Columnist shares predictions with county Republicans

Published 11:08 am Friday, February 15, 2019

By MICHAEL BROOKS / Special to the Reporter 

PELHAM – Steve Flowers has the distinction of being the most-read columnist in Alabama.

“I’m published in 61 newspapers every week with a readership of 400,000,” he said. “And the second most-read columnist is John Archibald of Birmingham, but he has about 20 percent of my readership,” he added with a laugh.

Flowers was guest of the Shelby County Republican Executive Committee at their quarterly meeting on Feb. 12 in Pelham.

Flowers grew up in Troy and served as a page in the Alabama Legislature at age 12. He attended Boys State and was elected to the student senate at the University of Alabama where he earned a degree in political science and history. He was elected to the legislature from Pike County in 1982 and served 16 years. Currently he works as a commentator on radio and TV with the University of Alabama broadcasting system.

Flowers said he was a Republican as a young man, but the political reality was only Democrats got elected in Alabama as a long-standing consequence of Reconstruction.

“The radical Republicans who came to power after Lincoln’s death flocked to the South with vengeance,” he said. “White land-owners, in effect, became slaves after the African-American slave were freed. The radicals took land and liberties from the farmers, so after relief came in 1876, the South voted Democrat for a long time.”

Flowers as a young man met the late Jim Martin of Gadsden and called him the “John the Baptist” of Alabama Republicans since he paved the way for modern office-seekers.

“Jim was one of Gen. Patton’s intelligence officers, and then became a successful businessman with Amoco Oil,” Flowers said. “He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, but after ABC News called the race and noted this was Alabama’s first Republican senator in 90 years, boxes of overlooked ballots began to appear. One box of 450 ‘mysteriously’ had 450 votes for Lister Hill! The election was stolen from Jim.”

Flowers noted that Martin ran successfully two years later in the Goldwater revolution in the South.

“Now we have 29 elected state officials in Alabama, and they’re all Republican,” he said. “We’re the most Republican state in the union and Shelby is the most Republican county in Alabama. I don’t see this changing in my lifetime.”

Flowers contrasted the state’s two U.S. Senators.

“The Doug Jones election was a fluke,” he said. “I call him ‘the California Kid’ since so much of his money came from liberal groups in California. He won’t have this next time. Jones is not in the mold of Alabama Democrats since he supported McGovern, Mondale, both Clintons and Obama. So far he’s voted down-the-line with Chuck Schumer.”

Flowers said Alabama has had three great Senators: John Sparkman, Lister Hill and Richard Shelby.

“Next month Shelby will mark 30 years and three months in the Senate,” he said. “In the Senate it’s all about seniority. He chairs the Appropriations Committee which means he writes the checks for the federal government. Jeff Sessions was more ideological, but Shelby is more practical with federal money. He’s ‘brought home the bacon’ for our state.”

Flowers said though some disagree with him, he believes additional gasoline tax in Alabama is needed because of infrastructure.

“Twenty-eight states have put up matching funds to quality for federal money if Congress passes the Trump infrastructure bill,” he said. “If Alabama levies this tax and matches, we’ll be 29th, but with Richard Shelby in charge, we’ll actually be number one in federal dollars to improve our roadways and bridges.”

In a question-and-answer time Flowers was asked about future candidates.

“I think Bradley Byrne will run against Jones next year for Senate, and Mo Brooks wants to run four years from now if Shelby steps down,” he said. “Shelby will be 88 at his next election, so it’s likely he’ll retire, though he may not. I also think Jeff Sessions might be able to reclaim his old seat against Jones next year if he chose to run.”

Flowers was also effusive in his praise of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, calling him “the best retail politician in Alabama.”

“On special days, most politicians lazily go to a local bar-be-que or the like,” he said. “But John will attend six events between Huntsville and Mobile! John would be a great Senate candidate, too, or whatever he chooses to do.”

Flowers’ website is