Will Barfoot and the art of the political mulligan

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With the election of President Donald Trump, the true spirit of the Republican Party — small government and fiscal conservatism — is even more popular than it was during Ronald Regan’s presidency. This especially true in Alabama where Trump’s approval rating hovers around 63 percent.

It’s no wonder why candidates in competitive primaries across the state are running to the right, regardless of the political ideologies, hoping to woo a segment of the electorate that loves Trump and loathes Democrats. That’s why it’s important for voters to look beyond what candidates are saying in trying to align themselves with Trump, but to also look at what they’ve said and done in the past.

Flash-back to 2006

12 years ago, Montgomery-attorney Will Barfoot ran for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s Senate District 25 seat, which covers parts of Elmore, Montgomery and Crenshaw counties.

Ultimately he was bested by Larry Dixon in the primary, but not before Dixon and his other GOP opponent Suzelle Josey pointed out that they didn’t believe Barfoot was Republican enough. They believed he was cozying up to Democrats for donations a bit too much for GOP-comfort and criticized his willingness to accept support from anyone.

In May 2006, the Montgomery Advertiser doubled-down on the accusations against Barfoot  when one of their staff writers wrote a piece titled “Candidate crossing party lines,” detailing how Barfoot said he welcomed “support from the Democrat-aligned Alabama Education Association, a group the Alabama Republican Party has come out against with a resolution not to take campaign money from the powerful teachers’ lobby.”

“AEA union boss Paul Hubert has tried basically to buy the State house and run the Democratic agenda, said then Alabama Republican Party Chair, and current Lt. Governor-hopeful, Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh told the Advertiser.. “We frown upon anybody taking the money.”

Taking home only 32 percent of the votes, the election was a swing and a miss for Barfoot, who’s steered clear of running for office again the past decade.

2018 election

Fast-forward 12 years later and we find Barfoot is taking a mulligan.

Having learned his lesson in 2006 — and hoping to cash in on a forgetful electorate — he’s now running as an über-conservative. Gone are the days of trying to woo Democratic supporters, Barfoot has yet to take a check from a Democratic organization’s (according to his campaign finance reports anyway) this election cycle. Instead, he’s touting himself as the anti-career politician with out-of-the-box ideas.

Senate District 25

The seat is currently held by Pike Road-Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker who announced in November 2015 that he will not seek re-election.

Barfoot faces Vice-Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission Ronda Walker  in the June 5 Republican primary.

The winner go to face whomever advances from the Democratic primary: David Sadler or Frank Snowden in the November 6 general election.

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