All politics is local restated

Published 1:54 pm Monday, April 21, 2008

By Staff
The phenomenal success story of Barack Obama's presidential campaign is the political story of the year, regardless of who wins the presidency. Concurrently, if polls are to be believed, he could very well indeed be our next president. Two years ago who would have ever dreamed that a 46 year old African American Senator from Illinois would be the frontrunner for president.
Obama has amassed voter appeal among African Americans, liberals, independents and young people never before seen in the annals of American politics. Time will tell if his momentum will propel him past the vaunted Clinton machine and, if so, whether he can best a seasoned veteran John McCain in November. Currently Obama has amassed more money and votes than either of these two pros. His story is truly remarkable and it reveals that Americans have made a lot of progress in regards to racial prejudice.
We have our own amazing race story to tell in Alabama politics, lest anybody should relegate us to a backwater of racial intolerance. The newest member of the Alabama House of Representatives has blazed a remarkable trail. James Fields, a respected African American minister and former U.S. Marine, overwhelmingly won an open seat from Cullman County in January. The amazing part is that Cullman County is one of the whitest communities in Alabama. Fields was elected in a 96% white district. His historic win still has heads wagging and Republicans scratching their heads as to how they could have lost the race. Fields' election gives Democrats a 62-43 margin in the 105 member House and illustrates the old adage that “all politics is local.” The folks in Cullman County obviously like James Fields.
Our new junior college chancellor, Bradley Byrne, was forced to show his hand regarding his gubernatorial ambitions during budget hearings in January. Byrne is a Republican attorney from Baldwin County who gave up his state senate seat to be Gov. Riley's choice for chancellor of the two-year system. Byrne was asked repeatedly during the hearings by Democrats if he would support a bill banning a chancellor from running for governor for two years after leaving the post. Byrne tried to dodge a direct response and was apparently caught off guard by the question. When asked again he responded “Are you trying to keep me from running for governor in 2010?”.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., who is the Democratic frontrunner for Governor in 2010, came forward with an agenda of his own. Folsom, who normally keeps a low profile and avoids controversy, posed a progressive and logical idea.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist. who served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at

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