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Hartselle Enquirer

Baxley and Riley start war of words

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — If you are one of those political junkies who likes mud-slinging campaigns, it appears you are going to be in hog's heaven (pun intended) for the next two months.
A day rarely passes that Gov. Bob Riley and Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley are not throwing one mud ball after another at each other.
Let the record show that Gov. Riley started it.
His very first TV blitz was a scathing (and unexpected) attack on Baxley for being “too liberal.”
Baxley wasted no time in firing back, accusing Riley of having received major campaign contributions in 2002 from Indian gambling interests while insisting he was anti-gambling.
If that wasn't enough, a few days ago Baxley held a press conference in front of a car wash in Birmingham where she suggested that Riley “come clean” about the gambling money. That prompted a quick response from the Riley campaign that — considering all the campaign contributions she has received from gambling magnate Milton McGregor — she “probably ought to take a ride through that car wash and come clean herself.”
All of this prompts the obvious question: If it has gotten this ugly with two months to go in the campaign, how ugly will it get by election day?
Presently the three courts — five members each on the Courts of Civil and Criminal Appeals and nine on the Supreme Court — are all white, 18 of those seats are held by Republicans, and only four are women.
Judge Cobb, the lone Democrat in that number, is a candidate for chief justice of the Supreme Court and last week she and a number of the other Democrat judicial hopefuls held a joint news conference to call attention to what they think is a gender-racial disparity on the courts.
For the record, there are 10 Democrats running for state judicial seats in November and there is no denying they “look more like Alabama”; they include four white men, three white women, two black men and one black woman.
It is one of the oddities of Alabama politics than I cannot explain.
What I speak of is voter turnout in our elections.
The only explanation I can give, and it is not even persuasive to me, is that generally speaking the ballot is much shorter in presidential elections, hence it takes far less time to vote. But whatever the reason, the numbers are overwhelming.
In 2004 a record 1,883,000 voters went to the polls in the Bush-Kerry race for president. That was 515,000 more votes than were cast in the Bob Riley-Don Siegelman gubernatorial election in 2002.
Back up four years and the story was much the same. More than 400,000 votes were cast in the George Bush-Al Gore presidential race in 2000 than were cast in the Don Siegelman-Fob James gubernatorial race in 1998.
If you have an explanation for this, I am all ears.
A few weeks ago he got lots of ink in the press and air time on the tube when he announced he planned to run for governor in 2010. Unfortunately, Barkley had failed to read the State Constitution, which states quite clearly that a person must have been a resident of Alabama for seven years to be eligible to run for governor. That provision clearly would ban him from running in 2010 because he is not an Alabama resident today.
Now comes Barkley again, this time getting more ink and air time with the announcement that he plans to re-establish his legal residence in Alabama and run for governor in 2014.
Enough already, Sir Charles. You need to take your fantasies about being elected governor of Alabama and dribble off into the sunset.

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