Alabama attorney general candidate Joseph Siegelman isn’t relying on his politically recognizable name to get elected.

As the Democratic challenger to the seat now held by Republican Steve Marshall, Siegelman also isn’t looking for a rumored “blue wave” to sweep him into office.

Rather, he’s hoping the Alabama voters will look past the name and the party affiliation to see a candidate who views the state’s top law enforcement officer as one that should transcend party and place the law before personal interest.

“The letter after your name can’t matter,” said Siegelman, 30, who is seeking his first elected office. “You have to be independent.

“I firmly believe the attorney general’s office should be something that’s insulated from (partisan politics).”

Idealism aside, Siegelman is sincere to this belief and repeated it multiple times Thursday when meeting with the editorial board of The Tuscaloosa News.

He’s aware that his last name is known throughout Alabama politics. His father, Don Siegelman, was the state’s last Democrat to be elected governor in 1999 and was convicted on felony federal corruption charges in 2006. The elder Siegelman was released from prison in February 2017.

The candidate also said he’s aware of the challenges a Democrat faces in trying to get elected in Alabama’s current political climate.

But that isn’t keeping the Birmingham-based attorney, who has been trying civil cases since graduating from the University of Alabama’s School of Law in 2013, from offering himself up as an alternative to the status quo.

“I just want people to know that there’s a choice,” Siegelman said, “and I hope they’ll vote for the best person for the job and not the letter beside the name.”

Siegelman said battling the state’s opioid crisis would be among his top priorities along with the re-establishment of trust between Alabama voters and their elected leaders.

He noted the removal or resignations from office by the state’s highest elected officials -- governor, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, speaker of the House of Representatives, among them -- and said an ethics investigation into the current attorney general could lead to Marshall’s removal, as well.

He’s referencing the acceptance and use of about $735,000 in campaign contributions by Marshall from political action-based groups that he says appear to be in violation of Alabama’s ethics slaws.

In fact, Siegelman sent a letter to the state ethics commission earlier this month outlining his concerns and how he believes it violates Alabama’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers.

This is one of the reasons Siegelman opted to seek the attorney general’s seat despite telling himself years ago that he would not subject himself to the same level of scrutiny that his father welcomed during his political career.

Other issues he said he would tackle as attorney general include the state’s failing prison system, inadequate approach to mental health and improving consumer protections.

“None of these issues are partisan issues,” Siegelman said, “(and) there should not be political considerations taken into account.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and I felt very strongly that Alabama needed an alternative for this office.”

 

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.