Fayette businessman and former minor-league baseball player Kevin Bass announced Thursday he was throwing his hat in the ring for the 2014 Alabama governor's race. Bass' announcement makes him the third candidate in the race after incumbent Robert Bentley and republican candidate Stacy Lee George.
Attempts to reach officials with the Alabama Democratic Party on Friday were unsuccessful, as were attempts to reach Bass at his Fayette businesses, Bass Bats and Bass Gloves.
Bass' only political experience is an unsuccessful run for mayor of Fayette in 2012. He lost to incumbent Ray Nelson by more than 300 votes in the west Alabama city of about 4,000 residents.
Regardless of his lack of experience or presence on the political scene, Calhoun County Democrat Chairwoman Sheila Gilbert said the party is ready to accept any candidate willing to take on current Gov. Robert Bentley.
"I don't know the Democratic candidate who has announced his intention of running for Governor of Alabama, but Calhoun County Democrats feel sure that anyone with a heartbeat would be more compassionate and concerned about average Alabama citizens and their well being than the one we now have," Gilbert said, criticizing Bentley's refusal to expand Medicaid.
Gilbert isn't the only one unfamiliar with Bass. Calhoun County Republican Chairman Gene Howard said he had also never heard of the candidate. But getting a name, any name, on a statewide ballot is often a way for a struggling party to make a splash for an upcoming election season, Howard said.
"They're trying to push someone front, to the top of the ticket," Howard said. "Get someone running for governor, or lieutenant governor, and then fill in spots beneath them."
Howard noted Alabama Democrats are in a rough position going into 2014, having seen a major split in the party earlier this year when former Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy left to form his own Alabama Democratic Majority organization.
Bradley Davidson, the executive director of Alabama Democratic Majority, said the group had no comment on the candidate and were focused on legislative issues.
Gilbert said she thinks Bass' announcement will be the first of many for state offices in the upcoming weeks that will encourage more Democrats to run locally.
"Absolutely, I think this will be a spark," Gilbert said. "I think this is the time now where people are starting to make that decision.”
Bass, 34, who played minor-league baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization for several years, is the owner of Bass Bats and Bass Gloves, which manufactures baseball equipment. He told AL.com on Thursday he hoped to attract business to the state and fund education.
The Alabama primary will be on June 3.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.