Thanks to political insiders on both sides of the aisle who have helped us reconsider the ratings on the state House races.
I’d like to expand on this a bit later, but for now let us simply get right to it with little comment.
Here is how the ratings have changed.
HD 1 from Toss Up to Lean Dem – Greg Burdine (D) v. Quinton Hanson (R) for the seat vacated by Tammy Irons (D)
HD 2 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – incumbent Mike Curtis (D) v. Lynn Greer (R)
HD 5 from Lean GOP to Likely GOP – incumbent Henry White (D) v. Dan Williams (R) with Independent Jerry Hill in the race also.
HD 7 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Jody Letson (D) v. Ken Johnson (R)
HD 8 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – Drama Breland (D) v. Terri Collins (R) for the seat vacated by Bill Dukes (D)
HD 9 from Lean GOP to Likely GOP – Kathy White Goodwin (D) v. Ed Henry (R) for the seat held by Ron Grantland (D)
HD 12 from Lean Dem to Toss Up – incumbent James Fields (D) v. Mac Buttram (R)
HD 13 from Likely Dem to Toss Up – incumbent Tommy Sherer (D) v. Bill Roberts (R)
HD 14 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – incumbent Ken Guin (D) v. Richard Baughn (R)
HD 16 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent William Thigpen (D) v. Daniel Boman (R)
HD 21 from Lean Dem to Toss Up – incumbent Randy Hinshaw (D) v. Jim Patterson (R)
HD 22 from Lean Dem to Toss Up – incumbent Butch Taylor (D) v. Wayne Johnson (R)
HD 24 from Likely GOP to Lean GOP – Nathaniel Ledbetter (D) v. incumbent Todd Greeson (R)
HD 27 from Lean Dem to Toss Up – incumbent Jeff McLaughlin (D) v. Wes Long (R)
HD 29 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Jack Page (D) v. Becky Nordgren (R)
HD 35 from Lean Dem to Toss Up – incumbent Steve Hurst (D) v. Steven Dean (R)
HD 37 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Richard Laird (D) v. Bob Fincher (R)
HD 39 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Richard Lindsey (D) v. Timothy Sprayberry (R)
HD 42 from Lean Dem to Lean GOP – incumbent Jimmy Martin (D) v. Kurt Wallace (R)
HD 61 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Alan Harper (D) v. Frank Chandler (R)
HD 62 from Likely GOP to Safe GOP – John Merrill (R) v. Constitution Party candidate Steven Kneussle. Dem candidate dropped out.
HD 63 from Lean GOP to Likely GOP – Susan Pace Hamill (D) v. Bill Poole (R) for the seat vacated by GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley.
HD 73 from Lean GOP to Toss Up – Joe Hubbard (D) v. incumbent David Grimes (R)
HD 80 from Safe Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Lesley Vance (D) v. Mervin Dudley (R)
HD 81 from Lean Dem to Lean GOP – incumbent Betty Carol Graham (D) v. Mark Tuggle (R)
HD 84 from Safe Dem to Likely Dem – Berry Forte (D) v. Joyce Perrin (R) for the seat vacated by Billy Beasley (D)
HD 86 from Lean GOP to Toss Up – Merritt Carothers (D) v. Paul Lee (R) for the seat vacated by Benjamin Lewis (R)
HD 90 from Likely Dem to Lean Dem – incumbent Charles Newton (D) v. Jerry Hartin (R)
HD 91 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – incumbent Terry Spicer (D) v. Barry Moore (R)
HD 92 from Lean GOP to Likely GOP – David Darby (D) v. Mike Jones (R) for the seat opened by the retirement of Seth Hammett (D)
HD 93 from Likely GOP to Safe GOP – Ronnie Helms (D) v. incumbent Steve Clouse (R)
With 105 seats in the House, 53 is a majority. If you look at the whole list and tally them up, you see 53 in the red (lean, likely or safe GOP), 43 in the blue (lean, likely, or safe Democrat), and 9 toss ups. There will be some surprises, but with this as our starting point there will have to be a lot of surprises in the Dems’ favor or we are looking at a GOP majority in the state House.
New from Democratic state Rep. Ken Guin in the House District 14 race:
A reader tells me the ad is on the air in the District.
Guin is challenged in the election by Republican Richard Baughn.
Folks on both sides of the aisle are talking about this ad from Democratic state Representative Ken Guin that features the wife of his opponent, Republican Richard Baughn.
Baughn is challenging Guin for the House District 14 seat.
Update: The original post incorrectly referred to Lisa Baughn as Richard Baughn’s ex-wife. They are not divorced and the post has been corrected.
The back of a new GOP mailer against Guin
Two new ads in House District 14 are attacking Ken Guin, a Democrat and the House Majority Leader, for “Enjoying the perks of office – on our dime.”
The mailer is titled “All in a Day’s Work”. Inside the fold it features a picture of a large home and a Porsche, both “THAT YOU PAID FOR” the ad reads. The big hitter in the ad is a claim that Guin receives “as many as THREE different government paychecks that total more than $130,000 per year.”
The claim cites a 2007 article by The Birmingham News, “Lawmaker paid by 2 schools for the same work” that you can read in its entirety here. According to the Birmingham News piece, Guin received two salaries simultaneously from Shelton State Community College and Bevill State Community College totaling over $98,000 in addition to his legislative salary from the time of his hire in December 1999 to the time of the article’s publishing in March 2007.
While the article does not detail all of his responsibilities for the two schools, it says, “[Guin] often submitted the same work reports to both schools and made reference to his state legislative business in some work summaries.” It goes on to say that the reports were submitted monthly for at least his first year, but they became as infrequent as three in 2003 until he started to submit them monthly again in mid-2006.
The mailer was paid for by the Alabama Republican Party and can be viewed here (pdf).
A radio spot paid for by the 136 Years PAC also features the Birmingham News article in addition to pointing out, “Ken Guin voted himself a 62% legislative pay raise.”
Click play to hear it.
Guin is running against Republican Richard G. Baughn in his quest for a fifth term in the house. Baughn is a political newcomer, and a UPS truck driver. Guin recently criticized Baughn for calling himself a “businessman” in a direct mail piece.
In his most recent campaign ad, Democrat Ken Guin claims successes in his legislative tenure and suggests a reason for them.
Guin is facing a challenge from Republican Richard Braughn for the House District 14 seat.
Hat tip to The World Around You.
House Majority Leader Ken Guin is on television with this spot on the immigration issue.
http://www.politicalparlor.net/docs/video/KenGuin IllegalImmigration Sept2010.flv
The Democrat faces a challenge in House District 14 from Republican Richard Baughn.
July’s REDMAP Political Report [.pdf] from the Republican State Leadership Committee contends that nationally in 2010 Republicans will pick up control of four legislative chambers, that Democrats will not pick up any, and that twelve chambers controlled by Democrats (including Alabama’s House and Senate) are “solidly in play.”
The report explains, “The REDistricting MAjority Project (REDMAP) is a program of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) dedicated to winning Republican control of state legislatures that will have the most impact on Congressional redistricting in 2011.”
According to the report, three open state Senate seats in Alabama are in play, one held by a Republican and two held by Democrats. In addition, seven Democratic incumbents and two Republican incumbents hold seats are in play. The GOP needs to pick up a net of three Senate seats to control the chamber.
Let’s see… There are more than three open Senate seats, so they must be keying on SD 5 (being vacated by Republican Charles Bishop), SD 9 (Democrat Hinton Mitchem), and SD 13 (Democrat Kim Benefield) as the ones in play.
The two Republican Senate incumbents whose seats are in play must be Paul Sanford (SD 7) and Jim Preuitt (SD 11).
Now the seven Democratic incumbents whose Senate seats are in play… they must be Tom Butler (SD 2), Zeb Little (SD 4), Phil Poole (SD 21), Ted Little (SD 27), Wendell Mitchell (SD 30), and… hmm… a Republican familiar with the situation confirms that the last two are Lowell Barron (SD 8) and Larry Means (SD 10). Those two and Marc Keahey in SD 22 were the threesome I was trying to choose among for the last two spots.
On the state House side… The GOP needs to pick up a net of 8 seats. The Report offers that four open seats held by Democrats are in play in Alabama. They must mean four of these five: HD 8 (being vacated by Bill Dukes), HD 9 (Ron Grantland), HD 26 (Frank McDaniel), HD 85 (Locy Baker) and HD 92 (Seth Hammett). I suppose HD 85 is the one not being included.
The Report also contends that seats held by nine Democratic incumbents are in play. I suppose they mean Mike Curtis (HD 2), Henry White (HD 5), James Fields (HD 12), Ken Guin (HD 14), Jeff McLaughlin (HD 27), Jimmy Martin (HD 42), Lesley Vance (HD 80), Betty Carol Graham (HD 81), and Terry Spicer (HD 91).
No House seats held by Republican incumbents are indicated to be in play though I believe the argument could be made that David Grimes (HD 73) or possibly DuWayne Bridges (HD 38) are as vulnerable as, say, James Fields.
The full report is here in .pdf form. The website for the Republican State Leadership Committee is here.
If you would like to play along with the home version of the game, the 2010 House Elections Directory and Senate Elections Directory may be helpful though the ratings of the districts found there (lean Dem, likely GOP, etc.) are overdue for review.
The first session of the quadrennium doesn’t start until March, but the matter of who will be the next Speaker of the House has been a steady topic of conversation on Goat Hill since May of last year when Seth Hammett
(D – Andalusia) announced that he would not run for re-election
. Hammett served as Speaker of the House the last 12 years of his 32 year tenure in the House.
So who will be the next Speaker of the House?
If Democrats are in the majority…
If Democrats maintain control of the House, the two most likely candidates for the role are Marcel Black of Tuscumbia and House Majority Leader Ken Guin of Carbon Hill. Black appears to have the inside track. John Knight of Montgomery is also mentioned as a possibility.
To stir up the pot, there are recurring rumors that a handful of conservative Democrats – for example Jimmy Martin of Clanton, Lesley Vance of Phenix City, Richard Laird of Roanoke – would be willing to organize with Republicans for the purposes of choosing a Speaker if a Republican minority was within three or four votes of a majority. They reportedly do not care for the idea of Marcel Black or Ken Guin as Speaker and believe that the Black Caucus has undue influence on the Democratic Caucus as a whole. As the rumor goes, their conditions for crossing over to help the Republicans organize as a majority reportedly would be that they get to keep their committee chairmanships and that they would “vote for anybody but Hubbard” as Speaker.
“I have heard those rumors from time to time, but I don’t buy it,” says one source close to the legislature. “That’s talk to keep people out of your race. It comes from pressure from your constituency. Take Jimmy Martin, his seat is the most Republican district in the legislature held by a Democrat.” This source went on to explain that Democratic legislative candidates signed a pledge to support their party caucus’s nominees for leadership positions. (That’s new this year after their experiences with Jim Preuitt, Gerald Dial and others who as Democrats caucused with the GOP.) Plus, “if someone like Martin gets a hard fight for the seat in the fall, do you think he’ll be ready to come in, make nice and vote for the other party’s candidate for Speaker after all the things they said about him in the fall?”
If Republicans are in the majority…
House Minority Leader (and state GOP Chair) Mike Hubbard of Auburn has long been considered an obvious choice for the role if Republicans take the House this November. There are dissidents among House GOP members who are pushing for Paul DeMarco of Homewood to be Speaker, chief among them is Arthur Payne of Trussville. These dissidents are largely Bentley supporters. If Robert Bentley is the new Governor, his wishes could be a factor. Or not.
Looking at the numbers alone, just a handful of Republican dissidents could make the difference, as Democrats could be inclined to go along with the dissidents’ choice for Speaker and provide the necessary majority. For the sake of illustration, if the GOP has a 54-51 majority, then five Republicans could join with the 51 minority Dems to come up with another Republican Speaker not chosen by the majority of the Republican caucus.
Numbers are one thing, but as one Republican insider tells the Parlor, all Republican legislative candidates have signed the pledge to organize with the caucus, “or they risk not being able to qualify again in 2014. Don’t think that won’t happen, call Harri Anne.” (State Sen. Harri Anne Smith is running for re-election as an independent this year after not being allowed on the ballot as a Republican.)
That pledge is what leads another Montgomery insider to say DeMarco “doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell” of being Speaker while acknowledging, “Some [GOP legislators] are openly hostile to Mike Hubbard. Mike’s problem is that there is no separation between the [GOP] Caucus and the Governor’s office. He was trying to be all things to all people. You can’t be Riley’s floor leader and be the Caucus leader at the same time and do those jobs adequately. The executive branch and the legislative branch have separate roles. Should they work together? Of course. But the legislative branch has to do its job.”
It is the opinion of that Goat Hill regular that the support for DeMarco for Speaker comes from Arthur Payne and just two or three others. “Hubbard put a lot of time, money, effort into the takeover effort and somebody ought to recognize that.”
“To deal with education, Medicaid, without raising taxes, that’s going to take a statesman that’s got to stand up to the Business Council and stand up to [AEA Chief Paul] Hubbert by saying, ‘Everybody’s got to share the pain here.’ That’s going to take a guy that has been around, that has the background, the experience, the trust, the respect of business, respect of education, respect of state employees, and that’s not Paul DeMarco.”
Who then? “Well… Mike Hubbard. Or Mike Hill [R - Columbiana]. Mike Hill would tell you that he doesn’t want it. But if asked to serve I think he would out of a sense of duty. He has the temperament for the job.”
“Like Marcel Black [D - Tuscumbia]. He’ll probably be the Democrats’ nominee for Speaker [if they are in the majority]. He’s a Seth Hammett type. Not overly punitive. This is a critical turning point in the history of the state. If you are going to be Speaker for the next four years, you have to put partisan politics aside to some degree.”
“The House doesn’t want to end up like the Senate where it is a dysfunctional body. I don’t want to see it go into warfare. Marcel Black is of that temperament. Mike Hill is of that temperament. Mike Hubbard? It will come down to how Mike Hubbard will handle himself with the Republican Caucus. He has worked hard, done more than anyone to raise money, get structures in place to promote a plan to allow Republicans to take leadership positions in the House. A lot of it comes down to him.”
A Montgomery Republican weighs in on the subject, saying that because of GOP legislators’ signed pledges to support the Republican caucus’s choice for Speaker, “I think the real hope for anti-Hubbard folks is a coalition where Republicans don’t get a majority or Bentley leans on people to vote for the anti-Hubbard candidate which is DeMarco.”
Lots of ifs and maybes.
That’s what we’re hearing in the Parlor.
Maybe we can get to some of these interesting tidbits out of the primary elections that so far haven’t found mention here. (I was travelling last week and a little slow climbing back into the saddle this week.)
As interesting as any to me is that outgoing state Sen. Charles Bishop (R – Arley) was defeated in his attempt to claim the Republican nomination for House District 14. The Tuscaloosa News runs down Bishop’s noteworthy resume’, pointing out “he was elected to the Senate as a Republican in 2006, held the Senate seat for eight years as a Democrat in the 1980s, ran for governor twice and was elected agriculture commissioner in 1998.” Bishop was at one point said to be considering a run for governor this year.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, with this loss Bishop will step out of political life. “I get the message,” Bishop said. “It’s time for the old man to hang it up and enjoy retirement.”
Bishop will be remembered for his passion, most famously on display when he punched state Sen. Lowell Barron on the Senate floor in 2007. Prior to that incident, he had challenged one colleague to settle differences in the men’s room, challenged another state Senator to step outside before they were separated by security, and had missed with a swing at yet another state Senator on the Senate floor. Bishop was said to be motivated to enter the House race by personal animosity toward Democratic incumbent Ken Guin.
Newcomer Richard Baughn, a UPS truck driver, won the Republican nomination for House District 14 and will challenge Guin, the House Majority Leader for the last quadrennium.
Sen. Charles Bishop punches Sen. Lowell Barron in 2007
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?
The House Elections Directory is updated with ratings for the races.
Out of 105 races, 50 are rated as Safe, Likely or Lean on the Democratic side, and 49 are on the Republican side.
Watch for upsets of course, but the race for 53 seats and control of the state House for the next quadrennium may turn largely on six seats (1, 2, 8, 14, 85, and 91).
- HD 1 is open as Rep. Tammy Irons (D) is running for the Senate. It wouldn’t take much to nudge this into the “lean Dem” category where some believe it belongs already.
- First term Democratic incumbent Mike Curtis is being challenged by former state Rep. Lynn Greer in HD 2.
- Democratic Rep. Bill Dukes announced his retirement in HD 8, and then reconsidered. He faces two Republican challengers. Without Dukes, this race probably is rated on the Republican side. With him, many Democrats feel very good about their chances.
- Two Republicans are vying to unseat House Majority Leader Ken Guin in HD 14, including state Sen. Charles Bishop who is making a bid to switch legislative houses.
- In HD 85, four Democrats and two Republicans compete for the seat being vacated by Democrat Locy ‘Sonny’ Baker who is running for Senate District 28.
- Republican challenger Barry Moore hopes the demographics of HD 91 will help him unseat Democratic incumbent Terry Spicer.
House District 5 is one to watch. First-term Democratic incumbent Henry White is getting a challenge from three Republicans and an independent. The demographics appear to be moving the district to the right, and Republicans are particularly excited to have popular Athens Mayor Dan Williams in the race who they believe is quite capable, or even likely, of claiming the seat for the GOP. Democrats note that White went through three tough races (primary, runoff, general) in 2006 when he won the seat and believe that he should not be underestimated. What factor will independent Jerry Hill, also from Athens, play? While partisans will make strong arguments that the rating should be moved to the right or to the left, the rating here for now is “Lean Republican.”
Here is a summary of how the races stack up.
|Alabama State House Races
See the entire House Elections Directory here.
State Sen. Charles Bishop has qualified to challenge Democratic House Majority Leader Ken Guin in House District 14. Bishop announced almost a year ago that he was hanging up the gloves and retiring from the state Senate. Last year he was at one point considering throwing his hat into the ring as a gubernatorial candidate.
Now he’s answering the bell for another round, this time for a House seat. (We had heard he might.) Why would Bishop step down from the Senate to run for the House? Most people would rather be in the Senate than the House, given a choice. “He hates Guin. He just hates him,” a Montgomery insider responds to the Parlor.
The 2010 Legislative Session starts today, and that means Parlor readers can again enjoy posts from the legislature. Four legislators have agreed to take time from their busy schedules to share with Parlor readers their insights, perspectives, and other thoughts that they would be willing to share with us.
I am pleased to tell you that Sen. Steve French (R – Mountain Brook), Sen. Zeb Little (D – Cullman), Rep. Ken Guin (D – Jasper) and Cam Ward (R – Alabaster) will be blogging here in our Legislative Dispatch section during the legislative session. Ward has blogged here several years, Guin is kind enough to return for another stint after blogging for us last year, and French and Little are adding input from the Senate side for us.
I very much look forward to it!