Tag: 2018 Election
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM
Like a lot of kids, Mark Pettway wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. But as he got older, things changed. Pettway begins his job as Jefferson County sheriff today. He’s the first African American to hold that post after defeating longtime Republican Sheriff Mike Hale in November. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey was sworn in this morning along with other constitutional officers in a ceremony of pomp and circumstances on the red carpet-lined steps of the Alabama Capitol.
The National Guard performed a flyover of the event, where the Alabama National Guard presented colors and the concert ensemble of Booker T. Washington Magnet School performed for a crowd that included four former governors and other constitutional officers.
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – whom Ivey pointed out came out of Wilcox County, as did she – also was in attendance, along with Reps. Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby representing Alabama’s congressional contingent.
A parade down Dexter Avenue was to follow at noon, and the Inaugural Gala will be held tonight at the Montgomery Civic Center.
Wearing a burgundy coat and cream pants on this overcast morning, as temperatures hovered in the mid-40s, Ivey pointed to recent successes in Alabama and laid out a few of Alabama’s biggest challenges in the coming year, which she said she looked at as “opportunities.”
When newly elected Neil Rafferty takes his place in the Alabama House of Representatives next year, he will be the only white Democrat in the 105-seat chamber
With one other white Democrat in the Senate, the Alabama Legislature’s two parties are almost entirely divided by race. An all-white GOP has a supermajority.
“You can’t deny the optics at times,” Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said about the party and racial split. He’s been a lawmaker since 2006 and has seen the racial polarization increase as the white Democrats dwindled in numbers.
Less than 10 years ago, in the 2006-2010 term, there were 62 Democrats in the House. More than half of them were white, said House public information officer Clay Redden. Now, there are 28 Democrats total. Republicans picked up five more seats in last week’s election.
In all, more than 75 percent of the members of the Legislature were white less than a decade ago, and more than 60 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis done at the time by The Birmingham News.
Being the minority race in the minority party isn’t something Rafferty, D-Birmingham, said he’s thought too much about.
“I’m going to go down there with humility and an eagerness and willingness to work with my colleagues, all of my colleagues, for the betterment of the state and House District 54,” he said last week.
But race has been an issue in the Statehouse in recent years.
England is concerned that, without diversity among parties, all issues begin to be viewed in a racial context.
“Racial issues are important, they are, but not everything is racial,” he said. “You don’t want everything to be painted with a broad brush because of the messenger and lose the message.” Read more.
The latest edition of the Jefferson County Commission took office Wednesday with a swearing in ceremony in the morning and a meeting in the afternoon to set its organization in place.
When the day was done, Jimmie Stephens was again president of the commission and Lashunda Scales, who, like Sheila Tyson, made the move from the Birmingham City Council, was elected president pro tem. Read more.
Democrats across the country took the House and flipped several governorships during the midterms. It was a different story in Alabama. Democrats here lost every statewide race, and they lost five statehouse seats to Republicans. The Montgomery Advertiser recently reported the Alabama Democratic Party sat on hundreds of thousands of dollars as candidates say that money could have been used toward their campaigns. Many Alabama Democratic candidates blame their poor performance on the lack of support from the state party. Heather Milam, one of many Democrats who ran for the first time, lost the race for secretary of state to Republican incumbent John Merrill. She spoke with WBHM’s Andrew Yeager. Read more.
Alabama, not unlike the rest of the country, had a wave of women on the ballot in this year’s primary election and in Tuesday’s general election.
Eighty-three Republican and Democratic women and two independent women ran for state office, including offices elected statewide and circuit judgeships. Forty-four of those women won their races.
In all, Alabama added six women to the count of state offices and circuit judgeships held by women. Three of those seats are circuit judgeships; two are seats in the House of Representatives and one is on the Alabama Board of Education.
Republican women fared well Tuesday. Of the 23 women who ran for those offices, 20, or 87 percent, won.
Terry Lathan, chairman of the state Republican Party, said Gov. Kay Ivey’s win was an important factor that will help contribute to more women running for office.
“With Governor Ivey breaking the glass ceiling as the first elected GOP female Alabama governor,” Lathan said in statement, “we will continue to recruit and expand our base of women candidates.”
For Democratic women, who made up 71 percent of all the women who ran, the outcomes looked different. Sixty Democratic women ran, with 24, 42 percent, winning their races.
Nancy Worley, chairwoman of the Alabama Democratic Party, had a different take, chalking up many of the losses to inexperienced candidates with unrealistic expectations. Read more.
Alabama voters are casting straight-ticket ballots in growing numbers, highlighting a trend toward political polarization in the state.
That move was on full display in Tuesday’s election and appeared to be a critical factor in the outcome of some races.
About 65 percent of those who participated in the general election voted straight tickets, according to totals from the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. Read more.
Jefferson County’s first black sheriff and district attorney were swept into office Tuesday on a wave of Democratic straight-ticket voting.
Votes from the county’s Republican strongholds were not enough to combat the unusually high number of Democrats casting straight-party ballots, votes from inner-city Birmingham, votes by dissatisfied Democrats in the county’s larger cities and possibly votes by Republican women protesting President Donald Trump.
“I think the numbers say that straight-ticket voting greatly benefited the Democrats more than Republicans,” said Jefferson County Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson.
Incumbent Alabama lawmakers serving Jefferson County all won re-election in Tuesday’s general election voting, and two new members who ran for open seats, will join the Jefferson County delegation.
Republican Senate candidate Dan Roberts and Democratic House candidate Neil Rafferty will be a part of a large freshman group in the 2019 Alabama Legislature after 22 House members and 10 senators retired in 2018 or resigned to seek other offices or positions.
The addition of Roberts and Rafferty, a Republican and a Democrat, does not change the political party makeup of the county delegation since they replaced a Republican and a Democrat. Read more.
The Alabama Statehouse got a little more red Tuesday, with the GOP picking up one seat in the Senate and likely five in the House, according to unofficial results and media reports.
The number of white Democrats in the Alabama House dropped from six to one — newly elected Neil Rafferty of Birmingham. In the Senate, the number of white Democrats held steady at one.
Republicans have had a supermajority in the Statehouse since 2010, but the additional seats may give the party more confidence to take on potentially controversial issues.
“They already could shut down debate, they could move bills,” retired Athens State University political science professor Jess Brown said Wednesday. “Democrats could make a little noise on the fringes, but Republicans ruled the roost. That will remain the same.”
Now, Brown said, they have “a little breathing room from public opinion” and more leeway to take up a statewide gas tax increase — something Republicans have flirted with for several years — and possibly a lottery. Read more.