Former governor visits Crenshaw County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don Siegelman spent Tuesday holding a series of meet-and-greets throughout central Alabama as the former governor considers running for re-election in 2006.

Siegelman, who narrowly lost his bid for a second term in 2002 to Gov. Bob Riley, held an informal meeting with Crenshaw County officials and local residents in the courthouse Tuesday afternoon. His purpose, he said, was to test the "political landscape."

"I haven't made a decision as to whether or not I will run for governor or not," Siegelman said. "The people have to want me to be in it."

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However, Siegelman said if the election were held this week he would wish to see his name on the ballot.

"I look around the state and I see things we can make better," he said. "Good things have happened but there's so much more that can be accomplished."

Siegelman touched on several issues during the one-hour meeting, including the need for a revision of the Alabama constitution and care for the state's elderly. The constitution, he said, contains racist language that needs to be removed in order to attract corporations and industry from overseas. Senior citizens also need access to quality healthcare, he said.

"It's a disgrace to me that our prisoners are better taken care of than our seniors," he said. "We need rural health care so small town people don't have to leave and go to a big city to get health care."

Siegelman also mentioned his desire to implement an education lottery, something he tried to do in 1999 as governor but which Alabama voters soundly defeated.

"Every bit of that money would have went to education," he said. "What it would offer is a chance for every child to go to college for free."

If elected, he also said he'd focus on revitalizing the state's county seats including Luverne

"I think most of the time the state gets focused on the big projects and forgets about our smaller communities," Siegelman said.

Siegelman's likely opponent in a Democratic primary would be Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, who recently kicked off her campaign for the state's highest office. On Tuesday, Siegelman didn't mention Baxley's name, but inquired about which political party Crenshaw County traditionally supported and whom the county would vote for in a Republican primary between Riley and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Siegelman was indicted in 2004 on federal charges stemming from a bid-rigging scheme with his former chief of staff Paul Hamrick and Phillip Bobo, a campaign contributor. The charges were later dropped by federal prosecutors.