Steve Flowers' Political Commentaries

Wednesdays at 7:44 am and 4:44 pm
  • Hosted by Steve Flowers

Alabama politics is the source for great storytelling. And, few weave tales from the state's halls of power better than Alabama Public Radio's Steve Flowers. Every Wednesday at 7:45 am and 4:44 pm, Steve recalls the colorful characters from Alabama's past, including "Miss Mitty," who sat knitting in the same spot in Capitol, and could tell you the whereabouts of every ranking member of the legislature. Another is Alabama's former Governor "Big Jim" Folsom, who once spoke to the Governor of Utah like an old friend. Folsom thought he was from "Eutaw." Join Steve every week on Alabama Public Radio.

The 1962 Alabama governor's race featured the modern media television for the first time. Big Jim Folsom had won his two previous races campaigning from the back of a flatbed truck making speeches throughout the state...

Big Jim always knew he wanted to go into politics and he got started in his twenties...

When Big Jim was governor in the 1940s, there no interstate highways, a lot of roads weren't even paved. It took longer to get around the state by car than it does now...

More great stories about Big Jim... 

Those of us who have grown up in and around Alabama politics have coined a descriptive term for a person who is totally obsessed with seeking political office. The term I like to use to describe this person is named for the man who best exemplified this obsession - George Wallace...

One of the all-time favorite Big Jim Folsom stories happened in the mid 1950s during his second term as governor...

A lot of people believed Big Jim was going to win a third term, but it didn't happen...

After sitting out four years, Big Jim entered the governor's race again in 1954, beating three state senators, the president of the public service commission and the lieutenant governor without a runoff; he beat them by challenging the big mules of Birmingham...

Steve Flowers on "Big Jim" Folsom Part Three

Jul 27, 2017

Big Jim was sworn in early 1947 and began to work with his famous farm-to-market road program. This work is what he's most remembered for today; in fact, most rural roads in Alabama were paved by Big Jim Folsom in his farm-to-market road program  ...

During the "Big Jim" Folsom era, Alabama had a history of what was called "learning to get acquainted race." If you wanted to be governor,  you ran your first race in hopes you'd run second to the winner; then you'd win the race four years later because you would've become acquainted with the voters...

James E. "Big Jim" Folsom is by far Alabama's most colorful governor. Big Jim was only the second governor in the state's history to be elected to two four-year terms before George Wallace rewrote the history books...

Suppose you're some person keenly interested in being the governor of Alabama one day; if that young person approached me and asked  what would be the best course to take to capture that brass ring, my response would be that many times the best way to look into the future would be to study the past...

Alabama's 1901 Constitution is as archaic as any in the nation; it has contributed to the poor image that persists today regarding our racist past. However, much of the damage was done during the 1960s - it was a fascinating and tumultuous era...

One of the most legendary dirty tricks ever played on a legislator still reverberates 60 years later...

The year 1948 was a pivotal year in Alabama and Southern politics...

Throughout the course of Alabama political history, there have been two pervasive and prevailing issues - race and religion. The race issue has remained dormant in Alabama politics for most of the first half of the 20th century...

In 1946, Senator John Bankhead died in office; this created a unique situation for John Sparkman. He sought the vacant senate seat, yet remained on the ballot for his house seat. Sparkman beat the field handily with a strong backing from labor unions - winning both races at the same time - making him the only person in American history to accomplish this feat...

Senator Lister Hill is probably our greatest U.S. senator in history.  Most of the rural hospitals in America and Alabama were built during his legislation...

Hired political guns have a reputation for success and meanness. These hired guns would usually find somebody or some entity to create fear and hatred against. In political terms, it's called "finding the boogeyman and running against him..." 

Legislative experience is pretty good training ground for governor, but the legislator is definitely not a good stepping stone to the governorship...

Some people think it's a myth and some people think it's a legend, but those of us who've been around Alabama politics have always referred to a place knows as Bucks Pocket. For decades, losing political candidates in Alabama have been exiled to Bucks Pocket...

We've got one of the best governor races in state history looming for next year. But, Alabamians have had a history of electing governors who have basically had no governmental experience, much less legislative experience...

Alabama has had its share of what I call "the run for the fun of it" candidates. Our most colorful of these candidates is William Ralph "Shorty" Price...

First Monday Trade Day was a must event for any serious, statewide political aspirer, especially for the advent of television...

Small-town boys dominate in Alabama Politics and the governor's office. The only city governor of Alabama in the last 66 years is Don Siegelman, who is from Mobile...

Back in bygone days, Alabama had some legendary and colorful characters. One of the most legendary was a guy named Fuller Kimbrell from Northwest Alabama...

Campaign finance laws and ethics forms for political campaigns and office holders were enacted throughout the entire country in the 1970s, mostly in reaction to the public outcry for ethics reform after Watergate corruption. Alabama had a lot of crafty legislators, like Rankin Fite, who simply ignored the national trends. They had no intentions of passing ethics laws...

The Northwest corner of Alabama has been the home to some of the most legendary legislators in Alabama history...

We've got one of the best political years you've ever seen in your life coming up in the next year and a half. The 2018 elections are going to be some of the best we've ever seen...

Some of ya'll might wonder why Alabama is called the "Heart of Dixie?" Well, we call it the Heart of Dixie because of bank notes issued by the Citizens Bank of Louisiana before the Civil War...

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