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Former power chief eyes governor's post

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-With the party primaries for governor less than 11 months away most of the talk has focused on four likely contenders…Bob Riley and Roy Moore on the Republican side, Lucy Baxley and Don Siegelman as the Democratic contenders.
Perhaps…just perhaps…another name should be added to that mix.
Elmer Harris, the retired president of Alabama Power Company, told me in an interview that he is taking a very serious look at seeking the office of governor in 2006.
"I have had groups from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party talk to me about running for the office," Harris said. "I did not give any of them a definitive answer. I will give them an answer at a later time."
While Harris was a key behind-the-scenes player in the Democratic administration of Gov. Siegelman he said he personally felt "more in tune with the political philosophy of the Republican Party." It seems probable, if he runs, it would be as a Republican.
Harris said he was keenly aware of what it would take to make a competitive race for governor, either as a Republican, Democrat or Independent.
"It would take at least $12 million to make the race, I know that," he added.
Long a champion of constitutional and tax reform and for a major improvement in the education system, Harris expressed disappointment at what he called the failure of any of Alabama's recent governors…Fob James, Siegelman and Riley…to address those issues.
"We need a governor who will lead this state…who will sit down with members of the Legislature from both sides to work out a strategy that will bring about the reforms that must be made," he said, sounding more and more like a candidate.
Harris, who is 66, spent more than 44 years with Alabama Power before retiring as its top man in 2002. He is now chairman of a company in Atlanta which specializes in start-up businesses as well as being involved in governmental relations in Georgia and Alabama.
He also serves as chairman of the Center for Public Policy, an organization committed to constitutional and tax reform in Alabama.
The question I didn't ask Harris is this: Would the voters of Alabama look with favor on what used to be called a 'Big Mule' candidate?"
A half-century ago "Big"Jim Folsom was elected governor twice by running against what he called the "Big Mules"–defined as the super rich big business interests of the state. And there was no bigger mule anywhere than the president of Alabama Power.
Under the provision of eminent domain " the government can take a person's property for public use. This power has been used extensively to secure property for highways, railroads, dams, etc.
However a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision has broadly expanded this right of eminent domain to include private economic development projects…malls, industrial sites, etc.
State Rep. Jack Venable, D-Tallassee, said the recent high court ruling made all private property vulnerable, and it is his intent to introduce legislation in the special session to curb the power of eminent domain.
Gunter, a staunch supporter of Gov. George Wallace, was appointed by him to the Treasurer's office in 1978 after the incumbent, Melba Till Allen, was convicted of a felony and removed from office. Mrs. Gunter was subsequently elected to two four-year terms in the office.
Gunter was married into one of Montgomery's most noted political familes–her husband was the son of Mayor Bill Gunter, who served in that office for almost a quarter of century.
Gunter Field, now a part of Maxwell Air Force Base, was named for him.
The International Olympics Committee has cut the sports of baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics. Their reason: These two sports "lack global appeal and participation."
Meanwhile retained by the IOC in the Games were dressage and taekwando.
Go figure.

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