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Mayor's race takes a nasty turn

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–It looked like the troubling times of the 1960s were being re-visited last week in a heated race for mayor of the city of Gadsden.
Incumbent Mayor Steve Means, opposed by City Councilman Robert Avery, who is black, warned in a full page ad that Avery's election could result in Gadsden becoming "another Birmingham."
Avery called it the most racist ad he had seen in years. It was hard to argue with his assessment.
The ad said in part: "We can't afford a future where our homes lose value, our schools suffer, crime increases and businesses and residents pack up and leave. That's what happened in Birmingham and we can't let it happen in Gadsden."
Means, who won reelection by re-election by a 59 percent-41 percent margin, insisted the ad was not racist. but only a warning of what could happen if a "radical coalition" took control of the city.
Speaking of last week's city elections, mention must be made of the election of Matthew Hodges to the Scottsboro City Council.
Only a few months ago Hodges was walking down the aisle wearing cap and gown as he graduated from high school. He just turned 19 and is a freshman at Northeast Alabama Community College.
Almost as noteworthy as his age was his margin of victory–he won by five votes: 1,403 to 1,398.
In the primary elections early this summer there was a wide disparity in the number of votes cast in the congressional races in the Third District.
In the Democratic Primary won by Joe Turnham of Auburn, a total of 57,720 votes were cast; on the Republican side only 36,618 votes were cast in the race won by State Rep. Mike Rogers of Anniston.
At first glance that would suggest Turnham would be an overwhelming favorite to win the congressional seat being vacated by Bob Riley, the GOP gubernatorial nominee.
That ain't necessarily so says Rogers, and he has some numbers which he says backs up his claim.
Rogers says that in recent years there has always been a bigger turnout of votes in Democratic Primaries but in November those same voters support Republican candidates.
For example, in the last three presidential elections in Alabama the Democratic primaries attracted far more votes than the Republican primary, but in the general election the Republican candidates won by a substantial margin.
Perhaps of more significance, in 1996 when Riley won the congressional seat for the first time he got only 9,124 votes in the GOP primary compared to 24,668 votes for Sen. Ted Little on the Democratic side. However in November, Riley won the election.
As I write this, Charlton Heston of Hollywood fame is in Alabama to boost the candidacies of Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions and other Republicans.
Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall if and when Heston gets together with Chief Justice Roy Moore. Heston became a superstar when he played Moses in the "Ten Commandments" and Moore has done pretty well himself as a result of those same commandments. They would have a lot to talk about.

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