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Riley remains the man to beat

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–After conducting a poll to see who is leading in the two gubernatorial primaries, the University of South Alabama Polling Group has now released figures on a poll to determine who will be elected governor in November.
If these numbers are to be believed, Gov. Bob Riley, at this time at least, is a clear-cut favorite to come out on top in November.
The survey, which was authorized by the Mobile Register, showed that if Don Siegelman is the Democratic nominee Riley is leading him by an overwhelming margin of 53 percent to 27 percent. If Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley is the Democratic nominee, the same survey showed Riley beating her in a much closer race–45 percent to 36 percent.
Keith Nichols, the director of the USA Polling Group, said the numbers made an obvious point: It appears, and not unexpectedly, that Riley is the man to beat.
An earlier poll had showed Riley defeating his GOP challenger Roy Moore by a 2-1 margin.
But despite all this polling data it is well to remember that the only polls that count are on election day in June and November.
That is the score after the first election in 2006 for a seat in the Alabama Legislature.
The Republicans, who dream of winning control of the Legislature this year, were rejoicing at the landslide victory Barry Mask won over Democrat Bobby Payne in a special election to fill a House vacancy caused by the death of veteran lawmaker Jack Venable, D-Tallassee. The district includes parts of Elmore and Tallapoosa counties.
Mask, who once was best known as the first "Aubie" -the Auburn University mascot-pulverized Payne by a whopping 59 percent-41 percent margin. This was true despite a $100,000-plus campaign by Payne, who had powerful support from the Alabama Education Association.
Mask will not have much time to celebrate his victory. He will qualify next week to run for a full term in the office in the upcoming June primary. Payne has said he will not run for the office again.
I am not sure how much praying was done there but I know for a fact – I was a witness but not a participant – that in this room were some high-stake poker and crap games. I mean very high stakes.
I have no idea that any dice are being tossed or any cards being dealt in the State House where the Legislature now meets, but Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, has sponsored a bill that makes me wonder.
His measure would make it a misdemeanor to play cards or dominoes or shoot dice for money in the State House. Does Rep. Ford know something the rest of us don't know about what is going on at the State House?
Tall, articulate, not unhandsome, Enfinger appeared to have all the goods to be labeled as a "can't miss" player on the state political scene.
Not to be discounted was that he was a man of considerable means.
He is a hugely successful real estate developer in Huntsville and his family ties are powerful–he is the grandson of the late J. D. Hayes, a long time president of the Alabama Farm Bureau (ALFA).
But after some stormy years in the State Senate which included a rare switch from the Republican Party to the Democrat Party and a public spat with the Democratic leadership, Enfinger's stock began to plummet.
How far it dropped was underscored last week when he announced he would not seek re-election – that he had enjoyed all the politics he could stand.