Believe it or not the 2014 state elections are only eight months away. This gubernatorial year, which usually portends a plethora of interesting and exciting races, is shaping up as a ho hum year.
Gov. Robert Bentley appears to be on a path to breeze toward re-election to a second four-year term. Bentley has done a good job as governor and folks seem satisfied with him. Bentley’s stratospheric approval ratings stem from his likeability and trustworthiness. When asked about those two traits, his numbers shoot off the charts. Folks simply trust him the way people trusted their family doctor. To put it into layman terms or country jargon, he fits like an old shoe. Bentley is a plow horse, not a show horse.
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey will also have an easy course to re-election. This job does not have the power it once had. Therefore, very few special interest groups care who is lieutenant governor because the post has very little influence over public policy in the state. It would be difficult for any challenger to raise any money. For that matter, it is tough for the incumbent to raise campaign funds.
In contrast, the Attorney General’s office has immense and extensive power. It is the second most important job in state government. Luther Strange has done a good job. He should breeze to re-election. However, because he has faced a myriad of issues during his term he has stepped on some powerful toes. This race could get a surprise, financially-backed candidate but that is unlikely.
Young Boozer should win re-election to a second term as State Treasurer, maybe without opposition. He has done a good job, especially having to deal with the beleaguered PACT program.
John McMillan should coast to another term as Agriculture Commissioner. He has done a good job despite having to deal with budget restraints.
Secretary of State Beth Chapman quit with 17 months left to go on her term. Gov. Bentley appointed former Secretary of State Jim Bennett to fill the remaining time of Chapman’s term. The Governor could not have picked a more appropriate person to serve through 2014. Many Goat Hill observers believe that Jim Bennett was Alabama’s best and most diligent Secretary of State in modern times.
There are three very qualified men seeking this post, a former probate judge, Reese McKinney of Montgomery; a sitting probate judge, Jim Perdue of Luverne; and State Repr. John Merrill of Tuscaloosa. There may be other entrants. This is shaping up as the best state race thus far. Although, it will not be that interesting because the job is essentially a clerical post and it is difficult to raise any money for this race.
Most people are not aware that junior U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions is up for re-election next year. It has gone completely under the radar screen. Sessions is very conservative and that equates to him being very popular in Alabama. We in the Heart of Dixie are by most counts the most conservative state in the nation. Therefore, it is only fitting and proper that we have the most right-wing Senator in the U.S. Senate representing us in Washington. Sessions may even escape opposition. It would be futile for a challenger to try him.
Our seven congressional seats are also up for election next year. All seven should be safe bets for re-election. Due to the advantage of incumbency, most congressmen win re-election. The six incumbent Republicans have recorded solid conservative voting records. Little more is expected of them. The lone Democrat, Terri Sewell, has turned in a completely liberal record that should placate her constituency.
The real races next year will probably be for the Legislature. All 105 House seats and all 35 State Senate posts are on the ballot. Special interests have a keen interest in who sits in these seats. You will probably see some intra-party battles within the GOP in June. The super majority Republican control will more than likely remain in place. However, which Republicans sit in these seats may change.
It will be interesting to see if the AEA plays in the GOP primaries. This is their best chance to regain some of their lost power. This herd of Republican elephants has stomped on them for four years.
All in all it is shaping up to be a dull year.