Brown, Salaam will wage tough campaign

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Yusuf Salaam wouldn’t say much. LaTosha Brown said plenty.

Salaam gathered with a few friends and spent little time with the media.

Brown invited media into her campaign headquarters, smiled on the phone and thanked supporters for their help.

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That could well be the tone of the run-off election between Brown and Salaam for the Democratic nomination of the District 67 Alabama House of Representatives seat.

Brown is an out-going, baby-kissing candidate. She loves kids and accurately said that if kids voted, she wouldn’t have needed a run-off. In her campaign to win the June 25 run-off, she’ll do the same thing.

There’s no denying why Brown had little trouble making this run-off. Her connection with the New South Coalition paid off big. She had the support — both through buses and bucks — of the powerful political coalition headed by State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.

When New South commits to an election, when they dump all their resources into that election, they’re hard to beat (ask Joe Smitherman.)

As for Salaam, there are a couple of reasons why he won nearly 21 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

He and third-place finisher Glenn King battled for a voting bloc that formerly supported incumbent Ed Maull (who only won 5.9 percent of the vote).

On the grand scale, Salaam and King were neck-and-neck, and the two percentage points that separated them from the run-off spot (less than 200 votes) must be credited to Salaam’s experience in Selma politics.

Salaam served two terms on the Selma City Council, and anyone who knows much about east Selma knows Salaam has done a lot to help that area.

Salaam also raised a lot of money for his campaign. He spent the money on billboards, newspaper and radio advertisements. That exposure, coupled with name recognition, helped Salaam earn those extra 200 votes that gave him the edge over King.

King was a newcomer to Dallas County politics. He made a good showing, and in another election on another day, he may win a seat somewhere in local politics.

Now for the fun part — and where this all began. What should we expect?

Brown and Salaam both have a fundamental group of supporters in Dallas County. Salaam’s group has come from years of work in the city; Brown’s comes from grassroots work, a couple of failed election attempts and New South.

When candidates have base supporters, they also have base foes. Nothing will prove truer in the June 25 run-off. Salaam’s critics come directly from the New South organization. Salaam and New South butted heads in the 2000 mayoral election, and they’ll do the same again this election. New South didn’t give Salaam a passing chance in this primary, and Salaam proved them drastically wrong.

Brown, never questioned about her chance, also has a strong group of non-supporters. That group doesn’t necessarily dislike Brown — they just dislike New South. Brown will rely on New South to win, but she’ll need the support of other voters as well.


There’s not much to be said about incumbent Sheriff Harris Huffman’s big win over Michael Perry and Ulysses Ratcliffe.

When Huffman received the endorsement of New South, Perry couldn’t make up the needed ground. Perry is a relative newcomer to Selma politics and newcomers need help on first tries.

Huffman, on the other hand, may have not even needed an endorsement to win this election. He’s done nothing that would anger any bloc of voters, and that showed Tuesday night.

Sheriffs who stay away from controversy are hard to beat, and Huffman is a master at earning support from all groups of voters. In his first two terms, Huffman hasn’t made any big mistakes. In fact, he’s helped a lot of people out, and the people returned him a favor — and another four years in office.