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Why wasn’t Riley on McCain’s list?

By By Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
A great many Republicans are privately shaking their heads at Sen. John McCain’s choice for his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, who has been governor of Alaska for 18 months and who’s previous political experience was mayor of a small municipality.
I understand that she was chosen to pacify the Christian right-wing of McCain’s party because of her Pentecostal faith; her opposition to abortion, even in the event of rape or incest; her opposition to the teaching of sex education and her position favoring the teaching of creationism in the public schools.
I believe these and other issues she brings to the presidential election table will become very contentious during the campaign for President.
This past week one state newspaper, The Anniston Star, wondered in print why Gov. Bob Riley wasn’t near the top of McCain’s list.
While I have questions about some of Riley’s policies, he generally has been near the middle-of-the-road on most issues and is popular with Alabamians, including high numbers of African Americans and Democrats.
At the same time 52 percent of Alabamians give President Bush failing marks on his job as President, Riley’s job approval, as he approaches six years in office, stands at 61 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable in the latest Survey USA Poll. Even 42 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of blacks give him favorable marks. The Survey USA polling in Alabama is sponsored by WKRG-TV in Mobile.
It would seem that these numbers would have impressed the McCain Campaign, particularly for the general election. Said The Star: “His track record at recruiting international business to Alabama is superb: he’s a dedicated Baptist: and he has small town roots. Imagine the national press corps descending on Clay County and being utterly charmed.”
Riley had made a subtle effort toward the VP nomination, but apparently wasn’t even on McCain Campaign’s long list, much less its’ short one. It is my opinion that by the time the electorate absorbs all the foibles of Gov. Palin, including the recent ethics complaint filed against her by the Alaska State Troopers; Sen. McCain might wish he had looked at Riley. For those of you interested in reading more about Gov. Palin, go to The Anchorage Daily News on the web at adn.com.
Nader, Barr will be on State Ballot
Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader has already been certified and former GOP Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia and a Constitution Party candidate will likely gain access to Alabama’s general election ballot for President in November.
It requires signatures of 5,000 Alabama voters to gain access and Nader, running under the Independent Party label, has already submitted 9,966 signatures and had 5,000 certified by the Secretary of State before last Friday’s deadline. Nader’s running mate is Matt Gonzales of McAllen, Texas, who was elected president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2003. He is a member of the Green Party, a lawyer, graduating from Columbia Law School.
Barr, running under the Libertarian banner has turned in over 8,782 signatures and will likely be certified. His running mate is Wayne Allyn Root, a self-made businessman as well as an author and television producer. He graduated from Columbia University in 1983, with a degree in political science and later initiated his television career as an anchorman for the Financial News Network (now CNBC).
The Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin has turned in over 7,608 signatures and also will likely be certified as a candidate. The Green Party candidate did not submit any signatures and will not be on the ballot.
State Retirement funds decline
Key measures of the financial health of the Retirement Systems of Alabama have reached their lowest levels of actuarial soundness in nearly 20 years, and for the third year in a row have fallen below a benchmark for pension plans nationwide, The Birmingham News reports.
The value of assets held by RSA’s two biggest pension plans totaled less than 80 percent of the plans’ estimated future pension payments to retirees and to public employees now working who plan to retire someday. Until the close of the last fiscal year the actuarial funding levels of the Employees’ and Teachers’ Retirement systems had been above 80 percent since at least 1987.
RSA chief executive David Bronner said funding levels will rise when the economy improves and lifts stock values, if lawmakers refrain from giving more unfunded benefits to retirees as the markets recover.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: bob@montgomeryindependent.com

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