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Election results speak well for Alabamians

Editorial, Press-Register (Mobile, Alabama), June 8, 2006

ALABAMA VOTERS repudiated demagoguery and scandal in public office Tuesday, rejecting Roy Moore, Don Siegelman and a slate of Republican state Supreme Court candidates associated with Mr. Moore.

Republican primary voters emphatically affirmed incumbent Gov. Bob Riley and emphatically rejected Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker and three other candidates who sought to turn the conservative Supreme Court away from the rule of law.

For their part, Democrats sent Lucy Baxley to the general election without a runoff, and made sure that former Gov. Siegelman could concentrate on his federal corruption trial without any further distraction of running a campaign

All in all, Alabamians made it clear that they want good government from office-holders who are devoted to their jobs, not a political agenda which puts their judgment above the law of the land.

Let's hope Tuesday marked the end of the political careers of Messrs. Moore and Siegelman.

Mr. Moore always seemed more interested in getting attention for his version of how government and his moral views should intertwine than in actually governing Alabama. That his campaign signs continued to advertise "Judge" Roy Moore, even though he was no longer a circuit judge or a Supreme Court justice, was a point apparently not lost on Alabama Republicans.

As for Mr. Siegelman, regardless of whether the former governor is eventually found guilty or innocent, the evidence presented so far in his trial on corruption charges has been of a scandal-plagued administration in which cronyism ran rampant. His campaign consisted mostly of repeating his theory that Republicans were conspiring to convict him and repeating his desire to bring a lottery to Alabama.

Democrats had heard it all before, and they didn't want to risk having a nominee who might end up in prison.

Having attempted to divide the Alabama Supreme Court with his ticket of candidates, Justice Parker remains on the court. But his utter defeat by Chief Justice Drayton Nabers for the court's highest post ought to encourage him to concentrate on his caseload rather than on promoting Mr. Moore's philosophy of judicial activism and defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court based on his interpretation of moral values.

And Justice Parker's rejection by the voters could well preview his chances of re-election to his current seat.

Republican primary voters clearly prefer the current court's conservative philosophy of adhering to the law, to the rulings of the nation's highest court and to case precedent.

A few other observations on Tuesday's primaries:

Mobile City Councilman Ben Brooks' resounding defeat of George Callahan in the Republican primary contest for the state Senate District 35 seat was another example of voters turning away from the same old guard. Mr. Callahan had previously distinguished himself in the Legislature as an obstructionist, and his attempt to link Mr. Brooks with trial lawyers and Hillary Clinton was laughable.

It was disappointing, however, to see state Sen. Gerald Dial of Lineville go down to defeat, as Sen. Dial was one of three Democrats who tended to side with Republicans in the Senate.

Indeed, now that voters have clearly expressed their preference for sound government and for prosperity and progress in Alabama, they should turn their attention to a Legislature that remains in the control of special interests and distinctly under the thumb of Alabama Education Association chief Paul Hubbert. A good place to start in November will be Senate District 35, where Mr. Brooks now faces incumbent Democrat Gary Tanner.

It is troubling that Larry Darby, an atheist who denies the Holocaust and advocates legalizing marijuana and declaring martial law to expel illegal aliens, did as well as he did against Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

We hope that a combination of voters' lack of familiarity with both candidates and Mr. Tyson's failure to campaign hard enough are responsible, as the results in this race did not track with other results statewide.

The nominations -- without a runoff -- of Republican Sam Cochran and Democrat DaVon Grey for Mobile County sheriff indicate that voters didn't want any part of candidates who were associated with or perceived to be associated with former Sheriff Jack Tillman, who left office unceremoniously after pleading guilty to misdemeanor perjury and ethics charges. There were five candidates in each primary and the two winners were not the only ones with name recognition.

Voters in unincorporated Mobile County struck another blow for reform by resoundingly authorizing the County Commission to regulate weeds, litter, junkyards and the like. They'll be able to offer their opinions to their commissioners and hold them accountable for what should be done.

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