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PSC president to run for re-election
Jim Sullivan could face a challenge from Lucy Baxley

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Jim Sullivan, the Republican president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, plans to run for re-election next year, and he may face opposition from Lucy Baxley, the former Democratic nominee for governor who says she’s recovered enough from a stroke to enjoy politics again.

“I do not consider my career over,” Baxley said in an interview.

Birmingham attorney Ed Gentle is also considering the race as a Democrat.

State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said he’s confident that 2008 won’t be like 2000 and 2004, when Democrats did not field an opponent for Sullivan.

He said the Democratic Party plans to make an issue of Sullivan having to amend his 2005 financial disclosure form at the State Ethics Commission. Sullivan revised the form after the Press-Register in Mobile reported that he failed to list a financial interest in millions in Florida real estate projects.

“If you want to develop real estate, you ought to give up the PSC job and develop real estate and not just come to the office occasionally,” Turnham said.

Sullivan figures Alabama voters are pleased with his service because he says they have made him the longest serving member of any state utility regulatory board in the nation.

He got appointed to the PSC presidency in 1983 by then-Gov. George C. Wallace. He got elected to a full term in 1984 and has been re-elected every four years since — first as a Democrat and since 1996 as a Republican.

Beat Folsom

The 1996 election was the last time Democrats went after Sullivan, but he beat Jack Folsom, the brother of Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., by 8 percentage points.

Sullivan said he has received some encouragement to run for the 2nd Congressional District post being vacated by Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, but he’s decided against it. “My plan right now is to run for re-election,” he said in an interview.

Spending 24 years dealing with utility rates and trucking issues might get boring for some people, but Sullivan said that hasn’t been the case.

“If I didn’t like public service, I’d have gotten out a long time ago,” he said.

Another Republican, former PSC member George Wallace Jr., has been mentioned by some as a possible candidate, but Wallace said he hasn’t given the race any thought.

Baxley, however, has.

Alabama’s first female lieutenant governor suffered a stroke last November — three weeks after losing the governor’s race to Republican incumbent Bob Riley. The stroke affected Baxley’s left side. She goes to rehabilitation five days a week and she says she has been “very encouraged” by the progress she’s made.

Baxley said many friends and supporters have urged her to consider the PSC job, and that’s what she’s doing now that her mobility is increasing.

“I’m not the least bit concerned about being able to do the job,” she said.

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

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