Thursday, November 30, 2006

To the visitors from the sports boards

First, welcome, and thanks for dropping by in droves in the last couple of days. I mostly discuss politics here, but sports talk (particularly college football talk) has been known to creep in from time to time. Regardless, I hope you decide to hang around.

Now for a few points of clarification about the Alabama coaching candidates post that has lured so many of you here:

1) Just because someone's on the list, that doesn't mean I endorse him for the job. More than half of the names mentioned are there just for discussion's sake and to fill out the list to an even 20. It's all in harmless fun. Promise.

2) I don't have any say in who gets hired, interviewed, or considered, nor do I speak regularly to anyone who does. Don't worry if you see your favorite team's coach on the list. I've only seen a few of the names mentioned seriously in connection with the job; the rest are there mainly to dispel rumors or to recognize someone as a successful coach.

3) Rush Propst will not be the next Alabama head coach. Neither will Sylvester Croom or Bobby Johnson.

4) Who actually is on Alabama's short list? You probably know as well as I do. Media reports have suggested consistently that Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban are at the top of the list, but beyond that, it's a guessing game. Based on the press buzz, I'd think Jim Grobe, Bobby Petrino, and Rich Rodriguez are under consideration, too, but that's just conjecture. I'd be happy with any of them.

Thanks again for stopping by, and Roll Tide.

Sadly, their names aren't as quirky

A skirmish between the business and social conservative wings of the Alabama Republican Party is shaping up in the impending race for state party chairman.

Carrying the banner for the business wing is Senate Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, who is so closely aligned with Gov. Bob Riley that he named his son for the governor. Leading the grassroots charge for the social conservatives is Scott Beason of Gardendale, a state representative who ousted longtime state Sen. Jack Biddle in the June primary.

Hubbard would seem to be the status quo candidate. Many Beason backers, meanwhile, feel the party under outgoing chairwoman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh -- whose name, as always, entertains me -- didn't do enough to erode Democratic control of many county offices or the Legislature. Either way, the winner would have to step down from his seat, unless he wanted Democrats to have the advantage of a chairman able to devote his full political attention to party business with the GOP run by someone pulling double duty as a chairman and legislator.

The election is in February, so it's too early to predict a winner. But it will be interesting to see which faction prevails, and whether state Republicans can avoid an ugly, divisive fight in the process.

Elections matter

Attorney General Troy King saw fit last year to ask the then-head of the state's two-year college system to help his friend's mother find a job in the system. That in itself isn't newsworthy, but the fact that King's request came while his office was conducting an investigation of the two-year college system is. Now, thanks to what The Birmingham News generously labeled "a really bad judgment call," the AG has recused himself from just the sort of statewide probe you'd want an AG to lead.

Congratulations on four more years of this guy, Alabama.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wouldn't that be something?

A day ago, a friend predicted that former Alabama coach Mike Shula's name would emerge in Miami's head coaching search. I scoffed and said dinner would be on me if he got the job.

Imagine my reaction, then, when this story surfaced from The Associated Press today, citing Shula as a possibility to replace Larry Coker. On a certain level, of course, I shouldn't have been surprised. Shula's surname has huge cachet in Miami due to his legendary father's Hall of Fame tenure with the Dolphins. He's also a nice enough guy to deserve a good bounceback job, though I expected it would come as a head coach at a mid-level college or an assistant with an NFL team or big-name school rather than as an immediate head gig at another BCS program.

Then again, Shula is a pretty good recruiter and still would be one of the youngest head coaches in Division I-A even after four years at the Capstone. If he begins to do a better job of adjusting his in-
game strategies to reflect changed circumstances, his future teams could become very dangerous indeed.

I don't think Shula ultimately will be the choice for the Hurricanes' top job. If he ends up there, though, it'd be perhaps the most impressive example ever of a fired coach landing on his feet. The surreality of seeing Shula lead a sea of orange and green out of the Orange Bowl tunnel next year would make that dinner worth it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The long version of the short list

Note: Please read this post and the disclaimers below before you take this list too deeply to heart.

I have no idea if any of these people are actually candidates for the Alabama head football coaching job. I have no idea if any of them have been contacted about the job. I have no idea if any of them are even interested. This list is far from exhaustive and may not include the eventual winner of the coaching sweepstakes, but regardless, let's examine, in alphabetical order, a few names the Crimson Tide might (but in some cases absolutely shouldn't and won't) consider in the quest for its 27th coach.

Tommy Bowden, Clemson head coach
His name has been batted around occasionally in Internet banter, but I doubt it'll be him. Bowden's teams are notably inconsistent from week to week, and he's barely escaped the ax in Death Valley in recent years. The fact that his brother Terry coached Auburn in the 1990s doesn't help, either.

Norm Chow, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator
Creator of the unstoppable killing machine that is the USC offense, Chow is probably the best assistant in the nation who's never been a head coach. But that lack of experience in a top job likely would preclude his selection in a search focused on head coaches.

Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State head coach
Croom is a UA alumnus and would be the Tide's first black head coach, but his performance in Starkville, while gritty, hasn't exactly screamed "must hire." UA administrators also would be loath to pick the man who was runner-up to Mike Shula in 2003.

Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans head coach
The longtime NFL head man who was a yard away from a Super Bowl win in 2000 would be available if he resigned or the Titans fired him at the end of this year, and he certainly would count as a big-name hire. But if quarterback Vince Young continues to improve, Fisher's job in Nashville may be safe after all. Also relevant: Fisher has no college coaching experience.

Chan Gailey, Georgia Tech head coach
His Yellow Jackets are playing for the ACC title Saturday, and he has experience as a head man at both the college and pro levels. But Gailey's teams often seem to underachieve, and the last coach Alabama hired from Georgia Tech ended up with a brick through his office window despite a good win-loss record. The pivotal question here: Does Alabama really want the guy who used to coach the Birmingham Fire?

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest head coach
A solid coach who reversed decades-long woes at Ohio and Wake Forest, Grobe has his 10-2 Demon Deacons a win away from the ACC crown. His 12-year career record hovers at around .500, but how many people do you know who could have done better at those two schools? Grobe wouldn't be a big-name hire, but he might be one of the best coaches in the entire country.

Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt head coach
He beat Tennessee at home in 2005, almost beat Alabama at home this year, and was a blocked field goal away from a bowl last year at the SEC's perennial doormat. But Johnson would seem like an underwhelming hire given the expectations, and the last time an SEC school hired away a Vanderbilt coach, it didn't go so well.

Paul Johnson, Navy head coach
Anyone who can win two straight Division I-AA national titles and then turn Navy into a team that has averaged almost nine wins per season since 2003 despite the fact that he must recruit players to a military academy during wartime is a talented coach. Johnson's attractiveness is marred, though, by a steroids scandal brewing in Annapolis and a triple option offense largely unsuited to the SEC.

Joe Kines, Alabama interim head coach
As defensive coordinator, Kines has overseen the one aspect of the Alabama football team that has remained consistently solid throughout the vicissitudes of the Shula era. Kines has a year of head coaching experience in the SEC, he knows the Alabama players, and he sounded impressive and passionate during his brief press conference Monday. If the Tide is looking to stay in the family and Kines is willing, he would be a fine choice. But UA officials probably want someone with more time as a head coach.

Steve Kragthorpe, Tulsa head coach
He's young and has made the Golden Hurricane a contender in Conference USA, but Kragthorpe still seems relatively unproven as a head coach, especially compared to some other names on this list. He also would lack the star power that many Tide fans are seeking for this hire. Still, Alabama could do much worse.

Jim Leavitt, South Florida head coach
Alabama put out feelers for him after Dennis Franchione left in 2003, but Leavitt chose to stay with the program he built from scratch. Now that he's turned USF into a legitimate Big East contender, would he consider a new challenge? Leavitt wouldn't bring marquee star power, but he would bring a proven winning attitude at a buyout cost of only $500,000.

Steve Mariucci, former Detroit Lions head coach
His hiring would make a big splash in the headlines, but Mariucci has spent only one year at the helm of a college program, and I'm not completely sold on his widely touted reputation as an offensive genius. He probably will spend next season as either a television analyst or head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

John Mitchell, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line coach
An All-America defensive end at Alabama who coached under the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, Mitchell has spent more than three decades in coaching, split almost evenly between the SEC and NFL, where he is in his 13th season playing an integral role in molding the Steelers' vicious D. He also would be the Tide's first black head coach. Unfortunately for Mitchell, his experience is entirely as an assistant, and UA officials are looking for a coach who has spent time in a team's top job. He's definitely someone to keep on the radar screen for the future, though.

Bobby Petrino, Louisville head coach
This would be one of the biggest splashes Alabama could make, and his $1 million buyout would make the move doable. In short order, Petrino has overseen Louisville's jump to the Big East and has put the Cardinals into position to contend consistently for the national title. There also would be the added intrigue of hiring the man for whom Auburn trustees almost ousted Tommy Tuberville in 2003. Petrino has to be near the top of Alabama's wish list.

Rush Propst, Hoover High School head coach
Laugh, but not that loudly. Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn made a smooth jump from high school to the SEC this year, and Propst has a relationship with Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson, whom he coached at the prep level. With five state championships and a possible sixth this season, Propst has accomplished almost everything he can at Hoover, and a move to the college ranks can't be far off. Realistically, his chance of getting Alabama's top job any time soon is zero, but he has to be in the mix for an assistant coaching spot at a I-A program somewhere.

Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia head coach
He would be a good hire from the edge of the "big splash" zone, but it would be awfully tough to lure Rodriguez away from his alma mater, where he has the fan support, personnel, and favorable schedule to compete regularly for a national title. His hiring isn't outside the realm of possibility, of course, but several other coaches seem likelier bets to come to the Capstone.

Nick Saban, Miami Dolphins head coach
The second biggest name on this list, the former LSU coach with a national title to his credit would seem unlikely to jump back to the SEC with a resurgent Dolphins team on his hands. You can never say never in coaching hunts, of course, but I simply don't believe Saban will end up in Tuscaloosa. He's an NFL man for now.

Greg Schiano, Rutgers head coach
The fact that Schiano has Rutgers, a century-long college football wasteland, one victory away from a BCS bowl borders on the miraculous. His hiring would make waves and send a strong signal that Alabama is serious about returning to the big time. But you get the sense that Schiano would be happy to stay with what he has built in New Jersey, and if he wants to make a jump, the vacancy at Miami (his old employer) would seem more tempting.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina head coach
The pick of this litter, Spurrier has the coaching wherewithal to win big right away with the talent already at Alabama, and he has the reputation to attract even bigger recruits in future years. But Spurrier has expressed his desire to win an SEC title in Columbia, and he publicly has denied interest in the Alabama job. Spurrier is guaranteed to go down in history as one of college football's greatest coaches, has plenty of money, and has fiercely loyal fans at South Carolina. Perhaps the only thing that could interest him in the Tide job at this point would be the personal ego boost of finishing his career as the man who returned Alabama football to greatness. This hire would be the ultimate coup de grace, but Tide fans shouldn't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.

Jeff Tedford, California head coach
In five years, Tedford has rebuilt Cal from a 1-10 team to the Pac-10's top challenger to USC supremacy. He also has a reputation as an offensive mastermind who has vaulted tons of quarterback talent to the NFL. Tedford has yet to break through for a conference title, but the swift and sustained turnaround at Cal is quite impressive nonetheless. If he's interested, Alabama should give him serious consideration.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sometimes it just isn't meant to be

I had meant to write about the controversy swirling around Mike Shula before his job title became former Alabama head football coach today, but life gets in the way sometimes. Now seems like as good a time as any to take care of that.

I didn't think they would go through with it this year, but ultimately, I think UA officials' decision to fire Shula, painful though it may have been, was the right one. (That assumes, of course, that they have a solid finalist or two lined up and ready to take the job, which may be too big of an assumption.)

In fairness, Shula inherited very difficult circumstances and did good work in the last four years stabilizing the Crimson Tide in a time of NCAA probation and chaos after the mid-spring Mike Price firing. Shula also has recruited admirably and went 10-2 just last year, including an explosive home win over Florida.

But the 2005 season's gaudy record masked a lot of underlying problems -- most notably, that Shula's squads, especially in the last couple of years, almost invariably played to the level of their competition, relying on a killer defense to seal the deal week after week. The defense remained strong after last year's stars left, but it just wasn't strong enough to win SEC games single-handedly as the 2005 edition did time and again.

Shula also continued throughout this year to make downright bizarre decisions that you just shouldn't see from a fourth-year head coach. (Going for two against Auburn in the second quarter, going to the run late in the Arkansas game when the pass had proved unstoppable all day, and continually calling runs up the middle after they were stopped over and over are three key examples.) Shula also often didn't seem to adjust his strategy or personnel in the middle of a game, which in all likelihood cost the Tide wins in at least the Arkansas and Auburn games. The year-
long insistence on ultra-conservative offensive play-calling also kept Alabama's skill players from fully showing their stuff.

This season's team wasn't SEC championship caliber, but it had too much talent and too soft of a schedule to finish merely 6-6. The Tide didn't seem to get any better during the course of the season, and that lackluster trend sealed the head coach's fate.

Still, I cannot overstate how much of a class act Shula has been during his tenure at the Capstone, and the statement he released today in response to his firing reveals that he still is. Most of his remarks are devoted to thanking his players and assistants, and though he easily could have left it at that, he closes by reiterating his support and best wishes for the alma mater he clearly still loves. Shula is a loyal Tide man who did the best he could to try to restore Alabama to national football prominence, and I wish him great success in the future, be it in coaching or elsewhere. Interim Alabama coach Joe Kines said it all today: "This is the greatest game in America. Sometimes it's not a very good business."

Meanwhile, all of the publicly available information suggests that UA athletics director Mal Moore has handled the situation terribly to this point. First, Moore waited until nine days after the regular season ended to announce a decision that had been rumored to be in the making for weeks. Then he held off on telling Shula about the firing until after the coaches' Sunday night meeting with the players. That meant many players first heard about a momentous change in their lives from television and websites instead. I've heard that one of the players at the press conference was near tears today when he read Shula's statement for the first time. He hadn't even had a chance to meet with the coach yet.

Shula is a good man who deserved the right to break the difficult news to the team himself. Moore should be ashamed that he didn't give the coach that opportunity.

A pair of well wishes

I've been a bit lax on the updates recently, so here's a quick note to wish all the best to Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley in her recovery from a recent stroke and to U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., in his battle against leukemia. May they overcome their ailments and return to long, healthy lives with their families and friends.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobbled up

All the best to you and your loved ones on this Thanksgiving weekend. I promise to get back to regular posting soon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What's this 'analogy' of which you speak?

President Richard Nixon on Nov. 3, 1969: "[W]e will withdraw all our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom."

President Bush on June 28, 2006: "Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, architect of Nixon's Vietnam policy and adviser to Bush on Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2006: "If you mean, by 'military victory,' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Terrible day in Huntsville

The horror that the victims of today's deadly school bus accident in the Rocket City, as well as their friends and loved ones, have endured in the last few hours is simply unspeakable. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ironed out

I'll be back to commenting on all things political in the next day or two, but today is reserved for watching (and, regardless of the outcome, recovering from) this afternoon's Iron Bowl.

My beloved Crimson Tide's chances looked much better in early October when Arkansas crushed Auburn on the Plains just two weeks after Alabama beat the Hogs pillar to post before throwing away the victory at the very end. Since then, though, the best thing I can say about the Tide's season is that Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom is a very nice man, and I suppose it's good that someone saved his job, though I desperately wish anyone else in the world had. The Tigers had another Arkansas-style letdown last week, but I doubt coach Tommy Tuberville will allow them to turn in two such performances in a row.

An ailing Alabama will face long odds later today but still has what remains of its home-field advantage. Despite the increasingly common suggestions that his record-setting fourth straight Iron Bowl loss could cost Mike Shula the head coaching job, the chance that he'll get one more year (albeit with a markedly different group of assistant coaches) is fair unless Auburn blows the Tide out of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Whether he should be on the sidelines in 2007 is a matter we'll take up another day.

Here's hoping Alabama amputates the thumb later today. Either way, I'll still be on the crimson bandwagon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

At long last, some accountability

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has deserved to be out of that job for a very, very long time. Now he finally is.

Today is a good day.

The 2006 Alabama election roundup

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

That's the lasting political lesson from this year's Alabama election, which saw the top four statewide offices on the ballot -- governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and chief justice -- go to the candidates who first used television advertising to define themselves in a positive way before their general-election opponent could air a positive or negative ad. (The governor's race admittedly was Bob Riley's for the taking well before the ad season began in earnest, but the other three races were close enough that well-done TV spots probably made the difference.)

Democrats and Republicans split the top four jobs, so the message applies equally on both sides: If you expect to win a major office, hit the airwaves first and do your best to stay there.

Other observations stemming from Tuesday's state returns:

It's easier just to mark one line: Alabama Republicans have entrenched themselves as the default party in statewide races. The GOP swept the down-ballot appellate court races that receive comparatively little money and even less attention. As more and more Alabama voters drift toward the Republicans in national elections, more and more of them are prone to defer to the GOP when the names are unfamiliar. Turnout seemed about average for a midterm election in Alabama, so credit that trend for much, if not all, of the margin in the more obscure races.

The hunt for Blue November: Despite the observation above, all hope is not lost for the Democrats, particularly in local races. The party captured a slew of county offices, and it also retained a solid majority in the state House. Additionally, the blue team held the bleeding in the state Senate to a minor scrape rather than a hemorrhage. The road was tougher in statewide races, but the victories by former Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., in the lite gov race and Sue Bell Cobb in the chief justice contest show that Democrats can win big-time battles if they manage to stay competitive in the fundraising game. They also can count the re-election of Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks and the sweep of the Public Service Commission races among their successes. The GOP is surging in Alabama, but Democrats have done a respectable job of holding their own so far here in the Deep South.

Stranger things have happened: Brace yourselves for frequent discussion of the possibility that Riley will use the governor's office as a launching pad to higher office. The prospect of a Riley vice presidential nomination has arisen repeatedly in the last few months, particularly after he campaigned with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the numerous "2008" and "Riley for President" signs clearly visible in the crowd at his victory speech Tuesday night will do little to help quell the VP talk -- or the White House talk, for that matter. A GOP nominee from the West or Northeast probably would seek a Southerner as a running mate to reach out to the nation's reddest region, and the popular second-
term governor of Alabama would have to appear on pretty much any such short list. So, ready for an early primary?

Taxes weren't the devil this time: In a mild surprise, Amendment Two, a.k.a. the 10-mill bill, passed with flying colors Tuesday. (The surprise, of course, relates not so much to the approval itself as to the nearly 60 percent support the measure received.) Alabama voters often reject ballot proposals that involve the word tax, but proponents apparently did a good job of reminding people that the tax increases that the amendment would require wouldn't affect most of them. The lack of organized, vocal opposition certainly didn't hurt, either.

Now for a reality check: All in all, my pre-election predictions were fairly accurate. I correctly called all of the major state races except for chief justice, which was basically a toss-up. Nationally, I may have been a bit too conservative in my estimation of the strength of the Democratic wave, but as amateur forecasts go, mine wasn't all that far off the mark.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Do the deed

There are a few candidates on the ballot -- both Democrats and Republicans -- for whom I think you should never, ever vote under any circumstance. There are also a few candidates -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who very much deserve your vote.

Even if you end up voting for all Democrats or all Republicans, I ask that you refrain from marking a straight-ticket vote and instead consider the contenders in each race individually. Remember, too, that the write-in is available for third-party candidates and protest votes. If you don't know enough about a race to make an informed choice, you always can ask me how to vote -- or, on the off chance that I'm not there, you can skip it.

It's your privilege and duty as an Alabamian and an American to vote. Get out there and do it today.

Monday, November 06, 2006

2006 general election predictions

Regular visitors probably have a decent idea about where I stand on the major races, and no one else would much care what I think, so I won't waste your time with a list of endorsements. What I'll do instead is to predict Tuesday's state and national winners.

Bob Riley has been one of Alabama's most competent governors in decades. He did a great job of shoring up the Republican base after the 2003 failure of his tax plan. Riley also has garnered strong support among independents and Democrats thanks in part to his success in pushing sentencing guidelines and an increase in what was an abominably low income tax threshold. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley's campaign -- badly outspent and lacking a strong message -- never got off the ground. This is a sure thing for Riley.

Lieutenant governor
This race is a firewall for Alabama Democrats. Jim Folsom, Jr., is the party's strongest, most recognizable statewide candidate, and he is running against a relatively unknown Republican lobbyist whose major claim to fame seems to be that he's tall. A Luther Strange victory here would suggest an Alabama rebellion against a broader national electoral atmosphere favorable to Democrats. It also probably would mean that all state Democrats, except for Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, go down to defeat in statewide races. That's certainly a possibility, but past election results lead me to believe enough independent voters will split their ballots to enable Folsom to eke out a narrow win.

Attorney general
Troy King entered this year as a very vulnerable officeholder. Democratic challenger John Tyson, Jr., has done a fair job of going on the offensive and pointing out King's weaknesses in the last month, but therein lies the major problem with his campaign: Tyson was virtually invisible outside of the Mobile area until a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, King took to the airwaves months ago, and he's taken full advantage of the press coverage available to incumbents. A Tyson win wouldn't shock me, but in the end, money and campaign strategy probably will give King the victory.

Chief justice
This contest is one of those rare showdowns in Alabama between two highly qualified and palatable choices, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the race has taken such a negative turn. Sue Bell Cobb's television ads did an excellent job of defining her image before her detractors could, and she has stayed competitive with Republican incumbent Drayton Nabers in the fundraising arena. This race is honestly too close to call right now, and either candidate could notch the win with a strong last-minute push. But I suspect Riley's coattails, as short as they appear to be, may be enough to tip the scale in Nabers' favor.

Secretary of state
Democratic incumbent Nancy Worley's name has been in the headlines several times in recent months, and the news often is negative. That factor, combined with the generally favorable political climate for Republicans in Alabama, probably will propel State Auditor Beth Chapman to victory.

Alabama Legislature
Democrats hold such large leads in both houses -- 63-42 in the House and 25-10 in the Senate -- that a single-handed Republican takeover of either chamber is mathematically unlikely. The House is sure to stay with Democrats through at least 2010. However, GOP gains look certain in both houses, and a handful of losses on the Democratic side could throw control of the Senate to a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats. Either way, the margin probably will be no more than a couple of seats.

U.S. House
None of Alabama's seven House seats will change hands. The same won't hold true for the chamber itself. A general sense of public discontent with the country's direction, fueled largely by growing opposition to the Iraq war, will cost Republicans control of the House. The only question is whether this year's Democratic wave will be as large as 1994's GOP wave. Given that more districts are gerrymandered to protect incumbents today than 12 years ago, I don't think it will be. Still, at worst, Democrats should end up with a majority of five to 10 seats, and a bigger win is quite possible.

U.S. Senate
Again, the question here is not whether Democrats will gain seats, but rather how many. Ohio and Pennsylvania are locks to flip from red to blue, and Democrats are likely to retain power in their traditional stronghold of New Jersey. Montana and Rhode Island look more competitive than they have in weeks, but Republican incumbents there probably still will fall just short.

That will leave control of the upper chamber in the hands of voters in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia, with the Democrats needing two of the three seats for a majority. The Volunteer State looks increasingly likely to remain red, while Democratic challenger Jim Webb is surging in Virginia against U.S. Sen. George Allen but is still far from a sure thing. If the parties split those races, the whole shebang will come down to a razor-thin margin in Missouri, where Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill and GOP incumbent Jim Talent have swapped the lead throughout the summer and fall.

A one- or two-seat Democratic majority certainly is possible with a sizable wave of disaffected voters, but right now it looks like the GOP will keep control by the skin of its teeth, with a 51-49 edge or a 50-50 split with Vice President Dick Cheney as the tiebreaker.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Alabama newspapers weigh in

I haven't seen the newspaper endorsements in the top state races consolidated anywhere, so I'll do that here as a public service. I've included links to editorials from the following major dailies: The Anniston Star (AS), The Birmingham News (BN), The Crimson White (CW), The Decatur Daily (DD), (Florence) TimesDaily (FTD), The Gadsden Times (GT), The Huntsville Times (HT), (Mobile) Press-Register (MPR), Montgomery Advertiser (MA), Opelika-
Auburn News (OAN), (Talladega) Daily Home (TDH), and The Tuscaloosa News (TN).

The list is below. I'll try to update it as last-minute endorsements come down the pipe. Please also let me know if I've overlooked any endorsements from these papers. Thanks to the folks at Doc's Political Parlor for making it easy to round up most of these links.

Lucy Baxley (D): None of the above
Bob Riley (R): AS, BN, CW, DD, FTD, GT, HT, MPR, MA, OAN, TDH, TN

Lieutenant governor
Jim Folsom, Jr. (D): AS, CW, DD, HT, OAN, TDH, TN
Luther Strange (R): BN, FTD, GT, MPR, MA

Attorney general
Troy King (R): HT
John Tyson, Jr. (D): AS, BN, CW, DD, FTD, GT, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
Non-endorsement: MPR

Chief justice
Sue Bell Cobb (D): AS, CW, DD, FTD, HT, TDH, TN
Drayton Nabers (R): BN, GT, MPR, MA, OAN

Secretary of state
Beth Chapman (R): AS, BN, CW, FTD, GT, HT, MPR, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
Nancy Worley (D): DD

State treasurer
Kay Ivey (R): AS, BN, DD, FTD, GT, HT, MPR, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
Steve Segrest (D): None of the above
No endorsement found: CW

State auditor
Janie Baker Clarke (D): AS, OAN
Samantha Shaw (R): BN, DD, FTD, GT, MPR, MA, TDH, TN
Non-endorsement: HT
No endorsement found: CW

Agriculture commissioner
Albert Lipscomb (R): None of the above
Ron Sparks (D): AS, BN, DD, FTD, GT, HT, MPR, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
No endorsement found: CW

PSC Place No. 1
Jan Cook (D): DD
John Rice (R): BN, GT, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
Non-endorsement: HT
No endorsement found: AS, CW, FTD, MPR

PSC Place No. 2
Perry Hooper, Jr. (R): None of the above
Susan Parker (D): BN, DD, FTD, GT, HT, MPR, MA, OAN, TDH, TN
No endorsement found: AS, CW

Amendment Two (10-mill bill)
No: None of the above
No recommendation found: CW, OAN