Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Fields, second from left, speaks with supporters at an event in Hanceville on Saturday, May 19, 2018. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)
HANCEVILLE – On Saturday afternoon, Cullman County’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Fields stopped by Veterans’ Park in Hanceville for a community outreach event with food, a DJ playing music and children’s activities. The Tribune caught up with him after he finished an address to the crowd of his supporters to find out how his campaign is doing.
“Campaign’s going great; we can’t complain,” said Fields. “Where we are, right now it appears that we’re still running just a fraction of a percentage point ahead, and if we just stay focused, we’ll pull it out in June. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we’ll be in a runoff. We don’t know if it’ll be Walt Maddox or Sue Bell Cobb, but we know that there will be a runoff, from the way things look right now.
“The message we’re trying to get out right now is to stop the message that is being circulated by particular groups: ‘Don’t waste your vote on James Fields, because Alabama is not going to vote for a black guy.’ And so we’re trying to squelch that by pointing out to people that James Fields was victorious in Cullman, and he’ll be victorious in Alabama.”
Fields’ all-volunteer campaign team
Fields told us, “This is probably one of the best campaign teams I’ve ever seen, because they’re all volunteering. And they’re working hard, day and night. They’ll call you at 3 a.m. in the morning if they’ve got an idea. They’ll call you at six o’clock, they’ll call you at nine o’clock, 7 a.m., because they’re wanting to win. They’re wanting to show the world that it just takes hard work to win a campaign.
“You know, no one’s an expert, and so they’re working together. Do we have headaches and heartaches? Oh, yes! We work them out and they just keep going. They keep digging and digging, and the tougher it gets for us, the harder they work, and they’re good. Every last one of them are good.
“You can’t beat Tiffany Collins, you can’t beat Chanelle, Becca Smith. Becca Smith, every time you see her, she’s the one that brings the smile to the table. Donald Law brings the strategy, he and Gene Price. Annie Erskine stepped in from Huntsville, which is a person we never heard of before, but Annie and I had worked together years ago, and she stepped up and says, ‘I want to help you win,’ and she’s taken care of us in Huntsville. Then you’ve got Ernestine Linton, Richard and Lana Heinl–they’re there. And my nephew Ivan, who drives. Mike Johnson, who goes with us; he and I grew up together. They’ve just been champions!”
Getting the word out
“The people we meet on the campaign trail, when we get through giving a speech, they’ll come up and say, ‘We believe in you, because what you’re saying is the truth.’ And these are people who’ve been around politics for years; they know when somebody’s just blowing smoke.
“We were speaking in Gadsden Thursday night. It was a Republican political rally; of course, they invited Democrats. And two mayors from two other towns over there came up to us afterwards–and they’re Republican–said, ‘We’re going to support you, because what you said is true.’ And they know that.
“And we always say in our speeches, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ And so they know that we’re reaching out to them. They know that we’re serious about what we can and cannot do.
“All our opponents talk about is what they did a hundred years ago, or ‘We pass a lottery, we can do this, this, this.’ But what if the lottery don’t pass? What are you going to do? Those children still need books, they still need school supplies, they still need adequate transportation. So what are you going to do? They have no answer, because they’re not willing to make the tough and hard decisions that we’ve got to make as a state, as the people of Alabama.
“And everybody knows you need to expand Medicaid, but none of our Republican opponents talk about insurance coverage. Now, the Democrats are smashing it to death, but the thing is, I want to do the same thing with Medicaid. But if I get you health care, but I don’t have no place for you to go to see about whatever’s ailing you, then all you sitting there with a card saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got insurance, but I’ve got nobody (to provide service).
“We’re just trying to get people to understand: we’re going to make sure your lives are made whole.”
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