October 23, 2017

Battle Blog: Standing up for Alabama

Some of you may have noticed that I made some waves last week in disagreement with a very passionate response to a columnist’s work.

The editorial writer basically wrote that Alabama should not be competing for Amazon HQ. I’m not going to be defensive about every media criticism we receive in this campaign. I recognize I have placed myself in a public position where I will be the target of critics in the public and the media. That’s a conscious choice I’ve made and all of us in this business must be thick-skinned.  But I wasn’t lashing back to defend myself.

I was standing up for Alabama.

No one in Montgomery seems to have the courage to do so, but that’s a fight I’m eager and willing to accept.

In a nutshell: Al.com columnist Kyle Whitmire wrote an opinion piece about the potential of Amazon located its headquarters in Alabama. Before he began praising the potential of Birmingham, he made some references to the intelligence level in our state.  AL.com represents Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile.

The comments bothered me.

Kyle is one of the most prominent, widely read editorial writers in Alabama. Since he published the column, we’ve had a conversation and we’ve agreed to disagree on this one. I look forward to many years of his scrutiny, where there will be other times we agree to disagree and some, I hope, where sees the validity of what we will bring to Alabama in terms of jobs, education, and progress.

It’s that last word that’s the crux of our disagreement.

One of the things we’ve so often heard from supporters and others we’ve met on the campaign trail is the image of Alabama. It’s something we’ve discussed here before. The controversies in Montgomery in recent years and other situations have tarnished that image. We can’t change it overnight, but we can change it, and we can do so together.

We have our challenges. We have our negatives, but I believe the positives outweigh them. I’ve talked about wearing my “Smart Huntsville” lapel pin as we rebranded Huntsville. I look forward to wearing a “Smart Alabama” pin as governor because we are a smart state

Major corporations and government entities, from Toyota to NASA, Airbus to the Air Force, recognize what we have in Alabama. There are amazing scientific discoveries taking place at UAB and HudsonAlpha in Huntsville. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize our own strengths. And, based on some of the unfair stereotypes in his column, I don’t know that Kyle Whitmire fully recognizes and appreciates all our positives.

Taking up the fight for our image is something I was more than eager to do in a debate with a columnist.

It’s a fight I’m eager to take to Montgomery as your Governor.