AL-05, AL-Gov: Sparks Seeks to Revise Recent History

From the Huntsville Times:

State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks pledged to continue his bid for governor on Tuesday, saying there was “never a point” where he considered running for the North Alabama congressional seat held by Parker Griffith, who last week switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. […]

Sparks’ announcement comes after speculation that he was considering a run for Griffith’s seat.

Sparks criticized his Democratic opponent, Birmingham Rep. Artur Davis, of making it appear Sparks was running for Congress, and at one point, lieutenant governor.

Alright, I’ll say it: Who the hell does Ron Sparks think he’s fooling? Because he’s certainly not pulling a fast one on anyone who’s been paying attention to the political circus going on in northern Alabama over the past week. Let’s review the evidence.

On December 23rd, we noted that Sparks posted a status update on his Facebook page saying that he had been called by the DCCC and was giving thought to the campaign. In what seems to be a misguided effort to cover up its tracks, the Sparks campaign has removed that post from their Facebook profile. I didn’t have the foresight to save the text from that status update, but fortunately, the esteemed Reid Wilson did:

“As you may know, I received a call from the DCCC yesterday regarding the 5th congressional seat abandoned by Parker Griffith. We will be considering all of our options in the days and weeks ahead,” Sparks wrote in a status update.

Kind of pokes a fat freakin’ hole in Sparks’ statement that he never considered running for Congress, huh?

For days, this was how the situation was characterized by the local media:

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks also said he has not ruled out a run for the 5th Congressional District. He said he’s still planning to run for governor, but will talk to several people over the coming days before making a final decision.

If Sparks was so firmly committed to the gubernatorial race, why didn’t he shoot down such talk immediately? The answer, to you and I and everyone else who has been paying the slightest bit of attention, was that Sparks was actually giving the race some thought. As if you needed any further evidence, Sparks was quoted just last week as saying that he was mulling over the race with his advisers:

Sparks said Wednesday he is sticking with his campaign for governor for now. But Sparks said he will talk with advisers during the holidays and didn’t rule out a change.

“I need a lot of advice from people who understand politics a lot better than I do,” said Sparks.

Not only that, his campaign, as recently as Sunday spent a lot of time talking up his ability to win a 5th District race:

Justin Saia, Sparks’s campaign manager, would only say that the commissioner is “open to entertaining other options” – but then made the case for why his candidate would be formidable in the congressional campaign.

“He has won every county in the 5th twice,” Saia said, noting Sparks’s roots in north Alabama. […]

Saia said that Sparks “understands the complexities and dynamics of north Alabama,” a traditionally Democratic and populist-oriented part of the state, and pointed out that he has already won support from many local officials there in his gubernatorial bid.

Saia said the commissioner hasn’t yet made a decision about leaving the gubernatorial contest. He indicated that Sparks is interested in what sort of commitment the DCCC would be willing to make on a seat that has been in Democratic hands for over a century but could be hotly contested next year.

It was bad enough that Sparks flirted so openly with this race, only to turn around and decline the opportunity. It’s so much worse to spin yarns about how he never considered leaving the gubernatorial race at all.

I don’t know what Ron Sparks thinks he’s accomplishing here, but he’s succeeded in making himself look like a damned fool.

14 thoughts on “AL-05, AL-Gov: Sparks Seeks to Revise Recent History”

  1. This needn’t have been such a fiasco. Sparks has looked at enough offices that he probably shouldn’t have even considered it, but if he was going to then he should have stressed that he was considering it as a favour to the DCCC, then when he turned it down he should have said it was because he didn’t live in AL-05. He should then have endorsed one of the local candidates.

    Artur Davis still might have attacked him, but he’d have risked alienating Van Hollen by doing so and Sparks wouldn’t have verified all the attacks.

  2. And back then he certainly sounded like a gung ho populist Democrat … until he dropped out of contention for the US Senate because he didn’t want to face a little known state Senator in a Democratic primary.  That was the first crack in the facade.

    This year, Sparks was all over the map — publicly all over the map — about which office to run for.  His campaign for governor has been marked by missteps and botched opportunities.  They routinely roll out their big news on Friday, often in the afternoon.  The operation isn’t quite as bad as it was in May and June, but they are still struggling, and you eventually have to lay that blame on the guy at the top.  Sparks has publicly changed position on several big issues — unemployment benefits for part time workers, health care reform — and has generally sounded like he has no principles.  I had hoped Sparks would pull Davis to the left in the gubernatorial primary, but that just hasn’t happened.

    Either this guy was never who the netroots thought/hoped he was back in 2007, he’s had a major personality change or he’s acquired “handlers” for a state race that he would not have had for a federal office.  It’s been a disappointment to watch, but the local netroots have been frustrated with Sparks for most of 2009.  The public dithering and diversion attempt regarding AL-05 is entirely par for the course with Sparks circa 2009.  Very sad.  

  3. She knows what she wants and nothing is going to get in the way of her giving herself an honest shot at a US Senate seat.  

  4. During the past week, I have been honored and humbled by the encouragement I have received to run for the 5th Congressional seat. However, I have decided to continue my campaign for reelection to the Public Service Commission.

    I feel a strong commitment to continue the important initiatives I have begun on the Public Service Commission: working to keep utility rates low, educating consumers on how to save money by conserving energy, and working hard to stay engaged on a national and regional level to ensure Alabama’s interests are protected.

    Also, I have recently taken office as President of the Southeastern commissioners, and have been elected by my peers to become national president in 2011. These leadership roles are important to helping Alabama and other Southeastern states deal with the uncertain future of climate change legislation and energy production.

  5. I understad the change of gubernatorial race to AL-05 is an important decission for him. Booth seems very hard races for dems. Is not easy decide about change of race. I understand Sparks doubt.

    The people is talking excessively about Sparks and this possible change. We are not leaving him to think about.

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