New Governor promises ‘action, not arguments’
For the first time in eight years, Gov. Bob Riley does not occupy the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery. Robert Bentley – an unknown dark-horse Republican candidate and Legislator in January of last year – was inaugurated on the Capitol steps. The man who promised to forgo a salary while in office captured the attention of Alabama voters in the June primary and November General Election. He’ll now have the opportunity to lead Alabama for the next four years. Bentley is faced with many of the same problems which plagued Riley later in his second term: unemployment still hovering in double digits, the long-term economic and ecological impact of the nation’s largest oil spill, and a rural road situation that’s quickly going from bad to worse.
Additionally, the legality or illegality of gambling, which occupied so much of the state’s time and resources last year, reached the boiling point in October 2010 with the arrest of several legislators and casino owners and it will remain an issue during Gov. Bentley’s first term. Bentley has advocated presenting the question of gambling – all gambling, including the casinos operated by Indians – to the people for a vote. However, he told the Associated Press, he is likely not to tackle that issue in 2011, but has turned all pending cases involving casinos and the state over to the Attorney General’s office, where those cases rightfully belong. Gov. Bentley’s election, and that of new AG Luther Strange, signals the dawning of a new era of cooperation between the governor’s administration and the chief law enforcement office in the state. For Alabamians fed-up with the “war of words” between Gov. Riley and former AG Troy King that blanketed the state last year, that, in itself, is refreshing.
However, where Gov. Bentley will have an advantage over his predecessor is in the make-up of the State Legislature. Gov. Bentley’s own party now holds power on Goat Hill, the first time in over 136 years that the Republicans hold a majority in both the Alabama House and Senate. If there was any time to get things accomplished in Alabama, it is now.
We wish Gov. Bentley the best of luck as Governor of Alabama. We hope he brings to state politics the “action, not arguments,” which he promised in his inaugural speech on Monday.