What the devil will your vote get?

Published 1:34 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

“If they vote for the person rather than the party, I’m the guy.”

That’s what James Anderson, who’s running for Alabama’s attorney general, told The Huntsville Times last week.

He’s quite persuasive in an interview, based on his visit to The Star-News last spring. He’s had an active legal practice in the Alabama court system, has served as chairman of the Alabama Ethics Commission and has been vice president of Alabama State Bar. He says he’ll issue subpoenas on behalf of the Ethics Commission if he is elected attorney general, an issue perpetually on the opposing party’s legislative agenda.

In Montgomery, he regularly shares a Methodist church pew with a man many of us in Covington County consider a friend, Glen Zorn.

Like Anderson, Zorn is a candidate for state office, commissioner of agriculture and industries. It’s a job that’s not exactly high profile, but the person who occupies the office wields enormous power, controlling a budget of approximately $30 million.

If you’re voting for the person, Zorn’s your guy. He’s spent a lifetime in agriculture and ag businesses, and knows what it means to make payroll and to fret over factors affecting crops. The Florala native served his hometown as mayor quite effectively, and for the past seven-and-a-half years, he’s been the assistant ag commissioner. Water management and alternative fuels are two other important areas of his expertise.

Besides attending the same Methodist church and occasionally enjoying Sunday lunch together, Anderson and Zorn have a couple more things in common: Both are widowed. Both will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot as Democrats.

And that’s what makes me concerned that a lot of Alabama voters won’t consider voting for them and other equally qualified candidates.

A poll by the Capstone Survey Research Center released this week showed that:

• 57 percent of Alabama voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state.

• 44 percent said they’ll vote for change in Alabama.

Yet when I hear people talk about voting for change, it is generally Obama with whom they are upset and planning to vote “against,” even though his name’s not on the November ballot.

“You’re always better off voting for the devil you know than the devil you don’t know,” my father has often said. As a septegenarian who’s spent a lifetime watching and covering politics from the Wiregrass, he can speak with both authority and anecdotal evidence.

Which brings me back to all those folks voting for change. I hope they know what the devil they may be getting. It was only two years ago that Obama’s supporters were voting for change, too.