Watch those ‘britchey legs’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2010

In 1986, I drew the short straw.

A fellow UA student and I had resorted to straws to determine who’d go to which gubernatorial campaign headquarters in Montgomery on election night. Both of us worked for the student newspaper, The Crimson White.

Those past 40 will recall there had been a contentious battle in the Democratic primary that year. Charlie Graddick won the run-off with the help of Republican crossover votes, but the Democratic bosses overturned the ballots and named Bill Baxley their nominee. Despite the controversy, Baxley was expected to win.

Since Page drew the long straw, he went to Baxley headquarters and I headed to Republican Guy Hunt’s. Frankly, I dreaded the assignment. It would be a late night and if any story got cut, it was likely to be mine.

Boy, were we all wrong. Hunt won by 13 points and 56 percent of the vote, receiving the most votes ever in a gubernatorial race at the time. It had been 113 years since there was a Republican governor of Alabama. Turned out the short straw was the lucky one.

There have been lots of election nights for me since then, and Lord willing, should be lots more in the future. If so, 2010 will be as memorable as 1986.

In Limestone County in northwest Alabama, Sheriff Mike Blakely, who was unopposed in his bid for reelection, was the only Democrat left standing in his county.

“Alabama Coach Nick Saban running on the Democratic ticket could not have beaten a one-legged child molester running as a Republican,” Blakely said of this year’s election.

Elsewhere on this page, a columnist attributes the GOP’s stunning success in Alabama to voters “fed up with corruption.”

I beg to differ with him; if that were so, the state senator who was kicked out of her party (GOP) and later indicted in the bingo legislation scandal, Harri Ann Smith, would not have made a successful bid to keep her seat as an independent.

Instead, I think the national political pendulum swung so far to the left two years ago that voters were determined to take it back to the right this year. In the past, that federal pendulum wasn’t strong enough to pull the Alabama statehouse along with it, but this year was different. It was helped along by the efforts of the Tea Party. As one of the local leaders explained in an email this week, “(we) know how to hang on to a britchey leg like a junkyard dog.”

It will be interesting to see if the newly-elected slate can make the changes they’ve promised, or if the “junkyard dog” will be after them four years from now.

Stay tuned; it’s going to be a good show.