The congressional race down in Mobile and the southern part of the state, district one, is about much more than just the names on the ballot. Much, much more. Let me explain why.
There are several other factors at play. Let me tell you about 3 of them. One is will the voters allow as DC based-group come in and tell them who to vote for? Will they let Club For Growth outright lie to them? Make no mistake that’s what the Club is doing when they say Bill Hightower is the most conservative in the race because he’s not.* The Club can be and often is swayed by consultants and power players who want their guy to win even if that means the right guy loses and that’s where they are in this race. Will voters of AL 01 let Club pick their next congressman? They shouldn’t.
The Club isn’t most important outside player in this race though. Another major player is the business community and more specifically their lobby the Business Coucil of Alabama.
The second factor is one of loyalty and respect. Someone should throw up a flare in the State House (not literally, lest I lose my press credentials and be banned) but legislators there, those who just got back to Montgomery need to be paying very close attention to what happens to Pringle in this race. Because this is a defining moment for the business community, the Business Council of Alabama and Katie Britt. This is their race to lose. This is their shot to miss. This is egg on their faces if they don’t come through. Will they or won’t they show lawmakers who go out on the limb for jobs and the economy the same loyalty and respect when they need it?
Let me be clear about what has happened: The best candidate, the most conservative candidate, the right candidate to go to D.C., Chris Pringle took a hard vote for the economic health and wellbeing of Mobile and district one (if not the whole state) and now he’s about to be the case study for the effectivness of the business community. Can business leaders, will business leaders step it up and put their money on the line to tell voters why Pringle’s vote mattered? Will they continue their deafining silence or will they convence them that he did the right thing. All the voters are hearing now is that Pringle betrayed them with his gas tax vote and it’s not that simple and it’s not true.
Lawmakers around the state are all about to learn the answer to the question, “If I stand with Alabama’s business community will they stand with me or will disappear when I need them the most?” Will they do the bare minimum or will they go all in?
Last year Katie Britt, Mark Crosswhite and all the members of the BCA pushed and proded and had their members push and prod legislators to pass the gas tax bill. Will they provide the calvary that is needed today to help members explain that vote? Will they match the financial investment others are making to get right the wrong message about it or will they watch as Pringle falls on a sword of the BCA’s creation?
If they do not fix this. If they do not go all in. If they do the bare minimum of lip service or bullsh*t endorsements that mean nothing without money behind them, big money in this case, backing them up, no legislator can or should trust them again. Lest lawmakers one day find themselves on the wrong side of a BCA sword too.
Last year it was the gas tax but what will they ask for this year or next or the one after?
The final player in this race can’t be left out. It wasn’t just the BCA either who pushed for the Mobile legislative delegations support. Richard Shelby was instrumental in getting the gas tax passed as he used it for a vehicle to strengthen the economic viability of the Port of Mobile by increasing its capacity. Pringle said it himself about Shelby, in a news story that described the benefits the tax would have on the port, “This is his (Shelby’s) No. 1 priority in getting that ship channel widened and deepened,” Pringle said.
The tax bill, also named the “Rebuild Alabama infrastructure package” included language that said funds from the tax increase would be used for the state match for the Alabama State Port Authority’s $400 million ship channel project.
It is worth noting that this huge Port project, with lifelong implications of jobs and growth for the state was the only specifically named project in Rebuild Alabama Act that wasn’t a road or bridge.
“When that wound up in the bill, there was no way to vote against it,” Pringle said. Pringle was right. He did what was best for Mobile
So Shelby got his number one priority and now it’s his turn to help someone who helped him.
Pringle didn’t just take the vote he stood by it and explained it. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he hadn’t made the vote and he’d be running away with this race if he hadn’t but I understand why he did and if the business community were to go all-in in this race they way they should voters may understand a little better too.
Without that vote his record would have made him a a shoe in for Congress. His record reflects a rare “true believer.” Pringle is as big a small government champion as any tea party candidate I ever met. His intentions are as pure as they come and the gas tax vote has all but ruined his otherwise lifelong record. A record that has been largely overlooked by his opponents who have painted his one vote as a defining one.
In a story about the gas tax vote Alabama State Port Authority CEO Jimmy Lyons said, “State lawmakers made a hard decision, and they made the right decision.”
Well let’s hope for the sake of the district the business community and Shelby step up and make the right decision now. Here’s looking at you, folks.
*Authors note: It’s also worth noting the Club has been wrong, dead wrong in the past. They primaried and spent over a million dollars against Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona. Gosar has been endorsed by them every single election since then. He’s won 100% ratings by the over and over again. The Club listened to outside consultants in that race just like they’re listening to them in this one.