Marching in the army of the Lord
Five days in the gubernatorial campaign of Judge Roy Moore
by Will Nevin
Roy Moore seems unable to slink back into the hole where he crawled from as news broke of his ambitions to run for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. While he stands little chance of being taken seriously as a candidate, the news did call to mind the first time he ran for governor, my five-day stint in his campaign and this story. Written in 2006, it does show its age somewhat (and it could use a good re-write on my part), but I think it’s still good insight into the kind of people that would pick Moore for president.
The AP had called the election. Despite all the spreadsheet wrangling and vote tallying, there was no hope for the candidate to win, as he was being beaten handily in the early returns. In a call from the state headquarters to the candidate some 150 miles away, an adviser urged the candidate to concede the race. The decision to accept defeat was made, and the candidate gave what was, by all accounts, a gracious speech.
But it wasn’t shown in the state headquarters as the local television station had missed it.
The political life of Roy S. Moore was bleeding out into the muggy Alabama night, and no one seemed to give a damn.
Alabama wants MOORE values put back into our government
I believe that Alabama is ready for a breath of fresh air. We need to stand up for GOD and ourselves and vote for Moore. Do not let them keep taking God out of everything. Also we need an honest man who is for the people not his pocket. All state employees should vote for him for a change. Riley TOOK state jobs and cut salaries. He said he created jobs but no he didn’t. I was working a dept. in the state that he shut down over a year ago for no reason. He said it was save tax payers dollars – BUT how in the world the dept. cost the tax payers anything when it generated and made it’s own money. Employees, supplies and equipment was paid for by the what the dept. made on sales of printing. So how did that cost tax payers? No it gave him and others a little more in their pocket. Also he did give us 2 5% pay raises THIS YEAR (DURING ELECTION YEAR) just to get back good with state employees in hopes of a vote. But I guarantee you when and if he is re-elected he would put a freeze back on state employees pay and we won’t see another raise again for a long long time. So think about it people. Do you want someone liek that to stay in office here? Vote for Moore!!!!
Posted by mfulmer at 2006-06-01 12:30:38
Public posting at judgeroymoore.net
Roy Moore strode briefly unto the national stage in 2003 when he was removed as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after defying a federal court order to move a granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state’s judicial building. Two years later, he announced his intentions to run for governor.
I didn’t understand Moore, his logic or his supporters. To get a better handle on what he was about, I decided to volunteer for his campaign. For five days – the Friday before the election until Election Day – I would do whatever the campaign would have me do. I didn’t want Roy to win, but I would work honestly and do everything requested of me.
The high water mark of the campaign came in January 2005 when Moore held an 8 point lead in a poll conducted by the University of South Alabama. Since then, the state has seen a budget upturn and Gov. Bob Riley’s competent handling of several natural disaster, events that sent Moore’s poll numbers into a tailspin. The most recent polls had Riley running at 69 percent compared to Moore’s 26 percent. The stage was set for a defeat – and an epic one at that.
Still, some questions lingered. Would voters pick the GOP primary over its Democratic counterpart, a snoozer of a race that featured former Gov. Don Siegelman (a man currently on trial) going up against a well-liked incumbent lieutenant governor? How would the constitutional amendment to ban the recognition of same-sex marriage effect turnout? And wasn’t the date of the election – 6/6/06 – just creepy?
I would first have to drive to Montgomery, Alabama’s state capital and the state headquarters of the campaign.
It is about time an HONEST man runs for governor. Judge Roy Moore is than man. Like another post said, since when did it become a crime to acknowledge God. I for one will always stand up for my creator. So much of this is common sense. Thankfully my Lord created me, and everyone else with common sense. Many just choose not to use, and as a result, appear to be lost. It is as if what I am thinking about this entire political landscape of this state and this country comes out of Judge Moore’s mouth and I agree with every bit of it. I will vote for the Judge on Tuesday…. not that other guy. And I am sad to say that I voted for Riley the first time around. OOOOOps… what a mistake that was!!!!!
Posted by AlanJ at 2006-06-01 02:32:59
I drove to Montgomery under a moody grey sky and arrived around 5 p.m. under the cover of a pesky, persistent rain. After finding my hotel, the next destination was the Moore campaign headquarters. I wanted to go to see if there was anything I could do – even though it was after business hours.
My first official contact with the campaign was May 31, the Wednesday before the election. I called and asked to speak to the staffer in charge of volunteers. The girl answering the phone, Chelsea, wanted to know why I was calling. I told her I was interested in volunteering for the campaign. She then told me (after mistaking me for a woman – no hard feelings, Chelsea) all I had to do was show up, and the campaign would find work for me.
Before I left the hotel, I took the time to do a simple chore. Using a rust colored quarter and fingernails cut to the quick, I scraped the remains of a forgotten and faded sticker from my truck’s left bumper. It had been covered by another sticker for about a year, and when it was pulled off, there was nothing left but the edges of my bumper banner since 2004.
The squat building playing host to the Moore central operations center was only about a half mile from my Best Western. It took more than six miles, however, of rush hour driving to get to headquarters due to the confusing (or at least I thought so) system of Montgomery highways, service roads and one-way streets.
When I arrived at 6, an exodus for home had already begun. The staff of the brightly lit office covered with six-foot long posters and signs had surely put in a long, hard week at work – they deserved some time off and a Friday night to themselves. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going, so I stood there for a few moments as the energy of the campaign circled around me.
Finally, someone directed me to a volunteer form, and I gave them the required information – name, address, telephone number and the church I attended. They gave me two yard signs, a list of Moore-back candidates for statewide office and a phone number to call along with instructions to show up tomorrow.
I left headquarters with my first taste of what the Moore campaign would be like. When I returned to the hotel, the blue scraps of a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker were still fluttering in the breeze.
how to get things done
it is time for churches to get involved.we have kept politics out of our churches and look what kind of shape we are in now.if we don”t the time is soon coming we will not have the right to have church.the answer is get involved now with a man of GOD AND PRAY PRAY PRAY.this may be our last chance to have someone take a stand like ROY MOORE has!
Posted by saved at 2006-05-18 10:46:45
When I returned to headquarters on a warm Saturday afternoon at around 3:45, there were exactly four people there: a woman talking frantically to operatives in a side room, her two young 5 or 6 year-old children clad in Moore campaign t-shirts and Hosea.
Hosea was a tall, lanky guy with carefully styled blond hair, frozen in place above his large, peering glasses. Carrying a black attaché case stuffed with campaign materials, he looked like he belonged in the political foxhole we found ourselves in, and he floated in a professional air despite seeming only a few years older than myself. As the woman continued on the phone with her children playing at her feet, Hosea and I almost immediately took to one another. We talked about the other gubernatorial candidates, laughing about the outrageous position Siegelman finds himself in. Hosea insightfully pointed out how our ex-governor was somehow using the trial to his advantage in touting his candidacy in post-trial news conferences. We shared another laugh over a Moore associate, Tom Parker, lampooning his opponent in Alabama’s chief justice race, the incumbent Drayton Nabers, as a “Jimmy Carter-style liberal.”
And then Hosea lost me.
He said he hadn’t seen any polls (He was too bright to miss them.), and he said the Moore campaign had all the momentum. (Those polls said it didn’t.) He called Moore a new American hero, one for the 21st century. He said Moore and other military officers had sworn to defend against enemies both foreign and domestic. He cited an ex-prisoner of war that said those domestic threats are now more serious, and he gave me the distinct impression he agreed with that assessment.
In the span of a few minutes, Hosea had won me over and sent me packing.
Just as with the rest of the campaign and Moore, I could agree with them – to a point. Moore was a self-made man with a compelling story, but his flagrant disrespect for the legal precedent made him unpalatable for anyone remotely familiar with constitutional law. Hosea was a smart guy – what sort of brainwashing got him here?
Finally, the woman got off the phone, and she left her office a few feet away to talk to me. The street corner sign waving I had been promised yesterday was apparently carried out early this morning, she said, and the campaign was shutting down, at least on an official level, until the end of the weekend.
On Monday, the day before the election, Moore was planning a statewide barnstorming tour, going from Birmingham to Huntsville to Mobile to Dothan to, finally, Montgomery. In an afternoon stop in our fair state capital, Moore was giving a speech at 4:30 to energize the troops. After I expressed my interest in poll watching on Tuesday, I gave the campaign my contact information a second time. I was promised the local coordinator, George, was going to call me first thing on Monday. I’d have to wait and see.
The rest of the weekend was my own. After I asked if there was anything I could do on Sunday, I was handed two bricks of pamphlets with ambivalent directions on what to do with them. Surely, I’d find something to do.
I left the headquarters with Hosea, pamphlets and Monday itinerary in tow. As we walked out, my new friend thanked me for making the drive from Tuscaloosa and supporting the campaign.
Driving back to the hotel, I wondered who had more idea of what they were getting into: the two tykes in the Moore garb or me.
At least Hosea looked like he knew what he was doing.
Without an acknowledgement of God the State religion is Atheism under the full force of the Federal bayonet. Some argue that Atheism is not a religion. But clearly, Atheist are Secular Humanist, believing themselves to be gods. I support the Honorable Mr. Moore’s conclusion that it is the acknowledgement of God that gives mankind freedom of conscience. Let’s rally around the Moore campaign remembering Mark Twains words, “In the beginning of change, the Patriot is a scare man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for it cost nothing to be a patriot”.
Posted by Jay at 2006-01-11 11:10:57
“Excuse me, (ma’am/sir), can I interest you in some literature from the Roy Moore campaign?”
The words, while they came out of own mouth, seemed almost foreign, like I was talking in another language or someone else was controlling what I said.
It was a sunny, warm Sunday afternoon, and I was standing in front of a Sam’s Club near my hotel under a brilliant sky flaked with wispy clouds. I was handing out the pamphlets the campaign gave me on Saturday, driven by some odd determination to not let the brochures go to waste.
Along with a biography and pictures of the judge and his family, the pamphlet gave a run down of the campaign’s platform, “Return Alabama to the People”:
1. Legislative reform – Stop power of special interest lobbyists and return control of government to the people of Alabama.
- Term Limits. No legislator should be allowed to serve 3 consecutive terms in the same office, a provision already in effect for other constitutional officers.
- Fewer Legislative Sessions. The Alabama legislature should hold regular sessions every other year, as it has done during three periods of our history.
- “Double-Dipping.” Iron-clad legislation to stop the unethical practice of legislators holding two state positions for profit, making them taxpayer-paid lobbyists for special interests.
2. Education – Recognize freedom in education and return control of education to the parents.
- Eliminate education bureaucracy and control of special interest labor union bosses.
- Explore enhancements to the public education system such as: charter schools, private tax credits, (SGO) scholarships granting organizations, etc.
3. Taxation and wasteful government spending – Restore a conservative philosophy of government.
- Just say “No” to irresponsible taxes like the “largest tax increase in history” recently proposed by the current administration.
- Revoke order mandating annual reappraisals of property which result in increased taxes every year.
- Stop “pork barrel” spending by strengthening the Governor’s veto power.
4. Illegal aliens – Secure Alabama citizenship.
- Urge the President and U.S. Congress to close U.S. borders to illegal entry.
- Effective legislation to impose fines and penalties on those who employ illegal aliens for their own profit.
5. Morality – Preserve our moral heritage.
- Defend the right of every person to include teachers, judges, and state, county and municipal offices to publicly acknowledge God as the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government.
- Oppose gambling, pornography, and same-sex marriage.
- Secure God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.
I had ideological qualms with entirely too many of these proposals to be handing them out in a convenient, easy-to-spread medium. Holding fewer legislative sessions would bring chaos to state government as budgets, based primarily on wildly fluctuating sales taxes, would have to be done a year in advance. Our public schools won’t get any better when their money is flowing to richer, more exclusive private schools. And I’m not really big on the government enforcing morality.
Yet I gave out nearly 100 of those brochures – somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 or so to be exact (kind of).
From 3:30 until 4:20 or so, I stood in front of that bulk-buying haven, spreading the gospel of Roy to anyone who would gladly accept. Most responses were surprisingly kind – even those that wanted nothing to do with the campaign. The people I solicited simply took the pamphlet with a nod or a “Thank you.” However, I did get some colorful responses: “Forget that. I ain’t votin’ for him,” “I wouldn’t vote for him if he was the last one running” and, simply, “Absolutely not.”
At about 4, a sheriff’s deputy walked out of the store and stood beside his cruiser parked some 20 feet from where I was standing. Knowing that I was on private property and likely breaking a store policy against solicitation, I could be asked to leave at any time. The deputy lingered on for 20 minutes before he sauntered to me and asked what I was doing (as if he couldn’t tell.) I told him I was passing out campaign literature, and he replied that the store ran people off yesterday and that I would have to leave – the gig was up at Sam’s, at least.
At least two people told me they were already voting for Moore when I hassled them. The first was a big, strapping man who pined fondly for the days when votes were bought with alcohol. The second was a middle-aged woman with a “six month and one week” old baby girl. I helped her unload her cart as I was leaving Sam’s.
From Sam’s, I drove to the closest retail mecca, Montgomery’s Eastdale Mall. The puffy clouds had gone away, replaced by a mottled grey shroud. Rain was coming.
The responses at the mall were much the same – mostly neutral, some positive and a few that tickled me. One woman declined a pamphlet saying, “I don’t believe in government.” (“Well, ma’am, Roy Moore is the candidate for you,” I thought.) Another man, after I had given him the leaflet without explaining what it was, took one look and said, “You can have that back.”
Of course, I was run off after a while. This time, a mall security officer told me I was breaking the law (what law, I wasn’t sure), and I had to stop. I did so gladly – I was hungry, and the mall was about to close.
After dinner, I was left with a problem: out of the bundle I started with, I still had a handful to give out. By god, I was going to finish what I started.
Driving down the road, I found a red brick Wal-Mart nestled in a massive shopping center. If I couldn’t give the rest of the bundle out here, there was nowhere else my meager few would find a home.
It was a few minutes after 6 in the evening. Storm clouds, gathering visibly in the sky, were threatening to soak me if I didn’t finish my job. When the first peal of thunder rang out, I could count the remaining few on two hands. When the first drops of rain began, I was down to one – a single, solitary pamphlet.
I stood there begging, pleading someone (anyone) to take it, to relieve me of my self-imposed burden. As I began to soak up water, I thought I was doomed to failure. Soon, though, a wonderful woman came along, one who was already pledged to Moore. At first, she didn’t want it, seeing as how she needed no further convincing. But, when I gave her my sad, sad story (one more pamphlet and I could go home), she took it.
I was free.
I was now left to wait for the Monday morning call that would give me instruction for the rest of my time in Montgomery.
Until then, I was left alone to think about what happened at Eastdale.
At the mall, there was a little black child, maybe seven or eight years old, that asked for a brochure. I gave it to him with a smile.
As he walked away, I nearly cried as I thought, “My god, what have I done?”
I can’t vote for you
Dear Mr. Moore,
My name is Sarah. I live in Florida. I can’t vote for you. Even if I moved to Alabama I could not vote for you. I can’t vote for 7 more years. Me and my Dad watched a video about you that we got from Vision Forum. When I watched it I felt sorry for you loosing your job, but then after, I felt sorry for those people who forgot Christ is our savior. My Dad supports you. We prayed together that God wise raise up an army of Godly menlike you to save our nation. Almost as soon as we prayed, he told me you were trying to be the Govenor of Alabama. He is from Alabama, but he lives with me here in Florida. This means he can’t vote for you either. He says as soon as we can sell our car he is going to send you money to use in your campaign. I am saving my money to help you to. My birthday is December 6th. I told my Grandfather instead of a present for me, I want him to give me money so that I can help you become a govenor. I have $50 already to give, but I do not have a credit card. My dad said he will help me before you run against the other republican. I will also pray for you every night. I will also ask all the people I go to church with to pray for you to. Do you want to be president someday? We campained for Mr. Perouka last year. He sent me a letter saying thank you. My Dad said he did not get many votes, but that he was by far the best man for the job. I ask my Dad to run for president, but said he does not like to make speaches. He says he even gets nervous when he goes to court and no one is even there. Thank you for running for govenor. When you are through maybe you can come to Florida and be our govenor.
Posted by Floridagirl at 2005-11-05 10:28:45
My day started somewhere around a hazy 9:30 a.m. As the cell phone rang, I shot up in bed, snapped from a perfectly good sleep.
“Hello.” I said groggily.
“Is this William Nevin?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.
It was George.
He asked me a few questions – I can’t remember too many of them (people really shouldn’t call me in the mornings) – and we set up a meeting for a more decent hour of the day, 1 p.m.
After lying in bed for a few more hours, I did manage to meet George at the campaign office by 1. I was even a few minutes early, giving me time to chitchat with the wonderful women working the phones. George, as it turns out, was running late as his vehicle was getting some work done at the shop. Someone called him – he was on his way.
George made it there a few minutes later. He was a tall strapping man in his late fifties/early sixties. A snow-white beard buttressed his thick salt and pepper hair, and he was dressed in a pale yellow polo shirt and khakis. George was a man that looked like he had some authority (I found out later he was in charge of a three county area). He was the kind of man that looked hard, but you could see there was kindness.
Following some brief introductions, we went back to his office, a private broom-closet sized room tucked in the back of the headquarters. The room was sparse, decorated by a desk with an office chair, a high backed quilted chair no more than a foot away and a chicken suit resting on a pole – George said he didn’t know how the chicken suit got there.
We talked about what I was interested in doing (poll watching on Tuesday) and what I was doing today (nothing aside from the afternoon rally at 4:30). George said he had some 4 by 8 foot signs to put up and asked if I would help. I told him I’d be glad to.
From there, I followed George down the office and into a short hallway holding a pile of lumber and several giant corrugated signs leaning against the wall. We were going to put up three today, so I needed to load George’s truck with six signs (they were one sided only), six 2x4s and enough thin crossbars to build the simple wooden frames that would proclaim Roy’s candidacy to anyone within a mile.
I had taken four or so boards out to the truck (and puzzled over the dilemma of getting 8-foot-long boards into a midsized truck bed) when George stopped me.
It was time for a prayer service.
In the middle of the office, the campaign came to a stop. Staffers dropped whatever they were doing and met in a circle. After the office manager read a short Bible passage, we all joined hands, bowed our heads and began to pray. One member of the circle started to pray aloud, and the prayer just passed from person to person. Hosea, the person standing next to me, was the second person to speak up as the room filled with his rich, elegant baritone.
They were prayers asking for strength. They were prayers asking for guidance. They were prayers that, on at least one occasion, acknowledged the reality that the campaign was desperately behind.
While the prayers were ongoing, they were periodically interspersed with shouts of “Hallelujah” and “Thank you, Lord.” As the prayer stretched into five, maybe 10 minutes, the voices became more intertwined and fused, rising and falling like an undulating wave. With my eyes closed, I could hear someone – maybe two or three people – repeatedly saying the same syllable – “la, la, la” – in a sing-song voice as if they were warming up for some unseen angelic choir.
They were speaking in tongues. It was not half-crazed or lost in passion. It was a simple acknowledgment that the Holy Spirit had taken them away – away from the stresses of the campaign, away from that office in that squat gray building and away from themselves.
After the prayer went ‘round and ‘round the circle as the circle expanded to include those just coming into the office, we broke the ring to kneel down and pray. When that final prayer was over, we stood and joined hands once more to sing a hymn. The sweet strains of a dozen or more voices filled the office space as a real spiritual presence descended upon the room.
It was holy. It was precious. And I felt like such an outsider – an infidel in the midst of the faithful, a relative pagan in a pilgrim’s land.
When the service was over, George and I finished loading the truck and set out for a list of addresses he had scribbled on a piece of salmon colored paper. The conversation was slow at first. Then, as we began to get more comfortable with one another, the talk began to flow more freely. He asked me about my faith; I told him I was raised in the church (and I was). George said the country was wandering away from its moral foundation. We both lamented the cruelty of the February string of church arsons in the state. George said he couldn’t understand what drove homosexuals.
Spending a just day with George was enough to learn that he was a good man. He was earnest, kind and treated everyone with respect. He wasn’t a fanatical homophobe or a zealot. George, I think, was just resistant to change. During his lifetime, our society has gone from closed and restrictive to wide-open and accepting. Change is almost too much to bear for some, especially when it comes at blinding fast speeds.
Our first houses came in predominately poor, black neighborhoods. The address listed at the top of George’s list was nowhere to be found, but we did find a house at the end of the street willing to accept a few of the standard yard signs. At the next house, we found a yard stacked with three signs preaching the gospel of Roy, but the man of the house underestimated the girth of the 4×8 sign and turned us down.
George then got a call about an apartment building looking to put up one of our monstrosities, but it didn’t make any sense. How were we going to put up a giant sign at an apartment building? After some hunting, we eventually found the place, an older apartment building tucked away on an anonymous Montgomery side street, and as we pulled up, a ring of people were sitting under a shade tree in the building’s front yard, staring at us as wisps of trash blew in the wind.
Since an apartment manager couldn’t be found, George decided to stick a smaller sign in the yard and hope for the best. George told me he wanted to find someone to ask for permission, but he didn’t know what else to do. We then drove out of the poorer neighborhoods headed in the direction of our last address, still carrying six huge signs and enough wood to build a nice fire.
When we found our fourth stop and our third address, we knew that this was the place. It was a gorgeous, whitewashed antebellum home, surrounded by a grove of trees and protected from the frontal assault of prying eyes by a thick bamboo thicket. George rang the doorbell, and Deborah Jean (“like the only female judge in the Bible”) walked out to greet us. After calling Roy governor (“prophesy”), she took us to a spot in front of the thicket where we could put the sign with express directions not to harm the bamboo. Deborah Jean then went back into the house.
And the men went to work.
Or at least George did.
George worked quietly. While many men would have swore while sweating under the hot Alabama sun, George just went about his business. Once, though, he did make something of a grumble as he knelt in the dirt in his nice pants: “I think when this is all over, I’m going to send Moore my cleaning bill.”
After the holes were dug, we began to build the frame that would support the sign. I held the boards as George sawed two feet from both, and then I held the crossbars as George nailed them to the 2x4s. Sweat poured from the man and gathered in little droplets on the sign, but we pressed on. Soon the frame was finished, and we began to nail the plastic sign to it – I even got in a few swings of the hammer.
When the sign was securely in place, we raised it frame and all and lowered in into the waiting postholes. The dirt was replaced, and wood scraps were arranged to support the sign. Our work was finished. Climbing back in the truck covered in dirt and sweat, we drove to the end of the road, stopped, put the truck into reverse and drove back to place a regular order yard sign on another part of Deborah Jean’s property.
Tired and thirsty, George stopped at a gas station to get some drinks before giving me a driving tour of Alabama State and Huntington, two Montgomery-based colleges. George and I then set off for the 4:30 afternoon rally at Vaughn Road Park, billed on the press release Hosea gave me on Saturday as Moore stopping to “speak to a group of young supporters.”
Roy had started the day in Birmingham at 7 a.m. From there, he went north to a meeting in Huntsville, then flew due south to the other end of the state for a fish fry in Mobile. At 2:30, he was due for a rally at a restaurant in Dothan. Two hours later, he was set to greet the troops in Mobile. North, south, east and west – Roy was covering all parts of Alabama the day before the election.
The park, nestled under a hill next to a busy intersection, was jumping when George and I arrived. Roy’s youth brigade, a group of fervent teen and pre-teen supporters all dressed in matching campaign t-shirts, were all standing next to the road waving campaign signs and posters supporting the judge. They hopped, screamed, hooped and hollered – their energy was infections.
Still exhausted, George and I were content to observe the festive atmosphere. I asked George where the campaign was meeting on Election Night, expecting the typical large meeting hall, but I was disappointed to discover that today was the only day I’d get to see Roy – he would be awaiting election returns at his home base in Gadsden. The Montgomery campaign office, however, would be open, and I would be able to watch the results roll in there.
As it began to get closer to 5 (the pushed back starting time for the rally), the small park began to fill with Roy’s supporters. I got out of the truck to help take supplies to a small pavilion about a quarter mile from the parking lot where Roy would be speaking.
Hosea was at the pavilion when I got there. Still looking smart in slacks and a polo shirt, he was milling about like the rest of us, waiting on the judge to arrive. I tried to strike up a conversation, but he didn’t seem to be interested in talking to me. I got the distinct impression that Hosea felt he had some level of superiority over me, that he was the master political operative and I was but a subservient grunt. George’s kindness and affability was reflected in Hosea’s cold professionalism. One was doing it because he loved and respected Roy Moore. The other? Perhaps there were different, not so selfless motives.
As I stood at the end of a long and twisting path that lead from the parking lot to the pavilion, I could see a crowd building. Then, it began to creep toward me.
Roy had arrived.
Watching the crowd move was surreal. It reminded me of a one-cell organism from a long-ago science class; it lived and breathed, a living creature with Roy surrounded by his legion as the two slowly moved as one down the path. Time seemed to grind to halt as I observed the procession from afar, and my eagerness to see Roy up close didn’t make things any better.
Finally, to shouts of joy and a thunderous applause, Roy entered the pavilion. He was wearing a sports jacket and tan slacks, and his hair looked wind-whipped and frazzled. For the judge, it had been a long day. Going from pillar to post across the state was not for the faint of heart.
I tried to avoid the cameras from the local television stations, not wanting to get into the photographic record as supporting this campaign. As luck would have it, I happened to be standing next to Hosea when Roy started his speech, and he shoved a sign in my chest with the implicit understanding that I was to stand in the background behind Roy. So much for staying off-camera.
The youth brigade had long since come down from the road, and they had focused all of their unbridled energy in the tiny pavilion space. Their writhing white shirts and blind, unquestioning support made for a perfect backdrop, a signal to all that the Roy Moore campaign still had energy and something of a life left to it. I tried to get in the very back of the crowd, hoping that the campaign sign would keep my face hidden from the cameras.
The pamphlets I peddled were a perfect primer for Roy’s speech. In addition to thanking his fervent supporters, he basically ran down his platform – an opposition to PAC contributions, a hardline on immigration and a push for the acknowledgement of God in the public square.
When the speech ended, Roy then began to hand out lemonade to the entire crowd, a certain allusion to Christ washing the feet of his disciples. Watching him work was a spectacle unto itself as Roy was all smiles and pours until everyone in the hot and dusty pavilion had a glass of lemonade. After Roy finished, I hung out by the cooler as he began to work the crowd.
I was on my fifth or sixth glass (maybe seventh) when George gave me a slight head nod. It was time to go.
There wasn’t much talking on the way back to the headquarters – we were both exhausted. As soon as we got there, I plopped down in George’s office as he went to find some paperwork relating to the poll watching I was to do on Election Day. It was a long wait, and I spent most of the time listening to conversations in the outer office through George’s open door. One elderly man defended the Marines accused of killing civilians in Haditha, Iraq, citing the numerous improvised explosive devices that have killed other innocents. In another conversation, a woman said the turnout at the Vaughn Park rally had been lower than expected.
Finally, George came back with a printout for me: a 20-page booklet titled “Ballot Security Handbook: A Practical Guide for Poll Watchers.” He couldn’t give me a specific assignment, but he told me to start reading the booklet. I soon left headquarters; George said he would call me when he knew where I’d be going.
He called me a few hours later. I had to come by the office to sign some paperwork, and as I got there, George was pouring over a phonebook, trying to decide where to send me. We decided on a place, and I left to eat dinner with an old, dear friend of mine from high school.
I had my marching orders. Tomorrow, I was to show up at East Memorial Baptist Church in Prattville, a town 20 minutes to the north, with a statement signed by Roy Moore authorizing me to observe the Election Day activities.
I had to be there by 6 a.m.
I had to stay until the polls closed and the votes were counted.
It was going to be a long day.
THANK YOU JUDGE MOORE
My Family and I placed our votes for you this morning. I have never had so much pride in casting a vote in a long time. Some say you will set the state back 50 years. The way I look at it that could be a good thing. Familes going to church together, saying blessing over their food etc.. Moore I thank you for running and you have my prayers for a victory.
Posted by bama78 at 2006-06-06 12:57:24
“Dress professionally – as if you were going to court!” emphatically stated my poll watcher’s handbook.
I had a clean polo shirt and relatively clean khakis for yesterday – they would have to do.
It was just past 6 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6 – Election Day and judgment day for the Roy Moore campaign. I was standing in front of Prattville’s East Memorial Baptist Church, a giant, brick monolith lying just on the other side of Main Street surrounded by perfect little subdivisions on all sides. It was a huge church, certainly larger than any in my tiny town of Moundville. I’d later learn that the church had building plans in the works for an outdoor amphitheater and its own man-made lake. It was equal parts amusement park and house of worship, God for the 21st century.
Today, it was Autuaga County’s 20th Precinct.
After asking someone who worked at the church, I found the place where the voting would be held, an old fellowship hall with battle scarred linoleum floors that had been divided into classrooms with sliding partitions. For Election Day, however, the partitions had been pulled back, creating a room large enough for two tables of election workers and three tables where voters could make their selections in relative privacy.
It was a crew of six workers – two men and four women, all who looked to be retirees. The leader, designated as the chief inspector, was a smiling woman by the name of Dot. Dressed in a lavender ensemble, she greeted me warmly even as she was busy getting the election process underway. By 6:30, she had sworn me in (Roy would have been proud of me when I affirmed my oath with a hearty “So help me God.”) and gotten my signature on five or six forms. The two voting machines were soon turned on, whirring as they rolled to zero – 0000 to be specific.
I had three specific mandated responsibilities before the polls opened. No. 1 was to make sure that the voters who cast absentee ballots were being crossed from the voter rolls (check). The next job was to make sure that the voting machines were all working and that they all started with a zero reading (check). The third and final pre-opening responsibility was to make sure the ballots were correct (The blue GOP ballots checked out).
A poll worker cast a test ballot to make sure everything was working properly, and the polls officially opened at 7:04, accommodating the line that had been building for a few minutes. I settled in the spot that Dot had given me, a chair directly across the room from the voting machines.
As the voters streamed in, I marveled at the simple, yet efficient system in place. A prospective voter was checked off from an A-K or an L-Z list at the table nearest the door. After they were checked off, they were asked whether they wanted to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary and they were given a stub (GOP blue or white, the color of the Dem ballots) corresponding to their choice. At the second table, they had to sign in as a worker recorded their name. They then redeemed their stub for a ballot. From there, the voter walked a few feet to tables equipped with plywood privacy dividers. Each little voting foxhole was stocked with a black marker that connected a broken line next to the voter’s chosen candidate. When the voter had finished with his or her electoral decision making, they walked their ballot over to either one of the machines, stumpy mailbox-like gizmos with a slot for ballots. If there were any problems with the ballots, the machine would spit it out and make an evil noise, as it did with a woman who had over voted. The original was placed in a special spoiled ballots envelope, and the woman was allowed to vote again on a new ballot.
It was a controlled chaos, orchestrated perfectly by Dot. “They don’t have a clue what it takes [to run an election],” she said.
After the polls were open, my responsibilities consisted chiefly of watching for any irregularities and making sure everyone stayed outside of the 30 feet buffer zone for campaigning at the church’s entrance. I walked outside at 7:20 to check for any violators, and I found only one – a fat tabby cat sitting in the middle of the sidewalk.
The workers were all very helpful and courteous to both the voters and me. They assisted those that had come to the wrong location, and they brewed a mean pot of coffee – even after a failed attempt that wound up on the floor.
At 7:40, a voter asked for my help in interpreting the same-sex marriage amendment that was on the ballot. My instructions said that while I should offer assistance, a voter could request the help of anyone, including poll watchers. I tried to tell her I’d rather not help her, but she insisted. She said she was against same-sex marriage, but the language of the amendment confused her. I told her if she was against the acknowledgement of those marriages, she should vote for the amendment. I couldn’t lie to the woman. It must have been the 10th, 15th, maybe the 20th time I’ve felt like complete slime the past few days.
Soon after 8, we hit our 100th voter. By 9, it was up to 177, and at 9:20 we hit 200. It was a steady trickle of voters, nothing overwhelming, but a steady flow nonetheless.
During one of my checks outside the building, I found a young woman working for a state house candidate passing out sample ballots some distance from the building. We chatted for a minute, and she told me she was getting paid for her work (if only Roy was paying me). I told her I was going to inform the chief inspector she was there. My instructions were very clear in the fact that I was supposed to enforce the 30-foot limit, and while she looked to be an appropriate distance from the building, I wanted to be sure. Dot came out, and I thought she might be angry by the tone of her voice, but she said the woman was 45 feet away. The mercenary got to stay.
Shortly after 10, the primary selection was approximately 200 baby blue ballots to 50 pearly white ones. The GOP was definitely winning the 20th Precinct.
When a Montgomery Advertiser photographer showed up at 11:45, I thought it was a good time to take a break. I ran to my truck to grab a snack and check in with George. He was across town working at the larger Trinity United Methodist church, and I caught him on his voting break. He said his precinct had trouble early on with the voting machines, but things were soon straightened out. George said Trinity was running 8-to-1 in favor of the GOP. I didn’t know whether the heavy Republican turnout was a good thing or a bad thing for Roy – I just knew it meant something.
Just after noon, the poll workers invited me to share in their lunch of chicken salad sandwiches, homemade spice cake and potato chips. I told Dot, “You are all being too nice to me.”
“It’s called Southern hospitality,” she replied.
As I was finishing lunch, we got into a short lived debate on the one-sided nature of primaries as one voter half-kiddingly asked to vote in both elections. Others throughout the day have asked the question in total seriousness. One poll worker pointed out, “If I’m a Republican, I don’t want Democrats voting in my primary and vice versa.” Alabama’s system made it easy for crossover voters – all they have to do is unofficially announce party allegiance on Election Day – but those voters just can’t vote in both parties.
While I never heard it discussed, crossover voting had to be a serious concern for the campaign. Roy was a polarizing figure – either you loved and worshiped him or you despised him. Unfortunately for Roy, the latter figured to be much more than the former, and it could be a real problem for the campaign if uninterested Democrats left their party’s own primary to specifically vote against Roy.
The minutes and hours slowly ticked on, and by 4:40, 700 people had shown up to cast their ballots. The pace had quickened after a midday slow down, and for the first time all day, there were sizable lines. An hour later we had reached 800 votes, and I could barely keep my eyes open as the length of the day began to take its toll on me. By 6:30, the pace had once again slowed, but there were only 30 minutes to go. At nine minutes ‘til 7, we hit 900 votes, the number predicted hours ago by the salty Election Day veteran working the A-K voting list. And at a few minutes after 7, after the last, desperate voter had cast her ballot, the crew began to shut down. Then the real work began.
I was amazed at everything that went into the official recording of the day’s voting. Dot spread out some 15 envelopes on a table, each had its own destination and specific contents. Some required the original voting record. Others required copies that would go to the media or a specific party. Still others demanded the day’s supplies like pens and pencils.
Minutes after the poll closed, the voting machines each spit out a separate tally on a roll of paper that looked like it came from an adding machine. That was ripped off from the machine, taken to a table where it was signed by most of those present (including myself) and sealed in an envelope headed for the probate judge’s office. The process was repeated four or five times, with each copy of the results going into a different envelope. The final copy was given to me to take back to headquarters.
The results were not good. In the 20th Precinct, Riley had taken the day, 550 votes to 187. If those numbers held up statewide, the election was already over.
I signed most of the envelopes and helped clean up the election area. Dot gave me some left over doughnuts and potato chips, and she drove me to my truck. The day was over.
It was 9 p.m.
I raced back to campaign headquarters, not knowing what I’d find there. Was Roy still in it? Could he even be winning by some twist of fate with the heavy turnout? I’d soon find out.
When I made it to that dumpy office building for the last time, I knew immediately things were not good. The place was practically empty, aside from a single man working the phones and wielding a spreadsheet at his computer. The leader of the youth brigade and a few of his minions were there, as was Hosea. I put a box of doughnuts on the food table and sat down in front of the TV to get caught up on the election.
The race, for Roy Moore, was already over as the AP had called the contest for Bob Riley. It wasn’t even close. The Democratic race was also over, as Lucy Baxley had won in a similar romp. As the victory/concession speeches were set to begin, I noticed the man to my right – the only one still staffing a post – was talking on the phone to Roy himself. He was urging him to go ahead and concede the race, saying that Riley was waiting on him and he didn’t want to be the last one of the big four to go out.
George came in from the field, and he too sat down to catch up on the news. He soon had enough. After doing something in his office, he set out for home. Before he left, I shook his hand and told him it was an honor to work with him – and it was. George was and surely still is a wonderful man with a big heart and a work ethic that would put many people to shame. To me, he represented most of the Moore supporters: great and humble, but ultimately misguided people.
Hosea was still there, still just as cold and distant as he had been after we had met on Saturday. I still wasn’t sure what made him tick, but it was something different than the rest of the folk who I met in the campaign.
We watched with a certain envy as Baxley made her acceptance speech. That envy turned to reproach as Riley made his. Siegelman had acknowledged his defeat, and we waited for Roy to appear on camera.
And he did – in an interview with a reporter. The Montgomery station we were watching didn’t even bother to cover Moore’s concession. In the interview, he thanked his supporters and declined to endorse Riley because he accepted PAC money in the election. The interview was over in the span of a few insignificant minutes.
The next day’s full election returns would reveal that Riley had garnered 306,383 votes, or 67 percent, to Moore’s 153,376 votes, a paltry 33 percent.
The Judge Roy Moore campaign was at an end.
People of Alabama, don’t be selfish!
I am urging the people of Alabama not to be selfish with Judge Moore. I urge you to please encourage him to set his sights a bit higher than Governor. We need someone with his integrity in the White House. I believe he would win in a big way.
Posted by TLadrach at 2005-10-07 01:56:02
The loss was at once a great triumph and a monumental tragedy as the people of Alabama had turned back the politics of fear and hatred, choosing to stay a prosperous course. But for Roy Moore and his supporters, it was a dark day. All of their individual work – their sacrifice, toil and heartache – had amounted to nothing as Moore had lost handily along with most of his favored candidates in other races. As one woman bitterly pointed out, only her choice for county coroner found electoral success.
Moore was down – but not out. He’s going to resurface in a few years, maybe to give the governor’s chair another shot or to find another gig as a judge. Heaven help us if he sets his ambitions any higher.
But he’ll be back.
As long as there are Georges that crave a world left long ago.
As long as there are Hoseas willing to work for his campaign.
He’ll be back.