Governor's race already heating up
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–The gubernatorial primaries are almost 17 months away and the 2006 General Election is five months after that, but already the sparks are flying on opposite ends of the state.
In Huntsville former Gov. Don Siegelman, in what appeared to be a campaign rally, sounded very much like a candidate as he held the first of a series of what he calls "Listening Post" meetings with supporters.
He said little new in his remarks to a receptive crowd of Democrats. He insisted one more time that the charges brought against him in federal court…which subsequently were dismissed…were "politically motivated, faceless and fabricated." And one more time he said that the election was stolen from him in 2002. He was obviously referring to what was truly a bonehead mistake by Baldwin County officials where Siegelman was incorrectly given 6,000 more votes than he received. Those votes changed the outcome of the incredibly close election. There was never any evidence of any wrong-doing in Baldwin County, but it was a monumental error. While Siegelman was sounding all the world like a candidate in his Huntsville appearance at the Jazz Factory…way down South in Mobile there was another development of significance.
A survey authorized by the Mobile Register and conducted by the University of South Alabama showed that former Chief Justice Roy Moore had pulled ahead of Gov. Bob Riley after trailing him in a poll conducted last summer.
The latest survey, conducted among likely Republican voters, showed Moore with an eight percentage point lead over Riley–43-35. This was in sharp contrast to a survey done by USA last June which had Riley leading by a 42-38 margin.
Neither Moore nor Riley have said what their political intentions are in 2006 although most think it is a given Riley will seek a second term.
Moore says only that he is getting "a lot of encouragement" to run but no decision will be made anytime soon. A Riley spokesman said he would make his decision after the 2005 regular session of the Alabama Legislature which kicks off early in February.
Connors is stepping down as chairman of the Alabama GOP on Feb. 12, but a few days ago he took one more shot at the man he views as Public Enemy No. 1 to Republicans: The almighty Paul Hubbert and his legion of AEA members.
The GOP leader wants to see the party make a major effort in 2006 to win a majority of seats in the Alabama House and Senate.
When this happens, Connors said, "it will be good for the state…and not necessarily in the best interest of the teachers' union and Paul Hubbert." There was no immediate reaction from Dr. Hubbert to Connors threat…nor is there likely to be. Hubbert is a 500 pound gorilla on Capitol Hill. Connors is not.
It would take a herculean effort for the Republicans to win a majority of seats in the House and Senate. Presently there are 42 Republicans in the 105-seat House, and 10 Republicans in the 35-member Senate.
The State Supreme Court has upheld a local bill which will allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city. It was authorized by one of those bizarre population bracket bills. It specified that any city in Cherokee County with a population of more than 1,300 but less than 1,500 could sell beer and liquor if approved in a local referendum. Needless to say, Cedar Bluff is the only city in the county to fall into that population category.
Growing up in Cherokee County long, long ago, I remember a couple of wet-dry referendums. Both times the propositions were rejected. I remember being told that efforts to legalize alcohol in the county were always defeated by the "B&B" coalition–the Baptists and the bootleggers.