It is statistical impossibility for a Democrat to be elected to state wide office in modern Alabama. When the time came for candidates to step up and run for appellate court positions, not one member of the tattered Democratic establishment came forward, paid the $3,200 filing fee, and entered the Democratic primary.
In an article I wrote after the primary on March 14, 2012, http://www.dailykos.com/... I discussed the results of a three way race for the Republican nomination for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice. Former Chief Justice Roy Moore won without a run-off, much to the dismay of evolved Alabamians. It appears that the true purpose of a Republican primary in Alabama is to select the best born again Christian.
Since no lawyer with political ambitions and party money signed up to run for the Democratic nomination for the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Pelham attorney Harry Lyon saw an opening. Alabama's appellate courts have gradually become all Republican, thanks in no small part to Karl Rove's assistance in the 1990s. Lyon had prior experience as both a Republican and Democratic candidate, but never won. Since no other Democrat entered the race, Harry Lyon paid the filing fee and thus became the Democratic Party's Don Quixote candidate.
After the primary elections, Republican "Judge Roy" Moore was practically guaranteed to win back the position from which he had been forcibly removed in 2003.
This was bad news for rational Alabamians, because Moore is a religious fanatic who takes his instructions from God. That would be God, as interpreted by Roy Moore. Moore has said that homosexuality is "an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it." Soon after Moore was sworn in as Chief Justice in 2001, a large granite Ten Commandments monument was installed in the Judicial Building. Moore got national attention, and drew supporters to his cause.
Lawsuits were filed, including one by Brewton, Alabama resident and attorney Melinda Lee Maddox and the ACLU. The Federal Court ordered Justice Moore to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the State Judicial Building. Justice Roy Moore refused to obey the federal judge's order, and was removed from office in late 2003 by a unanimous decision of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. http://en.wikipedia.org/.... Maddox had sacrificed her small town law practice by taking on Judge Roy Moore, and was given a ACLU Courage of Conscience Award in 2005. She moved to Mobile and rebuilt her law practice.
After the primary results were known, Melinda Lee Maddox announced that she would run against Roy Moore and Harry Lyon as a write-in candidate. She has no campaign consultants or war chest, just some friends and a contingent of Facebook supporters at her side.
In March, a group of of voters came together on Facebook in opposition to anti-abortion bills pending in the legislature. The issue was SB-12, a trans-vaginal sonogram bill filed by first term Sen. Clay Scofield, an unmarried poultry farmer and Christian from Arab. Sen. Scofield was stunned at the angry response from Alabama women and men, and did not press his bill further. Other anti-abortion and person-hood bills died at the end of the legislative session. A contingent of progressives and women, Democrats and at least one Republican got together and stopped the anti-privacy rights bills. Instead of declaring "mission accomplished," these people started communicating about other Alabama issues of importance to them, particularly Roy Moore.
Over the summer, not much else happened. This is Alabama. It's hot outside. A deadline for filing campaign financial disclosure reports passed, and Harry Lyon had not filed. After being ordered to show cause why he should not be removed from the ballot, Lyon filed his report. The show cause order was withdrawn.
This being Alabama, we also have air conditioning and Facebook. The hotter it gets, the more irritable we become, and this can be a dangerous thing when combined with Facebook. Harry Lyon wrote a post on his wall in which he called "faggotry" an abomination, and expressed opposition to same sex marriage and made other bizarre comments. http://thinkprogress.org/...
The Alabama Democratic Executive Committee had a hearing on Friday August 18, and a subcommittee removed Lyon from the Democratic ticket. Tweets from Ms. Abbott Jones https://twitter.com/... give a play by play account of the hearing, which I attended. Mr. Lyon gave a performance that we expect to see in dramas about Southern courtrooms, compete with religious witnessing and display of a cross as his his response to Roy Moore's monument. Alas, Mr. Lyon lacked the lucidity and coherence of either Atticus Finch or Ben Matlock.
A photo of Harry Lyon and his cross is here: https://www.facebook.com/....
What remains is for the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee to select a replacement candidate. Back in 1986, another situation was resolved by replacing one gubernatorial candidate with another. Republicans won the governorship, and the Alabama Democratic party never recovered.
Lyon predicted at the hearing that he would be replaced by a hand picked protector of the wealthy and powerful. I would hate for Lyon to be right. Unfortunately, that is exactly how political scientist V.O. Key described Alabama in his 1948 book, Southern Politics. The ruling class always maintains control in Alabama.
Since the hearing yesterday, a scion of an old white Democratic family has emerged as the front runner to replace Lyon. He has automatic name recognition, and a stellar reputation in the legal community. He would make a great chief justice, if he wins.
I just don't know how he can win. Alabama Republicans love it when Democrats hand pick candidates, because it gives them something to complain about. Conservative white Alabamians don't want to be tarred by any association with Democrats. Voting Democratic in Alabama is tantamount to atheism, socialism, communism, fascism, receipt of welfare, and Obama loving. Fundamentalist Christians will vote for God's choice, Roy Moore. Those people won't vote Democratic for fear of going to hell. The Lyon matter has been a gift to Alabama Republicans, an unforced error. A functional and fearless Democratic party would have had a slate of candidates running for every office.
Bill Armistead of the Alabama Republicans predicted a defeat of Biblical proportions; he warned "any Democrat qualifying to run against Moore that they will be painted as supporters of same-sex marriage who are out of touch with state voters." http://blog.al.com/...
If the Alabama Democratic party leaders want new voters, they need to avoid selecting a candidate with famous 20th century name and old party connections. Rational people in Alabama are crying out for progressive candidates who have something in common with the Democratic party nationally. The party should welcome a new generation of Alabama voters who enthusiastically campaign and vote for a candidate, instead of closing the door in their faces. No matter how well qualified the son of an old Democratic family is, it will look terrible if the Democrats select him at this point in the race. Another alternative would be to not replace Lyon with anyone. That seemed to have been the original plan, after all.
My preference would be that the party seize the opportunity to name write-in candidate Melinda Lee Maddox. Maddox got into this race because she cares about the rule of law, not because Harry Lyon screwed up. Alabama politics could use a the breath of fresh air Maddox brings.
That leaves the money problem. Judicial races are expensive, especially in Alabama. Will Alabama business leaders support a candidate who advocates good government? Probably not, as long as there is money to be made off of bad government.
(There is a link on Maddox' Facebook page for donations. The $3,200 qualification fee must be paid by Wednesday morning.)
Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 4:19 PM PT: Jefferson County (Birmingham) Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has qualified to run. Vance has a excellent qualifications. He is the son of the late 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Vance, who was murdered when a bomb was delivered to his home. The elder Vance was once Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.