No matter who's engaged with me in political conversations these days, the common theme seems to involve Alabama voters not having a lot to decide in November's election.
Granted, the presidential race and Alabama's electoral votes were decided long before Republicans decided on Mitt Romney as their nominee. There is nothing more certain in this world these days than Alabama voters' undying commitment to GOP presidential candidates.
Actually, that rock-solid support has essentially taken over state politics as well. Republicans have control of every meaningful statewide political office, and that is unlikely to change much — if any — moving forward. Only Republicans can screw it up.
With that said, one statewide race is actually back on the radar for November's ballot and is no longer considered a lock. The race is for the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Roy Moore took down two quality challengers in the Republican primary, which is certainly an impressive achievement, and will face Democrat Robert Vance Jr.
Most Democrats had conceded the chief justice race to Republicans, but they never dreamed Moore could beat Charlie Graddick and Chuck Malone. So, they sent their unopposed nominee, Harry Lyon, packing and brought in Vance, a circuit judge in Jefferson County, to represent the party.
The change has produced interesting dynamics for the upcoming election.
First, it will likely motivate more Alabama Democrats to show up and vote. They see a chance for a Democrat to win an important seat in state government. That could also provide more hope for Democratic candidates on the county level, but it won't change much. And it won't affect President Obama's chances in the state.
Most moderate Republicans, like Democrats, consider Moore to be a potential embarrassment for the GOP and the state. The idea of having the state's chief justice being the same person who was removed from office in 2003 for defying a court order doesn't make sense to many. After all, aren't judges supposed to uphold the state's and country's laws, not defy them?
Republican leadership know the facts related to the forced removal of Moore's Ten Commandments monument as well as anyone.
They also know about the enormous negative publicity awaiting our state if he wins. Yet, they don't want to give Democrats even a glimpse of hope for future elections.
For those who feel that way, and there are a lot, do they vote for what they think is right or do they vote for a party candidate regardless of the situation?
My guess is the party will win, but it will be worth watching.
Mike Goens can be reached at 256-740-5740 or mike.goens@TimesDaily.com.