Living with the what-ifs

One agony of a close loss in an important game is re-living the what-if moments that could have made a difference. What if we hadn’t missed the field goal in the 2nd quarter? What if we had not fumbled inside the 20? Or converted on that fourth down in the last quarter? What about that terrible holding call that killed a drive?

Now that Tim James is out of the race, having missed the runoff by a couple hundred votes out of nearly a half million cast, he and his supporters have their own what-if moments. Did the brouhaha over James’ remark (or non-remark) about Alabama football coach Nick Saban cost him a net loss of 200 plus votes? (Tommy Stevenson of the Tuscaloosa News likes to think so.) How about the association of a James campaign fundraiser with AEA’s anti-Byrne ads? Or backing out of an appearance with Bradley Byrne on the Morris and Montiel show, after challenging Byrne to a debate anytime? (Can’t find a link.) Could his own parody-ready ads and the ruckus over English-only driver’s license exams have cost him 200 more votes than they gained?

Though this factor was beyond James’ control, Roy Moore’s presence in the race surely cost Tim James a spot in the runoff.

You take the info you have and make the best decisions you can. But when it’s close, it’s hard not to consider the what-ifs…

Related Articles:

“Thanks to all for a job well done!”

With that statement on his web site, Tim James, has acknowledged the result of the recount, and is no longer in the race for Governor.  Video at WSFA-TV in Montgomery of his press conference.

I suspect this will not be the last we hear of Tim James.  On a personal note, his press officer did an excellent job ensuring campaign press releases made the local papers and James did keep the campaign lively, thought provoking, and not eh just blah,blah,blah.

Looking back at the week

Looking over the this week has shown some good things and some bad things in the state, other than the oil spill.  I’ll leave that discussion to those who can do it without use of Anglo-Saxon.

In the good category, we had a recount in the Republican Primary that was remarkable for the absence of counting room and street riots.

In the mixed category, it appears that race rather than qualifications (and campaign funding) is entering the SD-28 run off election.  Good, because it means the candidates have to talk about the issue, bad because it consumes time spent on other issues, such as the threat to Macon’s County’s largest taxpayer.

An unusually high number of absentee ballots in Wilcox County leading  to the defeat of a Black Belt incumbent in the HD-69 has lead to suspicions of voter fraud, is also mixed news.  It may lead to scrutiny of the absentee ballot process, it may not.

In the bad category, let start with loss of a ballot box in Mobile.  Does saying its here somewhere, really suffice?

In Greene County, the Examiner of Public Accounts has found about $138,000 missing from bank deposits, according to the Tuscaloosa News.  the matter has now been turned over to the Attorney General’s office for resolution.

In Jefferson County, more bad news, as the Birmingham News tells us, Circuit Judge Dan King has been suspended pending hearing.  Allegedly, he has mishandled a case and “failed to uphold the integrity of the judiciary”.

So, how y’all see the week?

Byrne and Bentley Finish One-Two in Recount

Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley still finish first and second in the Republican primary for the governor’s office, according to the recount requested by third place finisher Tim James. Tim James has scheduled a press conference for Monday afternoon.

Are there any rabbits left for Tim James to pull out of a hat to get him in the runoff? Or will he concede?

Related Articles:

Tim James Almost Passed on Recount

For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen anybody else besides the Opelika-Auburn News report that Tim James was very close to conceding last week. James called a press conference on Friday afternoon, apparently for that purpose. The OA News quoted ALGOP Chair Mike Hubbard afterward:

“He told us, or his attorneys told us, that he was going to … bow out gracefully,” Hubbard said angrily. “Unbelievable.”

Folks are telling the Parlor that soon before that Friday press conference started, the James campaign saw that two boxes in Tuscaloosa had identical numbers. That raised enough of a question that the campaign decided not to concede in last Friday’s press conference and pressed on with the recount.

Recount and Runoff Could Get Sticky

If I were in Tim James’ shoes, if I fell 167 votes short of a runoff out of nearly a half million cast, and if I had the resources to pay for the recount, I think I would want to smile and say, hey, good race, don’t we owe it to the voters to make sure we got it right, let’s count them one more time. A measly three votes per county would be enough to reorder the outcome.

Now I have no reason to know that a recount would change the outcome, but it could, and I certainly understand James’ desire to have one.

So the recount is scheduled to begin today. In accordance with the AG’s opinion, the plan has been for the runoff between Byrne and Bentley to be held before an election challenge from James can be heard. That is to say that the runoff between Byrne and Bentley will occur after the recount that could possibly indicate that James finished second, not Bentley.

Though, since the AG’s opinion is an opinion, the Tim James campaign has now filed an election contest challenging the GOP’s certification of Byrne and Bentley as the top two finishers.

Keeping up? This could get sticky.

Let’s set aside for now the issue of this new James challenge, and look at the plan put in place after the AG’s opinion: recount now, Byrne-Bentley runoff later, followed by possible election challenge, possible second runoff.

In the recount, let’s just suppose James comes in second place behind Byrne – indicating that Bentley should not be in a runoff.

To what degree does it take the wind out of the sails of the Bentley campaign for the already scheduled Bentley-Byrne runoff? How distracting would that (and their own search for legal responses) be?

What if James nudges ahead of Bentley in a recount, but Bentley wins the first runoff over Byrne? So the GOP electorate gets a second runoff without the winner (Bentley) they chose the first time? In the second runoff, they would get the pick of the loser of the first runoff (Byrne) and a guy (James) who takes the ballot spot of the previous winner?

Add to the mix some voters who are aggravated and confused that the ballots weren’t right the first time. Throw in the complicating factor that candidate Bradley Byrne has been viewed as a favorite of the party establishment, and the state GOP will face extra scrutiny for signs it showed even an iota of favoritism toward Byrne in these matters. This could get could get sticky.

Many will lay this at the feet of James. James’ detractors and Republicans wishing for smooth sailing into the fall will make the case (and in some cases already have) that James should give up his request for the good of the party. James has made a simple and, to my thinking, reasonable request that through no doing of his own has become potentially complicating. Or sticky.

Related Articles:

SoS Beth Chapman Green Lights Recount

We have learned in the Parlor that Secretary of State Beth Chapman has green-lighted a recount of the GOP gubernatorial primary. Expect a recount to proceed this week unless the campaign of third-place finisher Tim James decides not to foot the bill or unless a lawsuit (presumably from the Robert Bentley campaign) halts the process.

Regardless, the runoff between Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley is expected to proceed in accordance with the opinion from state Attorney General Troy King. This could produce the unusual occurrence of Robert Bentley winning the runoff for the nomination while a recount is in hand showing that he should not have even been in the runoff.

The AG’s opinion that makes this possible makes state GOP Chair Mike Hubbard none-too-happy. “That would potentially create two re-runoffs. That’s crazy.”

According to the AG’s opinion, an election challenge from Tim James may be entertained after the runoff. The GOP would have the option of having a second runoff if the election contest from James were to be deemed valid.

Bradley Byrne finished with 28% of the vote in the primary. Robert Bentley had 25.15% of the vote. Out of almost half a million votes cast in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Tim James finished 167 votes behind Bentley with 25.12% of the vote.

Update: Associated Press story here.

Related Articles:

ALGOP Chair Says Only Tim James Can End Recount

Rep. Mike Hubbard, state Chair of the Alabama GOP, issued a statement this afternoon.

In its entirety:

“The James Campaign has petitioned each county for a recount, and it is up to the candidate to decide whether or not to proceed with the process. He initiated it, only he can end it at this point.”

Do you think James will stop a recount? Seems unlikely to me. [Pause] Does it to you?

AL.com quoted Hubbard as saying that the opinion from Republican AG Troy King was “ridiculous.”

Related Articles:

AG King Says Byrne and Bentley Should Be on Runoff Ballot

From Associated Press:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Attorney General Troy King says the names of Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley should appear on the Republican runoff ballot for governor on July 13 no matter what a statewide recount shows.

Tim James can ask for another runoff if his protest is found to be valid, says the opinion.

A second runoff could be held if the GOP finds that Tim James filed a valid contest of the election. Read the whole AP story here.

Now you know why I enjoy this person’s email in my inbox as much as I do.

Update: I sought and received this clarification to pass along to you: “AG opinions do not have the force of law. That said, if a government official follows the advisory opinion they are protected from any future liability, etc. The courts give deference to AG opinions but are not bound by them.”

Related Articles:

Recount News and Rumor

NEWS: The Tim James’ campaign has this morning expanded its request to have the GOP gubernatorial primary votes recounted in all 67 counties instead of in 40 as indicated yesterday. See the campaign’s petition to the Secretary of State here in a .pdf file.

RUMOR: “Rumor has it that the Attorney General is about to issue an opinion that Alabama law does not allow for a recount following a primary election, only after a general election,” says email from a source I always enjoy seeing in my inbox. Secretary of State Beth Chapman has cited one opinion from the AG [.pdf] regarding a recount, but I don’t see that it particularly addresses this question. YMMV.

Related Articles:

Bentley or Byrne - Who Has the Easier Path to the Nomination?

Bradley Byrne led the field in the GOP in the race for the gubernatorial nomination at 28%. Robert Bentley was the surprise – nosing Tim James out of a runoff spot by 167 votes, or .03% of the turnout (pending a recount).

A number of Republican insiders (affiliated with neither campaign) have expressed to me the idea that Bentley has the better shot at the nomination now. The thinking is that James voters will vote for Bentley over Byrne, Moore voters will stay home or vote for Bentley over Byrne, and AEA will probably continue to hammer Byrne. Is that the case? Or is that thinking too simplistic, reflecting a dislike between Byrne, James, and their inner circles that may not be shared by those who voted for them?

On the heels of these conversations comes a polling memo released today from Dresner, Wickers and Associates (Bentley’s polling firm) showing Bentley with a 45% – 29% lead among likely voters in the GOP primary runoff. (See the memo here in a .pdf file.)

On the other hand consider that Byrne has taken some pretty large hits and Bentley came through the primary unscathed with no negative ads aimed at him. Do GOP voters care enough about AEA that Bentley will be vulnerable on that front?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

Related Articles:

Tim James Requests Recounts in These 40 Counties

Per the petition from the Tim James that requests a recount [.doc], here are the 40 counties in which the campaign is requesting a recount:

Autauga, Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Clarke, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Geneva, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston.

Update: FWIW, here is a map showing in red the counties where James is requesting recounts.

Related Articles:

Byrne-Bentley Runoff Indicated in Final GOP Tally of Primary

These are unofficial numbers from the state GOP in its final count of the gubernatorial primary, including provisional ballots. Tim James has indicated he will ask for a recount.

For Immediate Release
June 8, 2010
Contact: Philip Bryan

ALGOP Releases Final Vote Totals for Governor’s Race

Birmingham – The Alabama Republican Party has received the final vote total, including provisional ballots, from all 67 counties for the Governor’s race in the Primary Election. The Party will certify the votes with the Secretary of State on Friday. Should a recount in the Governor’s race be requested, the Party will leave open the possibility of amending these results based on the outcome of that recount. The unofficial final vote totals, including provisional ballots, from the Primary Election for Governor are as follows:

  Bradley Byrne: 137,448 votes, 27.89%

  Robert Bentley: 123,960 votes, 25.15%

  Tim James: 123,793 votes, 25.12%

  Roy Moore: 95,163 votes

  Bill Johnson: 8,362 votes

  Charles Taylor: 2,622 votes

  James Potts: 1,549 votes

Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, released the following on the process moving forward:

“The Alabama Republican Party will proceed with the certification of the vote totals for all Primary races to the Secretary of State by Friday at noon, as required by law. The Party respects the decision of any candidate to request a recount to ensure every vote has indeed been counted, and counted correctly. Should a recount be requested, the Party will follow the guidelines set forth by the Secretary of State and in accordance with Alabama law. We will work through the process in an orderly and lawful manner. Once our gubernatorial nominee is selected by the voters on July 13, we look forward to working closely with the campaign to ensure victory in November.”

###

Paid for by the Alabama Republican Party * P.O. Box 55628 * Birmingham, AL * 35255

Update: This post has been edited to reflect small changes in the numbers in a follow-up release from the ALGOP.

While we wait on the Republicans

Today, state Republicans will meet to mend fences, count ballots, possibly recount and eventually decide who will be the party’s candidates in the run-off election.

However, a brief diversion, maybe an idea for a summer project.   How about the world’s fastest lawnmower?

Project Runningblade (flash required) has claimed the title and here is a short video:

YouTube Preview Image

87+ mph lawn mowing would make one very studious in digging up stumps, and trimming tree limbs.

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?

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 [...]


See more Recent Small Town News