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Governor's race didn't break record for spending

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — For once, a campaign for governor in Alabama didn't set a new spending record because Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley was unable to keep pace and trailed Republican incumbent Bob Riley by a 3-to-1 margin in fundraising.

Normally, candidates establish a new spending record every four years, but campaign finance reports filed Wednesday show the Riley-Baxley race fell far short.

Wednesday's reports plus earlier ones showed that Riley spent $12.9 million for the campaign through 2005 and 2006 and that Baxley expended $4.0 million.

For the 2001-2002 campaign season, Riley reported $13.8 million in expenses and former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman had $11.2 million.

Baxley's report indicated her money dried up toward the end of the campaign, with the Democratic nominee reporting no contributions during the last few days before the general election Nov. 7 and none after the election.

Baxley is recovering from a stroke suffered after the election. Her husband, Jim Smith, said he was unfamiliar with the campaign finance report. Two campaign workers said they could not recall any last-minute contributions.

Riley predicted during the closing weeks of the 2006 campaign that he wouldn't break his own spending record.

One difference was the tightness of the race. In 2002, polls leading up to election day showed the race was extremely close, and Riley edged Siegelman by just three-tenths of a percentage point. This time around, polls showed a wide spread throughout the campaign, and Riley beat Baxley by 16 percentage points.

Riley's campaign spokesman, Josh Blades, said contributors appeared to divide their money among more races last year.

"There were a large number of very competitive races across the board this time, especially for the judicial and legislative races," Blades said Wednesday.

Riley and Baxley filed reports with the secretary of state Wednesday showing their total contributions and expenditures for 2006. When those are added to their 2005 reports, the public can see how much was raised and spent from the time candidates were allowed to start accepting contributions in June 2005.

Riley's total contributions came to $11.2 million and Baxley's $3.8 million. Both had campaign cash on hand going into 2005 that kept their campaigns from going into debt.

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

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