Stay tuned to presidential primary

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By By Steve Flowers
Alabama's move to have our Presidential Primary early next year, in order to give us a voice in the nominating process, may be overshadowed. It was a good idea but it is obviously not novel. A good many states have the same idea and most of them are a lot bigger and more important. California, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey are joining the bandwagon to move their preference primary to Feb. 5, 2008. However, we may be able to compete with South Carolina as a Deep South bellwether barometer.
This move by large states like California changes the entire dynamics of what we have been used to in past presidential years. Small insignificant states like New Hampshire and Iowa have stolen the spotlight and magnified their importance. An early win in those states gave a candidate a perception of momentum. With these big states coming on their heels, a presidential candidate can ignore the need to spend months trudging through the snow in New Hampshire and knocking on every farmhouse door in Iowa in order to get four convention votes. A week later they win in vote rich California, Florida or Illinois and the television reveals that candidate has 400 delegates while the New Hampshire winner has four. Therefore, you will see the big name frontrunners ignore these states for the first time and go for the brass ring in California.
The golden state is now a Democratic stronghold. It is a solidly blue state along with New York. These two states provide the base of Democratic electoral votes and also are the golden vault from which they raise their campaign dough. Hollywood is a goldmine for Democratic hopefuls. The two Democratic frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have already tapped this money vein.
The presidential race has started early. Most of the horses are in the chute, announced and ready to go for 2008. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton will be hard to derail. Currently she is favored by 42 percent, Obama has 21 percent, Al Gore, who is not running, has 10 percent, John Edwards, who has been running for four years only, has 8 percent, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is at 4 percent. Three others, Sen. John Biden, Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, appear to be also rans.
Obama will mount a good campaign. He will raise a lot of money, win several primaries and run second in many. He will build national name identification. However, he is running to run again. Obama will be the favorite for the Democratic nomination after Clinton, who will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. She has the money and organization. The big states moving to early primary dates play into her hand. The Las Vegas odds makers have her as the early favorite to go all the way. In fact, they handicap her as a three-to-one favorite.
What about the Republicans? The polls in the GOP column reveal former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has 37 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain is at 27 percent, Newt Gingrich, an unannounced candidate, garners 10 percent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gets 6 percent and New Yorker George Pataki is at 3 percent. Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee are also in the race.
In my opinion Rudy Giuliani will have a hard time surviving the scrutiny of a Republican primary. If he makes it to the General Election campaign, he will be a serious contender. Giuliani would be considered liberal by Democratic Party standards. The New Yorker is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and anti-gun. His position on any one of these issues could deny him the GOP nomination where arch social conservatives dictate the nominee. His stance on all three issues, along with his personal life being the subject of New York tabloid fodder, makes his journey through a Republican primary field more treacherous than navigating successfully through a minefield. However, the large liberal states like California moving their primary to an early date helps him like it does Clinton. You could see a race between two New Yorkers, Clinton and Rudy.
John McCain has a better chance to be the GOP nominee. However, McCain's positioning of himself alongside George Bush on the Iraq war will be a heavy yoke to carry in a general election campaign.
It will be fun to watch.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at <>.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox