2006 races could be most costly
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY--- June 6, 1944 was D-Day on the beaches of Normandy and purely by coincidence June 6, 2005 was D-Day (as in "Dollar Day") for those men and women who aspire to run for public office in Alabama in the 2006 primary elections.
Under state law, candidates and would-be candidates could legally begin raising campaign funds for those campaigns on that day. To put it another way, the '06 campaign is under way.
Most observers are in agreement that next year's elections will be the most expensive ever. Not only will there be the major statewide races…governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and five seats on the Supreme Court, to mention a few…but a titanic struggle is shaping up for control of the Alabama Legislature.
The Republican Party…irritated at how the Democratic majority in the House and Senate has run roughshod over them during the current administration…will make an all-out effort to become the majority party in 2006. To do that will take a great deal of money.
The GOP leaders are talking about raising as much as $6 million to spend on legislative races alone. That is mind boggling. In the not too distant past if a candidate for the Legislature spent as much as $5,000 in a campaign it was viewed as extravagant.
The opening gun for fund raising also provoked sudden interest in a race for a statewide office which has been largely ignored---the office of lieutenant governor.
With it a given that incumbent Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley will not seek a second term…she is a certain candidate for governor…her vacant seat will surely attract an enormous amount of interest.
Admittedly the office of lieutenant governor has lost much of its muscle…Don Siegelman saw to that before he took office as governor…but it will still be a much sought-after office.
Some familiar names have already cropped up…one of them surely the most familiar name in state politics, George C. Wallace Jr.
Wallace is now a member of the Public Service Commission but he said last week he was taking a hard look at running for lieutenant governor next year.
Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Terry Butts, who in recent years did some legal work for both Gov. Bob Riley and ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore, has confirmed that he too is looking at the lieutenant governor's race as well as the office of attorney general.
Both he and Wallace would run as Republicans.
One person previously mentioned as a possible candidate for the office…State Treasurer Kay Ivey…has now ruled out that race. She told me a few days ago she will definitely seek a second term as Treasurer.
The big increase is good news…but…the bad news is that collections last year were abnormally low due to an economic recession, hence the comparison between the two eight-month periods is skewed.
The state income tax…the chief source of money for public schools…was running a stunning 14 percent ahead of last year.
In the next few weeks state legislators will be taking junkets far and wide…Belgium, Germany, Romania, Newfoundland, Taiwan as well as the cities of Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.
Happily, the taxpayers will not be saddled with all of these travel expenses.