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Hartselle Enquirer

Gov. Riley’s coattails prove to be short

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
MONTGOMERY — Few Alabamians are aware of it but there is a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot of more than passing interest to a number of Alabama school districts.
The amendment, if ratified, would require every school district in Alabama to impose at least a 10 mill property tax to provide local support for education. There are now 30 school districts in the state that collect less than 10 mills.
To put it another way, Riley's coattails don't appear to be towing the entire Republican slate to victory.
While Riley in both surveys had almost a 20-point lead over Baxley, there was no such landslide numbers in the other races for state office. In fact several Democrat nominees were leading in both polls.
For example, Democrat Jim Folsom, Jr. was a fraction ahead of Republican Luther Strange in the battle for lieutenant governor; Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, the Democrat incumbent, had a double digit lead over GOP challenger Albert Lipscomb; Democrat incumbent Jan Cook led Republican John Rice by double digits in the race for a seat on the Public Service Commission; and in another PSC race, Democrat Susan Parker, led Republican Perry Hooper, Jr. by seven percentage points.
Even the contentious race for secretary of State between incumbent Democrat Nancy Worley and retiring State Auditor Beth Chapman was too close to call.
In fact, the only major statewide races in which the GOP nominees were leading was in the chief justice contest, where incumbent Drayton Nabers had a five-point edge over Democrat Judge Sue Bell Cobb; and Atty. Gen. Troy King was leading his Democrat challenger John Tyson by six points.
Bottom line: Alabama voters know how to split a ticket at the voting booth and it would appear they are going to do a lot of it in November.
Baxley even sought to poke a little fun at the fundraiser for Riley in Birmingham which featured President Bush. She had a rally of her own on the same day which was strikingly different than the Riley-Bush affair.
While Riley supporters paid out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to dine in the same room with the president, Baxley served free hot dogs to her supporters at her rally.
She even stuck the needle in a little deeper by letting her supporters have their picture taken with a life-size cut-out of President Bush for 50 cents. At an earlier Bush appearance in Alabama supporters paid a great deal of money to be photographed with him.
Give Lucy credit: She hasn't lost her sense of humor.
Marlene French, an employee at Bishop State Community College in Mobile, has been arrested on an indictment charging her with giving her former boyfriend federal student aid money totaling $6,501 even though he was not a student at the school.
The former boyfriend was also arrested.
Coincidentally, on the day of the arrests the State Board of Education met in Bay Minette — just across the bay from Mobile — but took no action concerning Bishop State President State Rep. Yvonne Kennedy. There had been speculation she might be fired or put on leave by the board but the subject did not come up.
Bob Ingram's syndicated weekly political column appears in dozens of newspapers across Alabama. He is a native of Cherokee County.