Voters of both political persuasions decide several primary runoffs today in the Yellowhammer State. There’s a bunch of interesting tussles to follow—a Democratic candidate for House District 88 posted bail two weeks ago after an arrest for allegedly arranging cars to follow his rival—but the hottest ticket is the contest for the Republican nomination for governor, between Tuscaloosa state representative Dr. Robert Bentley and trial lawyer Bradley Byrne.
We’ve rummaged around to find some good sources for those looking to catch up on the campaigns and the campaigners.
Who are the candidates?
The Birmingham News’s Kim Chandler paints Bentley as a quiet, mild-mannered and sometimes independent legislator, with strong anti-abortion views, in a short but well-reported profile of the candidate from last week. In a similar piece on Byrne, Chandler writes that his clash with the Alabama Education Association (the state’s teachers’ union) has defined him politically.
“I don’t think AEA stands for the best of their profession. AEA stands for the worst of it,” Byrne said at the news conference.
Public clashes with the powerful teachers lobby have been the trademark of much of Byrne’s 16-year political career and have become a centerpiece of his campaign to be Alabama’s next governor.
With a little more pizzazz, The New Republic gives a birds-eye out-of-state view of the “bizarre” race, as they term it, in which The Democratic Strategist’s Ed Kilgore astutely sums up the two candidates as bucking this year’s established Republican primary narrative (i.e., Alabama’s is not a clear race between a Tea Party conservative and moderate RINO).
….Byrne, who won 28 percent of the vote in Alabama’s June 1 primary, is closely associated with causes that the local Tea Party hates: He came down on the liberal side of the great litmus-test struggle of recent Alabama political history, Governor Bob Riley’s 2003 tax-reform initiative, which would have significantly changed one of the country’s most regressive tax systems, but is remembered by conservatives as an audacious effort to raise taxes. … Byrne enjoys strong backing from the Alabama business community and mainstream Republican elected officials, including Governor Riley. And in the heart of the Bible Belt, he is a member of that great blue-blooded liberal establishment denomination, the Episcopal Church—an affiliation which may have influenced his near-fatal admission early in the campaign that he did not believe every single word in the Bible was literally true.
Not even the one about the whale?
And on Bentley…
…Dr. Robert Bentley, is a classic conservative Baptist, closely identified with 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He ran an “outsider” campaign in which he promised not to take a salary as governor, and emerged from the back of a large pack of candidates on June 1 to win a runoff spot. Bentley has been endorsed by the campaign managers for both Tim James—the closest thing to a confirmed member of the Tea Party in the primary—and for Christian Right icon Judge Roy Moore, whose underfinanced candidacy finished a disappointing fourth.
For the story so far… and upcoming
The New York Times has a nice graphic breaking down the June 1 primary vote—with a helpful table detailing the state’s demographic make up—and Politico’s David Catanese today writes quite a thrilling, down-to-the-wire account of a last minute GOP endorsement-a-thon, which offers some perspective on the events of the contest.
But if it’s local reporting you’re after, head to al.com’s politics page, where every up and down, sling and arrow, and dollar raised or spent in the last month or so is reported in articles arranged chronologically.
Stay tuned to the site, online home to The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Press-Register, for updates during the day. Latest reports show a “light to moderate” turnout on metro Birmingham, with polling stations running smoothly.Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.