Bentley taking Columbiana roots to top

Published 12:46 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Perhaps some people grow up dreaming of someday becoming a hometown hero, but I somehow doubt such was the case for Columbiana’s Dr. Robert Bentley, the Republican nominee to be Alabama’s next governor. Bentley’s humble manner makes it hard to imagine his childhood dreams ever being that big. But becoming a hometown hero is exactly what Bentley has done and any stroll down Main Street in Columbiana or front porch conversation with a longtime resident will attest.

As most everyone knows, Bentley defeated his opponent Bradley Byrne in the July 13 Republican gubernatorial runoff, following a challenge from Tim James, to secure his place on the November ballot. Bentley’s Democratic opponent will be Ron Sparks.

Those who would seem to know Bentley best, his longtime friends and former classmates in Columbiana, speak openly of their respect, admiration and universal support for Bentley, how they admire how he has led his life from childhood to today and how they hope he will lead our state in the not-too-distant future. The stories being shared in Columbiana and throughout Shelby County all have one common omission: the absence of anything even slightly negative, which speaks volumes in today’s world of vicious political attacks. Everyone seems to have something positive to say about Bentley and, based on my visits with him, for good reason.

I mean nothing disparaging for any previously elected governors, but there is something quite special about the possibility of having a person in the state’s highest office with the grounded ideals one acquires in a community like Columbiana.

There are many stump speeches, debates, yard signs and baby kisses between now and November but it is not too early to point out the obvious.

Bentley, after a primary where he was the underdog, appears to be the odds-on favorite to be our next Governor and there are lots of people, both in Bentley’s hometown and statewide, who are more than a little excited about it. Count me among them.