Siegelman release is significant

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By Staff
The recent decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to release former Gov. Don Siegelman, while his appeal is pending, is significant. The federal panel gave a stinging rebuke to District Court Judge Mark Fuller for his harshness to Siegelman. Even Siegelman's detractors felt like the instant shackling of Siegelman in federal court and whisking him off to prison like a mass murderer was over zealous.
The fireworks are set to begin next month in Washington when Siegelman is scheduled to appear before Congress. Siegelman's case has become the linchpin in the Democratically controlled Congress' plans to prove that the Bush administration used the Justice Department to prosecute high profile Democrats for political purposes. The villain they want to expose is Karl Rove.
Rove will be the villain and Siegelman the poster child for prosecutorial abuse in the U.S. House judiciary hearings. They will receive national exposure and it will be well worth watching. The Democrats will illuminate Rove's Machiavellian manipulations. Although Rove has been very explicit about his exploits from his post as a Fox network commentator, he is wily and will not be easily intimidated.
Siegelman's release on appeal would appear to be the biggest political news in the state thus far this year. However, in my opinion, the surprise announcement by Congressman Bud Cramer to retire tops the list of political blockbusters. Cramer is the lone white Democratic Congressman in Alabama. Out of our seven Congressmen five are Republican and only two are Democrats, Cramer and Artur Davis.
This region has traditionally been the last bastion of white Democrats in the state. However, Huntsville is the heart of the district both geographically and population wise. The city has grown tremendously and a lot of high income professionals have settled there. It has the highest per capita income and highest educational level of any city in the entire south. It is as if part of the North Carolina research triangle or Silicon Valley of California has been lifted up and placed in Huntsville.
Most political experts have suspected that if Cramer were not in the seat a Republican would win the coveted congressional post. Cramer was a popular District Attorney in Huntsville for ten years prior to being elected to Congress eighteen years ago. He has been extremely effective in protecting the high-tech aerospace industry in Huntsville. He has done a yeoman's job regardless of which party controlled Congress.
Cramer is one of those infamous Democratic super delegates. He is one of the remaining 250 uncommitted delegates who may very well decide the nomination. It will be interesting to see who he votes for in this epic battle between Obama and Clinton. Obama carried Alabama but Clinton carried his district.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at