As we have been strolling down memory lane for the past few months reminiscing about the legacy of yesteryears governor’s races, the present day political world continues to turn.

The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression continues unabated. It has ravaged the coffers of Alabama government in 2009. Alabama is heavily dependent on sales and income taxes to fund our educational system. Therefore, we are especially depressed. It is often said that when the economy gets a cold Alabama gets pneumonia. We are struggling under serious proration and our rainy day fund has been depleted. If it were not for the federal stimulus money, the effects would be devastating. However, those federal dollars subside at the end of 2010. Therefore, the new governor will be walking onto the deck of the Titanic in January 2011.

The ailing economy has practically ruined Alabama’s prepaid college tuition program. Its demise will cause headaches politically for all incumbents in this year’s election. There are probably 100,000 irate Alabama voters ready to make their voices heard about the loss of their hard-earned savings. These folks are voters. It they are prudent enough to save for their children’s and grandchildren’s education, you can bet your bottom dollar they will vote.

The decision by Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. to not seek the Governor’s Office in 2010 was the political bombshell of the year. Folsom was considered the favorite to capture the brass ring of Alabama politics. Instead, he has opted to seek an unprecedented fourth term as lieutenant governor. There are nine announced candidates in the upcoming race for governor. The major players were all in the chute by Labor Day and campaigning hard.

Alabama and Florida won a major victory in the ongoing water war with Georgia. A federal judge ruled in our favor in July. Although Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is vowing to continue to fight, it appears his efforts will be futile. This is a major victory in a battle that has been raging for close to a decade.

One of the biggest stories of the year has been the financial disaster and downfall of Jefferson County. Our largest county continues to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. They have been the subject of national ridicule for their financial debacle. The Jefferson County Commission has shown blatant ineptness and dishonesty. Their problems stem from greed and corruption, including bribery and illegal bond dealings surrounding their sewer system, which culminated with the conviction in September of Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford.

Jefferson County residents will pay a heavy price for their leaders’ greedy transgressions. The county’s bond rating has been ruined for decades. A special session of the legislature had to be called by Gov. Riley in August to help resolve Jefferson County’s financial crisis.

Montgomery elected a new mayor in 2009. Todd Strange, a conservative republican businessman, was elected Mayor of the Capitol City to replace Bobby Bright who went to Congress.

On a sad note, we lost several prominent political figures in 2009. Gov. Guy Hunt died in Cullman in late January. He was 75 years old. Legendary radio pioneer, sports journalist, war hero and Tuscaloosa State Senator Bert Bank died at the age of 94 in June. Gov. George Wallace’s second wife, Cornelia, passed away early in the year. Cornelia was also the niece of legendary Alabama Governor Big Jim Folsom. Big Jim was a widower during his first term and his sister, Ruby, served as his first lady at the Governor’s Mansion. Cornelia was Ruby’s daughter. Therefore, she grew up in the Governor’s Mansion during part of her childhood. She first met George Wallace when she was a little girl and Wallace was fiery legislator from Barbour County. Wallace would visit with Big Jim often at the Governor’s Mansion. Wallace was a Big Jim ally and his south Alabama campaign manager in 1954.

We have a fantastic political year awaiting us in 2010. It is a smorgasbord to delight the taste of any political observer. We have an open governor’s race. It is the first governor’s race in over two decades where there is no incumbent governor on the ballot. In addition, we have all 140 legislative seats up for election as well as three Supreme Court seats. It will be a fun year for Alabama politics.

Happy New Year.