The Auburn-Alabama rivalry is one of the nation’s fiercest battles — so fierce that even members of the same political campaign team have split along university lines.
Alabama Republican attorney general candidate Alice Martin’s campaign teams in Lee and Tuscaloosa counties are planning to hold a rivalry week April 4-11 to see who can reach the most voters through campaigning.
Zach Bowman, political director for Martin’s campaign, will be in charge of the Lee County group.
“I came through Auburn myself,” Bowman said. “Honestly, just from going to school here in Auburn, you see all the different Beat Bama canned food drives, just coming off of the basketball tournament you saw all the different Auburn-Alabama stuff, and [we were] trying to think of a way to incorporate the school rivalries,” Bowman said.
Martin’s campaign manager Nathaniel White will be leading the Tuscaloosa team.
“I’m a very competitive person, and I thought it’d be a good way of getting college kids involved in the political process in a constructive way,” White said. “Also kind of bringing out the competitiveness of the two universities.”
The campaigners will be phone banking and canvassing to reach as many potential voters as possible. Teams will be composed of both university students and citizens who live in the two counties.
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“We use a program called I-360, and with that program, we’re able to pull together universes of different phone banking books for different counties,” Bowman said. “We also put together walk books where we can pick neighborhoods to send people into.”
Primary elections will be held June 5. Martin is a former federal prosecutor and chief deputy Alabama attorney general who served as acting attorney general for one day following Luther Strange’s appointment to the U.S. Senate.
She is competing for the Republican nomination against former AG Troy King, Chess Bedsole and incumbent Steve Marshall.
The Democratic candidates for AG are Chris Christie and Joseph Siegelman. The race is expected to be a competitive one.
“It’s going to be an interesting primary season,” White said. “The attorney general’s race is definitely going to be the most competitive race. It’s got a pretty deep field.”
In 2014, the Republican Strange captured both counties on his way to a landslide victory over Democrat Joseph Hubbard.
The general election will be held on Nov. 6, concurrently with the elections for other offices around the state and nation.
White said campaign experience is great for anyone interested in politics and wants to get as many people as possible involved in the rivalry.
“I try to tell people if you’re interested in politics, regardless of whether it’s the policy side or the campaign side or even if you want to run for office yourself one day, you’ve got to work a campaign to understand kind of the mechanics of how policy and politics kind of come together in that fashion,” he said. “So this is a great experience for everyone.”
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