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Baxley leading Siegelman in '06, 49-31% in poll

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley leads former Gov. Don Siegelman in a poll asking likely Democratic voters who they favor for their party's nomination for governor in 2006.

The Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll found Baxley supported by 45 percent and Siegelman by 31 percent, with the remaining 24 percent either not knowing or not answering.

When teacher lobbyist Paul Hubbert was added to the mix, Baxley led with 38 percent, followed by Siegelman with 25 percent and Hubbert with 11 percent.

"I wouldn't say she's a prohibitive favorite, but she's in an excellent position to kick off her campaign," said USA political scientist Keith Nicholls, who conducted the poll.

The survey, conducted Jan. 24-27, involved 400 randomly selected Alabamians who said they are likely to vote in the Democratic primary in June 2006. The results have sampling error margins of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Baxley pondering bid

Baxley has not officially announced her candidacy, but she has said repeatedly that she is seriously considering it. Siegelman, who served as governor from 1999-2003, has started conducting "listening posts" around the state to gauge the feelings of voters.

Baxley said the poll "confirms the feedback and encouragement that I've been getting as a I travel around the state and spend time with the people."

Siegelman said the poll didn't include enough black voters. He said he expects many white voters to cast ballots in the Republican primary in June 2006 if Gov. Bob Riley is being challenged by former Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Siegelman said that means black voters, who usually make up a large part of the Democratic primary vote, will be even more important in the primary, and he has traditionally run strong among black voters.

In the poll, 35 percent of those surveyed were black, and they were equally divided in their support of Siegelman and Baxley.

Baxley led by a 2-1 margin among white voters.

Nicholls said the poll may not have included enough minorities, but no reasonable increase in the proportion of black respondents would have eliminated Baxley's lead.

Hubbert, who defeated Siegelman for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1990, said he was surprised to see his name in a poll about the governor's race.

"I haven't looked in that direction," he said Monday.

The poll is the second the newspaper and university have done recently on the 2006 governor's race. The earlier poll of likely Republican voters showed Moore leading Riley 43 percent to 35 percent for the GOP nomination.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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