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Siegelman aiming for Big Jim's record

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY-Don Siegelman is already in the Alabama political record book…he is the only man in state history to have been elected to four different constitutional offices: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor.
And with his announcement that he will indeed make another run for governor in 2006 he will earn another listing in that same book of records: This will be his eighth race for a constitutional office, which will tie him with James E. (Big Jim) Folsom who also made eight races for a constitutional office. All of Folsom's races were for governor.
As to Siegelman's remarkable record, it is noteworthy that his name has been on every ballot in a major state election since 1978, and he has compiled a pretty good record-5-2. Tarnishing that record slightly is the fact that both of his losses were in gubernatorial campaigns-he lost in the Democratic run-off to Paul Hubbert in 1990 and lost a bid for re-election to Bob Riley in 2002.
Siegelman's announcement that he would run again in 2006…at least the timing of it…was a mild surprise to some. For one, there had been street talk that he was experiencing some difficulty in raising the big dollars he will need for the campaign; secondly, a federal grand jury is still looking at alleged wrongdoing in his first administration as governor as well as the years he was lieutenant governor. In fact, there are widespread rumors the grand jury may make its report in the immediate future.
Certainly the person most disappointed by Siegelman's announcement had to be Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, who had held out the hope, albeit a slim one, that she might not face major opposition in the Democratic Primary.
This would have allowed her to save her sizable war chest for the General Election.
Baxley of course has long since announced her candidacy, and her upcoming confrontation with Siegelman has all the makings of a classic confrontation.
While the battle for the Democratic nomination is now set, still unknown is who will be involved in the GOP primary. Gov. Riley continues to bob and weave when asked about his intentions while former Chief Justice Roy Moore says he will make known his intentions at a press conference scheduled in Gadsden on Oct. 3.
If politics turns you on, this is a good time to be alive.
A few years ago a coalition of black voters and a number of whites who didn't like long-time Mayor Emory Folmar formed a coalition and elected a new mayor-Bobby Bright.
Folmar was a hard-nosed, pistol-packing, decorated combat hero of Korea, and he minced no words about law and order. Who will forget his comment when he was forced into a run-off with Bright in that election: "I like to wake up in the morning to the smell of napalm."
No matter, Folmer was sent packing and Montgomery had a new and vastly different mayor. Or so his supporters thought.
Last week…sounding more like Folmar than himself…Bright suggested that due to the increasing crime stats in Montgomery that the people should "buy a gun, load it, educate themselves on how use it to protect themselves from the criminal element out there."
Bright's supporters were aghast, and Folmar must have been grinning from ear to ear.
Father Steve Williams of McGill Catholic School in Mobile spent many hours after Katrina seeking to aid people along Mobile Bay who had suffered such incredible damage from the storm surge. Many of them had lost everything. Later he shared his experience with a colleague, Father Todd Kreitinger, who serves at a Catholic Church in Auburn…a congregation made up primarily of Auburn students.
When Kreitinger asked Williams what his congregation in Auburn might do to help, Williams told his friend that the victims of Katrina in Mobile County desperately needed clothes…especially shoes.
Father Kreitinger shared this story with his congregation at a Mass and when he had concluded his message almost 200 people in the congregation walked up to the altar, took off their shoes and walked back to their dorms, frat houses and homes barefooted.