A Watershed Election in America
Editor's Note: News Director Don Hartley provided this preview of a historic day in America.
Every four years pundits label the presidential election as being historic. To a degree they are correct because each national election decides the path the country will trod for at least the following four years. But perhaps Tuesday’s election for the White House may truly be a watershed vote, the winner will eventually control the Supreme Court.
There have been elections where one candidate was disliked and the other tolerated enough to win. 2016 may be the first where both party’s nominees are despised by the electorate. Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are locked in a race too close to call not because of their popularity but due to their lack of it.
2016 will be won by the candidate who can motivate their base and lure enough independents to check the box by their name. We may see the least straight-ticket voting ever. We also might see a protest vote for the Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Then a lot of the electorate may just avoid voting altogether. Of course there could be a massive voter turnout against the other party’s “Great Satan”.
The top of the ticket has always been important to candidates on State and Local ballots. They often attempt to attach their campaigns to the popular party presidential nominee and ride their coattails. This year, not so much for Democrats and even less for many Republicans.
Even previous “Red States” have become more purple as local GOP candidates have taken umbrage to Trump and either vowed to vote for Clinton or just not endorsed Trump. The same can be said in some states about Democrats, but to a far less amount.
Almost all of the Alabama Congressional Delegation have announced they will not support Trump. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) was the first to break with her party’s presidential nominee, saying in a statement that it was "abundantly clear that the best thing for our country and our party is for Trump to step aside" and allow a replacement.
“Donald Trump’s behavior makes him unacceptable as a candidate and I will not be voting for him.” She was also joined by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and Governor Bentley in claiming Trump is not “fit” to be president. Roby has laid low since additional Clinton emails have revealed underhanded Democrat tactics and even possible violations of the law and ethics.
West Alabama Democrat U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, of course, backs Clinton 100%. So that makes U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Mobile) the lone Republican to be 100% in support of Trump. Our state’s junior U.S. Senator was the first upper chamber senator to endorse Trump and has traveled with him on his campaign plane several times to introduce him at rallies.
None of the Republicans who have jumped ship from their party’s nominee appear to be seriously threatening in their re-election bids. Least of all threatened is Tuscaloosa’s Richard Shelby. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1986 before switching parties in 1994. The senior Alabama Republican and senior member of the Alabama Congressional Delegation is lightly challenged by medical marijuana advocate Ron Crumpton. He has never held office.
There are no contested statewide races aside from Shelby’s re-election bid on the ballot. There are, however, a few key local contests. For Tuscaloosa County District Attorney, 6th Judicial District, incumbent Republican Hayes Webb faces Assistant D.A. and former Judge Dennis Steverson, Sr. (D-Tuscaloosa).
Since Incumbent Republican Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Stan Acker’s opponent withdrew her Seat #1 challenge (her name will still be on the ballot), there is only one contested commission seat.
Incumbent Mark Nelson, who was appointed by Governor Bentley when long-time Commissioner Bobby Miller died, has two opponents, both independents. Marshall Bailey and John Downer are mounting challenges to Nelson, who was formerly on the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.
Those are the contested elections but that is not the end of the ballot. Turn the sheet over, you will find 14 proposed amendments to the 1901 Alabama Constitution; the oldest, longest and most amended state constitution in America.
Remember, polls are open across Alabama from 7:00 A.M. until 7:00 P.M. When the polls close and the vote count begins, turn to your favorite Townsquare Media – Tuscaloosa station for all the results from the White House to the Courthouse. News Director Don Hartley will handle the anchor desk, veteran political observer Jimmy Adams will be at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Annex for the local count and veteran news reporter Meg Summers will bring you coverage from U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s election night headquarters. Through the facilities of CBS, WVUA23 and ABC 3340, we will bring you comments from winners and losers. Join us for “Count the Vote – 2016”.