Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2006 primary endorsements

I've been holding off on endorsements for today's primaries both because I'm not a rabid partisan and because I don't have deeply passionate opinions about some of the big races. But for what it's worth -- which may not be much -- here are some suggestions in the major statewide races before you head to the polls.

Governor: Lucy Baxley (D) and Bob Riley (R)
The choices in each party's top-line race are clear. Baxley proved her dedication to public service more than a decade ago when she gave up a lucrative real estate career to enter public office. Baxley has spent the campaign thus far playing her cards so close to the vest that it's often unclear that she even has cards, but she offers a few interesting ideas, including bans on monetary transfers among political action committees and the creation of a state inspector general. The fact that her chief rival will spend election day attending his federal corruption trial doesn't hurt either.

As for Riley, he's proving in many ways to be the sort of New South governor that some political observers thought his predecessor might be. Undeterred by the failure of a $1.2 billion tax plan at the start of his term, Riley got to work recruiting industries and hammering some needed reforms through the Legislature, including more realistic criminal sentencing guidelines and an increase in what was an abominably low state income tax threshold. It would be a very impressive record on its own, but it looks even better against an opponent whose main claim to fame is being the judge who disobeyed a federal court order to move a hunk of granite that literally had his name on it.

Lieutenant governor: No endorsement (R)
There was a time when the job of lieutenant governor actually mattered. Then came the 1998 election of Republican Steve Windom, and the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, stripped the office of many of its powers. Since then, the lite gov's main responsibilities have been to gavel the Legislature into session and check daily to make sure the governor is still alive. Some fun.

So why would anyone want the job? Simple: It's a springboard to higher office. The last six elected lieutenant governors have mounted gubernatorial bids, a pattern that makes it reasonable to see this year's contest for Alabama's No. 2 spot as a proxy for the 2010 governor's race. When I think of the categories from which I wouldn't like to see the governor emerge, the list includes long-time lobbyists, people who attend a rally co-sponsored by the League of the South, and people who share the name of our most infamous segregationist governor. (George Wallace, Jr., can't help who his father was, but that fact wouldn't save Alabama from a giant image hit if it elected another governor with that name.)

As much as I like Luther Strange's proposal to cut taxes on food and medicine and Wallace's plan to forbid legislators from taking lobbyists' gifts, the 2010 factor is why I can't endorse any of the GOP's three major candidates for the job right now.

Chief justice: Drayton Nabers (R)
The question in this race is quite simple: Do you want to revive the antebellum debate over nullification, or do you prefer the idea of the rule of law? If, like most Americans, you'd go for the latter, then Nabers is your only choice in the Republican primary. He doesn't have much more time on the bench than his opponent, but Nabers has written far more opinions, and his experience as a CEO also has helped him to be a good administrator of the state courts.

Attorney general: Mark Montiel (R) and John Tyson, Jr. (D)
A former judge and longtime attorney in private practice, Mark Montiel has far more legal experience than Troy King, who has grandstanded throughout his stint as AG. (See, for example, King's brief union with an ankle tracking bracelet and his decision to waste public resources by appealing a juvenile death penalty case to the U.S. Supreme Court a year after five justices who still sit on the court ruled the practice unconstitutional.) Montiel's lawsuit to try to get the legislative districts redrawn to improve the GOP's electoral chances six years after the census stands out as blatant partisanship, but he also has fought worthy legal battles against pork spending and holes in the campaign finance law.

Tyson, quite simply, is outstanding. He gained valuable leadership experience in his years at the helm of the state school board before becoming Mobile County district attorney for the last 12 years. In that time, Tyson has gained a reputation as an innovator in efforts to prevent disruptive youngsters from becoming lifelong criminals. He also has demonstrated the courage to hold even the most powerful public officials accountable. In Alabama politics, that asset's value can't be overestimated.

Secretary of state: Ed Packard (D)
Why shouldn't you vote for the incumbent, Nancy Worley? Click here, here, and here for examples. Why should you vote for Packard? He has almost a decade of experience overseeing Alabama elections (more than any other contender for the job) and has the sort of holistic, practical view of voting concerns and processes that comes with such experience. Packard also has called for a much-needed overhaul of the state's obscenely restrictive ballot-access laws, indicating a comfortingly apolitical approach to election management.

Gay marriage ban: Vote 'No'
There are three excellent reasons to reject the proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The first is that the amendment is redundant and would be no more immune to being struck down as unconstitutional than would the statute already on the books. The second is that the ban, which would violate gays' due process and equal protection rights, is simply wrong as a policy matter and inevitably will be overturned or repealed. The third is that the measure quite literally traces its origins to some guy's feeling that it's icky when two dudes kiss. I don't know about you, but I prefer when my Legislature exhibits more maturity than your average junior high.

10 Comments:

Blogger Jordan said...

Great endorsements! I'm voting in the Democratic Primary today and I agree with all your picks. And the marriage ammendment is ridiculous. This is American, Home of the Free. People should be able to marry who they want to.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Mikerson said...

I second all of these. I ended up abstaining from the Lt. Governor vote. I just couldn't bring myself to support any of them.

4:19 PM  
Blogger King Cockfight said...

While I myself am contemplating a run for the Democratic (or Republican, I can hardly tell which party is which in this state) in 2010, I have endorse Luther Strange -- who to me is clearly a supervillain.

I mean, a 7-foot tall guy named Luther Strange -- how could he not be a supervillain?

No matter who is elected governor, their days on this planet are certainly limited if Mr. Strange is elected. He will absatively have them killed off and build his throne in the Alabama State House out of their bones.

His iron grip on the state will bring new accountability to our government (and thoughts), and super-theft and conquest of other states with his army of 14-foot tall laser-breathing Strangebots can only bring more economic development and class to Alabama.

To that then, I say "Huzzah!" to Mr. Strange and beg that he doesn't quietly kill me for nailing the true nature of his campaign.

8:09 PM  
Blogger HP said...

Brutal honesty on the lieutenant governor race, but right on the money.

I am pleased quite pleased that the slate of Mooreites all fell in defeat today. The people of Alabama stood up to demogogary, and that's not something we have always been able to say.

12:55 AM  
Blogger alaskaguy said...

these "dehumanization of marriage" amendments are depressing.

You know...I obviously don't know a lot about Alabama politics, but reading what Riley did at the beginning of his term, it seemed to me, that he actually wanted to "lead." It's too bad, no one wanted to follow.

I realize all politics are local. I don't know the full story.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

What made the Riley tax plan all the more remarkable is that it came from a governor who was one of the most anti-tax congressmen in the country before coming to Montgomery. The plan went down because some of the people who stood to see tax hikes began running ads hammering it as a pure tax increase, even though it was actually an overhaul of the tax system and would have given most Alabamians a tax cut. In the end, the folks whom the plan would have helped the most voted the most strongly against it.

Alaska, eh? Awesome. What's the big news there these days?

7:50 AM  
Blogger alaskaguy said...

Trust me, I'm a liberal, and I like to call myself a "practical environmentalist." I'm a scientist, too. And I see global warming first hand. But that said, this year, has not been warm. June snow is the big news here. I know, I know. Everyone says, Alaska, it snows all the time. But it's not supposed to. Every year's a see-saw. This year, we've gone back to really cold.

Politically, Ted Stevens is still in office which is singlehandledly responsible for probably the most pork per citizen in the entire country. I daresay, we'll pay taxes to keep him on life support just to continue the pipeline of cashflow.

We are having a governor's election this year. Democrats (I lean Democrat), always argue, "This is our year." Well...just a little background: So in 2002 (I think) when Senator Murkowski was elected Governor, who did he appoint to replace him: As any good hegemonist would do...he appointed his daughter, a move almost Wallacian...Lurleen??? Lisa Murkowski.

So the Democrats pounced with a stellar (good looking) moderate (which unfortunately in Alaskanese means liberal) candidate: The former Governor of Alaska, the former mayor of Anchorage: Tony Knowles. Well, Tony and Lisa split the Anchorage vote. Tony got the "Bush" (or rural) Vote. Tony got Juneau. And Lisa got Fairbanks. But Lisa won the Mat-Su Vote (that vast valley north of Anchorage) that is becoming Orange County North and which is why Anchorage is referred to as "Los Anchorage" by the rest of the state. So when all the stars were aligned...when the Republicans were at their most corrupt...the Murkowski girl still got 53% of the vote.

Some people think Daddy Murkowski is still vulnerable. Why? Because he's giving Canada the proposed Natural Gas Pipeline rather than routing it directly to Valdez off Prince William Sound (aka oil tanker disaster). To be honest...I think it makes no difference...but I think he's trying to pacify the Anchorage crowd with giving the enviromental threat to the Canooks...but instead, he's just offending the Mat-Su crowd by letting Canada control our energy flow.

Meanwhile...everyone thinks we're swimming in oil...but it's still refined in California...and I'm still paying $3.52/gallon.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Interesting stuff. I had heard about Murkowski appointing his daughter as his replacement, but the parts about the gas pipeline and the Mat-Su Valley were new to me. Keep us posted on how the governor's race goes up there.

June snow? That would seem odd anywhere. Is the sun out 24/7 up there right now, too?

12:05 AM  
Blogger alaskaguy said...

Well, not exactly. It's 1AM right now, and the sun is still out...but it goes behind the hills to the north in half an hour...and then a couple of hours after that it reapears from the same hills and continues its 22 hour circular path across the sky when it "hides" again for another couple of hours tomorrow night.

Everyone here has insomnia this time of year. Kids are riding their bicycles at 1 am in the morning because parents can't put them to bed and better they train and get exercise than learn to pick up the bottle.

I regularly go on midnight bike rides. Some people put aluminum foil on their windows this time of year, particularly in their bedrooms. Curtains just don't do the job. Daylight always finds ways of sneaking in. I mean, even aluminum foil doesn't totall work...because little bitty holes appear. You tell your mind...that their just stars, but it knows...and you just lie in bed awake.

maybe that's why our primaries are in September rather than June...when we think better. Nope, I think it's to keep "summer" Alaskans from voting so they don't take the state away from the rest of us who deal with the winter.

It was nice talking with you...I'll check in if I hear anything exciting.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

I feel out of sorts when the sun's still up at 8 p.m. I couldn't imagine it at 1 a.m.

Thanks for the insights. It's not often that I get a visitor from Alaska.

5:20 PM  

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