Doug Jones by that same 60-40 margin. He will win for one reason. He is a solid Republican in a solidly Republican state.
Winning the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat and, for that matter, any statewide office is tantamount to election in Alabama. We are a very hardcore, safe, red Republican state, especially in a presidential year. It is also a very safe assumption to say that Donald Trump will carry Alabama in the presidential contest, and Trump’s coattails should assure a Tuberville victory.
The two open Congressional seats in the 1st and 2nd districts are very safely Republican seats. Therefore, the winners Jerry Carl and Barry Moore can start packing for Washington.
A not so subtle participation occurred in our GOP Primaries in Alabama this year. Generally, Republican-leaning Political Action Committees, like the Chamber of Commerce, stay out of party primaries and save their ammunition for the General Election battle against Democrats. However, there is a giant that does not play by those rules. This giant is The Club for Growth – a right-wing PAC that promotes Republican candidates who adhere to a free market, free trade, anti-regulation agenda. They also believe and advocate for cutting income taxes and repealing the estate tax. Therefore, as you might guess, the money given to the Club for Growth comes from deep pocketed, very wealthy, very conservative right-wing Americans. They dig deep into their pockets and write big checks primarily to Republican candidates.
As a political observer it is apparent to me that these Big Daddy Warbucks political wannabe players have more money than sense. Anybody with walking around sense knows that anyone elected to a Republican U.S. Senate seat or Republican Congressional seat in Alabama is going to be a conservative pro-business vote in Washington.
Whichever candidate won the 1st District Congressional race was going to vote the same. Yet the Club for Growth spent over $1 million on behalf of Jerry Carl’s opponent. In the 2nd Congressional runoff, the Club for Growth donated more than $750,000 on behalf of Barry Moore against Jeff Coleman, either of whom would have voted conservatively or pro-business. The Club for Growth spent nearly $700,000 to keep Congressman Bradley Byrne out of the Senate runoff in the U.S. Senate first primary race.
This $2.7 million was spent in negative advertisements against their opponents, who again are fellow Republicans who are going to vote identically to the other. They gave their candidates another $300,000 for positive ads. That is $3 million in Alabama.
My question to whoever runs the Club for Growth is, ‘Do you not think that your money would be put to better use to help Republican U.S. Senate incumbents who are in close reelection contests in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Montana and North Carolina?’ These conservative Republican incumbents are trailing in the polls, and they are behind in fundraising. In short, whoever is calling the shots for the Club for Growth is essentially a political imbecile.
If the Republicans lose the U.S. Senate, then the liberal Democrats will nail those rich idiots’ hides to the wall, and they deserve it. However, Alabama does not deserve it nor can we afford it. If the Republicans lose the majority in the U.S. Senate, our crown jewel, Republican Senior Senator Richard Shelby, loses the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Alabama loses all its power and influence in Washington. You will have a say in that. Currently, national pundits have Jones losing in Alabama to Republican Tuberville.
However, that is no guarantee. The national Democrats would love to use Jones as a Democratic vehicle to take control of the U.S. Senate and give the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee to a liberal Democrat. Therefore, philosophy aside, economically a vote for Jones is a vote against Richard Shelby and the State of Alabama.
See you next week.
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.