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Hartselle Enquirer

State governor’s race heating up

By By Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
Two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne says he is concerned about who will follow Bob Riley as governor because he believes there is a chance we could go backward as a state, “and we cannot afford for that to happen,” he told a Mobile Press-Register columnist a few days back.
Byrne singles out Congressman Artur Davis of Birmingham, one of several potential Democratic contenders in 2010, as a candidate whose administration could potentially set the state back. Davis is perhaps the first prospective African-American candidate in Alabama’s history, except for during the reconstruction period, who is thought to have a chance, albeit slim, at becoming the state’s chief executive.
It is interesting that Byrne, who is expected to seek the governor’s office as a Republican, would single out the only African American considering a run for governor as a person who would take the state backward. Byrne also took a shot at Congressman Jo Bonner, who has talked of seeking the governorship, saying he should stay in Congress because that’s where he could do the most good for the state as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Had he used the same logic with regard to Davis, a friend and confidant to the new President, and whom I happen to think could also do the state more good in Washington; his comments might have been credible. But no, he links the African-American Democrat to “backward” governance.
Now, I do not believe Byrne meant equating Davis to “backwardness” as a racist remark, but before the good chancellor gets in full gear on the campaign trail as a candidate, he needs some advisors at his side. And this stuff about spending time in Montgomery as a qualification for a governor is something a lot of voters would likely emphatically eschew.
Alabama’s 12 most influential people
They’re all male and very white and I must confess I was consulted on the choices compiled by the New York Times newspapers in Alabama, The Tuscaloosa News, The Times-Daily of Florence and The Gadsden Times.
The list is not the 12 most “powerful,” most “important” or “greatest.” But they all exert tremendous influence in important ways and in many spheres in Alabama,” the article stated.
It ranges from Gov. Bob Riley, to Paul Hubbert, the head of the Alabama Education Association, to a certain football coach named Saban, to U. S. Sen. Richard Shelby, to a trail-blazing trial lawyer named Jere Beasley.
Hubbert, the papers said, was singled out as the most influential for his four decades of work on behalf of the state teachers’ union.
Others on the list were Banker and Auburn Trustee Bobby Lowder; Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation; Charles McCrary, president and CEO of Alabama Power; David Bronner, CEO of the state’s pension systems; Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama System; Joe Reed, associate director of AEA and chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference; Dowd Ritter, chairman and CEO of Regions Financial Corp.
A billion dollars in education cuts?
When state lawmakers meet next Tuesday to start the 2009 regular session, many are predicting the shortfall in the education budget will be close to a billion dollars.
Where will the cuts be made? The annual battle between higher education and the secondary classrooms will certainly intensify during the upcoming months.
The Associated Press surveyed 70 percent of the House and 94 percent the Senate about how to approach the budget in the upcoming session. In the House, 41 percent of those responding said they would like to make the smallest cuts in K-12 schools. The AP found that only 13 percent feel the same way in the Senate, where universities traditionally have a stronger lobbying impact. In the Senate 50 percent favor equal cuts for all segments of education compared to 30 percent in the House.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: bob@montgomeryindependent.com

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