Candidates survive first round

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2002

The first round is over and some have already suffered a knockout.

The survivors will do battle in a run-off on Tuesday, June 25.

One of my colleagues in the Senate, George Clay from Tuskegee, was defeated in the primary by Myron Penn, chairman of the Bullock County Commission.

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Otherwise, all of the Senate incumbents who were in contested races won their elections.

The surprises to me in the outcome of the June 4 primaries were the defeat of House members Perry Hooper Jr. in Montgomery and Walter Penry in Fairhope.

Both of these legislators are able people who have served their districts well for many years.

The other surprise, to me, was the margin of victory by Congressman Bob Riley over Lt. Governor Steve Windom.

Both Riley and Windom conducted high profile, extensive media campaigns, yet Windom only received 18 percent of the vote while Riley was garnered 70 percent.

I really thought it would be much closer, even though Riley was predicted to win.

Incumbent Gov. Don Siegelman ran some TV ads and made a number of personal appearances, but his victory in the democratic primary never was in doubt.

The decisive margins compiled by Riley and Siegelman suggest a close race in November.

Both should have considerable momentum coming out of the primaries and probably who wins will depend in part on the candidate who makes the fewest mistakes between now and election day.

Until this current primary election was held, the percentage of people voting in the republican primary had continued to increase in the last four elections, but last Tuesday, 55 percent of those who showed up at the polls statewide voted in the democratic primary.

This is a slight reversal of the trend which had been taking place over the past few years.

I am not certain that you can read this as a prediction on how Alabamians will vote in November because there were many local sheriffs, county commissioners, tax commissioners and coroners up for election, all of whom ran on the democratic ticket.

Many citizens wanted to vote in those local races and therefore could not vote in the republican primary.

In the fall, everyone will vote for the person of their choice, irrespective of party affiliation.

My prediction, at least at this time, is that the governor's race will be like an old-fashioned horse race

won by a nose.

For some time now, I have thought that the main issue in the governor's race would be funding for education.

However, based on last week's report from the Department of Revenue concerning declining income in general fund monies, it may be that the principal issue will be revenue for all state government functions, not just education.

Siegelman has once again embraced the lottery proposal, but it was rejected four years ago.

There is not much reason to believe that it would fare any better this time around.

Many newspaper editorials this past weekend were focused on a call to each candidate to produce a plan A, plan B or if necessary a plan C, to meet Alabama's funding needs.

I think this is an appropriate suggestion and I am hopeful that these issues will be dealt with in depth in the forthcoming campaigns leading to the general election.

Let me know if I can be of assistance to you.

Remember, "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.