The Alabama Forestry Association came out for Bentley in 2014, and it is reasonable to expect this support will eventually include a donation to the governor’s campaignm, not that Bentley needs it. Already he has raised $542,500 in contributions, while his only declared opponent, Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George, has yet to raise the $25,000 required to begin reporting who makes the donations.
As for the Democrats — there are no Democrats.
It’s only natural for the Alabama Forestry Association to endorse Bentley, who might be the only governor who has actually loaded pulpwood, which he did when working in his father’s sawmill near Columbiana. Other governors have owned timberland. If another actually worked on a pulpwood truck, he did not list that among his campaign credentials.
However, the endorsement makes sense for another reason.
Whether he makes this point or avoids it, Bentley will run as the candidate of the status quo, and for many Alabamians, the status quo is just fine.
While much has been made about how the GOP has sought to bring in school choice and reduce the Alabama Education Association to a toothless tiger, in most areas where change could occur, Republicans have protected groups like the Alabama Forestry Association from any alterations in the system simply by doing nothing.
Of the special-interest groups in Alabama, the Forestry Association enjoys one of the most special arrangements the state can offer — a constitutionally protected, legislatively endorsed tax code that keeps forest land taxed at a rate far lower than other property, lower indeed that similar land in adjacent states. With the shortfalls, budget cuts and proration brought on by the Great Recession, there was almost no talk about increasing revenue by raising taxes on timberland. That was never on the table.
A governor who protected such a plum in the past and could be expected to protect it in the future would be the beneficiary’s governor of choice.
So the Alabama Forestry Association endorsed Gov. Bentley for re-election and in so doing endorsed the status quo. That should surprise no one.