Mike Sumrall is to be congratulated for his decisive victory over Todd Brand (with 98.92% of the vote in, Sumrall had 154880 votes and Brand 139269). With just about $11000 in campaign funds for both primaries, Sumrall won an astonishing race for the Democratic nomination for State Auditor.
Now comes the tough part. He faces Republican State Senator Stacey Pickering in the general election. Not only does Pickering have the name (His cousin is Republican Congressman Charles W. Pickering.), but he'll also have the money.
There is no doubt Pickering is a fine person. Everybody who knows him say he is an exemplary Christian man and a very friendly man. He is well-liked in the State Senate. He is also an attractive candidate and a very charming person.
But Stacey Pickering is totally unqualified to be State Auditor. He is a media consultant and a part-time public relations person (Wonderful. That is really one bippy of a great qualification--making people look good and saying groovy sound bites.). He knows as much about accounting and auditing as my cat Bueller does. If he is elected, he'll be bored stiff as State Auditor. And you can rest assured he'll play politics with the job just as his predecessors after Hamp King have. In four years, he'll be looking to move up the political totem pole. (That should be interesting, since his cousin Charles plans to run for governor in 2011. You can get two of them for the price of one. Goody goody.)
Mike Sumrall recognizes the need for drastic changes in the Office of State Auditor. The number of staff is at an all-time low. He wants to have cross-training of auditors so that they can do school audits, agency audits or county audits. The investigative division has more staff than any time in the history of the agency yet it takes more than three years to complete investigations. (You can thank Phil the Pill Bryant for the surplus of investigators. Bryant used to be a fire investigator but knows as much about accounting and auditing as my cat.)
Mike Sumrall will never beat Pickering in the looks or charm department. But voters aren't looking for a good-looking hunk and nice teeth. They are looking for someone who can take politics out of the job and make the Office of State Auditor (OSA) a strong auditing and investigative agency. They are looking for someone who can do the job and knows what that job entails. Mike Sumrall worked for the OSA since January 1979 until 2002. Fairness, integrity and non-partisan practices have always been his method of operation. He is NOT seeking the office so he can move up the political totem pole four or eight years later. I also like his stance on who should be State Auditor. He believes the post should be restricted to CPAs or have a bachelor's degree in accounting (Great idea!!). Sumrall does have a degree in accounting. Pickering sure doesn't have such a degree.
Twenty years ago, I remember a poster I saw a big photo of a Democratic candidate for State Representative in Alaska. He had a big beard and he looked like the Creature out of the Black Lagoon. I laughed when I saw the caption, "Not just a Pretty Face." He was running against a handsome opponent. On that poster he listed his accomplishments as a businessman and what he could do in the State Legislature. Oh, yes. The candidate won.
On November 6th, don't vote for a candidate because of party labels, looks or charisma. Vote for a guy who can do an excellent job as State Auditor. For the first time in nearly a quarter century, politics can finally be taken out of the OSA and the office can turn into the best auditing and investigative agency in the South. But only one man can do that.
That man is Mike Sumrall.