It’s not because politically minded donors aren’t willing to cough up contributions. Instead, giving will be low because the primary is March 13, instead of in June, so the fundraising period is shorter. Despite this limitation, candidates for Alabama’s highest judicial office are on the fundraising trail because they know campaigning will be difficult without contributions.
If no Democratic candidate qualifies to run, whoever wins the Republican race will be the chief justice — shades of the days when Alabama was a one-party state.
Of the three candidates vying for the nomination, Mobile circuit judge and former state attorney general Charles Graddick has the largest war chest. With $346,519 in the bank and more coming in, he already is running television ads. If he raises his $1 million goal, he will become a familiar television name and face by the time the election rolls around. Incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone is running second with $269,515. He has waited for the Alabama-LSU football game to pass before starting his television ad campaign.
Both Graddick and Malone are getting money from business groups that feel those candidates will hand down business-friendly rulings that have become the hallmark of the Republican-dominated court.
The third candidate, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, is not getting this sort of fiscal support. He announced that he will not accept money from special-interest groups, and he isn’t getting any. Supporters who Moore describes as “friends of mine who believe in what I stand for” have contributed $78,000. It appears Moore will have to rely on name-recognition already in place rather than a well-financed ad campaign to introduce himself to people who do not know him.
Once again, Alabama is witnessing how important money is in a modern political campaign. And because money is important, who gives the money becomes important as well. Although this editorial board has not supported Moore in his quests for higher office, he should have the same opportunity as other qualified candidates to get his message across. However, the way campaigns are financed today, that is not likely to happen.
When the election is over, the victor will owe his victory as much to the interests and individuals who paid for his campaign as to the people who voted for him.