Sunday, January 01, 2006

Riley saddles up for '06

How should we ride into the election year of 2006? With a broad preview of the slew of Alabama races, of course, courtesy of The Huntsville Times.

The state political pundits quoted in the story seem to dovetail on three themes: 1) Gov. Bob Riley is a favorite to win a second term, 2) Democrats are likely to retain the Legislature due to their sheer numerical advantage, and 3) Republicans probably will win most everything else.

I concur with all three forecasts, though Riley's re-election is still far from a sure thing at this stage. The second prediction is simply a matter of mathematical probabilities -- Democrats have a 25-10 edge in the Senate and a 63-42 advantage in the House -- and the third one is obvious to anyone who's paid attention to state elections in the last decade.

As for Riley, his position is much more solid now than it was at this time last year, thanks to his widely admired handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and Alabama's lowest unemployment rate in almost 30 years. As the year goes on, the stream of headlines stemming from former Gov. Don Siegelman's second indictment can serve only as a positive for Riley's campaign. The same will hold true for voters' slow realization that former state Chief Justice Roy Moore is, well, Roy Moore.

If Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley is unable to jumpstart her fairly anemic campaign in a hurry and overcome Siegelman in the Democratic primary, Riley may gallop to the kind of easy victory that would have been unthinkable for him in the weeks after his failed tax plan in 2003. No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, though, Alabama's recent electoral trends strongly suggest that Riley will win his second governor's race if he survives the GOP primary.

This time, it might not even take a cameo from Sandman to do it.


Blogger Kathy said...

Regarding Lucy Baxley's campaign, I think "fairly anemic" is far too kind. It's more like nonexistent. Surely the Democrats could find someone to run who has some real ideas, a functioning personality, and no indictments.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy's campaign "officially" starts this week and I predict she comes out with a long laundry list of specific proposals. Maybe nothing earth-shattering, but I think she and those around her realize she's got to come out and start talking about issues. It will be a real test for her, but just the fact that she does it will get her a lot of favorable press.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

It's been my understanding for several months that Baxley intended to spend 2005 raising money and to wait until 2006 to start campaigning in earnest. Time will tell if that was the right strategy. As the anonymous commenter suggested, though, she has a good chance to build some momentum once she starts talking about concrete proposals, which should happen quite soon.

12:45 AM  

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