By Carl Carter, APR
For weeks, I’ve been banging the drum on how Democrats can win in Alabama. Today, I’m writing about why we won’t.
At least not the way we’re going about it. Even if we got our messaging pitch perfect, we’d be on a trajectory to lose in Alabama for one reason: Nobody’s interested in rebuilding our party from the ground up. Our people are running from fire to fire on perfectly legitimate missions, but all focused on fighting battles in the war we lost last November.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have moved on. They’re busy recruiting candidates and training them to win. And most of all, they’re funding the campaigns.
Let’s start with the big race for next year: Governor. I checked the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) Reporting System and found that Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has a war chest of $363,250. Republican David Carrington has raised $216,729. Bill Hightower, a state senator from Mobile, has $209,650.
And on the Democratic side? Well, there’s Sue Bell Cobb, who’s raised $41,632 and has $30,300 on hand. That’s pretty much it for now. So let’s look at the big picture, which shows that Republican candidates have more than $47 for every lousy dollar that poor Sue Bell Cobb has.
And while we’re on the subject, maybe somebody can tell me where that $515,000 in “other receipts” came from in Twinkle Cavanaugh’s account.
Here are the numbers, from the FCPA site, so you can do the math for yourself:
Seriously, folks, how do you see this ending if something doesn’t change?
How about attorney general? Surely things are more encouraging there!
Um, not so much. Democrat James S. “Chris” Christie lists “other receipts” of $25,000, but no contributions.
On the Republican side, there’s Chess Bedsole, who served as state director for the Trump Campaign. He seems to have been well rewarded with “other receipts” of $300,000 on hand at the start of the reporting period. Steve Marshall, who was appointed to the post by Kay Ivey, has raised $129,302 for his run. Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin started with $125,000 in “beginning funds on hand” and has raised $103,020.
Put another way, the three Republican candidates — one of whom is already in the office — have $24 for every $1 the lone Democrat has.
But hey, my friends say. We’ve made a lot of phone calls to Washington. We demonstrated at the Airport when the first travel ban came down. We’ve had various groups staging sit-ins, town halls to embarrass candidates and other events.
We’re resisting. We’re making really nifty signs. We’re indivisible! We won’t be silenced!!!
All those are good things, and I’m glad to see the energy. But I’m a PR strategist by trade and by temperament. I try to look at the whole field of play to see who is going to win. And the way I see things moving right now, we’re on a trajectory toward a bloodbath.
You’re upset about gerrymandering? Hoping for the federal courts to come through? I’ll remind you that ultimately, the issue will end up at the Supreme Court, which is now stacked in the favor of Republicans. But I would also remind you that a governor has veto power. The shortest and surest path to a fair redrawing of districts after the 2020 Census is a Democrat in the governor’s mansion.
And it wouldn’t hurt to put a little focus on the Legislature, but as Felicia Stewart is finding, it’s tough to get people focused on that. So it’s hard to see how we’ll change the balance of the Alabama House, which is now stacked 72-33 in favor of Republicans. Or the State Senate, which currently has 26 Republicans and only eight Democrats.
So the way we’re going, here’s where this ends. We get creamed again in the state races and get closer to 2020 with a Republican-controlled state government that will keep doing things like trying to prop up our state bonds by pledging the state retiree fund against it. And after the Census, we can assume they’ll huddle up with their fancy software that draws districts perfectly designed to ensure that Democrats remain frozen out for another decade.
I’m expecting some folks to be mad at me for saying this out loud, but it’s the reality I see right now. Because I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe that without well funded candidates, we can win on anti-Trump hysteria alone. I don’t think all the marching in the world can change the math I’m looking at right now.
And yet, I remain hopeful that Democrats in Alabama will come to our senses, rebuild a functional party, recruit and fund good candidates, and bang on doors until we win some races. I’ll concede it’s not a rational hope, but I have to take what I can get right now.