As you know, I formally announced my candidacy for Governor on September 29. I am very happy to report that the response to my announcement from the media and the public in Alabama has been remarkable.
I have been interviewed by The Alexander City Outlook, which is the local paper. That article is particularly important in it’s own right but, the fact that I shared the front page with Congressman Mike Rogers who I have spent much time and money lobbying in Washington D.C. and Montgomery, AL on the issues of medical marijuana, the prison crisis in Alabama and the drug war in general is really very significant to me.
I believe it conveys to the public the validity of my candidacy in a very concrete way. The more humorous and fun side of me also thinks it probably pissed Congressman Rogers off or at least shook him up a little bit. At the very least he now understands that I am serious in my efforts to make drug policy and prison reform very BIG issues in the next Alabama election.
Another amazing media occurrence was being included in a straw poll on NBC 13 in Birmingham. I had to ask to be added to the poll, which had been posted a good 24 hours before my name was included. That appears not to have mattered much as I am now leading by 8% points. I know polls like this one aren’t scientific but I believe they have an impact on voters.
A few days after the poll was posted I was invited to be a guest on The Kevin Elkins Show in Montgomery.
I really enjoy talk radio and have some limited experience with it having co-hosted a number of shows with Roberta Franklin. I also have experience in on-air debate and being the subject of an interview.
Talk radio is always totally unpredictable, raw and fast paced. I have always enjoyed and performed at my peak level when there is an audience to interact with.
The members of the audience who agree with my stance are important. They reflect that the majority of people think the laws need dramatic change.
The ones who disagree with me are even more important because they afford me the opportunity to educate listeners about what the drug war really is and they afford me the opportunity to dispel the prohibitionist myths that are so pervasive in our society.
At the end of the Kevin Elkins Show Republican Rep. Dick Brewbaker, who is a high ranking member of the Alabama Legislature, even took time out of his busy day to call in and try to counter my claims of damage done by drug prohibition.
He said it isn’t an issue that strikes close to home nor one that concerns the average Alabamian. He also implied that the coffee shop crackdown in The Netherlands was proof that regulation had failed.
I reminded him that Alabama has around 30,000 prisoners in a prison system built for 12,000, many for non-violent drug offenses, and I would dare say that makes it an issue that strikes close to home.
How could he have forgotten that seeing as how he is on the House Judiciary Committee and all?
Additionally, I sent Rep. Brewbaker the following email;
Dear Rep. Brewbaker,
Thank you for calling in on the Kevil Elkins show on Friday morning and participating in the discussion about drug policy reform in Alabama.
Since time was so limited I did not have the opportunity to counter your claims regarding The Netherlands and thought, whether you agree with me or not about this issue, that you would at least like to have access to the correct information. Otherwise you are spreading false information and I personally do not think that is something you would do deliberately.
My colleague, Nol von Schiak, has owned a number of coffee shops in Amsterdam and Haarlem for many years as well as other cannabis related businesses. He wrote this a few months back after the last election in The Netherlands in which a new government came to power and the crackdown on coffee shops began.
It’s a little long but gives a very clear picture of the overall situation.
Additionally, I’d like to have some clarification on something else you said when you spoke of an employee who was injured on the job after allegedly consuming marijuana.
1. How were you able to determine that marijuana had been consumed immediately prior to the accident?
2. Why do you feel that everyone who consumes marijuana should be punished for the poor judgment exercised by your employee?
Many millions of Americans use this substance safely and never endanger others or themselves. Why should they be subject to jail for the actions of a few irresponsible individuals?
Legislation by anecdote is bad legislation.
I thank you for taking the time to read this and hope that you will correspond with me further on what I consider to be a critical Alabama issue.
Today, October 12, 2005 Rep. Brewbaker announced that he will not seek another term in the Alabama Legislature.
On October 9, I received a call from a gentleman named Phillip Rawls who is the longtime Alabama Statehouse reporter for The Associated Press.
Mr. Rawls wanted to know if I was interested in doing an interview and photo shoot with him about the Governors race.
I couldn’t believe it. This was not a call that I expected so early on in the race, and truthfully, I had serious doubts that the AP would ever be interested in my candidacy. I knew it was possible that they might pick up a story about me written by an Alabama reporter as they have done in the past, but I never dreamed that they would be interested in profiling me like they do the Democratic and Republican candidates.
Generally, I do not become nervous about being in the media spotlight. It is what I have strived to do for the last three years and I have enjoyed a good measure of success.
But, being interviewed by the Associated Press about my candidacy for Governor of Alabama is a whole different ballgame than getting a letter to the editor published or being interviewed by a local Alabama reporter.
The Associated Press has the potential to make or break me. They have the potential to lend more validation and credibility to my candidacy or to destroy any that I have already garnered.
I was scared. The following lyrics began to roll through my head.
“Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
Ooooowaa Mother, should I build a wall?
Mother, should I run for President?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Ooooowaa Is it just a waste of time?”