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Hartselle Enquirer

Redrawn districts could hurt GOP

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–There is not much question that Alabama is a George Bush state. In the 2000 presidential election Bush crushed Democrat Al Gore by a whopping 58-42 per cent margin.
If the election were held today it would probably be even worse.
But there is a possibility that Alabama…or more correctly, the newly gerrymandered Third Congressional District…could deprive the Republican Party (and President Bush) of its paper-thin majority in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Presently the Republicans hold a 219-210 margin in the lower house. A switch of only five seats would give the Democrats control and the enormous power that goes with it…the speakership and the committee chairmanships.
One of those five seats could well be the Third District of Alabama, now represented by Bob Riley, who stepped down to run for governor.
When the Alabama Legislature re-districted the state earlier this year, it was the unprotected Riley district which was the target of the Democrat majority.
The end result was a re-drawn congressional district that stretches from the hill country of Cherokee County in northeast Alabama to the flatlands of south Montgomery County. One wag suggested that the peoples of the opposite end of that district don't even speak the same language.
But more important than the geographic extremes of this district are its demographics. Tens of thousands of blacks from the city of Montgomery were added to the district. The end result is that what once was a Republican district has tilted the other way.
This was underscored in the June primaries when almost twice as many votes were cast in the Democratic Primary for Congress in the Third District as were cast in the Reublican Primary.
The battle between Republican nominee State Rep. Mike Rogers of Anniston and Democratic nominee Joe Turnham of Auburn, the former chairman of the State Democratic Party, will be one of the most watched congressional races in the nation in November.
Its importance was underscored last week when Vice President Dick Chaney came to Montgomery for a fund-raising dinner for Rogers. More than $200,000 was raised at the event but if the polls can be believed it may not offset the political surgery done on the district by the Alabama Legislature.
A powerful group of Auburn alumni must be wondering what is going on in the Alabama governors race.
The group has had a long-running fight with Auburn trustee Bobby
Lowder, who they think runs the show at the university. To get at him, the organization has set its sights on the defeat of Gov. Don Siegelman, who not only re-appointed Lowder to the board but also named several others to the board with close ties to the Montgomery banker.
Now comes the revelation–thanks to the Auburn-Opelika Daily
News–that Lowder has made substanitial contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Bob Riley, the candidate who was being supported by the Auburn alumni group.
Several PACs which Lowder has given huge contributions have in turn made large contributions to Riley. You can be sure those contributions were not made without Lowder's advice and consent.
In addition, when President Bush was in the state recently on
Riley's behalf, Lowder shelled out $50,000 to be photographed with the President.
To add to the political confusion of the Auburn dissidents, Gov.
Siegelman publicly admitted in an interview last week he had made a mistake in appointing at least two trustees to the Auburn board and had asked them to resign. That's the same song the Auburn alums have been singing for years.
Comes to mind the old expression, "You can't tell the players without a program." In Alabama politics, you need a program to know who is playing for who.