By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Early on in her campaign for Alabama governor, Democrat Yolanda Flowers knew she had an uphill battle against incumbent Republican Kay Ivey.
“I had my team in place. After the first meeting of the fundraising, people dropped off. They said it was too hard and there was too much work. People didn’t show up especially in the finance department,” Flowers told the Birmingham Times.
So, Flowers learned to do what she could without tens of millions of dollars to run an effective statewide campaign.
“It does take a sufficient amount of money to be able to have commercials and things such as that, but it doesn’t take a whole lot for an individual to get out there and meet people, also walking the land and observing, viewing, and giving yourself ideas of what you could do that will be better than what the person that is in office is currently doing,” she said.
Flowers spoke less than 24 hours after Ivey won the election with 67.4 percent, or 944,850 votes, to her 29.4 percent, or 411,690 votes.
Flowers, the first Black woman to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination in the state, said she ran her campaign on a skeleton crew.
“My daughter, granddaughter and eventually a young student came to help…the rest of us were 50-plus. The hardest thing to do was constructing a committee that was willing to work. I had to do training on a Saturday for about eight to nine hours to … learn about how to construct a campaign, the field operator, campaign managers, and just different things to make it successful.”
The challenger said she absorbed a lot on the campaign trail.
“Our state is so divided,” she said. “The Republican Party is full of pride; they have such a haughty spirit. They may not like each other, but they’re going to vote because they’re diehard Republicans. Although they may agree with the principles of someone that’s on the Democratic ticket, they are true to their party.”
Flowers said she also found a populace where “many of our citizens are not educated,” she said. “Not just in school, we’re just not educated all across the board. Understanding policies, understanding the rules, understanding governments — we just need to educate. The Democratic Party was supposed to be about all people, doesn’t matter about the ethnic group or your gender, or what you have, we’re supposed to be about democracy and educating but, it’s so disheartening that we are so divided.”
She continued. “Another takeaway during my race is that I found that so many people like the poor, the Black communities, the Latino communities, those that I consider an outcast, we have to teach them how to vote. A lot of people don’t know the difference between mayor and governor or election cycles … So we’ve got to educate people so that they can be better equipped to stand up for their rights.”
And her final takeaway from her run for governor? “Being true to yourself and true to God especially, then be true to others,” she said.
Nicole S. Daniel contributed to this post