News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2006


Luther Strange GOP's best for lieutenant governor

Republicans can cling to the past, embrace right-wing politics or take a chance on a newcomer when they vote for a lieutenant governor candidate next month.

Hilbun Adams, 53, of Vestavia Hills is a delightful candidate to have a conversation with, but he's not a factor in the race. Each of the other three candidates have strengths that would be valuable as presiding officer in the state Senate:

Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, 52, also served in the Legislature and would use that experience to exercise influence over the Senate, which two terms ago stripped the office of lieutenant governor of much of its power.

Luther Strange, 53, of Birmingham would use his experience in economic development and as a Washington lobbyist to work closely with the governor, provided a Republican keeps the office.

George C. Wallace Jr., 54, of Montgomery would use his experience on the Public Service Commission and two terms as treasurer to call for ethics reform in state government.

Mr. Brooks has good ideas, like cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers, and prohibiting state employees from serving in the Legislature. But he's not in the mainstream of politics and his aggressive personality suggests he would not serve well as presiding officer of the Senate.

Mr. Wallace served well as treasurer and has tried unsuccessfully to focus the other two PSC commissioners' attention on the high cost of natural gas. In some quarters, the name Wallace continues to resonate with fondness for his four-term governor father. But in others, the name suggests a polishing of a bad image from which the state continues to suffer.

Mr. Strange, the tallest candidate in any race, is turning criticism by his opponents into what he says is one of his greatest strengths.

"Luther Strange is a highly paid Washington lobbyist," said David Eagles," Mr. Wallace's campaign manager.

He is indeed well connected in the nation's capital, but he doesn't lobby in Montgomery and would have no conflict of interest, he says. If elected, he says he would no longer lobby and take another position within his law firm of Bradley Arant. He said lobbying is only part of the work he does for the firm now. He sees his role as lieutenant governor being an extension of the next Bob Riley administration. He particularly wants to work in economic development where he says the state can benefit from the contacts he made as a lobbyist.

He's smooth and articulate. He's impressive in small group discussions. His experience as a lobbyist makes him intimately familiar with how government can work for the public good.

THE DAILY recommends Luther Strange for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

The winner will face the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., in the November general election.

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