No surprises in governors race poll

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

MONTGOMERY &8212; Here we go again…and it is the same song, second verse.

The Mobile Press-Register in conjunction with the University of South Alabama has conducted the first poll of the upcoming gubernatorial race in the General Election and it looks strikingly familiar.

Gov. Bob Riley, the Republican nominee, led Democrat nominee Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley by almost the same margin that he had led Roy Moore in the GOP primary.

The numbers: Riley 53 percent; Baxley 25 per cent; with the remainder undecided.

The poll produed some surprising responses.

For example, Riley led Baxley among women voters, 49%-31%.

Baxley ran better with black voters but not overwhelmingly&8212;-38% to 28%.

USA political scientist Keith Nicholls, who directed the survey, said the numbers clearly suggested an overwhelming advantage for Riley.

&8220;In the absence of some economic crisis or a damaging scandal, I suspect Bob Riley will be re-elected governor,&8221; Nicholls said.

The Baxley campaign was quick to respond to the unfavorable numbers, noting that the same polling firm had underestimated her vote by 15 per cent in the Democratic primary.

&8220;We are in good position to win in November despite what the current poll says,&8221; the statement added.

A few of you may be old enough to remember when Birmingham was called the &8220;Magic City.&8221;

There was good reason for such a title.

In a relatively few decades Birmingham had grown from no more than a crossroads mining town to the largest city in Alabama.

It&8217;s growth was truly magical.

It&8217;s population peaked in 1960 when it reached 340,000. But it has been downhill ever since. How far downhill has it gone?

The U. S. Census Bureau released its official population estimates a few days ago and it said Birmingham&8217;s population is now only 231,000.

These numbers prompted Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford to warn that soon Birmingham may well be the second largest city in Alabama…surpassed by Montgomery with an estimated population of 200,000.

And what would it mean if Birmingham drops to No. 2?

Langford had an answer: &8220;Congressional lines will have to be re-drawn and federal dollars coming into this community will go to Montgomery.&8221;

For the record, the fastest growing city in Alabama in the recent estimates was Foley where the population has jumped 36 per cent since the 2000 census.

Close behind were Pelham (35 per cent) and

Millbrook (34 per cent.)

Wallace Malone, one of Alabama&8217;s most prominent (and wealthy) business figures, has moved to the Florida panhandle.

The former chief executive of SouthTrust Corp. has moved to Navarre, Florida, but he has announced the foundation he established will not go with him…it will likely will be based in Dothan…his home town before moving to Birmingham decades ago.

Malone retired in January shortly after SouthTrust was purchased by Wachovia Corp. of Charlotte.

When he retired Malone received a &8220;golden parachute&8221; of $135 million.

This generous payout drew considerable

criticism from some because the sale of SouthTrust led to more than 1700 job cuts in Birmingham.

Malone subsequently announced he would establish the foundation with some of this money.

He said at least 90 per cent of the foundation money would go to Alabama projects.

We had our share of wicked advertising campaigns in several legislative races in the primary elections and it appears there will be more of the same in the General Election campaign.

For example last week the Alabama Republican Party began running a series of radio commercials in Covington County aimed at unseating long-time House Speaker Seth Hammett of Andalusia.

The radio spot describes Hammett as a &8220;serial offender&8221; in supporting liberal causes and candidates.

An example, the commercial says Hammett gave an $8,000 contribution to Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery &8220;who fought against the ban on same sex marriage.&8221;

Hammett faces Republican nominee William Blocker of Andalusia in the General Election.