Alabama's YouTube primaries

From Tim "We Speak English" James to Les "They're Not Going to Call Me a Racist" Phillip

Published June 1, 2010 3:45PM (EDT)

Alabama's primary elections are today! The candidates running for various offices include a man who hates foreign languages and sex offenders, a black Democrat who hates Obamacare, a white Democrat who became a Republican, a black Republican who hates Obama, and the guy who installed a giant, granite copy of the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse for attention a couple years ago. All of them have produced or been the subjects of crazy YouTube ads. It is everything wonderful and terrible about this nation in 2010 in one convenient place.

First, the gubernatorial race. Rep. Artur Davis is expected to win the Democratic nomination. Davis' House district is as safe as can be -- Obama won 73% of the vote there -- but he has long had his eye on on statwide office. That's why, according to David Jarman, Davis is "the least liberal member of the Congressional Black Caucus."

Running as a black Democrat to be governor of Alabama seems impossible in 2010. But Davis figured his best bet was just to just vote and act like a Republican. So he voted against healthcare. He turned on Charlie Rangel. The result: the state's established civil rights groups have endorsed Davis' white opponent, Ron Sparks.

Davis is ahead of Sparks in the most recent polls, but behind all the Republicans. The Republican front-runner is Bradley Byrne, notable mostly for the mysterious ad that accused him of believing in the theory of evolution.

This forced Byrne to deny the charges that he is a reasonable man who believes in 100-year-old scientific consensus. Don't worry, Alabama Republicans: Byrne is a religious nut.

Byrne's opponents for the Republican nomination are Tim James and Roy Moore. Moore is, of course, the famous Ten Commandments judge who ran for governor and lost four years ago.

Tim James is the guy who wanders around aimlessly saying folksy, down-home, ultra-right-wing cant into cameras:

And! Thanks in part to these wonderful ads, Tim James is expected to finish in second place and force a run-off.

Elsewhere in Alabama, Rep. Parker Griffith is running for reelection. Griffith was elected as a Democrat, voted as a Republican in order to appease his conservative constituents, and then decided to officially become a Republican, which is actually much more respectable than continuing to pretend to be a Democrat.

But many party-switchers find that switching parties just means two political parties now hate them. The local GOP endorsed both of Griffith's opponents.

One of those opponents is Les Phillip, who, of course, had his own insane YouTube ad go viral.

These are your candidates, Alabama. Choose wisely.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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