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Opinion: A few last thoughts, observations on Alabama’s Nov. 6 general election

By Steve Flowers, Inside the Statehouse Column

Special to The Tribune

Our new 55th Governor looked and sounded more like the old Kay Ivey than the one we have seen the past few years and during the campaign.  She was vibrant, succinct to the point, and had a perfectly timed and unscripted victory speech.  Her green jacket was becoming.  She will be a good governor.  She will tackle the tough issues the state must face in the next four years, especially our infrastructure needs.

She is extremely qualified and ready to be governor.  She is a real Republican with a real Republican super majority State Legislature.  There are 27 Republicans and eight Democrats in the Senate, and 77 Republicans and 28 Democrats in the House.

Ivey also has a unique and advantageous relationship with all of the Alabama Senate.  She was the presiding officer of the Senate the last six years, and was considered fair and impartial.  She worked with and developed a very good working relationship with the GOP leadership.  The three primary leaders of the Senate, Del Marsh, Jabo Waggoner and Greg Reed, have a close-knit, trusting bond with Ivey.

Ivey is not only the 55th Governor, she is the first Republican female elected as governor and the second female governor in our state history.

Ironically, Ivey cut her teeth in politics working in our first female governor Lurleen Wallace’s campaign for governor.  Ivey was a student at Auburn University.  Little did she know that 52-years later, she would be the second female governor of our state.

The more things change, the more they stay the same in Alabama politics.  The Alabama that Kay Ivey and I grew up in and knew 50 years ago was totally Democratic.  In fact, the word “tantamount” was used continually to describe the dominance of the Democratic Party.  It was an accurate statement.  

The dictionary describes tantamount as “the same as.”  Today I use the word “tantamount” when explaining winning the Republican Primary in Alabama.  We were a one-party state 50 years ago and we are a one-party state in statewide politics, today.  The difference is, we changed parties.  We are now a Republican state; yesteryear we were a Democratic state.  

Winning the Republican nomination for statewide office in Alabama is tantamount to election.  The proof is in the pudding.  We have 29 elected statewide offices in Alabama, and all 29 are held by Republicans.  I’m not prophetic, but allow me to share a short passage with you from my column the week before the election.  

“In bygone days, the Democratic Primary nomination was tantamount to election.  Today, it is just the other way around.  Nowadays, winning the Republican Primary is tantamount to election in the good ol’ Heart of Dixie. The more things change, the more they stay the same in Alabama politics. Boy, when we change, we really change.  We were a one-party state then and we are a one-party state now.  When Kay Ivey won the GOP mantle back in June, she essentially won the Governor’s race.  

That was my statement the Wednesday before the election.   My belief was overwhelmingly confirmed on Tuesday, Nov. 6.  We are a Republican state and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.  That was my foremost takeaway from the election.  

My second observation is akin to my first, we are so Republican that folks are just voting a straight ticket.  We have joined the rest of the nation, in that we simply vote straight Republican or straight Democratic.  Our voting has become nationalized.  

Over 65 percent of Alabamians voted a straight-lever ticket.  It is primarily along racial lines.  Alabamians are essentially African American Democrats or Caucasian Republicans.  Therefore, Alabama is a red Republican state for statewide politics.  However, just the opposite is true for the metropolitan counties of Jefferson and Montgomery.  If you are going to win a countywide office in these locales, you must run as a Democrat.

The third takeaway was the tremendous turnout at the polls.  A record-breaking 50 percent of Alabamians voted on Nov. 6.  Again, this was driven by national politics.  Folks are either hardcore conservative Republicans or hardcore liberal Democrats.  There are few in between.  Alabamians voted the national party brand.  It is apparent that more Alabamians like and agree with Donald Trump than they do with Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

See you next week.

Steve is Alabama’s leading political columnist.  His weekly column is seen in more than 60 Alabama newspapers.  He served 16 years in the state legislature.  Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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