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Bright and GOP: Let the games begin

Statesmanship notwithstanding, the endorsement of Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, a Democrat, by state Sen. Harri Ann Smith, a Republican, has the state party’s leadership crying foul.

Smith lost the run-off to Jay Love in July for the 2nd District congressional race.

Now, directly, this has nothing to do with our neck of the woods. Our congressman, Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat, pulls strong support from the Black Belt. He has worked hard for this area and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.

But in a greater sense, this tempest in the GOP teapot over Smith’s endorsement smacks of what’s wrong with our state.

The Times-Journal received an e-mail message Monday from John Ross, executive director of the Alabama Republican Party, that railed on about how Smith’s former campaign manager called Ross about a week ago and said Bright had offered to pay off Smith’s campaign debt of $150,000 in exchange for her endorsement, and if Alabama Republicans couldn’t come up with the same amount, she’d take Bright’s deal.

Bright and Smith say the Republicans are wrong about that.

OK.

There is not a thimbleful of difference on the issues in the 2nd District between Bright and Love. At a recent meeting, both said they wanted strong immigration laws, didn’t approve of the bailout for Wall Street and favor offshore drilling.

Let’s face it. Bright ran as a Democrat because the Democrats with money want a conservative in Congress who wears the banner, but talks Southern. Take a look at most Southern Democrats — they’re basically Republicans when standing toe-to-toe with Democrats from other states north of the Mason-Dixon Line or on the Pacific West.

Either way people vote in the 2nd District, they will get a conservative.

So what is this about?

As in all politics, it’s about the posturing and the money. If Bright, indeed, is successful as a conservative Democrat, then other so-called independent conservatives who slip over to the D side of the ballot will bring with them some conservative dollars.

Hardcore Republicans, who have stuck with the party and built it into a powerhouse, want those dollars to win. They want the posture. They seek the position that being a Republican will bring them.

It’s the cracks that begin to appear when those “mavericks” start talking about “crossing the aisle.”

It’s a danger for the solid GOP built up by Nixon’s plan to win his second term through his Southern strategy — the neocons.

So, let the games begin.