Every…Vote… Counts

70 votes out of a total of 35,150 votes. A margin of victory of 0.2%. Wow.

stutts3That’s how close it was in the race for Senate District 6 between incumbent Democrat Senator Roger Bedford and Republican challenger Dr. Larry Stutts. Senate District 6, located in northwest Alabama, is comprised of Franklin,Colbert and parts of Lauderdale, Lawrence and Marion counties.

The initial results after the November 4th General Election showed that Dr. Stutts defeated Senator Bedford by a total of 60 votes after 35,150 votes had been cast. On November 12th, provisional ballots were counted and increased Dr. Stutts’ margin of victory to 67 votes. The State Canvassing Board, which includes the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General met on November 25th and officially certified that Dr. Stutts was the winner. This then triggered the automatic statutory recount for the race as the margin of victory was less than 0.5% of the total amount of votes cast. Yesterday, the recount was held and the preliminary results indicate that Dr. Stutts has increased his margin of victory to 70 votes.

AFA and ForestPAC endorsed and supported Dr. Larry Stutts in this election. It was a lonesome endeavor. Other than the state’s Republican Party and the Alabama General Contractors Association, there were no other statewide groups that gave him material support.

Bedford raised over $1.2 million for his race. Reviewing Senator Bedford’s campaign contribution report is like reading a “who’s who” of Montgomery insider politics. Notable among his contributors were the Alabama Banker’s Association ($10,000), Alabama Power Company ($20,000), Alabama Realtors Association ($22,000), AEA ($120,000), AT&T ($6,000), Auto Dealers ($10,000), Nursing Homes ($22,000), Hospital Association ($3,500), Drummond ($25,000), Alabama Farmer’s Federation ($44,000), Manufacture Alabama ($3,000), BCA ($6,000), Alabama Retailers ($5,500), Roadbuilders ($10,000) and Homebuilders ($10,000).

Contrast this with the $450,000 that Dr. Stutts had at his disposal, which included loans of over $215,000 that he contributed personally, and it is apparent that he had a formidable hill to climb to achieve his victory.

His ultimate win can be attributed to several factors.

First, he was a great candidate and will make a great Senator. As an accomplished physician, he is well known and respected in his community.

Second, he fostered and managed a vibrant grass roots support network. He worked hard to get his message out and tirelessly ran a positive campaign that focused on issues.

Finally, national dynamics were important. Turnout for this election was dramatically influenced by voter dissatisfaction, especially towards our federal leaders.

What did AFA do to help? We targeted our activities in two principal areas. First, we communicated to timberland owners in the district that Dr. Stutts was our choice and that he was our choice because he supported our foundational principles of limited government, protection of private property rights, promotion of free markets and adherence to the rule of law.

Next, we delivered the message that there was no longer a distinction between Alabama Democrats and the national Democratic Party. Alabama Democrats advocate Medicaid expansion and bigger government and oppose fiscal responsibility. This message was well received and signals that even in northwest Alabama, today’s Democratic Party is not the same party that our forefathers in Alabama once supported.

Were we influential to the outcome? YES. 70 votes was the ultimate difference. We touched over 15,000 likely voters with our message. Were we the sole reason for his victory? Of course not. Larry Stutts was the primary reason for victory. Barack Obama and Harry Reid were certainly helpful. But one thing is for sure, without our support, he might not have made it over the final hurdle.

70 votes. Wow!