Monday, July 31, 2006

Seriously, have you heard that accent?

As candidates are wont to do when they're down big in the polls, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley lately has gone on the offensive against Gov. Bob Riley, calling him "a puppet of millionaires and big businesses" (in The Birmingham News' words) who doesn't represent average Alabamians. Her game plan, at this point, seems to cut into Riley's lead by appearing to be the more down-to-earth contender.

Baxley's strategy is tailor-made to erode electoral support from a high-dollar candidate who hails from the state's old-money elite. As columnist Steve Flowers suggested last week, though, the plan's main flaw is that Riley simply doesn't come across as one of the Big Mules of yore. He's a car salesman from a family of farmers and ranchers in rural Alabama, and his voice has the down-home twang to prove it. Even for Baxley, who grew up as a farm girl in the Wiregrass, it'll be well-nigh impossible to out-country Riley.

Until the attack ads begin to fly, I'll hold out hope that this one can come down to two pretty good candidates debating the issues. We sure could use a race like that after this year's vitriolic primaries.


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