Biddle, Beason formulating best Senate race

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2006

By Staff
One of the best races formulating within the GOP is the intra party Senate race between veteran Gardendale State Sen. Jack Biddle and Gardendale Rep. Scott Beason.
Biddle has served in the Legislature for more than 30 years.
He served terms in the House in the 1970s and 80s and was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee for one term. During this era practically the entire House ran as Democrats, more out of tradition and expediency than philosophy.
It was Biddle's conservative philosophy that got him kicked out as a Democrat.
The more liberal wing of the Democratic Party was in control in 1983 when the federal courts called for new elections because of reapportionment.
The Democratic Party leadership got behind closed doors and handpicked the nominees of the party because all of us had just been elected the previous year to four-year terms.
Biddle, along with dozens of pro-business Democrats, was not given the Democratic nomination.
However, Biddle and his conservative Democratic colleagues won that war.
They simply ran as Independents and because of their popularity in their districts coupled with a voter backlash against handpicking they all won as Independents.
One of them, Lowell Barron, even won his Senate seat back by running as a write-in candidate.
His northeast Alabama constituents took pencils into the ballot box and wrote his name in by unanimous consent. 
Later after the Republican Party became the party of choice for suburban voters, Biddle along with most of his white metropolitan area fellow Senators became Republican.
Biddle has represented his suburban north Jefferson County district as a Republican for close to 20 years, thus giving Biddle the distinction of being the only person elected to the Alabama Legislature as a Democrat, an Independent, and as a Republican. 
Over the years Biddle has earned the reputation for being pragmatic and willing to compromise in order to effectively represent his district. He is considered moderate by Republican primary standards.
The shootout for this Senate seat is within the growing suburbs of north Jefferson County, including Gardendale, Fultondale, Leeds and most of St. Clair County.
It is a fast growing and conservative district. Beason is considered the more conservative. In fact he is better described as ultraconservative, maybe reactionary.
This district may give Roy Moore some of his best boxes. One of Alabama's largest and fastest growing mega churches is a vital block of votes in this race.
The First Baptist Church of Gardendale is an integral part of this seat and Beason is an active member of this congregation. 
Interestingly, the AEA, which helped toss Biddle out of the Democratic Party in 1983, is in his corner with their campaign largesse this time and the powerful agricultural/insurance conglomerate Alfa is on Beason's side.
Age may also become an issue. Biddle is 76, and Beason is 36. 
In other parts of the state, Republican State Sen. Harri Anne Smith has escaped serious opposition in her race for a third term from her Dothan/Wiregrass area.
She floated a trial balloon to maybe run for governor only to bow out early and endorse incumbent Bob Riley. Many believe that her intentions all along were to get a commitment from Riley to make the I-10 connector a priority for a new Riley administration road program.
This project has been on the wish list for Dothan for years. Hopefully she will not be totally suckered. Legislators have been lied to by governors on road projects since there have been roads and bridges.
It is not uncommon for an administration to hold a road project over the head of a Legislator for years in order to control his or her votes on their Legislative program.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers' column appears weekly in 60 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at

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