Cleaning up cross-over confusion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 7, 2002

At the top of this column let me with red face clean up a mess I made in this space a week ago.

In writing about the dearth of candidates on the two party primary ballots on June 4 I closed out my comments by reminding you of the &uot;no crossover&uot; rule which created such a tempest in the 1986 gubernatorial election.

I said last week that if you voted in a particular party primary on June 4 you could not &uot;crossover&uot; and vote in the other party’s run-off on June 25.

That was accurate as far as the State Democratic Party is concerned.

If you vote Republican on June 4, you are prohibited from crossing over and voting in the Democratic run-off.

However the Republican Party has no such rule. If you vote Democratic on June 4 you will not be challenged if you cross over on June 25 and vote in the Republican run-off.

This could lead to all manner of political mischief in the run-off.

In all likelihood there will be no gubernatorial run-off following the Democratic Primary. Gov. Don Siegelman is an overwhelming favorite to win the nomination outright.

Just the opposite is true on the Republican side. Every poll taken suggests that Lt. Gov. Steve Windom and Congressman Bob Riley will most likely be in a run-off on June 25 for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

If that happens, there is nothing to prevent thousands of Democrats from crossing over and voting in the Republican run-off. They could play a major role in picking an opponent for their party nominee.

Say what you may about the Alabama Democratic Party but don’t say they are lacking in political courage.

That was proved beyond a doubt last week when they invited James Carville to speak at a huge &uot;Salute To Democratic Candidates&uot; in Montgomery.

Carville was one of the top advisors to President Bill Clinton, a man who would win no political popularity contests in Alabama.

Carville was at his acerbic best in his remarks to the Democrats, one of his targets being Republican Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been at odds with Gov. Siegelman on the appropriation to the Judicial Department.

Carville suggested that Moore be allowed to display the Ten Commandments anywhere he liked provided he added an 11th no-no to the list: &uot;Thou shall not be an ignorant fool.&uot;

While this $150-a-plate affair was advertised as a salute to all Democratic candidates, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop &045; who has challenged Siegelman for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination &045; must have felt short-changed.

Carville came close to turning the event into a Siegelman campaign rally, calling the governor a &uot;lean, mean, job-creating machine.&uot;

While those in the know insist it was not out of line, the so-called &uot;Golden Parachute&uot; given to former Alabama Power Company CEO Elmer Harris created quite a buzz.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harris received a special retirement package worth more than $4 million.

This is in addition to retirement benefits which will pay him $775,000-a-year.

To save you the effort, that figures out to $64,583 a month.

Power Company officials insisted the benefits paid to Harris were not out of line with what has been paid to other top executives. When Goodwyn Myrick stepped down as the top man at Alfa several years ago his severance package was worth more than $6 million.

Only time will tell if the generous benefits given to Harris will impact on the number of Alabama Power customers … many who make less in a year than he will make in a month…will continue to voluntarily add $1 to their bill each month to help pay the power bills of the poor