Erwin launches campaign for Lt. Gov.

State Sen. Hank Erwin made it official Sunday. He launched his campaign to be Alabama’s next lieutenant governor.

Before a crowd of about 75 at the Pelham Civic Complex, Erwin, a Republican state representative from Montevallo, made this promise: “If you elect me as lieutenant governor, when I get that gavel in my hands, no one will ever again steal your money.”

Erwin was referring to the fast-tracked legislation in 2007 that led to a 62 percent pay increase for Alabama’s legislators. Erwin has refused to accept any pay increase funds, and blames Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. for selling out the people of Alabama.

Folsom, widely expected to run for governor in 2010, announced earlier this month he plans to seek re-election at lieutenant governor instead.

“There is a moment in every politician’s career that is a defining moment. You can either stand up for what’s right, or you can back down. He (Folsom) could have gaveled it to a stop, but he didn’t do that. Instead of standing up for the people of Alabama, he stood for his buddies and his cronies and made sure they got their money,” Erwin said.

State Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, who is serving in his fifth term in the state senate, introduced Erwin on Sunday. Also speaking on Erwin’s behalf were State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, State Sen. Steve French, R-Birmingham, and State Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who is expected to announce on Monday his candidacy for Erwin’s senate seat.

Earlier, Erwin called Ward his “heir apparent.” Erwin said he wants to be lieutenant governor because in Alabama, the lieutenant governor presides over the state senate.

Erwin said in announcing his candidacy for lieutenant governor, he was fulfilling one of his late father’s dreams. He said his father, a decorated war hero, was once asked to run for the position, but turned it down because he thought his young family needed him more.

He picked April 19 as the date for his announcement because it was April 19, 1945, when his father was awarded his medal of honor.

“I want to win back the respect of the people of Alabama for the state senate,” Erwin said. “The people don’t have much faith in the Alabama legislature. They see us as dysfunctional, a group that can’t get along and can’t get anything done.”

That’s the fault of poor leadership, he said.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership. We can lay it all back on the leadership in our state senate. Alabama’s legislature has been ruled by Democrats for over 100 years, and we must have a change in leadership in the Alabama Senate.”

Erwin said he stands for conservative values, which he outlined as:

Standing up for the unborn, saying he backs pro-life legislation and personhood status for the unborn.

Standing up for the family, which he defines as one man and one woman joined in holy matrimony.

Standing up for the rights of homeowners, who he said have the right to own guns to protect their property.

Standing up for the belief that tax cuts are better than tax increases and free markets are better than bailouts.

Erwin said he, “loves the United States military and I believe America is the greatest country in the world. And, I believe in a sovereign America that doesn’t bow down to or shake hands with terrorists anywhere in the world.”

Democrats are not for these values, he said.

“Democrats believe in abortion on demand. They believe in gun control. They believe in tax and spend government,” Erwin said. “Let’s get back to the values you believe in.”