Turkey Day Turkey Award: Curt Lee
Now I am not sure exactly what the criteria is to receive this honor, but (like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography) I think I know it when I see it. That said, there are many potential candidates who would be worthy of this recognition.
The award could go to Terry Butts or Zeb Little who both badly wanted to run for LG or AG, only to be pushed aside by other candidates.
Or Tuscaloosa mayoral candidate Sammy Watson could be a worthy recipient as his ill-timed negative ads helped him go from front-runner to also-ran.
And what about State Rep Gerald Allen, who's bill to ban gay themed books went nowhere (even in the not especially gay friendly Alabama legislature) and drew a harsh national spotlight upon our state?
Jeff Enfinger's star certainly dimmed as unsavory personal allegations were made amidst a couple's divorce proceedings.
The recently appointed Mobile County Commissioner Juan Chastang is certainly a late contender as allegations of bribery and dishonesty have caused heartburn for Bob Riley and Mobile Republicans.
And let's not forget how State Sen Hank Erwin blamed Hurricane Katrina on "gambling, sin, and wickedness."
Former Tuscaloosa city councilman James "Coach" Cunningham has to be considered as a conviction of soliciting prostitution ended what had been a successful career in local politics.
Unfortunately, a list consisting of embarrassed (or embarrassing) Alabama pols could be quite extensive. And while each of the candidates mentioned above probably wishes they'd handled themselves a little differently over the past year, the choice of the Turkey of the Year award is head and shoulders above the rest.
State Senator Curt Lee had all the makings of a successful political career. He skillfully won a Democratic leaning senate seat in 1998 and held it easily in 2002 despite strong Democratic efforts. As the youngest Republican in the state senate, Lee seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. All that ended however, in the early hours of July 22.
Lee and a female acquaintance (not his wife) were spotted by security cameras "visiting" the legislative chambers and subsequently fled security officers. Not only did the incident result in a security lockdown and embarrassment, but also contributed to Lee's decision to retire from the legislature. And while speculation about Lee's retirement existed prior to his late night Capitol visit, surely this incident helped him make that decision.
Lee's poor judgment caused embarrassment for himself and contributed to his own political demise. But his mistake also makes it harder for Republicans to make gains in the State Senate as they have to defend Lee's Democratic leaning seat.
Curt Lee had the potential to be a player in state politics for decades to come. But instead it is likely that the only political recognition he'll receive is the 1st Annual AlabamaElections Turkey of the Year Award.