Erwin eyeing run for Lt. Gov.

Published 1:03 pm Friday, April 10, 2009

One of Shelby County’s most influential state representatives is eyeing a run for the State Senate.

State Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said he will be a candidate for the District 14 State Senate seat should current State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, decide to run for lieutenant governor.

How likely is it that Erwin will seek the lieutenant governor’s position?

“It’s pretty likely. He’s posted something about it on Facebook,” Ward said. “He’s supposed to make an announcement by the 19th. If he does, I will do a press release and announce my candidacy immediately.”

Erwin said he knows the rumors are rampant, but won’t confirm yet that he is a candidate for the lieutenant governor’s position, held now by Jim Folsom.

“We are going to make a formal announcement on Sunday, April 19, at 3 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Center. Until then, we are carefully considering it,” Erwin said.

Erwin said the state legislature’s 62 percent pay increase, passed after an override of Gov. Bob Riley’s veto in March 2007, is at the root of his desire for the lieutenant governor’s position.

“One of the things that the lieutenant governor does is preside over the State Senate. The lieutenant governor is like the head official in a football game. He can determine whether the game is thrilling and productive, or miserable for everybody.

“This lieutenant governor we have, crafted and made this 62 percent pay raise happen. He went with his cronies and buddies and against the people of Alabama,” Erwin said. “When you fast-gavel a 62 percent pay increase without permission from the people, without even asking for a referendum, that’s irresponsible.”

Erwin has never accepted any of the pay increase since it passed, including the recent cost of living pay increase, automatically enacted last Wednesday.

“I was told at the time that if I would just be quiet, I would be making $75,000. I told them I was not touching that money, they just stole it,” he said. “Any money done in that deal, which was without the permission of the people, that’s borderline stealing. I’m not going to touch it. The people need to put the Senate gavel in the hands of someone they can trust.”

In his seventh year in the State House, Ward is currently the second-ranking House Republican.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of people and build relationships. This would be a bigger step for me and for our area,” he said. “The senate seat would allow me to have more influence over state policy and be a bigger voice for this area.”

Ward said over the last few years, the Alabama Senate had become “incredibly dysfunctional. Although I am a strong conservative, I am a reasonable person and look forward to bringing to the Senate some sound, good judgment.”

While the election is still more than a year away — the primary is set for June 2010 — “these things get earlier and earlier,” Ward said.

“I feel like I can provide some good leadership for our area in the Senate, which sorely needs some good leadership.”