Alabama: Smith Doesn’t Show Ex-Opponent the Love

Posted October 20, 2008 at 6:23pm

Republicans who thought they had put the 2nd district’s nasty GOP primary behind them got a rude awakening Monday when state Sen. Harri Anne Smith (R) endorsed Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright (D) in his open seat race against state Rep. Jay Love (R).

“I wanted to stand up for Bobby Bright today because he is a man of strong character, and the people of this district deserve that,” Smith said Monday at a rally in Dothan to kick off Bright’s “truck tour” of the district’s 16 counties. “We need someone who understands hard work, loyalty, dedication. We need Bobby Bright.”

Smith and Love engaged in a bitter primary runoff over the summer that eventually turned so nasty that outgoing Rep. Terry Everett (R), who had stayed neutral throughout the race for the GOP nomination, stepped off the sidelines and called on both candidates to take down their negative ads and end the intraparty split that had developed.

Since the primary, Everett has been a strong supporter of Love’s and has appeared in ads for the GOP candidate. When Everett ran in the Republican primary in 1992, he won a regional battle that pitted his Dothan and rural southeastern “Wiregrass” base of support against a career politician who was based in the city and suburbs of Montgomery. That same regional battle played out this year in the GOP primary.

Smith hails from Dothan, while Love’s state House district and base of support is in and around Montgomery.

Bright has connections to both Montgomery, where he won a third term as mayor earlier this year, and the Wiregrass, where he was born and raised.

“Jay Love lied about my record just to further his own agenda, and now he’s lying about Bobby,” Smith said Monday. “This is not the type of man, not the type of character that the people of the Wiregrass want to send to Washington.”

In response, Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, accused Smith of endorsing Bright only because the Democrat agreed to help her retire her campaign debt.

“The circumstances surrounding this endorsement should eliminate all credibility from today’s announcement,” Hubbard said in a statement.

Smith then released a second statement saying the Alabama Republican Party “should be ashamed” of itself for its “slanderous accusation.”

“This just confirms that I made the right decision today,” Smith said.