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Alabama Elections Directory 2006

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Meet the New Chair, same as the Old Chair

As predicted by this blog on Thursday, Joe Turnham has been elected as the new state party chair for the Alabama Democrats. Turnham had the support of 142 of the 170 State Democratic Executive Committee members present. Though a seemingly large number of members did not attend (around 100 didn't show), Turnham's vote total actually accounts for a majority of the full committee and not just the actual attendees. State Rep. Richard Lindsey came to the conclusion we reached on Thursday:

State Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, said Turnham won because he entered the race early, while Jones didn't get in until two weeks ago, when Turnham had already lined up many commitments.

We're impressed with Turnham's landslide and a little suprised that the Siegelman machine wasn't able to marshall more support for Jones. Is this a sign of things to come as active, loyal Democrats seem ready to embrace a new, Siegleman-free Democratic future? Judging by these results, Siegelman and his allies don't have the clout they used to. Now, I doubt that this vote will keep Siegelman out of the race, but it might give him a little pause to see his former base edging away from him.

However, this day belongs to Turnham, who received more good news with the announcement of a significant investment by the Democratic National Committee in the state party. Redding Pitt detailed the good news:

Pitt, the outgoing chairman, said he spent his last few weeks in office making sure the party is sound financially. He said the national Democratic Party is giving the Alabama party $700,000 to pay for three field organizers, a party communications director, and voter file maintenance through the 2008 elections.

So this should give Turnham a running start into the 2006 elections and maybe shield him from some of the fundraising woes that plauged both of his congressional campaigns. This blog has detailed some of the reasons why Turnham might not have been the best choice for Alabama Democrats, but he now has a chance to right old wrongs and change his legacy from that of an earnest loser to that of a victorious leader. We congratulate Joe Turnham.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, a not so Democratic post. I hope it gets better. Also, I think you are a bit misinformed. Siegelman was not campaigning for, and did not endorse, a candidate for the chairs race. Politically smart, Siegelman stayed out of the mix, knowing that he may have to work with a chair he didn't support. Same with Baxley.

9:43:00 AM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

Thanks for reading and the comment. However, I have never said that I am a Democrat or not and I don't know if it matters. I just gave my analysis of the situation without regard to my own political leanings. If you'll read the post on the Supreme Court race, you'll see I am more optimistic about Democratic success than I am with the two choices Dems had for Chair.

You are right that neither Siegelman or Baxley officially endorsed either Jones or Turnham's bid for state chair. However, Jones has extremely close ties to Siegelman while Turnham's relations with Don have never been especially warm. So the Siegelman issue was definitely an undercurrent in this race. But I do agree that both Baxley and Siegelman stayed out of the fray for the good of the party. I do feel that Turnham's landslide win is evidence that the party leaders are ready to move on from the Don-dominated recent past.

12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make for interesting reading, but I believe your opinions are not quite on target. They are close, but just miss the mark. I'll keep checking back to see if you make some inroads, but good job anyway.

As for the Supreme Court article, I have to say you are not very optimistic when you say, "but the Democrats can take solace that they seem to have recruited at least one strong candidate in what might be their last, best shot at denting GOP court domination for a generation."

First of all, does this mean you don't think Cobb or England are strong candidates? Secondly, a generation? I have to disagree. A lot can happen between election years, and Democrats have a better chance now at making a dent, seeing that they only hold one seat on the appellate courts, than ever before. The worse thing that can happen is the Dems will lose that final seat and the rest of the races. But I doubt that even if that does in fact happen, that it will stay that way for a generation.

12:25:00 PM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

Thanks for the comment. I understand where you are coming from in your questions about the Supreme Court article. I didn't express myself cleary enough. Let me respond to your specific questions to try to clarify what I meant.

First of all, does this mean you don't think Cobb or England are strong candidates?

I do think both England and (especially) Cobb are strong candidates. By saying they have "at least one strong challenger", I am just referring to the fact that Johnson is the only official Democratic candidate thus far as opposed to Cobb and England who are highly speculated on, but as of yet unofficial candidates. Probably not much of a distinction, although until a candidate officially files you never know for sure.

Secondly, a generation?

You are right that is probably hyperbole. However, my main point is in reference to the staggered cycles of the the AL judicial elections. Judges are elected to six year terms, but seats are eleted on staggered cycles, so not all judicial elections occur at once.

The 2006 cycle will see a majority of the Supreme Court and both appellate courts up for the first time since 2000. You'll have 5 of 9 Supreme Court seats up and 3 of 4 of each of the State Criminal and Civil Appeals Court. So the next time this majority-cycle will be up for election is 2012, which is of course a presidential election year.

Now it is of course much too early to speculate what the political landscape will be like by then, but it's hard for me to imagine Alabama will still not have some Republican lean in national elections. And the recent presidential elections (2004 and 2000) have shown how the coattails of the Republican presidential candidate can sweep in weak Republicans and sweep out otherwise strong Democrats.

Consequently, it will be 2018 before this majority cycle of judicial seats comes around again without the Democrats having to worry about the presidential race dragging them down.

There are no doubt alot of suppostions in this conclusion and saying it's the Dems "best chance for a generation" is probably an exaggeration, but if the Dems don't make significant judicial gains in 06, I think it will be quite a while before they are able to counter the Republican judicial dominance.

2:09:00 PM  
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