Alabama Scene

The hypocrisy of politics

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent E-mail: bob@montgomery

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent E-mail: bob@montgomery

When Dr. Parker Griffith, serving as a Democrat in the State Senate from Huntsville, decided to seek election to Congress two years ago, the political operatives from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (RNCC) opened up a “no holds barred” smear campaign against him.

They accused the doctor of failing to give cancer patients proper treatment for personal monetary gain. The criticisms continued with party leaders, aside from the usual “liberal/ communist” verbiage claiming he wasn’t capable of standing up to political pressure by Democrats and of a failure to stand up for the nation’s military. It went on-and-on ad nauseam.

Last week Rep. Griffith announced he was switching to the GOP. Boy, did the chatter change. “While Griffith’s party affiliation may have changed, his conservative values and commitment to his constituents has not wavered,” the RNCC said in a statement, and he was welcomed with open arms by state GOP leaders. The state’s party chairman, Mike Hubbard, acting as though he were Jesus Christ, said he would “forgive Griffith for his sins.” Surely he added the words, perhaps under his breath: “Father forgive him for he knew not what he did.” Were I in Griffith’s position, I would surely not be pleased with such a welcome.

The political parties could just as easily have been reversed. Democrats are guilty of the same hyperbole, but they both should stop it and stick to the real issues in which normal people are interested.

Joe Turnham of Auburn, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, responded with extreme disappointment and new political resolve at the switch. Turnham noted that he has already had numerous phone calls from key leaders throughout the Tennessee Valley voicing their commitment to support a strong Democrat who can win the 5th Congressional District mext year.

“Parker has been a friend for a number of years, but his announcement today, and the way in which he did it, deeply disappoints me. Democrats of every stripe and philosophy sweated and bled for this man. He narrowly became a Congressman through the hard work, votes, and financial contributions of thousands of Democrats. Today, they feel betrayed,” Turnham said.

The Democratic Party has also called on Griffith to return campaign funds raised by Democratic organizations.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bobby Bright, the former Montgomery mayor, who wrestled the 2nd District Congressional seat away from Republicans two years ago, has been reported as saying he will stay hitched to the Democrats and has no intention of switching parties. Bright is expected to have at least moderately strong opposition from the GOP in the form of Montgomery councilwoman Martha Roby, daughter of U. S. Circuit Judge Joel Dubena. Bright won a close general election race against Montgomery State Rep. Jay Love in the last election and many political observers believe Roby will be a formidable opponent.

Will Sparks switch to the Congressional Race?

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks began taking some time over the past weekend to ponder the possibility of switching from his gubernatorial campaign to go for the congressional seat Griffith holds. Sparks’s residence is in Ft. Payne, just out of the 5th District, but there is no requirement for members of Congress to have lived in the district in which they run and he is very popular across North Alabama.

I am sure Rep. Artur Davis is pleased with this “blip” in the Sparks campaign for governor but not so sure Democrats who think that while the Davis-Sparks race may be close, do not share the belief that Davis can win the general election next November against any Republican. If Sparks does jump ship and run for Congress, you can safely bet there will be a renewed effort to get Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. in the gubernatorial race.

Speculation as to other possible replacements for Griffith include: Madison County commissioner Bob Harrison; political consultant Steve Raby; developer Jeff Enfinger; county license director Mark Craig; state Rep. Randy Hinshaw; former state Senate candidate Anthony Daniels; state school board member Mary Jane Caylor; and PSC commissioner Susan Parker of Rogersville.

[Ed. note – Sparks announced yesterday

that he intends to stay in the race
for governor.]