The Fat Lady will sing next Tuesday, April 12, in this primary election season. There are runoffs on the Republican ticket for state school board in both District One in south Alabama and in District Seven in north Alabama.
Incumbent Matt Brown faces challenger Jackie Zeigler in District One, while incumbent Jeff Newman squares off against Jim Bonner in District Seven.
While the situation in north Alabama has been quiet as a church mouse, the race for District One (Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties) has stirred some interest.
The latest development is Matt Brown airing radio commercials telling voters he opposes the Common Core academic standards.
Some background explains why this seems strange. In March 2015 Brown was very active working to defeat a school tax vote in Baldwin County. So were a number of Tea Party folks. Since the Tea Party is on record as adamantly opposed to Common Core, when Brown was appointed to the state board of education by Governor Bentley last summer, they naturally figured that Brown would line up with them in opposition to Common Core.
But when they could not get him to commit to this position they went shopping for another candidate. Their choice was retired principal, Jackie Zeigler of Mobile, who lead the vote on March 1.
The Business Council of Alabama is a strong supporter of the Alabama College & Career Ready Standards which are associated with Common Core. They were Brown’s chief financial supporter in the primary, giving him $54,000. Obviously you don’t give this much money to a candidate who openly supports a position you don’t agree with, so Brown was not anti-Common Core in the primary.
However, the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes hit a snag and even with a war chest of more than $99,000, Brown still ran second to Zeigler in his home county of Baldwin and third in Mobile. BCA is still backing Brown with money (though to this point they only show having given $16,500) and apparently they have also given him the OK to change his position on Common Core in hopes it will increase his vote.
I am hardly a stranger to politics. My first involvement in a campaign was in 1971. I know how words are parsed and politicians are coached to say a lot while at the same time saying little. Still, every person seeking office should exhibit some core values, make it clear to voters where the lines are they will not cross. A long time lobbyist friend used to say, “I can be for it or I can be against it. Just show me the money.”
Of course he was talking about himself. But at this point in this campaign, seems he may have also been talking about Matt Brown.