Monday, February 14, 2005
On this day:

A Twinkle in Their Eyes

Alabama Republicans have elected Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh to be their party chairman. Only 38 years old, Cavanaugh has an impressive biography.
She taught school in Montgomery for one year after college; worked five years in Washington for the Republican National Committee; also worked for then-U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan, R-Ala., in Washington; returned to Montgomery in 1998 andworked in several Republican campaigns; served as executive director of the Alabama Republican Party from 1999 until January 2001, when she ran unsuccessfully for the chairmanship; served as state director of Citizens for a Sound Economy in 2001; ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 2002; served as Gov. Bob Riley's appointments secretary and then as his deputy chief of staff from January 2003 until December 2004, when she resigned to seek the party chairmanship.
Cavanaugh says that her primary goal will be to help the party gain control the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.

A large part of the Republican Party's efforts will be directed at conservative Democrats in the legislature. Cavanaugh put them on notice that they should either consider switching their party affiliation or face tough, well-financed Republican opponents in the general election. She said, "We have had many successes, but we still have one battleground left to conquer, one institution left to change, and the time is now...No longer will someone be able to say that they play for one team but believe in the values of another. Have you ever heard of an Auburn football player saying, `Well, I play for Auburn, but I pull for Alabama?"'

For conservative Democrats, the call to switch parties could prove very enticing. Like Georgia's Zell Miller, many of them are tired of having to apologize to their constitutents for the policies of their national party. They realize that the Democratic Party in the South is a dying institution, devoid of ideas and beholden to teacher unions, trial lawyers, and the "diversity" industry. Add in the fact that most legislators would prefer to be part of the governing party, and the chances for a few Democratic defections seem high. The promise of an all-out Republican offensive to take control of the Legislature enhances those prospects, and Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh seems just the person to lead the fight.