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Will it be déjà vu all over again?

Published 9:09am Friday, June 18, 2010

Yogi Berra has explained that his famous quote “it’s déjà vu all over again” originated after he saw teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris repeatedly hit back-to-back home runs in the early 1960s.
Many political watchers in our state, referencing back to the Baxley-Graddick contest for governor in 1986, are now wondering it Yogi’s words might also apply to Alabama gubernatorial elections.
In the Democratic primary that year Charlie Graddick, who was the state’s attorney general, and Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley were pitted in a runoff for nomination as the party’s candidate for governor. Graddick led Baxley after the primary election by 8, 756 votes but the Democratic Party ruled Graddick had violated primary rules by encouraging Republicans to “cross over” and vote in the Democratic dance, a rule the party had never before enforced.
The issue went to the State Supreme Court, which ruled that the democrats must either hold another election or pick Baxley. The party picked Baxley, a decision that reeked with such a bad stench that voters rejected the “hand-picked” democratic nominee, electing the GOP nominee Guy Hunt, a former Cullman County probate judge and Primitive Baptist preacher.
While it appears that the situation following the Republican Primary has not yet created the same degree of ill will as the 1986 Democratic ruckus, the potential is there.
At this writing on Monday we know that Tim James, the third-place finisher, who trailed Robert Bentley by only 167 votes for a runoff position against Bradley Byrne, is continuing his effort for a recount of the vote. James’ position appears to be supported by the party leadership. Nearly a half-million votes were cast in the GOP Primary.
James said Monday the recount would be conducted Tuesday and that he had the cooperation of both Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman and state Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard.
This all comes after Atty. Gen. Troy King’s opinion that a contest of the vote could not be legally filed until after the runoff election and if James prevailed the party must have another runoff election. GOP Chairman Hubbard first called King’s opinion “crazy”, then “ridiculous.”
Because of the tiny margin I see no reason why James should not pursue a recount either now or under King’s opinon if he can pay for it which he will have to do because there is no provision for taxpayers to pick up the tab in a party primary. However, there are potential land mines down the road for the party.
The first would be a court challenge if the party refused to recount, which is apparantly not the case at this writing. Another would be in a situation where the recount placed James in the runoff by a slim margin.
Does Bentley then get a second recount and if not does he file a legal challenge to require the party to abide by King’s opinion which voids any recapulation of the vote until after the runoff between Bentley and Byrne?
A second scenario could be if the party refused to recount and James filed a court challenge following a runoff, forcing another election as outlined in the King opinion.
I don’t know how all this will turn out, but I would wager it will eventually end up in court. If that happens the ghost of Baxley-Graddick may pay us a visit. This reminds me of another Yogism: “It ain’t over till its over.”
A courtesy visit
The President paid Alabama, Florida and Mississippi a courtesy visit Monday, something that is really unnecessary, other than to appease those who think he has snubbed all the states but Louisiana that are suffering from BP the beach polluter’s oil spill.
I had much rather he stay in Washington and work on how to stop the oil of which somewhere between 100-200 million gallons have gushed into the Gulf, an amount far greater than the Exxon-Valdez disaster.
BP’s cost for the spill is approaching the $2 billion mark and according to a BP press release, that amount includes new $25 million grants provided to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
It also includes nearly $60 million to construct barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana. BP says the cost estimate doesn’t include future costs for scores of lawsuits already filed for damages.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at:

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