Despite getting high marks for his "courageous" response to a 2011 tornado outbreak that devastated his city, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox had to face some hard truths about Alabama politics during his 2018 run for governor.
Maddox, running as a pro-life and pro-Second Amendment Democrat, was soundly defeated by incumbent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey by nearly 20 points in the 2018 general election.
During a wide-ranging interview with statewide radio host Robert Kennedy, Jr., Maddox discussed his 2018 run and where he saw the Alabama Democratic Party in 2022, nearly four years removed from his gubernatorial bid.
Maddox insisted one of the hurdles Democrats have to overcome is a perceived intolerance of disagreements within their party.
"[I]'m amazed sometimes how if you disagree with even your own party on a certain position, there's this notion you're canceled, or you're not real," Maddox said. "I think disagreements make us real, and that's where we find solutions to problems."
The fifth-term Tuscaloosa mayor reflected on his 2018 run and argued that differentiating himself from liberal national Democrats was one of his challenges.
"[S]tatewide in 2018, 76% of the ballots that were cast were straight-party ticket ballots," Maddox added. "I remember voting the day of the election. I'm sitting at the table. All of the cameras are there, and my son is sitting in my lap, and my family is around me. This guy sitting across the table from me said, 'Are you Mayor Maddox?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm Mayor Maddox.' He said, 'You've done a damn good job.' I said, 'Well, thank you, sir.' He said, 'I just wish you were a Republican.' You could clearly see he marked a straight-Republican ballot and was getting up to leave. He just figured since I was a Democrat, I was naturally all these things. We need a party that for four years says here's our values. Here's who we are. This is why we're for this, that and whatever else it may be. The candidate alone can't break that in a brief period of a campaign."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.