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Party chairmen may both come from Auburn

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — The city of Auburn is usually associated with football, higher education and agricultural research. Now it appears politics can be added to the list.

The Alabama Democratic and Republican parties will have elections for party chairmen in the next few weeks, and it’s beginning to look like both parties will be led by someone from the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham of Auburn said Tuesday he is “leaning very strongly” toward seeking another term when the State Democratic Executive Committee meets Jan. 20 in Montgomery. Turnham said he plans to inform committee members of a decision by the end of the week.

Turnham has no announced opposition. He is coming off an election that Democrats considered a success because they picked up offices in county courthouses, captured the chief justice’s office for the first time in 12 years, and won the lieutenant governor’s office against a well-funded candidate aligned with Republican Gov. Bob Riley.

The State Republican Executive Committee meets Feb. 10 in Montgomery to elect a replacement for outgoing Chairman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. State Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn has the governor’s support for the chairmanship.

Hubbard said he has known Turnham for years, and he replaced Turnham’s father, Pete, in the Alabama House of Representatives when he retired in 1998 after 40 years of service.

“I like Joe very much, but I don’t like his politics,” Hubbard said.

Turnham said he and Hubbard have served in the same civic club and had sons on the same youth baseball team last year.

“It’s fun to have our sons on the same Little League team. At least we can pull for one win together,” Turnham said.

Both consider it simply coincidence that they come from the same town. Talk circulated among Republicans in recent days that Hubbard might draw opposition from party Vice Chairman Jerry Lathan of Mobile or Huntsville’s Mo Brooks.

nor candidate Mo Brooks of Huntsville, but both said Tuesday they have no plans to run.

“I have no desire to serve in that capacity right now,” Brooks said.

Lathan said he and Hubbard are planning to meet later this month to discuss their common goals for the party, and he expects to come out of that meeting supporting Hubbard for the chairmanship.

The Democratic and Republican chairmen elected in the next few weeks will lead their parties through Alabama’s new early presidential primary, scheduled for Feb. 5, 2008 — right after South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary.

Turnham said that’s a major reason he’s leaning toward seeking a four-year term. He said an early presidential primary will be a good party-building tool and will allow candidates to become familiar with a state that got few visits in the past because its primary came at the end of the primary schedule.

“I want them to remember their time in Alabama favorably,” he said.

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

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