The recent indictment of former Governor Don Siegleman is a tremendous plus for one potential 2006 gubernatorial candidate, Lucy Baxley. Lucy’s biggest obstacle was getting out of the Democratic Primary against Siegleman. If she escapes the trap of the Democratic Primary, she is an easy winner. The Democratic Primary was a trap for Lucy or any other Democrat running against Siegleman. Siegleman still has tremendous loyalty among African-American voters who make up the majority of the participants in a Democratic Primary. Lucy would have a real battle to wrestle the nomination from Siegleman, but polls show it is easy sailing for her in a General Election. She transcends ideology and party. She appeals to Independents and even Republicans. Siegleman did not enjoy this bipartisan appeal. He might have taken the Primary because of his fierce loyalty among stalwart Democrats, but he would have been very vulnerable to a Republican in November. Siegleman may very well avoid conviction but it will be a long drawn out battle and he will be weakened if not convicted.

Ironically, Bob Riley would probably be the toughest opponent for Lucy, but he has a problem within his own party. The Roy Moore right wing comprises the majority of Republican Primary votes. They will pick Moore or someone like him to be the nominee over Riley. Riley lost their allegiance with his out-of-the-gate, no holes barred, full-fledged tax agenda. They will not trust him again. He will be hard pressed to get out of the primary against a Moorite. His cowboy boots, love of country music and twang appeal to a segment of Alabama voters who tend to vote Republican in November, but they are not players in the Primary. The extreme conservatives and country clubbers control the Primary. Lucy probably still beats Riley as she appeals to the Tammy Wynette, independent voters, and there are more women voters than men, and Lucy has not tried to double their taxes. They will vote for a Roy Moore for a position as a Judge. However, polls show they aren’t sure they will want him to be their Governor. He might put guards outside their local honky-tonks and they want to be able to drink beer with their country music.

Speaking of Riley, my opinion is he does not want to run for a second term even if he could win. He might decide to run only because of his children. Most observers of the Governor’s office and those who have dealt with the Governor come away feeling that Rob and Minda Riley are the powers behind the throne. The consensus is that these two Riley offspring make most of the calls and are the ones that Riley looks to for major decisions. A case in point is the recent appointment of young Troy King as Attorney General. Rob and Minda are said to be responsible for the choice of King. Veteran Republican operatives pushed for a more seasoned and elect-able choice who would be the best candidate in 2006. The Democrats were delighted at the choice of King, a reserved 35 year old with very little charisma and whose only race for political office resulted in a third place finish in a Republican Primary for Secretary of State. King has had no prosecuting experience. He will now be the State’s top prosecutor.

Riley is awaiting his opportunity to pick Roy Moore’s successor after Moore has used up his appeals. Some people speculate that Riley may even reappoint Moore. Others say he may choose his Finance Director, Drayton Nabers, to be Chief Justice.

Governor Riley chose not to run for a seat as a delegate to the Republican National Convention which will be held in New York’s Madison Square Garden in late August. It will be the first time a sitting Republican Governor has opted out of leading the State delegation to their National Convention. Senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby, will head the delegation to New York. Many political observers believe that Riley chose to forego his name being placed on the June Republican Primary ballot to avoid embarrassment. Polls show he is weakest among his own party stalwarts.