The power of incumbency

Published 11:10 am Monday, February 14, 2022

By BETH CHAPMAN | Guest Columnist

Incumbents always have an advantage. They have a track record in office (which should be an advantage), and they have stronger name identification (whether good or bad) it’s still name recognition.

Once an elected official gets in office, it’s hard to get them out. In some cases, this is good, and in other cases, it is not. But there is a reason that 64 members of the Legislature, three of seven Constitutional Officers, four State School Board members and one Supreme Court Justice are running without opposition.

The power of incumbency is a mighty sword. Just how deep it cuts into this year’s election is yet to be seen. Either way, many office holders have drawn opposition, so the battle is on. Who wins the war won’t be known until Election Day.

Qualifying for both parties is over, so we now know who is running. There are eight Republicans challenging Gov. Kay Ivey and six Democrats will duke it out to represent their party. All the gubernatorial candidates have an uphill battle against a governor who has been solid.

Fortunately for Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, he held off opposition for his race. This will save him and the business community tons of campaign funds. Plus, he has done an excellent job and deserves a campaign off before he runs for governor in 2026.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wasn’t as fortunate. While he’s done an excellent job, too, he has drawn both Republican and Democratic opposition.

State Treasurer Young Boozer and Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate will both remain in office as they are unopposed and have performed outstanding work. Obviously, their constituents are pleased with them.

There are four Republicans and one Democrat running for Secretary of State. Three Republicans are running for State Auditor. Both these constitutional offices are open because term limits prevent the current officeholders from seeking reelection.

In the judicial races, Justice Kelli Wise did not draw opposition. The other seat on the high court on this year’s ballot is an open seat that has attracted two Republicans and one Democrat.

On the Alabama Public Service Commission, incumbents Chip Beeker and Jeremy Oden both have opposition.

On the State Board of Education incumbents Jackie Zeigler, Stephanie Bell and Yvette Richardson have no opposition, unlike their counterparts Tracie West and Wayne Reynolds. Two Republicans are running for Place 6, an open seat.

In the Senate, the 10 incumbents with opposition are: Republican Sens. Tim Melson; Tom Butler; Sam Givhan; Andrew Jones; Randy Price; Dan Roberts; Shay Shelnutt; Gerald Allen; Greg Albritton and the lone Democrat, Linda Coleman-Madison.

The 38 House incumbents receiving opposition are: Republican Reps. Phillip Pettus; Parker Moore; Proncey Robertson; Corey Harbison; Tim Wadsworth; Tommy Hanes; Nathaniel Ledbetter; Wes Kitchens; Gil Isbell; Ben Robbins; Debbie Wood; Ginny Shaver; Corley Ellis; Arnold Mooney; Dickie Drake; David Wheeler; Jim Carns; Russell Bedsole; Cynthia Almond; Brett Easterbrook; Charlotte Meadows; Jeff Sorrells; Will Dismukes; Rhett Marques; Joe Faust and Matt Simpson. The incumbent Democrat House members being challenged are: Barbara Boyd; John Rogers; Neil Rafferty; Rod Scott; Juandalynn Givan; Prince Chestnut; Thomas Jackson; Kelvin Lawrence; Ralph Howard; Pebblin Warren; Dexter Grimsley and Sam Jones.

In case I have missed someone, find more information on qualified candidates for every office at Algop.org or Aldemocrats.org.