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From the ARCHIVES: April 2002 Volume 2 Issue 4
By: Donald V. Watkins Montgomery, AL -- Tracy Larkin


It's official. Montgomery City Councilman Tracy Larkin has announced his bid for iframe}{/iframe}the Alabama State senate seat now held by Senator Charles Langford (D-Montgomery), who is not expected to run a strong re-election race. Larkin is a rising star in Alabama politics.

In 1999, he trounced longtime city councilman and current State Democratic Party Chief Joe L. Reed in a hotly contested Montgomery City Council race. Reed had the full resources of the Democratic Party, {iframe}{/iframe} the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association and the Alabama Education Association backing his reelection bid with money and workers. Larkin defeated Reed in every precinct box.

Leaders in his Montgomery community have drafted Larkin to run {iframe}{/iframe} for the senate District 26 seat. Reed also wants this senate seat. It will be a classic political rematch.

Polls conducted by various special interest groups who traditionally raise substantial campaign funds for legislative races all show Lar kin leading the pack of would-be-senators. Langford and Reed rank last in each poll. Their negatives in the predominately black senate district are sky high. Some political observers believe Reed will rethink his position and run another surrogate candidate for the senate seat because of Langford and his high negatives.

Larkin is seen by many as a refreshing breath of air in the political arena. He has a long history of community service in Montgomery. Larkin has excellent communication skills. He respects ordinary people. Larkin is well educated, hardworking, and charismatic. Yet, he has not lost the common touch. "I am not a leader, but a public servant, "said Larkin. "I believe that African-American public officials, by and large, have fallen short of the expectations of their constituents."

Voter News Network political analyst, Alfred Seawright, says that Larkin represents a welcomed break in the ranks of today's black elected officials. According to Seawright, most black legislators forget about their constituents shortly after they take the seat of power. Lobbyists and special interests groups usually waste no time in seducing them. They begin trading away their loyalty to constituents for a nice dinner and a relatively small campaign contribution. "Many of these legislators become pack mules for the rich and powerful special interest groups in Alabama," noted Seawright.

Since taking his Council seat more than two years ago, Larkin has fought hard for his community. He has tirelessly worked to place African-Americans in key positions in city government. Larkin has fought to ensure that blacks are included in all professional services contracts awarded by the City of Montgomery. He has championed economic freedom and voter independence.

Larkin pledges to focus his efforts on pocketbook issues like more quality jobs, higher wages, economic empowerment and a fairer tax system. He would also look for ways to better fund and rebuild the state's crumbling education system. Larkin would be free of the special interest groups' strings that reduce most African-American elected officials to puppet status.

Larkin's bid for the senate has old guard Democratic Party leaders baffled. They know he leads the race in all of the polling done by various groups. They know he has excellent campaign skills. They also recognize that Larkin will be able to raise a campaign warchest full of cash because of his excellent working relationship with successful business leaders around the nation.

VNN has learned that Larkin is privately hoping for a rematch with Reed, not a political surrogate. Langford is viewed as Reed's puppet. In his view, Larkin sees himself as the future for black political leadership, and not a serrogate like Langford, who may drop out of the race. He sees Reed as an out-of-touch activist who is hopelessly trapped in 20th Century political rhetoric and thought. Larkin knows that the slow death of the state's Democratic Party is due, in large part, to Reed's death-grip on the Party's statewide primary process. "White Democrats are either too weak to free the Party from Reed's grip, or are too busy taking AEA campaign money to care," noted Seawright.

While Larkin qualified for the senate seat as a Democrat, he is an independent thinker. Larkin is unbought and unbossed. The Democratic Party is closely monitoring his election bid. With the senate now composed of 18 Democrats and 17 Republicans, an independent Democrat would hold the balance of power in the senate. He is a skillful politician who knows the value of being a key swing vote on crucial issues.

Larkin is expected to run a hard, but fair race. According to him, Larkin will run as though he was the underdog in the race. In his last match-up against Reed, Larkin's classy rebuttal to a negative radio ad sponsored by Reed admirers was so powerful and elegant that the Reed allies were forced to pull the negative ad within days after the rebuttal ad aired.

While billed as a senate race, the Larkin versus Reed rematch is really a fight for the political heart and soul of black Alabama. Larkin sees economic empowerment and quality education as the keys to the black community's future. Reed sees closed-door political boss meetings as the answer. Larkin says he is a public servant. Reed says he is the political leader of Alabama's black community. This election should provide a definitive answer on which style of politics best fits the needs of Alabama's black community.


Last Updated (Thursday, 02 February 2012 22:42)

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