The Governor’s Race: Candidate Lineup
Want to know more about who’s running for governor? Here are the candidate profiles as they appeared originally here by Cheryl Slocum with the non-profit news site BirminghamWatch.
Eleven people have lined up to run for governor this year.
Among the candidates are some of the state’s best-known names, including the governor herself, and some that are more obscure.
With a lineup like that in politics, as the adage goes for another great American spectator sport, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
So let’s take a quick look at just who are all of these people who soon will be stalking you on social media, via email, with flyers and on your TV screens asking for your vote.
The Candidate Lineup
Sue Bell Cobb
Sue Bell Cobb served as Alabama’s chief justice from 2006 to 2011 and now is an adjunct professor at Faulkner School of Law in Montgomery.
Cobb, who grew up in Conecuh County, attended Asbury College in Kentucky before she transferred to and graduated from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama’s law school.
According to Cobb’s campaign website and Facebook page, she was appointed district judge of Conecuh Country in 1981, making her the youngest trial judge in the state’s history. She later earned election and served in the position for more than 13 years. She served two terms on the the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and in 2006 became the youngest woman elected to the Supreme Court.
An advocate for women and children, Cobb was instrumental in establishing Children First, a nonprofit organization designed to monitor children programs, collaborate with policy makers, and promote the needs of children to decision makers.
Cobb was an integral part of juvenile justice reform efforts, working with legislative leaders to revise the juvenile code and pass the Juvenile Justice Act of 2008.
Christopher A. Countryman
Christopher Countryman’s Facebook page and campaign website say he is a progressive Democrat and community activist who has served as a youth pastor and associate pastor at several churches.
Countryman is a founding member of Equality Wiregrass — a grassroots organization that advocates for marriage equality, according to his site.
If elected governor, Countryman says, he would focus on issues surrounding job creation and retention, quality affordable health care and expansion of Medicaid, abortion rights, incentives for high-performing teachers and schools, increased science and math education funding, and more oversight of the state education system and budget.
The website also says Countryman would plan to reduce the state’s carbon footprint by 100 percent by 2030. He would focus on juvenile justice changes and firearm safety, and he is in favor of a statewide lottery.
James C. Fields
James C. Fields is the pastor at St James United Methodist Church and former representative for District 12 in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Fields served in the Legislature from 2008 to 2010.
Fields graduated from Wallace State Community College and studied at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, according to his Facebook site. The page also lists Victim Services of Cullman, an organization providing outreach and support to survivors of family violence and sexual assault as a place where Fields works. He lives in Hanceville.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has come to be known for crisis management, after he led his city though the disaster and recovery when, in 2011, an EF-4 tornado destroyed more than 12 percent of the city.
Maddox, who is serving his fourth term as mayor, currently is a crisis leadership program fellow at Harvard University Kennedy School of government.
A Tuscaloosa native, Maddox has a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, according to his website.
He has been a field director with the Alabama Education Association, executive director of personnel for the Tuscaloosa City Schools and member of the Tuscaloosa City Council.
Maddox on his website says he believes the state of Alabama is in crisis in three areas that he would address as governor: a gap between available jobs and skills; deficient and poorly maintained roads and bridge infrastructure; and insufficient health care.
Maddox says the state does not have adequate health care in rural communities, and he says he is concerned about health insecurity for low-income Alabamians, veterans, disabled residents and children.
Doug “New Blue” Smith
Doug “New Blue” Smith ran an unsuccessful race for commissioner of agriculture and industries in 2014 but is back on the ballot this year as a candidate for governor.
Smith lives in Montgomery and studied at the University of Alabama and the Jones Law institute, according to his Facebook page and his website for the commissioner’s race.
He was involved in the start up of the Alabama Development Office, according to his website and articles written at the time of the earlier race.
That website includes a list of positions for Smith. It says he worked in the cable industry, but most of the other positions are government-related.
Smith’s website said he has served as a senior staff member to two congressmen, a U.S. senator and two governors, including former Gov. Lurleen Wallace.
The website also lists him as serving as commander in headquarters in the Alabama National Guard and an executive officer of the Army Reserves.
Anthony B. White is an ordained minister of 12 years and a small business owner in Dothan, according to his campaign website.
If elected governor, White’s website says, he would work with businesses to create job opportunities, work to provide affordable health care and try to expand Medicare and Medicaid. He also wants to locate more funds for the state educational system, according to his site.
White believes a statewide lottery would help ease economic strain and proposes to use proceeds from lottery ticket sales to fund infrastructure, education and healthcare.
For White, faith is important. His website says he supports prayer in schools, as well as in businesses and families. White graduated with a degree in business administration from AIU in Atlanta and lives in Dothan with his wife and four children.
Tommy Battle is serving his third consecutive term as Huntsville’s mayor. He was first elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 and again in 2016. He started his political career with his 1984 election to the Huntsville City Council.
According to his campaign Facebook page and website, Battle was raised in Birmingham and attended the University of Alabama, where he studied business. He was active in the university’s student government and debate team. Battle joined the college Republicans, eventually becoming chairman and continuing on to chair the statewide college Republican organization. Battle identifies himself as a conservative.
In 1992 he started a private real estate firm. Battle touts his success creating jobs, roads and schools in Huntsville. He points to his conservative government approach as the reason the city receives Triple-A ratings and has had an influx of economic growth. As governor, Battle says he would apply the same strategies he has in Huntsville on a bigger scale to spur industrial growth and create jobs across the state.
Scott Dawson is the founder of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, a ministry based in Birmingham. The ministry website lists Dawson as staff evangelist and chief development officer at the organization.
He was raised in Birmingham, graduated from Ensley High School and worked his way through Samford University, according to his official campaign website. He completed his master’s degree at Beeson Divinity School and became an ordained minister in 1993.
The 2018 governor’s race is the first time Dawson has entered the political arena, according to his website. He considers himself non-political and calls for governor who’s ready to “take back our government from the special interests and career politicians.”
In an interview with the Hoover Sun, Dawson said his background as an evangelist who has worked with a variety of churches would serve him well as a governor.
Bill Hightower of Mobile has been a state senator representing District 35 since his election in 2013. He is chairman of the Constitution, Ethics and Election Committee and his local delegation’s committee. He also serves on several other committees, including the Banking and Insurance Committee, where he is vice chairman, the Committee for Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development and the Rules Committee.
Hightower’s campaign website and Facebook page detail his personal background and political positions. He is married with three children and owns a corporate consulting firm that defines strategies for growth, acquisition and alliance for domestic and international clients. Before opening his own firm, Hightower worked at several Fortune 500 companies, including Emerson Electric and Allied Signal.
Hightower holds a bachelor’s in commercial banking and finance from the University of South Alabama. He attended the London School of Economics and earned an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management in 1990.
Hightower describes himself as a political conservative and he has sponsored legislation to establish a flat tax in Alabama. He supports a plan to overhaul Obamacare in favor of block grants given to states. Hightower believes that community colleges are vital to job training and economic development and that small government, low taxes and free enterprise promote job growth.
Hightower supports local control of public education decisions, school choice and competition in education.
Gov. Kay Ivey began serving as governor in April 2017 after the resignation of Robert Bentley. She was serving her second term as lieutenant governor, a position to which she was first elected in 2010.
Ivey was raised in Camden and graduated from Auburn University. She has worked as a high school teacher, a bank officer, a clerk in the Alabama House of Representatives, and later as assistant director of the Alabama Development Office. She was elected state treasurer in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.
She defines herself as a conservative on her official website. Among the initiatives she has said she was most proud of is a grade-level reading campaign with the goal of having all third-graders achieving grade-level proficiency or higher. She has proposed a pay raise for teachers and state employees. Prisons have been a continuing issue for Ivey. In her State of the Union address, she announced efforts to resolve issues for prison corrections staff, improve inmate health care and establish a team to evaluate and create a plan to address the prison infrastructure.
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Michael McAllister is one of the little-known candidates running in the race for governor.
He told BirminghamWatch in an interview that he is a former corrections officer, and the Alabama prison system would be his main focus as governor. McAllister believes his 10 years of experience at the Department of Corrections gives him an understanding of what’s needed to address the problems of the state’s prisons.
McAllister advocates for building new prisons on farmland the state would buy, razing the existing prisons and building new prisons on that property, as well.
McAllister also says he is against taxes on groceries and over-the-counter medicine.
McAllister said he is a veteran and served in the Vietnam War. He was raised in Tuscaloosa and has lived in Troy for the past 12 years.