Election year questions

By Staff
Steve Flowers
Franklin County Times
During the summer I have been traveling around the state talking with civic clubs about Alabama politics.
With it being a presidential year, an obvious topic of discussion is the presidential contest.
However, invariably the first question asked is who is going to make the Governor's race in two years. Alabamians love the gubernatorial year. The presidential years are simply spring training for the real marquee event.
At every stop the first name mentioned is Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins. At first I thought people were dropping his name because Hawkins and I are both from the same neck of the woods, but after a while I could tell that they were unaware of our regional association.
When talking with political insiders and handicapping the race, they were not surprised by my revelation.
Usually when you hear a name reverberate so prominently it is orchestrated by self promotion, but Jack Hawkins is reticent to commit to the challenge and is not encouraging the attraction. In this case it is a genuine draft. This is largely due to the fact that Hawkins would indeed be a perfect candidate.
Jack Hawkins is tall, dark and handsome with Hollywood good looks and charisma. At 63 he has the maturity and gravitas to look gubernatorial. He has a proven track record of success as a leader in state government. Hawkins was President of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind for a decade before taking the helm as Troy University Chancellor 20 years ago.
In those 20 years he has transformed Troy University into a renowned worldwide system of higher education.
Hawkins, a native of Mobile, was educated in Alabama. He received his undergraduate degree from Montevallo and his doctorate from University of Alabama. In addition, he is a decorated Marine veteran who served as an officer in the Vietnam combat.
As a University President in Alabama for 30 years Hawkins knows the ins and outs of state government and more importantly the budget process. He would be the most articulate, polished and erudite governor the state has seen in the past 60 years. Therefore, the question is whether he makes the race.
There are a host of others looking at the race on the GOP side because the office will be wide open. Gov. Bob Riley will have completed his two-term constitutional limit. At least seven other names have been mentioned. In addition to Jack Hawkins, the three other upper tier possibilities are Junior College Chancellor and former State Senator Bradley Byrne, and businessmen Jimmy Rane and Tim James. These four are considered players because they can get the money to run. Rane and James could self finance their campaigns and Hawkins and Byrne have the ability to raise the money. Others mentioned are State Treasurer Kay Ivey, Secretary of State Beth Chapman, Retirement Systems guru David Bronner and retiring Congressman Terry Everett.
Six months ago when handicapping this race Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. was favored to beat the survivor of the crowded Republican primary. It appeared that Folsom would waltz through the Democratic primary and arrive at the dance unscathed with all his money intact.
There he would face a tattered, beat up and broke Republican challenger who had battled through a bevy of Republican brethren in a barnyard family brawl and spent all of their campaign money.
However, the dynamics have changed dramatically. Democratic Congressman Artur Davis has all but announced that he is running for Governor in 2010. He has stated that he will make a formal announcement around the first of the year, or soon after the November elections.
Davis throws a major kink in the Folsom cakewalk to the Governor's office. It also gives new life and a new perspective to the potential GOP candidates. Instead of facing a formidable opponent, who they would be an underdog to in the general election, the GOP nominee is looking at a race where if he or she wins their contentious primary they win the Governor's race.
Artur Davis' entry into the race makes him the apparent Democratic nominee. Folsom is probably relegated to running for a second term as Lt. Governor.
However, it also guarantees that a Republican wins the Governor's race. Davis need only look at the percentage of votes that Obama gets in Alabama in November and that is about what he will receive. If he is lucky it will be about 40 percent.
The GOP potential candidates are licking their chops at this prospect. They would have a tough row to hoe if Folsom was their opponent. However, Davis may hand them a golden opportunity.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be contacted at www.steveflowers.us.

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Hugh Plott

Galleries

PHOTOS: Inaugural downtown Russellville Art Crawl winners

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville Public Library holds princess, pirates bounce party

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals Community College signs 24 students in FAME class

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

Galleries

PHOTOS: Phil Campbell High School students graduate

Franklin County

NEMCC announces more than 400 to spring vice president’s list

x