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Steve Flowers: Women and young folks prevail in 2022

In my observations of Alabama politics, every election year brings an underlying election year surprise or two. The underlying prevailing theme emerging from the Alabama political arena this year is that women have arrived politically in the Heart of Dixie.

Governor Kay Ivey is only the second female elected Governor of Alabama, Lurleen Wallace being the first in 1966. Governor Ivey won a decisive second-term nomination as the Republican nominee in May. She will face another female Democratic nominee, Yolanda Flowers, in the November general election. This is the first time two women will face each other for governor.

In fact, the first and second place finishers in both the Republican and Democratic primaries were women. Governor Ivey was followed by Lindy Blanchard, who finished second in the GOP primary. Dr. Yolanda Flowers, a retired Birmingham educator, was in a runoff with second place Democratic female State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier in the Democratic primary.

Katie Britt emerged victoriously from the Republican U.S. Senate contest, and if elected in November, as is expected, she will be the first female elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama. Katie Britt is the brightest young star in Alabama politics. She is the new rock star of the state. Not only will she be the first female senator, but she is also the headliner for the second theme of 2022. That is, we have a pair of new youthful stars arriving on the scene as the dust settles from the June 21 runoffs. Wes Allen and Andrew Sorrell have become the new stars on the scene.

Wes Allen defeated veteran politico Jim Ziegler in the secretary of state race. Andrew Sorrell bested Stan Cooke and Rusty Glover to become state auditor. Both Sorrell and Allen were about to become freshmen members of the Alabama House this time four years ago. Now, they are the new stars on the statewide political block. They will be joining Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth as young constitutional officeholders with a future.

You have four young stars on the horizon in the state. Rockstar Katie Britt is 40, superstar Will Ainsworth is 41, star Wes Allen is 46 and star Andrew Sorrell is 36.

Another young superstar has arrived on the behind the scenes political consulting arena in Alabama politics. Twenty-seven year old Sean Ross ran the Katie Britt campaign masterfully. He is absolutely brilliant. He ran one of Twinkle Cavanaugh’s campaigns four years ago, when he was just graduating from the University of Alabama. Katie did a good day’s work when she acquired his services with a recommendation from Twinkle. He is the hottest item in Alabama political consulting.

There were four vacancies in the Alabama State Senate. State Representative Merika Coleman, a Bessemer attorney, won a very impressive victory for the seat of retiring Priscilla Dunn. She is young and brilliant and is going to be a star in the Alabama State Senate.

Lance Bell won the seat of retiring state Senator Jim McClendon. Bell beat his opponent 73% to 27% in this Republican seat.

Keith Kelley emerged victorious over Wendy Ghee Draper in the Anniston-based Republican seat of retiring veteran State Senator Del Marsh.

In probably the biggest upset surprise of the 2022 primary season was the victory of Josh Carnley to fill the Republican Southeast Alabama Senate Seat held for decades by the powerful and popular Jimmy Holley. This district is comprised of Coffee, Covington, Pike and part of Dale Counties. Twelve-year veteran, State House member Mike Jones of Andalusia was expected to waltz to victory having every business groups endorsement. Carnley carried his home county of Coffee, overwhelmingly, and veteran political consultant David Mowery did a masterful job with Carnley’s ads.

Popular first-term State Senator Dan Roberts was challenged by a self-financed urologist in Roberts’ silk stocking Jefferson/Shelby district but Roberts won handily.

For the first time in 40 years, there will not be a Sanders representing the Black Belt in the Alabama Senate. Veteran Senator Hank Sanders failed in his bid to take back his seat he loaned to his daughter, the aforementioned Malika Sanders Fortier. Hank Sanders had served nine terms as the Black Belt’s senator. He was defeated by Robert Stewart of Selma.

Jay Hovey won the coveted Lee/Tallapoosa/Russell County State Senate seat, prevailing over incumbent Tom Whatley by one vote.

For the most part, the powerful 35-member State Senate will return intact with only few new faces.

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.

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