Dramatic turnaround in governor race favors Riley

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 25, 2005

MONTGOMERY &045; In what can rightly be called a dramatic turnaround, a recent poll by the Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama shows incumbent Gov. Bob Riley with a commanding lead over any of the candidates in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

Riley had a near-landslide lead in the poll over former Chief Justice Roy Moore in the GOP Primary … a whopping 44 percent to 25 percent among those who planned to vote Republican.

How would Riley do against either of the leading Democratic nominees &045; Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and former Gov. Don Siegelman? Again, he held commanding leads. He led Baxley in the poll by a 44-33 percent margin and Siegelman by a 45-31 margin. Less than six months ago, in a poll conducted by the same firm, Baxley had led Riley by a narrow margin.

What is the explanation for this turnaround? Many feel that Riley picked up a lot of strength because of what some called his

&8220;gubernatorial&8221; conduct during the recent hurricanes.

Another interesting result from the poll is that Moore not only trailed Riley in a one-on-one contest but he also trailed Baxley (44-37 percent) and finished in a dead heat with Siegelman.

USA political scientist Keith Nicholls, who directed the poll, said Riley was in &8220;a very good position&8221; but cautioned there was plenty of time left for the other candidates to gain momentum.

A few of you who read this column are old enough to remember there was a time when filing for bankruptcy was a disgrace almost as bad as being convicted of a crime.

People who filed for bankruptcy didn’t have the scarlet letter &8220;B&8221; burned on their forehead but it was almost that bad.

Not any more. And last week, only days before a new law went into effect that makes it tougher to file for bankruptcy, there was a tidal wave of bankruptcy filings throughout the state.

More than 2,000 were filed in the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Birmingham alone.

A sidebar…one of those filing for bankruptcy in Birmingham was Dr. Phillip Bobo, the Tuscaloosa physician who was a prominent player in the federal investigation of former Gov. Siegelman several years ago.

There will be a lot of tongue-in-cheek one-liners making the rounds during the upcoming gubernatorial race and I promise to give separate but equal treatment to the quartet of contenders: Baxley, Siegelman, Moore and Riley. This week’s zinger is aimed at Roy Moore:

It seems that Charlton Heston, who played Moses in the blockbuster movie &8220;The Ten Commandments,&8221; offered to work in Moore’s campaign, but he has changed his mind after the two men could not agree on who should wear the white robe and carry the tablet.

Bob Ingram has been covering Alabama politics for more than 50 years