By Steve Flowers
Folks don’t look now, but our 2024 election year is upon us. Next year is a major year in politics nationwide. Not only does the nation elect a president, most states also elect their governors and legislators for four year terms in presidential years.
We, in Alabama, and in most southern states elect our governors and legislators in nonpresidential years. Those of us who study and talk about Alabama politics refer to these years as gubernatorial years. We elected our governor and legislature last year in 2022. Historically, presidential years have been very dull and unexciting years for Alabama politics. There are very few statewide contests and those that happen will be decided on March 5. Since we are such an overwhelmingly Republican state, the only way to be elected statewide in the Heart of Dixie is as a Republican. There are 29 statewide elected offices in Alabama and all 29 are held by a Republican.
There are four seats up for election on our Alabama Supreme Court. Justices Jay Mitchell, Tommy Bryan and Will Sellers are up for reelection to another six year term on the high tribunal. Justice Sarah Stewart’s seat is up for reelection. However, Sarah has opted to move to the open Chief Justice position being vacated by the retirement of Chief Justice Tom Parker. Justice Sarah Stewart is a good choice for Chief Justice. She was a Circuit Judge in Mobile County for 14 years before she was elected to the Supreme Court six years ago.
The Chief Justice is the administrator of the entire state judicial system. Sarah Stewart’s experience as a circuit judge is invaluable and she also has the respect and support of most of the circuit judges around the state. Circuit judges are very respected in their counties and communities throughout the state. Sarah Stewart has been campaigning extensively and effectively all over Alabama during 2023. She has let no grass grow under her feet.
Speaking of working hard, the judge who will move up to take Sarah Stewart’s seat on the Supreme Court will be Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Chris McCool. Judge McCool is one of the most proven ardent campaigners I have seen in recent years. I said when he announced a year ago that he would not be outworked, and he has proven me right. He has traversed the state from one end to the other putting over 60,000 miles on his vehicle.
Chris McCool will make a great justice and is the perfect representative on the court from the rural area of the state. He hails from rural Pickens County near Gordo and close to the Tuscaloosa County Line. His family have very deep roots in that area. The McCool’s settled there over 180 years ago prior to the Civil War. They have farmed the land the entire time. Chris lives in the same place his ancestors lived six generations ago.
Chris McCool borders on folk legend for an Alabama judge. He has three fulltime professions. He was a lawyer with impeccable credentials. He graduated from the University of Alabama, undergraduate and law school. Practiced law in Gordo before being elected District Attorney of the Pickens, Lamar, and Fayette Circuit at age 30. He served as DA for 18 years and was elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals six years ago. He is a minister. He pastors the Zion Primitive Baptist Church near his home. His family founded the church, and his great, great, great, grandfather was the first pastor. He is also a farmer.
Judge McCool’s seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals will be filled by one of two assistant attorney generals. Rich Anderson and Thomas Govan both of Montgomery are vying for McCool’s seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Both are well qualified and would do a good.
Justices Chad Hansen and Christy Edwards are up for reelection to the Court of Civil Appeals. They are doing a good job. Justices Bill Cole and Richard Minor are up for reelection on the Court of Criminal Appeals. They both are doing an excellent job. This court has a very heavy caseload.
Twinkle Cavanaugh will be elected to her fourth term as President of the Alabama Public Service Commission next year. Twinkle is becoming legendary as a public servant in our state. Although still young, she has built a stellar reputation for honesty, integrity and conservatism. The former Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party is the best retail politician in Alabama today. She has crisscrossed the state campaigning in 2023 in preparation for 2024. Even though she will more than likely not have an opponent, she is running scared and not taking anything for granted.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at: www.steveflowers.us.