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Turnham to seek re-election as state Democratic leader

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham, who led his party to gains at the state and county level, announced Thursday that he will seek another term as chairman.

The State Democratic Executive Committee meets in Montgomery on Jan. 20 to elect a party chairman.

Turnham, a lobbyist and businessman from Auburn, has no announced opposition, but Tom Radney, a lawyer and former state senator from Alexander City, said Thursday he is considering entering the race.

Turnham, 47, first served as party chairman from 1995 to 1998, when he stepped down to make an unsuccessful race for the U.S. House.

He returned in 2005 and led the party through the 2006 elections, when Democrats won the chief justice's office for the first time in 12 years, took a majority on the Public Service Commission and picked up offices from Republicans in county courthouses.

In an interview Thursday, Turnham said he's a believer in "trickle up" politics, where a strong slate of Democratic candidates for county offices helps the top of the ticket. He said he worked hard to build the party at the county level and wants to continue that in a new term.

During last year's campaigns, Turnham encouraged Democratic candidates to talk more about their religious faith — a territory they traditionally left to Republicans — and distributed a "faith and values" voter guide.

The party also started advertising on religious-oriented radio stations.

Turnham said the results of the election Nov. 7 show the "air of electability" has returned to the Democratic Party.

"We're back and we're in the game again," he said.

The state Republican Party is also looking at electing a chairman.

The State Republican Executive Committee meets Feb. 10 in Montgomery to choose a replacement for Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who is leaving to join the governor's staff.

State Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, is the only announced candidate for the post, and he has the support of Gov. Bob Riley.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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