• 90°
Hartselle Enquirer

Siegelman was fighting losing battle

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Give me a few points for predicting in this space last week that Gov. Don Siegelman would throw in the towel…take off a few points because I thought it would come after he lost his appeal before the Supreme Court.
No matter, the 2002 gubernatorial election is now over.
Congressman Bob Riley defeated Siegelman by the narrowest of margins: Riley 672,225 votes, Siegelman 669,105 votes. It was the closest gubernatorial election in history.
Why did Siegelman call it quits even before the official vote was certified? There were a variety of reasons, but most importantly was
that he knew he was fighting a lost cause.
There was no way he could win. The votes simply weren't there.
This had already become obvious to most of his major supporters.
They were abandoning ship like the proverbial rats. Even before Siegelman surrendered, some of his top supporters had made the mandatory trip to Riley headquarters, palm leaf in hand, hopeful to make peace.
(A prediction: Some of those same folks will eagerly contribute to the Inauguration expenses.)
After the dust has settled on this historic election hopefully someone will write a book on the rise and fall of the Siegelman empire.
Here was a man who had devoted his entire life to being elected governor…he won the office by a landslide four years ago…and then was beaten by the most unlikely of challengers, a little known Congressman whose name ID two years ago was in the single digits.
This sort of thing might happen in novels and movies, but it rarely happens in real life.
Those close to Siegelman say he still has a stunned, glassy-eyed look, like a boxer who has been knocked out but still not aware that the fight is over.
Sadly, despite a remarkable career in politics, he may be remembered as a governor who lost a bid for re-election which he certainly should have won.
The Monday Morning quarterbacks of Alabama politics have already begun coming up with their own conclusions on why Siegelman lost this election.
Hindsight affording the 20-20 vision it does, most agree that the issue of alleged corruption in the Siegelman Administration was the key issue. Siegelman had people in key positions who appeared at times to have pushed the envelope a little too far in awarding no-bid contracts to friends.