A lack of vision

The title of Artur Davis’ swan song in the Advertiser today.  While he does play catch up, it makes me wonder if there is any candidate who has a lucid vision of Alabama’s future other than hanging on the ears of the starving tiger that is the Governor’s office.

8/17/10 9:11 CDT

lets add a link to the Gadsden Times article which contains Ron Spark’s lemonade from lemons comments on the above.

Artur Davis in Consideration for Obama Administration Post

Artur Davis is in the mix of possible replacements for White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, who will be stepping down in July, according to the Wall Street Journal online.

Swampland blog at Time.com considers Davis a longshot but says he is being considered as a Democratic budget hawk who could help Obama on “radioactive political issues” (e.g. social security, tax increases) when dealing with budget deficits that are unsustainable in the long run.

Ron Sparks defeated Artur Davis in the Democratic primary for governor this month.

Thanks to reader C.

Artur Davis on Nominee Ron Sparks

Artur Davis suggests that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ron Sparks is going to need more arrows in his quiver than the one labeled “bingo.”

From Politico:

“I think it’s going to be challenging for Sparks to win. He certainly could win, but the reality is voters, in Alabama want a message broader than bingo,” Davis said.

“Now, in a Democratic primary universe, that may have been a different story, but once you are outside the primary universe I think he’s going to have to broaden his message. He’s going to have to reach a group of voters that he and I weren’t encountering in the Democratic primary.”

The Politico article is here.

Thanks to Reader W.

State Sen. Hank Sanders on Davis’ Loss

In his weekly column to his constituents, Democratic State Sen. Hank Sanders reviews how gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis and the New South Coalition (along with ADC) went separate ways.

In the column, Sanders mentions “Twelve Reasons Why We Should Vote for Ron Sparks” and “Twelve Reasons Why We Should Not Vote for Artur Davis.” You can see those lists here on the back of a New South Coalition sample ballot [.pdf]. (Reason #1 from the latter list: “Artur Davis’ individual ambitions are more important than anyone or anything.”) Here is the front of the ballot [.pdf].

FWIW, a New South Coalition member explained to me before the election that Davis would lose the primary for lack of support in the African-American community. The key, he explained, was not the vote against health care reform itself as much as it was that the vote meant Davis turned his back on Obama. (Reason #2: “Artur Davis voted against President Obama’s Health Care Package to further his ambitions when the President needed him most.”)

Looking at the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Lots of folks are considering Artur Davis and the results of the Democratic gubernatorial primary. In that regard, here are three posts that might interest you.

Josh Goodman has a provocative thesis at governing.com: “The same law that has helped blacks win lots of seats in the South in the U.S. House of Representatives makes it much more difficult for Davis and other black Southern congressmen to win statewide.”

Red State Diaries considers what’s next for Mr. Davis, beginning “if you’re looking for admittedly uninformed guesswork as to the next steps for Davis, you’re in the right place. There are no easy answers, but let’s examine a few possibilities.”

While we are at it, fivethirtyeight.com warned us before the election that “Southern Primaries Often Confound Pollsters.” Nate Silver wrote, “How much faith should we put in the polls of these races [in Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina]? The answer is not very much, especially in the case of Democrats.” He pegged it as far as Alabama is concerned. (I am reminded of this 2006 post here at the Parlor about how badly The Birmingham News missed in its polling for Democratic candidates in the last general election.) See the fivethirtyeight.com article here.

Related Articles:

Considering Two Early Assumptions of the Governor's Race

In the chatter I hear (including on Twitter, for whatever that is worth) there is a sense that the Democratic nomination was Artur Davis’ to lose, that if only he had voted for Health Care Reform or courted ADC & New South or whatever else, the nomination would have been his. He blew it, goes the thinking. The observation missed there, I believe, is that he was running the race to win the general election, not to win the primary.

Sure, the obvious point there is that you have to win the nomination first, but the ultimate goal is to win the general election, and I believe Davis campaigned in a way he believed would give him the best chance to win the general election. It was a political calculus and it didn’t work. But I find it hard to fault him for the way he played his cards.

There is also Twitter-chatter matched by some email in my inbox that the Democrats’ nomination of Sparks is better for the Republicans this fall, and I am not sure of the logic of that either. Sparks in the past has had his crossover support, especially among rural Republicans; I’ve heard Republican legislators tell of the strong support Sparks has among some of their Republican constituents. Either Democrat would face an uphill climb in November, but I am not sure of the logic that says Davis clearly had a November advantage over Sparks.

As a postscript, I’ll grant that Sparks’ gambling-themed gubernatorial platform could skew that equation a bit.

Top Ten Oddities of the Alabama Primary Campaigns

We have had several oddities during the primary season. I present this Top Ten list, but because we strive to be better, in this case 20% better, it is a Top 12 list (unranked).

  • State Rep. Thomas Jackson (D – Thomasville) is receiving a primary challenge from another Thomas Jackson. At his request, the incumbent will be listed on the ballot as “Thomas ‘Action’ Jackson.”
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Robert Bentley wanted to get around the Republican Party’s ban on titles appearing on the ballot and so legally changed his first name to “Dr.”
  • Longshot Agriculture Commissioner candidate Dale Peterson (R) had his web ad go screaming through the internet. Best ad of the race? Of the Alabama primary? Of the year anywhere in the country? No, some called it the best campaign ad ever (see here and here). Though Politifact raised some questions.
  • Noted Democrat Paul Hubbert of AEA set up a front group called True Republican PAC to run ads attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne for, among other things, not being conservative enough and wanting evolution taught in schools. Yes, that’s a left-winger paying for ads complaining that Byrne is “another liberal politician trying to look conservative.”
  • From the Creative Endorsements Department… The campaign of Republican Congressional candidate Les Phillip announces that Phillip is endorsed by the National Veterans for Republicans, an outfit created by his brother. The group was established after Phillip announced his candidacy. Brian at Flashpoint tells the story.
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore gained 1700 followers on Twitter in one day. And speaking of oddities, you should check out who he has been following on Twitter (or at least was at the time I drafted this post): In looking at about two dozen of the thousands that he is following, I found a Senior Web Manager for a department store in London, an entrepreneurial lawyer from Morelia, Mexico, Ms. United States of 2008-09 (from NY/NJ), a cigar-smoking Israeli woman who co-founded Twitter Analyzer, and a Nairobi, Kenyan who is making the easiest money and wants to tell you how you can too. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
  • A new and mysterious group called the New Sons of Liberty set the Alabama political world abuzz when it reserved TV ad time in the last days of the campaign for an ad buy of more than a million dollars. Speculation ran rampant about what candidate(s) would be the beneficiary or target of the ad buy, but the ad buy was cancelled the day before it was supposed to begin.
  • The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks put out a press release [.pdf] saying that “[Primary rival Artur] Davis pays kool-aid-drinking bloggers to misinform the rest of us, claiming that the gaming positions of Ron Sparks and Artur Davis are IDENTICAL.” Really? Bloggers are getting paid by a candidate? What bloggers? How does the Sparks campaign know this? I found this to be a fairly extraordinary claim to put out in a press release, but the Sparks campaign never responded to my email with these questions. Left in Alabama had a lot of fun with it though – including surveying state bloggers on the matter.
  • Last June, GOP Congressional candidate Les Phillip held a fundraiser with Mike Huckabee as the speaker and lost over $25,000 on the event.
  • Republican state Senator Charles Bishop stepped down from the Senate and decided to run for the state House in House District 14 – apparently because of his dislike for incumbent Ken Guin, the House Majority Leader for the Democrats.
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James told staffers of the University of Alabama student newspaper in an off-handed remark that as governor he would not cut the salary of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. (James’ father Fob was a football star at rival Auburn.) All well and good, but after his campaign tweeted, “Dispelling another untruth from the Byrne camp: I will neither be firing nor cutting Coach Saban’s salary if elected,” the remark went supernova. After re-tweets, an explosive radio segment with Paul Finebaum (who said “James turned a mild tempest in a teapot into a nuclear war”), and finger-pointing, we find James at a press conference wearing a “Saban Rules” cap. Alabama politics and Alabama football… when worlds collide.
  • In the trial of Judge Herman Thomas, state Senator Vivian Figures and her son testified against Thomas. He was acquitted, and now Thomas is challenging Figures for the Democratic nomination for the Senate District 33 seat. Nothing personal, I’m sure.

Note that we didn’t even get into the oddities of the Tim James commercials with the pauses, the ambling, and the unusual pacing of the ads that made this parody so fun.

I’m sure I’ve overlooked some oddities that should be included. What would be on your list?

And Ron Sparks responds

to the Artur Davis ad this AM with this video link:

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Press release below the fold, formatted as received.   Utterly shocking to see politicians acting as politicians.

Continue reading “And Ron Sparks responds”

Artur Davis Ad Focuses on Sparks Loan

A link to the supporting document (pdf).  Interesting to see alleged gambling corruption becoming an issue in the Democratic primary.

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Continue reading “Artur Davis Ad Focuses on Sparks Loan”

Byrne Tops New Independent Poll

Daily Kos commissioned an Alabama gubernatorial poll through Research 2000 and released its findings this morning.

In the Republican Primary:

  • Bradley Byrne: 29
  • Roy Moore: 23
  • Tim James: 17
  • Robert Bentley: 9
  • Bill Johnson: 3
  • Other: 2
  • Undecided: 17

(MoE: ±5%)

In the Democratic Primary:

  • Artur Davis: 41
  • Ron Sparks: 33
  • Other: 8
  • Undecided: 11

(MoE: ±5%)

Continue reading “Byrne Tops New Independent Poll”

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Daryl Perkins, Former Davis Staffer, Joins Ron Sparks Campaign

Daryl Perkins, a long-time staffer for Artur Davis who left the Davis campaign in October, has signed on to the Ron Sparks gubernatorial campaign, a Sparks campaign supporter confirmed to the Parlor.

“He has been helpful behind the scenes for a while now, as an informal adviser, but now it’s official,” said the supporter who added that Perkins would be working with voter outreach. “Artur was foolish to let him go. He didn’t realize how much Perkins did for Davis and for Alabama.” Perkins was introduced as a new member of the team at last Saturday’s meeting of the campaign’s coordinators.

In reporting Perkins’ departure from the Davis campaign, Charles Dean of The Birmingham News in October called Perkins a “long-time Davis insider,” saying:

Perkins has been one of Davis’ key insiders for a decade, serving as his legislative district director for 7 years. Perkins was seen as one of the key leaders in Davis’ historic effort to win the governor’s office.

Sparks and Davis face each other in the June 1 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Another staff change… we hear that earlier this month David Mowery and the Mowery Consulting Group amicably parted ways with the Artur Davis campaign.

Artur Davis Ad Calls for Championship Schools

In Artur Davis’ new ad, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate urges “the same standards for our schools that we have for our football coaches,” saying, “Nothing matters more than our schools and getting them as good as we can possibly make them.”

Are schools lacking because too many disagree, or because of an inability/unwillingness to act on the belief?

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The ad is running statewide on broadcast and cable TV.

Codeword: Electability

An article in the Wall Street Journal today about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis carries the headline “Black Democrat Tacks to Center in Alabama” with the sub-head “Gubernatorial Hopeful Spurns African-American Political Establishment, After Opposing Obama Health-Care Overhaul.”

The article cites several gubernatorial polls and points to Davis’ efforts to be a post-racial candidate “largely in Mr. Obama’s mold”:

Since announcing his bid in February 2009, Mr. Davis has taken unprecedented steps to distance himself from the state’s black political establishment while trying to build more credibility with white independents and conservatives.  [...]

He has gone out of his way to publicly snub three powerful black political organizations by refusing to sit for their endorsement screenings, drawing criticism that he is an opportunist in search of white votes. “The day has ended when these groups decide who wins the support of black voters in this state,” Mr. Davis said April 21.

The author points out that Obama carried “just 10% of whites” in our heavily Republican state and while African-Americans count for about a quarter of Alabama’s general election turnout, Davis “has to push black turnout as high as 26%, and separately lock up at least 33% of the white turnout.” It’s as if race is the only demographic. I don’t know if I agree with that, but it’s clear we aren’t post-racial just yet.

Yesterday, Davis called for opponent Ron Sparks to denounce a “race-tinged letter” which Davis says “directly injects race into the final weeks of the Democratic gubernatorial primary.” From Davis’ press release:

Continue reading “Codeword: Electability”

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Update on AEA Polling for Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Gerald Johnson of Capital Survey Research Center told the Political Parlor that he was surprised to read at the Parlor a characterization of his remarks to the Hole in the Wall Gang, and that it was not entirely accurate.

He confirmed that he said to the group, as the Parlor passed along to you, that polling by Capital Survey for AEA showed, “Davis’ numbers have dropped, the ‘don’t knows’ have increased, and Sparks has not really grown, his level has increased a little bit.”

However, he says it is not accurate to say that Davis and Sparks are essentially within the margin of error, and that is not anything he would have meant to convey.

He stopped short of giving precise numbers, but tells the Parlor that his polling shows that Artur Davis is in the 30′s, that Ron Sparks is in the 20′s, and that they are not within the margin of error.

Related Articles:

Differing Poll Numbers in Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

A source close to the Artur Davis campaign took exception to the poll results Gerald Johnson presented to the Hole in the Wall Gang on Tuesday. The source indicated that Hamilton Campaigns out of Florida had returned results to the campaign Monday showing that Davis had a lead in the high double digits over Ron Sparks in a head-to-head matchup.

The source wished to emphasize particular points about these most recent results from Hamilton Campaigns:

  1. With white voters, Hamilton Campaigns showed that the two are tied – literally.
  2. The results showed movement among African American voters into the Davis column so that Davis’ lead was dominant among African Americans.
  3. In the Huntsville media market, Davis is within the margin of error.
  4. Twice as many voters are certain they will vote for Davis (as opposed to “somewhat likely,” etc.) than are certain they will vote for Sparks.

That’s what they’re saying. YMMV.

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Legislative Dispatch

A Look from the Rearview Mirror

This Thursday will mark the last day of the legislative Session.  For some, it was a Session that seemed would never end.  For others, it was one that ended much too quickly.  It may be early, yet, to write an obit on this Session, but as we approach the finish line, some perspective may be in order.


Putting Students First

As you know, a very important piece of legislation will be presented for our consideration in the House tomorrow in Montgomery – Senate Bill 310 – the “Students First” tenure and fair dismissal reform bill. Like me, many House members have been inundated with phone calls and emails from opponents of this bill, and some have been [...]

Legislative Transparency

There are a lot of issues to debate before we begin the final days of this session. In fact, I am quite certain there will be some comments on this post debating many of them. Before we get into the last seven day of the session I wanted to bring up a topic that [...]

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