Primaries yield odd results
MONTGOMERY–Now that the dust has settled over the June 4 primaries allow one who has been trying to keep up with such elections for half-a-century to make a few scattering remarks:
1. The most impressive performance, clearly, was the landslide victory of Bob Riley in the GOP primary for governor. Six months ago Riley didn't even register on the political radar screen, but he could have been charged with assault and battery on the morning after the election for what he did to Lt. Gov. Steve Windom. That Riley was going to win…and probably without a run-off…was a given, but even he could not have foreseen the magnitude of his victory.
2. Gov. Don Siegelman had to be pleased at his vote as well. That he overwhelmed Charlie Bishop was expected, but more encouraging to him had to be the fact that despite the predictions of the so-called experts…and I was one of those who made such a prediction…substantially more votes were cast in the Democratic Primary than on the other side of the ballot.
3. Mention must be made of the incredible contrast between the concession statements of Windom and Bishop. Windom could not have been more gracious when he congratulated Riley and pledged his support for him in November. Bishop couldn't have been less gracious, calling Siegelman everything but a crook…and he came close to calling him that.
4. While her name wasn't even on the ballot…she was unopposed…congratulations are deserved for Lucy Baxley, who on June 4 officially became the first woman ever nominated by a major party for the office of lieutenant governor of Alabama.
5. In the same vein…and I wonder how many of you even know this…Charles Woods, the badly burned World War II veteran who has made countless unsuccessful races for office…can now add to his resume that he won the Democratic nomination for Congress from the Second District on June 4.. He was unopposed hence his name wasn't on the ballot but he has the unenviable task of taking on incumbent Republican Congressman Terry Everett in November.
6. As expected the battle between State Auditor Susan Parker and Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips for the U. S. Senate nomination on the Democratic ballot went down to the wire with a run-off upcoming on June 25. Despite being far outspent, Parker led the primary by about six percentage points. This will be the "headline" race of the run-off and it will be testy. In fact the two began exchanging haymakers the morning after the primary.
7. The voter turnout in the newly-redrawn 3rd Congressional District left little doubt as to how effective the Legislature was in turning what had been a Republican stronghold into a Democratic stronghold. More than 57,000 votes were cast in the Democratic primary for Congress in that district compared with only 31,000 for the Republicans. If those numbers hold up in November the Democrats could re-capture that seat, which would be of critical importance in the U. S. House where the Republicans now hold only a paper-thin majority. This is the seat being vacated by Bob Riley.
8. Some habits are hard to break. If you don't agree with that then explain to me the strong showing of former First Lady Lisa Wallace in her race for State Treasurer in the Republican Primary, qualifying for the run-off with front-runner Kay Ivey. It would seem that there are still some folks out there who can't shake their ties with the Wallace name.
For your political trivia file you can add the name of Steve Windom to the long list of incumbent lieutenant governors who learned the hard way that the office is a lousy springboard to the Governor's office.
Since the office was re-created in the 1901 Constitution 10 sitting lieutenant governors have run for governor. Their record: 2-8.
The only men who were successful were Thomas E. Kilby of Anniston in
1918 and Don Siegelman in 1998
Lieutenant governors who ran and lost were Charles McDowell (who has
a descendant whose name many of you will recognize…Charles McDowell
(Mac) Lee, the long-time Senate secretary…Handy Ellis, Jim Allen, Albert Boutwell, Jere Beasley, George McMillan, Bill Baxley and Windom.