Negative ads prove effective
Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2006
With the general election less than three weeks away the airwaves are becoming bombarded with political ads, both positive and negative. Unfortunately you may see more of the latter because negative ads are the most effective.
Our judicial races are high profile and expensive. In fact, between 1993 and 2004 Alabama led the nation in campaign fundraising for Supreme Court candidates. This was due in large part to Alabama being a haven for astronomical jury verdicts which affected national corporations. Therefore national money flowed into our Supreme Court races.
The plaintiff trial lawyers in turn tried to protect their turf which upped the ante. Business money has finally prevailed. Currently all nine members of our Supreme Court are republicans and pro business. However, this has not stopped the flow of money into these races.
Alabama is currently one of only seven states in the country that elects judges. You will see a lot of money and subsequently lots of advertisements spent on the four Supreme Court seats up for grabs Nov. 7th.
Alabamians have fallen into a pattern of favoring republicans to sit on the Supreme Court. Some of the GOP takeover of the Court can be attributed to the fact that five of the nine seats are up for election during presidential election years. In these years the tendency of Alabamians to vote overwhelmingly for a republican presidential candidate spills over into the judicial races with the republican court candidate being bolstered by straight ticket GOP voting. You definitely do not want to be on the ticket as a down ballot Democrat in a presidential election year in Alabama. However it is different in a gubernatorial year. The Democrats have a shot at penetrating the GOP lock on the high court.
The best race is for chief justice. Republican Drayton Nabers Jr. has been on the court for just over a year. He was appointed by Gov. Riley to fill the remainder of the term of ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore. Nabers holds a law degree from Yale but has been in business rather than law during his career. He was president and CEO of Birmingham-based Protective Life. He retired and joined Gov. Riley's cabinet as finance director and then was appointed to the chief justice position.
In contrast his Democratic opponent, Sue Bell Cobb, has immense judicial experience. She is immanently more qualified to hold a judicial post. She has been a judge for more than twenty years. She also is a good campaigner. Judge Cobb is bright and personable and is one of the best horses in the Democratic stable. She may well be outspent by Nabers who has the solid financial backing of the Birmingham business community.
The second best race will be between Republican Glen Murdock and Democrat John England for Place 4 on the Supreme Court. Murdock will be backed heavily by business and England will be bankrolled by the trial lawyers.
These four races will be interesting to watch. If the democrats do not break the republican control of the court this year they may never. We will soon see.
Steve Flowers served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/>.