Decision Day only few away
MONTGOMERY &045; This being my last column before D-Day … Decision Day … you may be expecting a prediction from this writer on who will win the spirited contest for governor.
I know who is going to win but to be perfectly candid the powers that be at this newspaper aren’t paying me enough to tell you.
I am only joking. Your guess is as good as mine. You have probably seen the most recent polls, one financed by the Alabama Education Association, the other by the Business Council of Alabama.
The AEA poll had it a dead heat … 40 to 40 percent with Libertarian candidate John Sophocleus gettting 3 percent and 17 percent undecided.
The BCA poll had Riley leading by a point, 42 percent to 41 percent, with Sophocleus getting 3 percent and 14 percent undecided.
Perhaps the most significant numbers in these surveys was the number of undecided voters, which in fact has increased in the past fortnight. Normally these numbers drop as election day draws nearer.
One prediction that can be made &045; voter turnout will the key. If there is a big turnout, Siegelman will likely prevail, while a light turnout favors Riley.
The base of the Republican support in Alabama are white conservative voters, from middle-age up. They will vote on election day.
It is up to the Democrats to be certain their core groups also go to the polls en masse &045; teachers, union members and blacks.
Beyond the governor’s race, a couple of easy predictons: U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions will trounce Democrat Susan Parker in his bid for re-election; ditto for Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor, the Republican, in his race with Boyd Whigham of Ozark.
The polls still show Lucy Baxley with a comfortable lead over Bill Armistead in the race for lieutenant governor although the margin is not nearly as great as it is in the senate and attorney general races.
A parting shot: I hope all your candidates win … provided they are my candidates.
If I were to make a list of the most admired men I have known in my life, one of those who would surely make the Top 10 would be Winton M. (Red) Blount, dead at 81.
His incredible achievements in business and public service and his staggering philantrophy have been well documented.
After World War II service as a bomber pilot, Red came home, bought some war surplus Caterpillar tractors and went in the business of building fish ponds with his brother Houston.
The rest of the story you know. His firm built the Superdome in New Orleans, the launch pad from which three astronauts went to the moon and a university-city in Saudi Arabia which at the time was the largest competitive bid project in history.
In the political arena, Blount played an enormous role. In 1952, he was the first facecard in Alabama to do what was almost unheard of &045; he actively supported a Republican (Dwight Eisenhower) for President.
Later he served as postmaster general during the Nixon administration.
You can only wonder where the Republican Party of Alabama would be today without the seed-planting done by Blount.
Unlike so many of the super-successful, who hold on dearly to their money, perhaps thinking they can take it with them in a U-Haul when they depart, Blount gave countless millions back to his community and state.
The centerpiece was the magnificent Alabama Shakespeare Theater, one of the finest in the world, and quite recently the Blount Cultural Park which adjoins the theatre.
Predictably the first two words to come out of President Bush’s mouth last week when he spoke in Auburn was &uot;War Eagle,&uot; but once he had voiced those obligatory words, he gave a final push to the candidacies of Bob Riley and State Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, who hopes to fill the Third Congressional seat being vacated by Riley.
While he did not and would not admit it, Bush is probably more interested in seeing Rogers win than Riley.
With the GOP holding a paper-thin majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Third District seat is of critical importance to Republicans. It was no coincidence that it was Rogers who introduced the President.
The bottom line question: Did the President’s visit help the campaigns of Riley, Rogers and the other Republicans?
For sure, it didn’t hurt