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Riley to save seat at inauguration for dead daughter

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — When Gov. Bob Riley and his family sit down for his inaugural ceremony Monday, there will be an empty seat on the stage.

It’s for his deceased daughter Jenice.

“I truly think that she knows what’s going on. She’ll be a part of everything we do,” Riley said.

Jenice Riley, who played a key role in her father’s congressional elections, died in 2001 of cancer as he was beginning his first campaign for governor.

She was 33.

Riley remembered her at his first inauguration with an empty chair adorned with a pink rose.

As governor, he keeps a photograph of her on a table in his Capitol office.

Riley said there’s always a place for his daughter at important family events.

“She’s as much a part of our family today as she’s ever been. When we do Christmas, when we do Thanksgiving, when we do everything, Jenice is always present,” he said.

Riley’s family has always been an important part of his political career.

His wife Patsy and their other three children — Rob Riley, Minda Campbell and Krisalyn Crye, all of Birmingham — were
active in his re-election campaign.

“They run the campaign,” Riley said.

He said he always hires campaign professionals like other politicians do.

“But when it gets down to it, ultimately, Patsy, the two girls and Rob become the nucleus of the campaign.”

And why has he won three congressional races and two gubernatorial races with his homegrown campaign team?

“They are bright, they understand Alabama, and they understand me,” he said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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