News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2006


Letís vote Tuesday, and not for just first on ballot

Five statewide races and several local contests in area counties are on Tuesday's run-off election ballot. The fear of most candidates is that voters won't return to the polling places after the extended period following the June 6 primaries. A fear of half of the candidates is that voters will vote only for the candidates whose names are first in each race.

Statewide, only Republican candidates' names are on the ballot because Democrats rounded out their slate June 6.

People should vote, but first please take time between now and Tuesday to find out about the candidates.

Here are our recommendations:

Lieutenant governor

The highest profile race is for lieutenant governor between a veteran Alabama politician and a newcomer.

THE DAILY recommended Luther Strange on June 6. We continue to believe he is a better choice than George C. Wallace Jr. for several reasons.

Mr. Strange would bring new blood to public office. His emphasis is on economic development, in which he has some expertise as an attorney and Washington lobbyist. Also important is that he would not bring the baggage to office that Mr. Wallace carries. The era of Mr. Wallace's late father doesn't fit with the new image Alabama is building.

Civil appeals judge

Terri Willingham Thomas of Cullman is the only North Alabama candidate left on the statewide primary ballot. Where she lives shouldn't be the primary reason to vote for this district judge to fill an important seat on the Court of Civil Appeals, but when both candidates appear to have equal qualifications, it could be a factor.

Her opponent, Phillip Wood, also is a district judge, in Autauga County.

Judge Thomas' argument is that being a mother makes her uniquely qualified to serve on a court that spends much of its time dealing with domestic juvenile and child custody cases. She also makes a good point that the court needs a female judge for balance.

THE DAILY recommends Athens State University graduate and Cullman District Judge Terri Willingham Thomas for Place 3 on the Court of Civil Appeals.

Criminal appeals judge

Clay Crenshaw, an assistant state attorney general in Montgomery, vows to handle cases assigned to him on appeal within six months. On a court that seems to dilly-dally, his presence on the Court of Criminal Appeals might shake up things.

Circuit Judge Sam Welch, his opponent, has a great sense of who he is and of the law and doesn't seem to be bothered by the whirl of politics that sometimes stirs up the court system. After serving as a judge since 1981, the Monroeville resident says he's ready to take on a new challenge.

THE DAILY endorsed Judge Welch in the primary and does so for the Tuesday runoff for Place 3 on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

State auditor

Although THE DAILY didn't recommend Wes Allen of Troy for state auditor in May, he impressed us greatly with his ability to organize a campaign and his work experience in the business side of big-time collegiate sports at The University of Alabama and at Troy State University.

His business experience far outweighs that of his opponent Samantha Shaw of Montgomery.

THE DAILY recommends Wes Allen for the Republican nomination for state auditor.

Public Service Commission

Given a better choice, most Republicans wouldn't vote for former legislators John Amari or Perry O. Hopper Jr. for the Public Service Commission.

Neither would make a good PSC member.

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