Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox exploring run for governor

Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox exploring run for governor
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has formed a political committee to explore the possibility of a campaign for Governor of Alabama next year.

Maddox’s announcement said after Alabama has lost a governor, Chief Justice and Speaker of the House “under a cloud of shame" over the last two years, “Alabamians deserve better” and he said that he is ready to “make Alabama proud again.”

Maddox, a Democrat, also said that he has been urged to change political parties to benefit a potential campaign but called such a move “dishonest” and says Alabama has had enough dishonesty.

Stephen Borrelli, a political science professor at the University, said that since Maddox has won campaigns as a Democrat in the past and has worked productively with Republican governors and members of Congress, Maddox may be less disadvantaged by the Democratic label than most Alabama politicians would be.

“The Republican strategy with all Alabama Democrats is to find some linkage between the candidate and unpopular national leaders, like Pelosi, Obama and the Clintons, and party positions,” Borrelli said. 

“Unlike a member of Congress, who would have a public voting record for support for the party on hot-button issues, and for Speaker of the House, and who has received financial assistance from the national party and party leaders, Maddox can largely avoid this kind of linkage. His biggest possible vulnerability would be any past history of supporting other Democrats, financially or otherwise, attending a Democratic national convention, etc.”

Borrelli also said that while Maddox has had success as a Democrat in the past, a run for governor could highlight his stances on issues where Republicans and Democrats have different positions.

“One possible awkward issue for Maddox might be immigration, which Alabama Republicans like Sessions and Strange have pushed to the top of the agenda,” Borrelli said. “Maddox has tried to promote Tuscaloosa as an international-friendly, diverse community, both because of the University presence and for economic development reasons. This stance may come back to haunt him in his gubernatorial campaign.”

Hunter Hammock, an international studies student at the University and programs director for The University of Alabama College Democrats, has lived in Tuscaloosa since 2000 and said that he believes in Maddox’s ability to win as a Democrat. 

“He will win because the people of Alabama hate corruption,” Hammock said. “All three branches in Montgomery had their leaders removed this term. We’re a laughing stock as a state, tantamount to Mississippi. But I wholeheartedly believe most Alabamians will go with Walt and agree with him when he says we need to ‘make Alabama proud again.’”

Hammock also said that Maddox has the ability to reach across the aisle. Maddox has worked with a president and a governor from different parties to revitalize and rebuild Tuscaloosa during his time as mayor and Hammock believes that Alabamians will choose Maddox just as he has.

“I voted for him this past March for his fourth term as mayor and I will proudly vote for him in next year’s democratic gubernatorial primary,” Hammock said. “With all these Montgomery insiders going to jail and being forced to leave office and all the backroom deals and using religion to justify discrimination, we need to start acting like a damn democracy.”

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