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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Religion and martyrdom play too well in Alabama

Roy Moore's entry into the gubernatorial race changes things for Republicans and Democrats.

Instead of having the Republican nomination to himself as acknowledgment he's had a good first term, Bob Riley's got a potential fight.

For Democrats, especially Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, who wants her party's nomination, the worry is how to keep their members out of the Republican primary.

The ousted former chief justice of the state Supreme Court is a political and religious lightning rod. He will bring out Ten Commandment people to vote who probably haven't done so in years. That threatens to be a problem for the governor who is set to announce his re-election plans Saturday.

Mr. Moore and the governor are likely to pull significant votes from Ms. Baxley, but fewer from former Gov. Don Siegelman who continues to count his strength among party-loyal black voters, making the Democratic primary one that's decided by a smaller turnout, and changing their campaign strategy.

Many separation of church and state Democrats may vote in the Republican primary for Gov. Riley as a protest against Judge Moore, and because they think he is the candidate who can most likely defeat the former chief justice.

Roy Moore supporters are zealots. They see Mr. Moore as a modern-day Moses who will figure out the answers to complex problems once he's in office, which he may well do. But his first round of campaigning for the office this week fell far short of what Alabamians need to hear from him.

The Ten Commandments vote will be the foundation of Mr. Moore's support. He may only have to remind those people of his stand for God and his punishment and persecution for being a Christian martyr.

Meanwhile, Democratic voters may not focus adequately on the consequences of nominating Mr. Siegelman who continues to have serious legal questions pending from his term in office.

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