Who might run for governor?

Published 11:38 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

By Staff
Most political observers including myself have never seen a governor in his second term work as hard as Gov. Bob Riley. The Constitution prohibits Riley from running for a third term, but you would never know that when you look at him everyday. He is in full campaign mode. His ubiquitous daily schedule points to a person running for reelection.
Riley has done an excellent job as governor, especially in the area of industrial recruitment. This will be his hallmark legacy. He has had to deal with a belligerent overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, which has basically ignored his initiatives, but he has handled the legislative rebukes with aplomb. Riley has run an efficient state government administration and saved the state money in several circumstances. He has a pleasant and positive persona, which projects a good image for the state.
Riley's backbreaking schedule is heavy on public relations and he has an active team trumpeting his every move in true political fashion. Therefore, the question is where does he go next? The only possible option is to the U.S. Senate, but every indication is that Richard Shelby is not quitting in 2010.
Shelby will only be 74 years old, which is young by Senate standards, plus he is fit and trim and loves what he does. He has reached a pinnacle of respect and power in Washington, which has not been paralleled by any Alabama senator since Lister Hill and John Sparkman. Shelby's move to the GOP in the early 1990s has helped the Republican party in Alabama and nationally more than the party has helped him. He has become a national figure and is perceived as moderate and reasonable.
A glimpse of 2010 is always tempting, given that gubernatorial years are our most interesting political adventures. The big question is, who will be the GOP standard bearer in that open governor's race? Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins and Junior College Chancellor Bradley Byrne are both batted around a lot. GOP Chairman Mike Hubbard and the governor's son Rob Riley are not mentioned as much lately. Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, has announced that he will be a candidate and has already retained campaign consultants.
The wildcard is Attorney General Troy King. He has made enormous blunders as attorney general, and the media has really taken him to task for ethical lapses and incompetence. However, King seems to have a Teflon shield. His polling numbers are good. In fact, if the race were held today he would lead the five aforementioned prospects.  Therefore, some astute political observers expect him to make the plunge into the governor's race, especially given the fact that he will probably receive staunch opposition for reelection as attorney general from Mobile District Attorney John Tyson, who ran against King in 2006.
Jim Folsom is the favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor. However, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis may be emboldened by the success Barack Obama has had among white voters nationwide. And State House Speaker Seth Hammett is speaking around the state testing the waters for a possible gubernatorial plunge.

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