Allow me to share some more observations from the year.
One of my favorite people in the world and one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known is State Representative Steve Clouse of Ozark. My relationship with Steve goes under the category of Alabama is one Big Front Porch.
His sweet mother, Mrs. Ruth Price Clouse, passed away a month or so ago at 93. There was a nice church service at the First Methodist Church of Ozark. Afterwards, Steve and his lovely wife, Dianne, invited folks to come over to their house across the street from their church. It was a splendid gathering.
Our mamas grew up as best friends and Steve and I are close friends. Mama and Mrs. Ruth were friends through grade school and Troy High School. Mrs. Ruth married Jimmy Clouse from Ozark. They had two children, Steve and Kay. I had a sister named Kay. I always wondered if that was just a coincidence.
Steve and I would play together as boys. As we grew older, we both went to the University of Alabama and were fraternity brothers. Then I went to the Legislature at around 31. Steve was elected eight years later. We served together in the House for about a decade.
Our districts adjoined – my district was Pike County and part of Dale County. Steve’s district was Dale County. Our names were so similar that people today get us confused. Whenever I stop in Ozark, invariably people will say to me, “I like the way you voted” on some measure thinking that I am Steve Clouse. He tells me the same thing happens to him; someone will say to him, “I liked your column this week.” However, that is where the similarities end. Steve is a better man that I am and, as he is quick to point out, he is five years younger.
If anyone knows the Katherine Tucker Windham adage, Alabama is just a Big Front Porch, it is Secretary of State John Merrill. He knows every crook and cranny of this state from one end to the other. He knows more people one-on-one than any other political figure in the state. He is by far the best retail politician in Alabama and has a tremendous grassroots organization in the Heart-of-Dixie.
Bradley Byrne worked hard in every county of the state in his race for the U.S. Senate. He has nothing to be ashamed of nor could he have done anything differently. He received 26% to Tommy Tuberville’s 33% and Jeff Sessions’ 32% in the March 3 primary. He could have won the race had Sessions not gotten in it at the last minute. He still would have probably made the run-off if a Super PAC, called the Club of Growth, had not spent over a half-a-million dollars in negative ads against him.
Byrne seems to be snake-bit by third party interlopers getting into his race. He would have won the 2010 governor’s race had Dr. Paul Hubbert and the AEA not spent two million dollars in negative ads against him. Now the Club for Growth kicks him out of the Senate race.
Very few Alabamians are aware that one of Alabama’s finest ladies, Vicki Drummond, of Jasper is Secretary of the National Republican Party. Mrs. Drummond was elected by her peers on the national committee to this prestigious and important post. She is the only Alabamian in state history to hold this position on the national political stage.
Vicki was a Republican before it was cool. She has worked in the state and Republican vineyards her entire adult life. She and husband, Dr. Mike Drummond, a Jasper dentist, have been leaders in their community and church, as well as the Republican party. They have two sons, Michael and Matthew, who both worked in the George W. Bush White House.
Mike Cason continues to be the premier political reporter in the state. The veteran follower of Alabama politics is concise and factual. You can take what he writes to the bank. He has taken the throne left by Phil Rawls as the best-on-the-block. He is also a good writer.
Joe Reed’s day as the King of the Democratic Party is over. A new, young group of outstanding leaders have taken the state Democratic Party away from him. His Alabama Democratic Conference took a terrible beating in the recent Democratic Presidential Primary in the state. Reed went out on a limb and endorsed Michael Bloomberg. Joe Biden gave him a good old-fashioned whipping in Alabama. Bloomberg only got 12 percent of the vote in the state.
Former governor Don Siegelman has a new book out, Stealing Our Democracy. It is a memoir that reveals how the political assassination of a governor threatens our nation.
See you next week.
— Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the Alabama legislature.