BCA Backs Murdock, Spurns Brown
On its surface a Brown/Murdock faceoff looks like another in a long line of recent GOP primaries pitting "business conservatives" against "religious conservatives". A race between Brown, who has always been a BCA (Business Council of Alabama) ally and Murdock, who got his political start as an attorney defending Roy Moore, seemed to fit the bill. However, that analysis is not only much too simplistic, but also fundamentally flawed.
I am told that the BCA is actually backing Murdock at the exclusion of their erstwhile ally Brown. Without BCA support it will be very difficult for Brown to raise enough money to compete against a well-funded Murdock.
But the real question is why the BCA would abandon Brown after being supportive throughout her political career.
One obvious is answer is that Brown's 2004 loss has tainted her as a loser and the BCA doesn't want to suffer the same fate again. But that logic doesn't necessarily hold up under scrutiny. Brown's political career actually stacks up pretty well against Murdock's. In fact Glenn Murdock is actually the only Republican to lose a Supreme Court race to a Democrat since 1996. Though he rebounded from a 1998 loss against Democrat Dugger Johnstone with an easy win for State Appeals Court in 2000, Murdock's political resume is no more sterling than Jean Brown's.
The real reason that the BCA is abandoning Jean Brown is not that she lost in 2004, but how she lost. You'll remember that Brown was bested by Tom Parker in 2004 not just because she voted against the Moore 10 Commandments display but also because she subsequently portrayed herself (dishonestly some might say) as a supporter of the Moore cause. This waffling outraged and energized her opponents and resulted in her narrow defeat in the June primary.
The BCA desperately wants to avoid such intraparty warfare in 2006 and ignoring Brown's candidacy helps keep that recent unpleasantness squarely in the past. And unlike some of his conservative brethren (Roy Moore and Tom Parker), Glenn Murdock has never flirted with trial lawyer interests. So in backing Murdock, the BCA is trying to find common ground with the Moore faction and attempting to prevent any more intraparty divisiveness than is necessary.
One another interesting note on the race to replace Bernard Harwood is that presumptive Democratic nominee John England has also lost a race for State Supreme Court. Which means that all three of the major candidates each lost their most recent race for the state's highest court. Fortunately it looks like one of them will break their losing streak in 2006.