Moore has gotten more mileage from Commandments than Moses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2000

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Circuit Judge Roy Moore of Gadsden has gotten more mileage out of the Ten Commandments than Moses.

You remember Moses' fate: When he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments the children of Isreal were worshipping an idol. Both the people and Moses were sentenced to 40 years in the wilderness and denied the right to enter the Promised Land.

Judge Moore, who campaigned as the "Ten Commandments Judge", hasn't reached the Promised Land…the office of Chief Justice…but he took a giant step toward that goal last week when he won a landslide victory in the Republican Primary.

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The experts had it figured that Moore would have a tough time with Harold See, an associate justice on the Supreme Court. There were predictions of a run-off. Those experts woke up the morning after the election with egg on their faces. See didn't come close.

Now only Democrat nominee Judge Sharen Yates of the Court of Civil Appeals stands in his way in the November General Election. Making her challenge even greater is that she will be running on a ticket headed by Democratic presidential nominee A1 Gore, Moore will be on a GOP ticket headed by presidential nominee George Bush. As of today, a Bush sweep of Alabama may be in the making.

Moore's huge victory last week marked the second time in less than a year when conservative Christian groups have prevailed in an election despite being outspent by the opposition.

Last fall it was the lottery referendum, where the religious right won despite being outspent by more than a 3 to-1 margin. The Moore-See race was almost an instant replay of the lottery vote.

Other than the chief justice contest on the Republican side, last weeks primary elections were sleep-provoking. The voter turnout, as predicted, was exceedingly low. But if you think it was a light vote on June 6 wait and see what happens in the run-off on June 27. With so few races on the ballot, election officials could outnumber the voters.

Going back to when I first started covering politics I have played a mental game with myself. At the outset of a new administration I have tried to pick the freshmen members of the Legislature who I thought might make a major dent in politics in the future.

When the freshmen of 59 arrived it was easy to predict that C. C. (Bo) Torbert merited close watching, also Bill Nichols and Tom Bevill. Torbert later became chief justice while both Nichols and Bevill served with distinction in Congress.

That Class of 59 included another man who I must admit I didn't put in my mental file as a comer in politics. His name was Jimmy Clark of Eufaula.

How wrong I was. Clark went on to serve for 24 years in the Legislature, the final 12 as speaker of the House. His three consecutive terms as speaker is unprecedented in Alabama legislative history. It was during Clark's speakership that the House declared its independence from the Executive Department, a move that restored some semblance of checks and balances between the House of Representaytives and the Governor.

What sort of speaker was Clark? Perhaps he was best described by Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery, who had countless confrontations with Clark. Said Holmes: "He was tough as a $2 steak."

Clark didn't make the "All Freshman Team" as a legislator, but when he ended his distinguished career he had become an all star. His death last week at the age of 78

marked the passing of a true legislative giant.