There was a time all when statewide offices in Alabama were held by Democrats but oh how the years have changed the state's political landscape. Today, Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley is the only Democratic survivor.
The one single event that doomed the Democrats was the governor's race debacle of 1986. That's when Lt. Governor Bill Baxley (Lucy is his former wife) and Attorney General Charles Graddick were among those seeking the party's nomination. Not a single person considered either would lose to a Republican in the general election. Lose to a Republican? No way. After all, there had not been a GOP in the mansion since Reconstruction.
To put the dominance of the Democrats in perspective, nearly a million people would vote in the party's primary while the Republicans would usually draw only about 40,000 voters. Such was the case in 1986 when Graddick and Baxley became involved in a runoff while the little-known Guy Hunt had already secured the Republican nomination---not that many noticed.
Baxley was favored by moderates and liberals while Graddick was the choice among conservative Democrats. Trying to secure victory, Graddick encouraged Republicans who had voted in their party's primary to cross over and vote for him in the runoff. Enough of them did to give Graddick a 25,000 vote victory over Baxley.
The Democratic Party leadership, for the most part, favored Baxley so they challenged Graddick's nomination---claiming it was Republican votes that gave him victory. They argued--successfully---that a person could not vote in one party's primary then vote in the other's party's runoff.
While many legal scholars believe the court decision was judicially correct, the people of Alabama were furious. Even those who didn't vote for him felt Graddick should be the Democratic nominee because he got the most votes.
When November, 1986 rolled around Guy Hunt---likely to his own amazement---was elected governor of Alabama, receiving 56% of the vote. His election opened the door for the state Republican Party to become a political force.
Democrats have held statewide office since 1986. Jim Folsom, Jr. was a Democratic Lt. Governor who took over the state's top office when Hunt was impeached during his second term. Don Siegelman also served one term. But, the years have taken their toll on Democrats and, by the time 2010 rolled around, only Lucy Baxley remained--serving in what most consider a minor office.