Riley Beats Moore in Alabama GOP Primary

Alabama’s Republicans and Democrats alike can be proud. Their nominating electorates each selected the decent candidate who advocated right policies over scofflaws and demogogues.

While I seldom side with Kos, my only quibbles with his morning summary of the choices my hometown state voters faced were stylistic:

Alabama Republicans will likely give Gov. Bob Riley a second chance against über wingnut Roy Moore. In the Democratic primary, Lucy Baxley and former governor (and crook) Don Siegelman are running neck and neck. This will be a second-tier pickup opportunity for Democrats in November.

Riley, as some of you may recall, got beat around pretty badly for trying to reform the state’s tax code on Christian grounds, making it less regressive. The tax raising effort was defeated by low-income Alabamans, the very people who would’ve most benefited.

As AP reports, Riley and Baxley won.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley easily beat back a GOP primary challenge from Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore on Tuesday, while Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman lost his comeback fight against the state’s first female lieutenant governor.


In the weeks leading up to Alabama’s gubernatorial primary, polls showed Riley with a growing lead on Moore, the former state chief justice who became a hero to the religious right in 2003 when he was ousted over his refusal to remove the Commandments monument from the state judicial building. That same year, Riley saw his popularity plummet when he unsuccessfully sought a $1.2 billion tax increase. But his standing rose with the state economy, and this year he helped pass a tax cut for the working poor.

Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley fashioned an “I Love Lucy” campaign, while Siegelman had to campaign at night while on trial on corruption charges during the day.

With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Riley won with 205,324 votes, or 64 percent, to Moore’s 116,227 votes, or 36 percent. Among the Democrats, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley won with 214,234 votes, or 60 percent, against Siegelman with 127,275 votes, or 36 percent. Siegelman spent Election Day standing trial on corruption charges stemming from his single term as governor.

I haven’t been following the race closely, as I moved away over nearly four years ago now (although my parents still live there) but I had presumed that the combination of Riley’s politically courageous but hamhanded tax reform plan and Moore’s grandstanding on behalf of Jesus would have made that race much closer.

Siegelman is one of the few Democrats I ever voted for and, given his 1998 platform (mostly a Georgia-style education lottery, which was soundly defeated by a Right-Left Evangelical coalition) and the ineptness of his GOP incumbent opponent, it was the right call. But Siegelman was a machine politician who had no ideas once the lottery went down. I haven’t followed the corruption charges that closely but the case appeared rather strong when I last looked in on it.

My former colleague, Steven Taylor, who still resides in Alabama, has a whole series of posts with numerous insights. Scroll down. He notes that an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution is cruising to an 81-19 victory.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.