Happy Christmas, everyone! I hope all are stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers and have avoided a fall from the ladder setting up your grand Christmas display with 26,000 lights, three nativity scenes and 31 holiday inflatables. Pretty soon, I’m sure you’ll be attending parties in an ugly sweater as you anxiously await more Amazon deliveries and ready your sleigh for the trip to Grandma’s house.

The Christmas season, believe it or not, is finally here.

You see, when watching the daily news cycle pays your bills, you tend to notice trends. In my 22 years, I have come to expect ears and eyes will fall away from normal political discussion as December rolls around. President Donald Trump broke the mold on this during his four years in office. (PDJT had an uncanny ability to move the needle on headlines whenever he saw fit, Christmas season or not.) Outside of the Trump anomaly, however, you can bet the farm that by Turkey Day, even our diehard political junkies are taking a break from Montgomery and D.C. craziness to spend time with family and friends.

Frankly, this scrooge can’t really get into the mood until around Dec. 10th or so, but I certainly won’t fault you for checking out. It's been a heck of a year, and 2022 offers more of the same. Fully charged mental and emotional batteries are a must.

So before you go, in the fashion of Dickens, I’ll offer you three Christmas SPIRIT-ed questions (see what I did there?) in Alabama politics heading to 2022.

The Ghost Of Alabama Politics Past

Is there any other guarantee in Alabama politics like lottery and gambling conversations leading into a legislative session? Most would rather eat Grandma’s fruitcake than consume another riveting discussion of state-run lottery and casinos and Indian gaming. While some outsiders assume our strong Christian conservative base is the reason why we’ve not had a statewide vote on the issue, it has been more the gamblers themselves to blame in the last three or four years. Will the various money interests (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Victoryland, Greenetrack) figure out a legislative battle plan for 2022 or continue to fight amongst themselves and run out the clock on yet another opportunity? On this issue, the devil is truly in the details. Poll Alabamians asking a vague question on support of a lottery and it is a slam dunk. When the details inevitably emerge on who gets paid and how … the issue becomes … well … murky.

The Ghost of Alabama Politics Present

Will any viable candidate with sufficient money and name ID step forward to challenge Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary? Given her record on tax increases, prison reform, and COVID, some suggest she is politically vulnerable even while she remains extremely well-funded. Dean Odle has announced he is running and Jim Zeigler is toying around with the idea. The best I can say about either of them is at least Zeigler believes the earth is a sphere. I cannot say the same about Odle. No. I’m not kidding (if I could insert an eye roll emoji here I would). It is embarrassing.

Tim James, a two-time candidate and son of a former governor, is making the rounds and seems to be leaning toward another run. Early indications are he believes there is a political lane to the right of the Governor, focusing on taxes and a failure of progress in education. What about Lynda Blanchard? Would she be willing to switch from a run in the U.S. Senate race? No word yet, and I expect much of that has to do with …

The Ghost of Alabama Politics Yet to Come

The Alabama U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Richard Shelby has intriguing players and a fascinating storyline. Representative Mo Brooks has money, the endorsement of Trump, and strong rural support. Katie Britt is thought of by many insiders as Shelby’s hand-picked successor. She has all the money (and billboards) to get her name ID in the right place before 2022. Will Alabama voters pick the “outsider” with the Trump endorsement and 40 years of political experience, or the “insider” who has never held public office and reportedly voted outside of Alabama while living in D.C. and working as Shelby’s Chief of Staff? Toss in war veteran and businessman Mike Durant, sprinkle in Jessica Taylor … and, well … your guess is as good as mine as to what we have cooking.

So … I encourage you to enjoy some Christmas cheer with family and friends. Spend less time checking your breaking news feed and more time walking the dog. Enjoy all that the Christmas season has to offer! 2022 will be here before you know it and along with it all the hardball political shenanigans an election year can bring. If I’ve been a good boy and Santa leaves me a present Christmas morning, there will be a good dose of political chaos to boot.

Matt Murphy is co-host of ‘Matt and Val’, heard in Alabama each weekday morning from 6-10 on Talk 99.5. Everywhere at Talk995.com The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.