Next year we will elect all constitutional officers and all 35 state senators and 105 house members. And though the June 5, 2018 primary is nearly a year away, while the Nov. 6, 2018 general election is more than 17 months down the road, seems that every day brings news of someone else declaring their candidacy.
One of the races I will watch closely will be for Lt. Governor. Just for the heck of it because in the grand scheme of Alabama politics, this office is hardly a player. Under existing rules of the state senate, the Lt. Governor chairs no committee, can not introduce legislation, nor can vote for any bill. Other than use the gavel to call the senate to order and try to maintain control, the office has little clout.
Kay Ivey was elected Lt. Governor in 2010. Can you name the person who served immediately before her? (I had to ask Google and learned it was Jim Folsom, Jr.) Here are the last ten people to hold this office. Kay Ivey, Jim Folsom, Jr., Lucy Baxley, Steve Windom, Don Siegelman, Jim Folsom, Jr. Bill Baxley, George McMillan, Jere Beasley and Albert Brewer.
And while most of these ran for governor at some point, only Siegleman was successful (Though Brewer, Folsom and Ivey became Governor when the incumbent either died, was convicted of a crime, or just went to the house under threat of legal action.)
But this year there are already three Republicans vying for the seat. State Senator Rusty Glover of Mobile, Rep. Will Ainsworth of Guntersville and State School Board member Mary Scott Hunter of Huntsville.
A benchmark of how a campaign is progressing is to watch the candidate’s fund-raising success. Candidates for 2018 could begin raising money on June 5, 2017. In the early months of a campaign, they will report fund-raising activity every 30 days. This first report is due at the Secretary of State’s office July 5.
However, the exception to this is that a “major contribution” of $20,000 or more must be reported promptly.
The three Republicans have each disclosed such contributions. Glover moved $60,354 from his senate campaign to his Lt. Governor effort. Hunter shows that she got $50,000 from Harold Brewer, who owns Intuitive Research & Technology Corp, in Huntsville. She works for this company. And Ainsworth shows $20,000 from Greg Rader of Columbus, MS. (However, sources tell us he may get substantial support from his family.)
These three offer an interesting choice for those who support public education. Though Glover is a retired teacher in the Mobile County school system, he has consistently voted against the wishes of most educators. He has been a strong ally of Senate Pro Tem Del March when it comes to voting for the Alabama Accountability Act and charter schools.
As a state school board member, one would assume Hunter would get significant support from the education community. However, this seems unlikely as she voted to hire Mike Sentance as state superintendent, supported Betsy DeVos for U.S.Secretary of Education and has been a focal point in the on-going investigation about who tried to discredit Craig Pouncey in his bid to be state superintendent.
Ainsworth may be the least known of the three. But he is a strong supporter of public education and voted against Marsh’s bill to amend the Alabama Accountability Act in the last legislative session.
Stay tuned. Should be fun to watch.