Flowers sheds light on Tuesday runoff

Published 7:36 pm Friday, July 9, 2010

With the Alabama Primary runoff election just a “lick log” away, one local political analyst said the Republican governor’s election is likely what’s on people’s minds.

“Everyone is probably interested in the governor’s race,” said Steve Flowers, political analyst.

And Flowers, a close watcher of Alabama politics, has his predictions when it comes to the runoff results.

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“Bentely’s going to win that race,” said Flowers, referring to the Republican gubernatorial race between Robert Bentley and Bradley Byrne.

While Byrne was the front-runner of the June 1 primary election, Flowers said polls indicate Bentley has taken the reigns by a long shot.

“It’s not even going to be close I don’t think,” Flowers said.

Flowers said he doesn’t necessarily contribute Bentley’s lead to any fault of Byrne but largely to negative advertisement that has been against Byrne from the start.

“(Byrne’s) just got the wrong opponent in the runoff. (Tim) James’ people would not vote for Byrne and polling indicates the vast majority are gravitating toward Bentley,” Flowers said.

“I think the crucial thing was nobody knew the AEA (Alabama Education Association) would spend up to $2 million in negative ads against (Byrne). They did not see that coming.”

The Alabama Education Association, led by Democratic Party leaders, typically spends advertising money in the Legislative races, Flowers said.

“They are not for Bentley. They weren’t for James. They are just against Byrne,” Flowers said.

In a letter to Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions expresses concern over what he calls an attempt by the AEA to “infiltrate” the GOP primary process with these ads.

“They are doing so by using large sums of gambling money, laundered through many political action committees (PACs), along with similar infusions of large sums of money from the educational union headed by Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed, both vice chairmen of the Alabama Democratic Party,” Sessions letter reads.

He further stresses: “I urge everyone who is planning to vote in the Republican primary to study what is happening before they vote.”

Still, Flowers said he believes the advertisements may be successful in keeping Byrne out of office come July 13.

“I’ve never seen a candidate with as low in negatives as Bentley has,” Flowers said.

He said Bentley has shown 5 to 6 percent in negatives in polls, compared to his 68 percent positives. On the contrary, he said Byrne has 33 percent negative and 36 percent positive.

“That’s a recipe for an old-fashioned, country whooping,” Flowers said.

Flowers predicts Pike County will follow suit with the rest of the state, with the majority voting for Bentley.

In the June 1 election, Byrne led Pike County.

“I think Bentley will carry Pike County but not as overwhelmingly as he will in North Alabama,” Flowers said. “Byrne will do a little better in Pike County than he does around the state.”

Flowers said he hasn’t heard much interest toward other Republican primary races and even less toward the Democrat runoff race for attorney general.

“I think it will be a real low turnout on the Democratic side. I joked that the winner will probably be whoever has the most relatives in the race,” Flowers said.

James Anderson and Giles Perkins are the Democratic candidates for AG.

Also on the Republican ticket are Second Congressional candidates Martha Roby and Rick Barber.

Flowers said he is unsure who would lead in this race, but he said since Roby had a stronger lead in the primary he suspects she will do so once again.

“My guess is she will be the nominee, and I stress nominee because she will have an uphill battle against Bobby Bright,” Flowers said.

The candidates in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries are Dorman Grace and John McMillan, and Flowers said it’s a tough race for him to call.

“Both of these guys are very well-qualified candidates for Ag Commissioner so the GOP in the state will benefit from either of those being the nominee. I think it’s a real close race either way,” Flowers said.

Flowers said he hasn’t seen polling on the Public Service Commissioner race between Twinkle Cavanaugh and Stephen Evans, but Cavanaugh did have the stronger lead June 1.