Blue hope, tough math: Alabama Democrats eye November

Alabama Democrats - for years obliterated from all statewide offices in the Deep South and deeply red state - go into the fall election season with high optimism, but fighting tough math and historical trends, as they seek to build off last year's victory of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

Posted: Jun 30, 2018 11:24 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Democrats - for years obliterated from all statewide offices in the Deep South and deeply red state - go into the fall election season with high optimism, but fighting tough math and historical trends, as they seek to build off last year's victory of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

Buoyed by Jones' victory as the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from the state in a quarter century, Democrats have newfound energy heading into the November election. Walt Maddox, the mayor of Tuscaloosa turned Democratic nominee for governor, leads what many Democrats say is their strongest ticket in decades, as he mounts a challenge against incumbent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.

The governor's race is "probably the most competitive race that we've seen in a couple of decades," Jones said.

"Democrats really need to focus on the issues that people care about every day," Jones said. "That's their health care, their jobs, their wages, education for their children," Jones said.

While the hope is high, the math remains daunting for Democrats.

Republicans held all statewide offices until Jones' December win over Republican Roy Moore in the special election to fill Jeff Sessions' Senate seat. Alabama has not elected a Democrat as governor since 1998 when Gov. Don Siegelman ran on a platform — like Maddox is today — of establishing a state lottery to fund education.

Primary numbers suggest much heavier voter interest on the GOP side. More than a half million voters cast ballots in the GOP gubernatorial primary on June 5 — with 330,743 of those votes going to Ivey alone — while only 283,081 people voted in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

"That's not a blue wave. That's a red tsunami continuing," Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said.

Lathan and other Republicans have argued that Jones' December victory over Roy Moore in the special election for U.S. Senate was an anomaly. Moore was a polarizing candidate figure, after twice being ousted from chief justice duties, and then became dogged by sexual misconduct allegations during the campaign. Moore still almost won, Lathan said.

Jones said he understands that argument is out there, but he thinks it is misguided.

"They just don't fully comprehend the energy that is out there for change," Jones said

Democrats have a stronger ticket in November than they've had in several election cycles, said Bill Stewart, a political scientist and longtime observer of state politics.

Maddox, campaigning on a platform of establishing a state lottery to fund education, argues that Alabama's progress has stagnated.

"Alabama is still 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th and 50th in everything that matters. We have got to have leadership that is focused on the next generation," Maddox said after his June 5 win.

Ivey campaign spokeswoman Debbee Hancock said in a statement after the primary that the voting numbers don't match Democrats' narrative that "the momentum and enthusiasm are on their side."

"This so called 'blue wave' is a joke," she said.

An unknown for Democrats headed into election season is if they can raise the campaign funds to be competitive in advertising.

Ivey has so far enjoyed a tremendous financial advantage, raising more than $4 million to Maddox's $1 million.

However, just as Republicans were aided by a series of Democratic corruption scandals as they became the dominant party in state politics, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on recent scandals in the GOP — including the resignation of former Gov. Robert Bentley and the ethics conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Historian Wayne Flynt said he is writing in an upcoming history book that the state ought to contemplate, "changing its motto from 'We Dare Defend Our Rights" to "often embarrassing, but never boring."

"In 2010, Alabamians voted Republican because they thought Republicans would end the corruption only to now have the Republican Party just like the old Democratic Party. Maybe what we are moving toward now is a genuine two party system," Flynt said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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