Political year reviewed
Published 12:25 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006
When the votes were counted on November 7th the results revealed very few surprises. Bob Riley was reelected Governor. Eight out of nine members of the Supreme Court are Republicans. The GOP also claimed five of the seven constitutional offices including Governor. Five of our seven members of Congress are Republican and both of our U.S. Senators. You add to the fact that Alabama has voted for a Republican for President nine out of eleven of the last Presidential races. In the last 42 years only once have we voted for a Democrat, Georgian Jimmy Carter in 1976, and then only narrowly.
We are a Republican state. The national Democratic earthquake that occurred that day did not reach Alabama. We, along with our sister southern states, are now the heart and soul of the Republican Party. We are the hardcore base of the GOP. The once solid south is still the solid south. The difference is we are solidly Republican.
We are Republican but we are only Republican on the national and state levels. We are Democratic on the local level and as Tip O'Neill said, “all politics is local.” That saying was destroyed on November 7th nationwide. The Democratic tidal wave that took over Congress did not adhere to all politics is local. The 2006 election victory for Democrats was nationalized. It crystallized against George W. Bush and the Iraq war.
In Alabama our Legislature is Democratic. The numbers are clear. The House of Representatives remains 62 Democrats and 43 Republicans. The election saw no change in party lineup. A Democrat, Seth Hammett, will remain as Speaker of the House. The Senate saw a two seat Republican gain. This does not significantly change the makeup. The Democrats dominate the upper chamber 23 to 12. However, the November election did not resolve the issue of who will control the Alabama Senate. When the dust settled on November 8th only half the battle had been fought. The real battle began the next day. This war has been raging for years and the outcome of the November election was the beginning of the tug of war for control which will culminate in mid January during the organizational session.
Gov. Riley is striving to be a part of the organization. It is vital to his having any power as Governor. He was completely left out of the budget process during his first term by the Democratic House and Senate because the Legislature controls the purse strings of state government and thus controls the real power.
There will be a lot of politicking going on among the 35 members of the State Senate between now and the organizational session which begins January 9th. Powerful special interests will also be hard at work. The final outcome will not be determined until the second week in January. In the meantime if you hear some cracking sounds during the holidays it is probably some Senator's arm being twisted in Montgomery.
Steve Flowers a political columnist who's column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/>.