Democrats running for governor say newfound party enthusiasm bodes well for November election

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The candidates running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in Huntsville Thursday, and they hope that enthusiasm lasts all the way to November.

Candidates former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, Christopher Countryman of Dothan, former Alabama Rep. James Fields and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox attended the forum.

The event was hosted by the Madison County Democratic Women at the Huntsville Country Club.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is seeking the governor’s seat. She said she gets asked a lot about whether a Democrat can win in the November general election.

“We can win, because there is a renewed interest in the Democrat Party, from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico,” Cobb said. “I have traveled from one end of the state to the other, and you have individuals say, ‘We can’t do anything about the toxic partisanship in D.C., but we can do something about having true leadership in Alabama.”

Countryman, who’s running a low-cost campaign and not taking corporate donations, said the win by Democrat Doug Jones in the recent U.S. Senate special election has spurred young people and raised enthusiasm among Democrats.

“The election in December, a lot of people finally opened up their eyes and realized anything is possible if you get the grassroots going, if you get people behind the candidate,” he said. “And that we can have a state that works for all the people, not just a few.”

Maddox acknowledged the GOP candidates for governor have raised more money, but he said the situation was similar for Jones in August 2017. But after the Republican primary and runoff, Jones was able to fundraise successfully and pick up resources.

Maddox said the energy among Democrats shouldn’t be discounted.

“Fundraising is certainly important, but momentum is even more important,” he said following the forum. “And the enthusiasm you saw here, that’s the type of momentum that can get you over a general election finish line.”

Fields also likes the enthusiasm, but says there’s plenty of work ahead.

“The Democratic base is still excited and they’re running off the momentum of Senator Jones’ election,” he said. “But I keep telling them, ‘We thank God for Roy Moore.’ We have a lot of work to do."

“There are still some bridges that need to be built, some fences that need to be mended, even among Democrats.”

The Democratic and Republican primaries are June 5.