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Bishop abandons sure thing

By Staff
MONTGOMERY–It is a spectacular Friday morning in Montgomery, the last day of May, four days before a few of you…relatively speaking…will go to the polls to cast your vote in either the Republican or Democratic Primaries.
I am faced with the near-impossible assignment of writing a political column which will be read by some of you before that election, others will not read it until the day after the election. To put it mildly, I am in a no-win situation.
All I can do is do a little ruminating about the lack-luster 2002 primary campaigns.
Rumination No. 1: Why did Charlie Bishop opt not to seek re-nomination as Agriculture Commissioner…which he most surely could have won…to make a hopeless race for governor? The only explanation is that he believed the rumors that Gov. Siegelman would be indicted (perhaps even convicted of some misdeed) before the election, and that would open the door for him. It didn't happen and because it didn't Bishop spent a ton of his own money for nothing and may have written an end to his political career.
Rumination No. 2: They don't give prizes for the most talked-about political TV commercials of each campaign, but if they did the prize this year would go to the "prayer" commercial run by Julian McPhillips, a Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate nomination. While a number of candidates ran commercials making much of their close ties with the Lord, the McPhillips spot showing his family gathered around a dinner table where his daughter gave the blessing was clearly the most talked-about.
Rumination No. 3 (Closely related to No. 2): While there have been a number of memorable TV spots over the years, none had the impact as did a 30-minute telecast by former Gov. Big Jim Folsom on election eve, April 30, 1962. Folsom, seeking a third term, appeared a likely run-off opponent of George Wallace in that race, but on that Monday night he had a live statewide telecast.
He appeared to be drunk (he insisted later he had been drugged by his political enemies), but no matter the reason, he put on a performance liking nothing you have ever seen on TV. The following day newcomer Ryan DeGraffried led Folsom by 1,064 votes to make the run-off against Wallace. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind…including mine…that the election eve disaster cost Folsom a spot in the run-off. He would not have beaten Wallace in the run-off, but the fact is that he was never again a major factor in Alabama politics.
Rumination No. 4: Former Gov. Guy Hunt's decision to seek nomination to the State Senate caused a lot of us political trivia types to pore over old records to see if anything like this had ever happened before…had a former governor re-entered the fray and sought a lesser office? I can tell you that indeed has happened before…but not very often. Early in our history no less than four former governors ran for and were elected to the State Legislature after serving as governor. I am talking way back…in the first 30 years after Alabama became a state.
The only other example is more recent: In 1956, a year after his term as
governor expired, Gordon Persons ran for probate judge of Montgomery County. It was a mistake…a big mistake. He finished fifth in a field of five.
Rumination No. 5: More of a prediction than a rumination–Despite being branded as a bunch of wasteful do-nothings, I am not at all uneasy to predict days before the primary elections that more than 95 percent of the incumbent members of the Legislature will be renominated on June 4 and be reelected in November. You cuss 'em for four years then on election day you re-elect them. But don't be offended by this indictment. This has been so from the gitgo.

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