News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Riley re-election campaign must get full head of steam

Gov. Bob Riley eased into his victory celebration at Montgomery's rail depot Tuesday night riding on a locomotive engine.

His arrival was symbolic of the primary campaign he ran against former Chief Justice Roy Moore. The governor never had to boost the heat in his political boiler because Mr. Moore's campaign simply failed to go anywhere.

The governor's campaign, therefore, consisted of traveling the state in a feel-good mode and telling voters how things greatly improved during his first administration. His only concern was that his supporters might be complacent and not turn out Tuesday after polls showed Mr. Riley with a big lead.

In addition, with Mr. Moore trailing badly, the governor didn't have to worry much about the Democratic opponents. One was on trial for corruption and the other one seemingly wasn't creating voter enthusiasm.

But now that the votes are in, Mr. Riley finds himself in a dogfight for re-election. Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley came within 30,000 votes of attracting as many votes as the governor.

More people voted Democratic in the governor's race than voted Republican. The turnout must be a concern for Republicans who counted heavily on down-ticket candidates being helped by a gubernatorial candidate who appeared strong by comparison.

But Ms. Baxley set the tone for the general election Tuesday night. Many of her supporters still smart from the $1 billion tax package Gov. Riley pitched early in his administration. She noted that in her victory speech and questioned his touting the limited tax cut when the administration's top prison guy is about to go to jail because the state can't afford more bed space for inmates.

If she's found her voice, loving Lucy spells trouble for the governor.

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