Friday was the deadline for candidates to qualify for the Alabama Democratic and Republican Party primaries. Of the six local offices up for election — not including the Calhoun County Board of Education — only three Democrats qualified to run, leaving Republicans to duke it out with each other or just run unopposed.
Primary elections are March 13.
“We’re still kind of reeling from the last election,” said Sheila Gilbert, chairwoman of the Calhoun County Democratic Party, referring to the November 2010 elections in which Republicans took control of the Alabama Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.
Gilbert said there are still many Democrats in the state and many who would like to run for office one day. Just not right now.
“There is a major silent majority of Democrats out there … taking notes on Republican policies,” Gilbert said. “But they’ve thought that at this time, the time is not right to run … but maybe with the next election.”
Gene Howard, chairman of the Calhoun County Republican Party, said his party’s current domination of state politics had been building for some time.
“There is a rise in conservatism — more who identify themselves as conservatives than moderates or liberals,” Howard said. “People are appalled with the national leadership of the Democratic Party and this is their response to it and liberalism.”
Statewide, Republican allegiance has been seen growing at least since 1986, the year of a bitter fracture between factions of the Democratic Party in the primary campaign for the gubernatorial nomination. Voters disgusted by the dispute that year placed a little-known Cullman County Republican named Guy Hunt in the governor’s chair.
Howard said his party has more people working for it than ever before due to the rise in conservatism.
“It’s a good feeling to see this develop over the last two years,” he said.
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.