2014 smooth sailing for Bentley

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whether you realize it or not the 2014 Election is upon us. The call to arms began in June when campaign fundraising could officially begin.

Under Alabama law, candidates can begin raising money exactly one year prior to the elections. That has been interpreted to mean one year prior to the primaries. The primary next year is in early June.

Gov. Robert Bentley will more than likely be coronated next year for his second term as governor. Dr. Bentley has not been getting rich during his first term as chief executive. As he promised when he ran for election, he has not taken one red cent in salary. He has made the same promise if reelected to a second four-year term.

His exact promise is that he will not accept a salary until the state’s unemployment rate drops below 5.2 percent. Alabama’s current unemployment rate is 6.9 percent. That is down substantially from when Gov. Bentley first won election in 2010. Bentley will tout this reduction of the unemployment rate in his campaign if he has one.

At this time, Bentley only has token opposition. His reelection numbers are very strong. His favorability is extremely high.

If Bentley were going to field any serious opposition they would have to have made some noise by now. Indeed they would probably need to be raising money.

All the top Republican challengers in the state have already declared unequivocally that they will not challenge Bentley. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Luther Strange have both announced that they plan to run for reelection in their respective posts.

Two possible candidates have faded away. Former two-year college chancellor, Bradley Byrne, who ran second to Bentley in the 2010 Republican primary, is running for Congress. Greenville businessman, Tim James, who ran third, has said he is not running at this point.

One major player who has opted out of the 2014 race is Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. Some Goat Hill observers say he would lose power moving from his position as czar of the House of Representatives.

It is amazing the power and control that Hubbard has amassed as Speaker. Hubbard has garnered the throne by being in charge of the money. He has corralled the lobbyists to give the money to him or his PACs and he doles it out to his friends and loyal subjects.

It is suggested that the toughest legislative races may well be in the Republican primaries. It is expected that Hubbard may try to purge his trenches of dissidents who have not toed the line.

This super majority Republican legislature has emasculated the only Democratic friendly organization, the Alabama Education Association, during this quadrennium. They made a calculated Machiavellian move to kill the AEA and stampeded and stomped on the teachers union like a herd of elephants.

It will be interesting to see whether the AEA will roll over and play dead or fight back with a vengeance. Teachers have to be upset. They actually make less money than they did four years ago. They have been forced to pay more for medical and retirement benefits and have received an insulting 2 percent increase in pay, which does not offset their increased contributions.

The legislative races are where the action will be in 2014. It looks like smooth sailing for the governor.