By June Mathews
If you were to look at Scott Dawson’s bucket list, you wouldn’t find “run for governor” on it. Seeking the state’s highest office was never something he wanted – much less intended – to do.
Then several friends, among them Birmingham radio’s Rick Burgess and Orange Beach author Andy Andrews, urged him to enter the 2018 race to become Alabama’s next governor.
“I figured if they were willing to stick their necks out for me, I should at least give it some thought,” Dawson said.
So, he did. And he wound up thinking he should probably run.
But wife Tarra, son Hunter, 21, and 18-yearold daughter Hope weren’t so open to the idea of subjecting themselves to the often-harsh spotlight of politics.
“For a long time, it was three against one at our house,” said Dawson, who has not previously run for political office.
Ultimately, though, his family decided to support the effort, and Dawson’s candidacy was announced on Burgess’ and radio partner Bubba Bussey’s “The Rick & Bubba Show” in early June.
The campaign almost immediately attracted 7,000 volunteers; about 6,000 more have signed up since; and monetary contributions from individuals all over the state have poured in. The “likes” on social media are steadily climbing, and the views on a recent campaign video number in the hundreds of thousands.
Dawson, founder of the Birmingham-based Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, considers the overwhelming response not as a tribute to him personally, but to what he represents.
“I’m not a politician,” he said simply. “This is just proof that Alabamians are tired of what’s going on in our state and are ready for a new perspective.”
The perspective Dawson brings to the table is rooted in hard work, traditional values and a love for sharing the gospel. He preached his first sermon at age 16 and hasn’t stopped sharing since.
A lifelong resident of Alabama, Dawson grew up on the west side of Birmingham and graduated from Ensley High School in 1985. He later earned a bachelor’s degree from Samford University and, a few years after that, a master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School. He and his family live in Hoover.
Dawson has seen his ministry grow from one man giving testimonials at youth rallies to a comprehensive outreach program encompassing a wide range of ages and denominations. The organization offers “a unifying message of hope to America and beyond,” as described on its website, and has been instrumental in sharing the gospel with more than a million people through event ministries such as Safe at Home, AtlantaFest, StadiumFest, UrbanFest and Wake Up America!
Dawson has written several books about faith and evangelism, as well as pioneered new ministries using digital technologies to spread the gospel.
A self-avowed “people person,” Dawson said he thrives on the personal encounters the campaign trail provides. The hard part for him, he said, is being shut in a room, making phone call after phone call to potential supporters when he’d rather be out meeting them in person.
But phone calls are part of the political game, and as the busy part of the campaign season draws nearer and the field of candidates grows, Dawson plans to keep talking and moving forward. His own standards for playing the game, however, are clear.
“I don’t know what I don’t know,” he said, “but I do know that I’m not going to compromise my faith, and I’m going to love the people of Alabama and pursue excellence. My prayer is to stay above the fray.”
And as for that bucket list, “becoming a politician” still isn’t on it. But “taking back our government from the special interests and career politicians” is, he said.
“I wasn’t looking for this,” Dawson said. “It was birthed out of a broken heart for the direction of leadership in our state. This is about common-sense leadership, integrity and a new day for Alabama.” ❖