Elections for 2010 sees shuffle

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Staff
Steve Flowers
The decision by Jim Folsom Jr. to run for reelection as Lt. Governor, rather than seeking to be promoted to Governor, is having a domino effect on the 2010 elections. As we speak, there is a shuffling and realignment going on among both parties’ aspirants in next year’s races.
The players are beginning to enter the stage, but maybe in a different costume or robe than initially planned. The lineup will be primarily complete within the next two months as fundraising can begin in mid June. The period from July to January will be like spring training and fall practice preparing for the political season of 2010.
The first and foremost Democratic candidate to announce is our only African American Congressman Artur Davis. Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks was waiting for Folsom to make his decision. He has been chomping at the bit to get started. Sparks decided early on that he would avoid Folsom and make the race that Folsom opted out of. So, he is now in the Governor’s race.
Sparks has served his eight year limit as Agri-cuture Commissioner. He has proven to be a prolific vote getter in his two statewide races for the Agriculture post. He will be a serious candidate for Governor. He believes Artur Davis will get thrashed in rural Alabama even in the Democratic primary.
The void in the Repub-lican field is puzzling. Tim James, the 46 year old son of former Gov. Fob James, is the only entrant. He believes in the old maxim that “the early bird gets the worm.” He has been campaigning full-time for over a year. He has put $2 million into his campaign and has assembled one of the most impressive campaign staffs, media consultants and polling experts available. He should not be taken lightly.
The above players will need to enter the fray by June to be serious horses. There is a scenario in play that calls for an unknown Republican horse to enter the field. Almost like in 1978 when an unknown Opelika businessman named Fob James waltzed onto the scene and stole the show. A successful, self-made multimillionaire who could finance themselves to the tune of $3-5 million could appear on the stage and could arrive late with that kind of money.
So far the Republican field has a perplexing lack of heavyweights, especially given the fact that the winner of the Republican primary would more than likely emerge as the favorite if the Democratic nominee is Artur Davis.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served 16 years in the State Legislature.