“I’ll never vote for anyone named ‘Twinkle,’” wife Charlotte announced suddenly, as we perused our ballots in the voting booth on a sunny election Tuesday. “She can’t be serious.”
Char could only be referring to Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, one of three candidates for the presidency of the Alabama Public Service Commission, protector of our electricity, gas and water rates. Since it was a primary election the competitive trio were all Republicans; two were men.
I felt called upon to adopt my best political-science-father-superior persona and assure Char that Twinkle was indeed serious. She had already scaled the Mount Olympus of Alabama politics, chairmanship of the state Republican Party. Upon expiration of that term of office, Twinkle was taken under the wing of no less than GOP Gov. Bob Riley, who made her a senior advisor in charge of furthering free enterprise and the American Way. Now Riley was unleashing her on the stodgy drones of the PSC, who dwelled in their den chanting the incantations of amperes, volts, joules, megawatts, and “no rate hikes!”
“Politicians set great store by their names on a ballot,” I told Char. They struggle for every gimmick to make those names stand out. As practical politicos they know many persons enter the voting booth without the faintest idea of who they will vote for, or even which candidate is running for what post. Rather than confess their ignorance, they will latch on to the most attractive name in each race.
How could it be otherwise? It would take a genius or a professional pol to keep track of the maze of judgeships, county coroners, state representatives and constitutional amendments which benumb the average voter every election day. I once knew a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission named ‘Norman A. Johnson Jr.’ who vowed to always have the longest name on the ballot. If he ran into an opponent with a longer handle, Norman would spell out his own middle name. If that didn’t do it, he would turn ‘Jr.’ into ‘Junior.’ Though ‘Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh’ sounds like the reincarnation of an Irish fairy, I reckon she will do well,” was my summation. And so it came to pass. I voted for Twinkle, and smacked my lips in satisfaction when learning next day she had got 48 percent of the vote, enough to put her in a runoff with one of the male candidates. Continue reading