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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Karl Rove's Bama Beginnings

Karl Rove is now widely known as the "brain" behind George W. Bush's political success. But what is less known is how Rove honed his political skill right here in Alabama. Rove was an integral part of the GOP judicial revolution of the mid 1990s which led Republicans from the political wasteland to near dominance of the Alabama court system.

The AP's Phillip Rawls recently reminded us of Rove's Alabama connections and his lasting influence on Alabama justice. The article covers the broad strokes of Rove's Alabama history and comments on his impact. This one sentence pretty well sums up Rove's contribution to Alabama politics.
"Alabama might have eventually gotten there [GOP judicial dominance], but the state got there much quicker because of him[Rove]," said Clark Richardson, former president of the Business Council of Alabama.
However if you are interested in the tactics used by Rove during his Alabama stint, I'd recommend this Atlantic Monthly article from last November. The article focuses on the 1994 Chief Justice race between Perry Hooper, Sr. and Sonny Hornsby(ultimately decided by 262 votes) and how the race served as a template for the Bush/Gore Florida recount in 2000.

This is a great article in understanding how the Alabama state courts turned from solid blue to deep red in the last decade and how those races informed Karl Rove' political outlook -- indeed the very same outlook he used to take George W. Bush to the presidency.

Though Rove is now embroiled in legal problems, his influence on contemporary American politics is difficult to overstate. But what is just as interesting, but less well known, is that Rove developed his cutthroat strategy and hardball tactics right here in Alabama.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

supposedly rove used the univ of ala law school to start rumors through students. i was told he had an office there, but didnt know how since isnt a lawyer. why would a state funded institution like the UofA law school house a political campaign?

9:40:00 AM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

Yeah, the Atlantic article talks about that very tactic. Rove, apparently, would spread false information about an opposition candidate around the UA law school with the hope that the students would take the rumors home with them and thus they'd spread all over the state.

3:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's exactly how it worked. I had a cousin in law school at the time (a Democrat). Rove counted on the overwhelmingly conservative base of students at the University to take rumors and innuendo back home with them as to influence local voters, especially in small towns. Understand, most, if not all, of the students at UA Law were (are) upstanding, respected young adults in their community. When they discussed such things at church, etc., people listened.

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