Now that the dust has settled on this year’s elections, let’s look back at who are the big winners and losers of the year.
The obvious winner in the Heart of Dixie is the Republican Party. The GOP retained the reins of the state’s highest office and every other statewide constitutional position.
Kay Ivey was elected governor, overwhelmingly, as was Will Ainsworth as lieutenant governor, John Merrill as secretary of state, John McMillan as state treasurer, Rick Pate as agriculture commissioner, Jim Ziegler as state auditor, and Jeremy Oden and Chip Beeker as PSC members.
Our entire judiciary is Republican--all members of the Supreme Court and Courts of Criminal and Civil Appeals.
There are 29 statewide officeholders and all 29 are Republican. However, more importantly, the Legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. More than two-thirds of both the House and the Senate are Republicans. That’s what you call a super majority. Our Republican Legislature can pass anything they want without a Democratic vote or letting Democrats speak.
Our Congressional delegation is made up of six Republicans and one lone Democrat. Folks, that makes us a pretty red state.
Several years ago, I had the honor of being a keynote speaker at the Boys State 75th Anniversary. I had attended Boys State 45 years earlier as a high school leader and aspiring young politico. I shared with these future political leaders this advice: “If you plan to run for statewide office in Alabama even if you believe you are a Democrat, you will need to run as a Republican.”
This year’s election reaffirmed and confirmed that truth. Winning the GOP Primary in Alabama is tantamount to election.
Therefore, to pick the biggest individual winner of the year, you have to look back to the GOP Primary. Young Will Ainsworth, a 37-year-old Sand Mountain legislator/businessman, emerges as the Gold Star award winner of the year in Alabama politics.
His victory as lieutenant governor has propelled him onto the state political scene as the most prominent rising star. He was the top vote-getter in the state on Nov. 6. He is a clean-cut, successful, family man who has been vetted by a high-profile, statewide race.
The second-biggest winner of the year was the loser of the GOP Primary for lieutenant governor, Twinkle Cavanaugh. In all my years of following Alabama politics, I have never seen a more graceful and gracious second-place finisher. She only lost by an eyelash. She genuinely smiled on election night and said she had not gotten the most votes, even though she could have contested such a closely-defined outcome.
Twinkle had entered the race as the favorite having been elected three times statewide. During October, she held a fundraiser for Will Ainsworth in her Montgomery home. She will never be seriously challenged in her post as President of the PSC.
Speaking of rising stars, the third runner-up is a young 18-year-old fellow from Geneva County. Weston Spivey became the youngest elected official in the state by winning a county commission seat in his home county. He won the GOP Primary before he was graduated from high school at Ridgecrest Christian School in Dothan. Young Spivey is also a volunteer firefighter with the Slocomb Fire Department. You should keep your eye on young Weston Spivey. He may become governor of Alabama before he is 30.
Besides Will Ainsworth, there were two other Republicans who were top vote-getters: Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill.
The biggest loser has to be the Democratic Party and our current anomaly, junior Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. Mr. Jones won this seat until 2020 because he was on the other side of the ballot than Roy Moore in the 2017 special election. Every left-wing, ultra-liberal group and individual in the country gave to Jones to beat Moore.
Jones has never hidden the fact that he is a liberal, national Democrat. He showed his true colors when he voted against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh. Jones voted against this highly-qualified jurist to appease his contributors in San Francisco and his like-minded Democratic buddies--Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Diane Feinstein.
We essentially have only one U.S. Senator. We have ceded our second seat to California. Jones believes in the old adage, “You dance with the one who brung ya.” Hope he is renting in Washington because Alabamians are the ones that vote in 2020.
By the way, if you have Richard Shelby as your Senior Senator, you really don’t need a second senator.
See you next week.
(Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in more than 60 Alabama newspapers. Flowers served 16 years in the Alabama Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.)