By GREG MARKLEY
Opelika native Tim James, son of two-time governor Fob, ran for governor unsuccessfully in 2002 and missed the runoff in 2010 by a whisker. Readers may recall an ad that was controversial, but effective, for its target audience. He has an ad out now dealing with a “hot” cultural issue. I discuss that later, in this follow-up to “Initial U.S. Senate ads are tame. Stay tuned.” (Feb.18, 2022, Observer).
The highest score of my study of four Republican gubernatorial candidates goes to Lew Burdette, a former corporate executive and now president of Christian non-profit King’s Home, in Birmingham. The ad addressed key GOP themes but welcomed voters of any stripe to back him and called for more legal justice. I was also impressed by his recounting of being kidnapped at age 15 and nearly died, but survived and became a better Christian. Ad grade: 98%.
Burdette also did not sugar-coat negative scores that Alabama has received in education (47th place nationwide); in healthcare (43rd place); and in corruption (4th most corrupt state). The Roanoke, Alabama, native said that 40 years after he first saw such statistics, he was shocked to see that they have not improved.
Gov. Kay Ivey scored very well with an ad grade of 94%. Her figures showed the good news for the state, especially economic. Next month, Ivey will celebrate five years in that office. Her 30-second ad was concise, factual and uplifting (except if your name is Biden). She suggested that Critical Race Theory will not see daylight in schools, that the state will not encourage sloth among job-seekers and that it will no longer allow people to “kill babies.”
Ivey did not name any of her May 24 primary challengers; one wonders, though, if she will have to name them as the race tightens and voters begin seriously weighing the options. She did not talk about vaccines or mandatory masking. Perhaps that is a sound idea as at least two candidates are talking a lot about Ivey’s performance on the Covid-19 front.
Linda Blanchard went from living in a Wetumpka trailer to serving as Ambassador to Slovenia in the Trump administration. She has been successful in real estate and other businesses and promises to create jobs, assure election security, improve Alabama schools and end vaccine mandates. Her slogan is “driven by faith, trusted by President Trump.”
Blanchard is running for governor as an “outsider,” she has never run for public office. But she donated $2.6 million to the Republicans over four years. I consider the large money she provides to the GOP to be “wholesale” politics, whereas she is entering “retail” politics by campaigning in person, etc. For this 30-second ad, the grade is 95%. The ad hits the main issues and suggests what a Blanchard governorship would be like.
Now we come to Tim James, the businessman born in Opelika who now lives in Greenville. He fits into a 30-second ad that the secular Left wants to destroy us because they think America is evil and racist and our Founding Fathers (those fans of slavery!) were wrong. Then comes the rough part: “They think that there are 50 genders and they want to teach this crap to our children.”
I get three ideas here. First, James is very much his father’s son: combative, unafraid of controversy, independent and upset that so many changes are surfacing in America. Second, James has a wry sense of humor and exaggerates in a way not easily appreciated. Third, he realizes that he needs to do something dramatic to break away from the pack. Although this ad isn’t in my style, it indicates James’ thinking and may be tongue-in-cheek. It earns a grade of 94%.
For the 2010 campaign, James made an ad in which he wanted to get voters to ask themselves why there were drivers’ tests in 12 languages. When he said “This is America, we speak English; if you want to live here, learn it.” it went viral and was widely seen as racist. It’s hard to argue otherwise.
But again, James made an ad to show “the businessman in me” who wants to save money by only having drivers’ tests in English. Now, he hears that some people (even a few health professionals) have a list of 50 genders. Although these ads may catch on with the politically incorrect, let’s slow down. We can discuss whether someone should speak English as a practical issue and can talk about transgenderism, et al. in a way that doesn’t denigrate them.
Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 12 years. email@example.com