Parties eye local racesPublished 12:30am Saturday, November 3, 2012
It goes without saying the 2012 general election is a critical election both on a national, state and local level.
Here in Escambia County, the probate judge race between Emilie Mims and Doug Agerton is drawing attention from the two major parties in Alabama. Mims was appointed by in April 2008 by former Gov. Bob Riley following the retirement of Rachel Agerton, the mother of Mims’ current challenger Doug Agerton.
Party leaders are also watching the other local races, in part to see if the GOP can make more gains in local offices following the election two years ago of two local Republican school board candidates, the first elected Republicans in Escambia County in some time.
The Alabama Republican Party and the Alabama Democrats weighed in on questions posed to them by The Brewton Standard:
What are your expectations for the election in Alabama?
Bill Armistead, Chairman, Alabama Republican Party:
“We have two goals here in Alabama. Number one is to elect the two Republicans that are running statewide that have Democrat opposition. The Democrats didn’t qualify anyone for most of the positions that are up this year, so we have those won by default. But there are two that they have challenged us on. One is the president of the public service commission and our candidate is Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and then the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is Judge Roy Moore. I think we’ll win both of those. Of course on the PSC race, we’ve got Lucy Baxley who has been in office for a number of years. I think most people realize it’s probably now time to make a change and Twinkle Cavanaugh has the experience and the economic development background that will utilize the PSC as a springboard to create more jobs. The PSC is basically there to regulate utilities and if we can keep utility rates low, that’s gonna’ help job creation because having served in Governor Hunt’s cabinet and having responsibility for economic development, I know companies look to find states they can operate in at the lowest possible cost. So, I know that utilities are a main thing. I think Twinkle Cavanaugh will work hard to keep utility rates down and at the same time, work hard to create new jobs. Then, on the other position of Chief Justice, Judge Roy Moore won the primary without a runoff, yet he had two formidable Republicans that he was running against, the current Chief Justice Chuck Malone. Also, we had Attorney General and current Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick out of Mobile was an opponent. Judge Moore won that overwhelmingly without a runoff. So, I feel like the people in Alabama are very supportive of Judge Moore. When you look at his opponent, you’re looking at someone that’s, what I call, ‘Obama-lite’ because he was an Obama protégé … I think he’ll rejected based on his ties with the President right now. We also have local elections, like in Escambia County.”
Bradley Davidson, Executive Director, Alabama Democrats:
“The most important thing for us right now is the fact that we have a very hotly contested court Chief Justice race. We have a tremendous candidate in Judge Bob Vance, but I think we’re doing very well. We have high hopes for him on Tuesday. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court does more than just hearing cases. They administer the entire court statewide as the Chief Justice Officer for the court system. Our court system is very stressed right now due to budgetary issues. Without access to the courts, people often suffer. We’ve got a great candidate in Judge Vance. He’s an excellent administrator with a brilliant ethical mind, which is something important to people in the community. We need him … He has gone across the entire state and back many times and has spent a great deal of money on television getting his name out there. However, the polling that we see consistently, despite the fact that he might have less name recognition than Judge Moore, he is still dead even or ahead of Judge Moore. With the combination of the unfavorability of Judge Moore in the minds of Alabamaians and the increasing name I.D. based on the campaign Judge Vance is doing, we’re going to win that race.”
What are your expectations specifically in Escambia County?
“We’re very excited about the slate that we have in Escambia County. The Republican Party is strong there. Of course, we’re extremely pleased with Emilie Mims as a probate judge there. This was a good appointment by Governor Riley when that vacancy came up. From all that we can tell, she’s done a great job and is very popular among the folks of Escambia County. It is our desire to make sure that she is returned, so we’re actually putting forth a significant effort from a state party standpoint to see her elected … Escambia County is definitely a targeted county for the Alabama Republican Party. We are not only supporting Emilie Mims, but we are strongly supporting Becki Breckenridge for Circuit Clerk. She’s done a great job in campaigning. She’s really made a lot of personal contacts out there. We’re helping her with phone banks. We’re also encouraging the voters down there to support her by sending some direct mail into the area so that she has that name recognition that Emilie Mims has. We think both of these are stellar candidates. So, those are the two candidates that are targeted, but I can tell you that we’re also interested in people like Coleman Wallace being elected to the Board of Education there. I’m very impressed with him. I’ve met with him and I’ve seen a real burning desire in his heart to be able to serve effectively on the Board of Education in Escambia County. I know there are some other races. In most counties, you’ve got boards of education, you’ve got superintendents running, and you’ve got some commissioners running. We have the strongest ticket in Escambia County the Republican Party has ever had. I look forward to seeing people like Emilie and Mrs. Breckenridge and Dr. Coleman Wallace all elected to office because they are what the Republican Party is all about: conservative to the core, people that you can have complete trust in and know that they are doing the right thing.”
“We have great candidates running in all of our county races. Escambia County has been a reliably Democratic county. We expect to do quite well there. You’ve got a great state senator in Mark Keahey and others on your county commission and we expect to do well. There are great organizations in the area in South Alabama. We feel pretty good about Southeast Alabama. It’s a pretty well-organized area for us … [For Probate Judge] we’re working very hard to win that race. I feel pretty strongly about that race. I spoke briefly with the sheriff and some other folks down there. Everyone I’ve spoken to feels pretty good about that race. Whenever you have an appointee, it’s more difficult for them to keep those seats. So, she’ll have to actually prove herself on her own merit on Tuesday, so we’ll see how that goes. But we feel pretty good about that as well.”
What is the message your party wants to send to prospective voters?
“The overall message is that Alabamaians are conservative, have been for a long time. In the past, they’ve had the choice between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party, but conservatives have no place, no home in the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party does not represent the values of Alabamaians and Escambia County. One example is at the Democrat National Convention, they attempted to take God out of the platform and I know that people in Escambia County are God-fearing people. We should not even consider removing God out of the platform of any party. We know that there are a lot of people that want to take ‘In God we trust’ off of coins and not allow children to pray in school, or pray before a football game. I know the people in Escambia County feel strongly about that, so I feel that that’s a very, very important issue that folks there are concerned about …”
“We think the state of Alabama does better and the country does better when we’re working from the middle class out, when we’re putting the ladders of opportunity for people to get from the working class into the middle class. All our policies and our elected officials, if you pick the banner up for and run with, should be focused on that. Not at the top, but on the middle class, making sure that there are ladders for people to get out of poverty and into the middle class. All these distractions, Judge Moore, he brings up lots of distractions. There are plenty of things that are divisive, issues that are not at the heart of making sure that people in Alabama have the economic security in their homes, or household. That’s our message: making sure that folks know that we are fighting every day in the Democratic Party to ensure that the middle class is more secure and that those who aren’t middle class get there.”
The upcoming election will be on Nov. 6 with polling locations open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. across Escambia County.