Labor Day marks beginning of political season
By By Steve Flowers
With Labor Day approaching it signifies that the long hot summer will soon be coming to an end. It seems that the summers are getting hotter and hotter. I was born and raised in south Alabama so I was accustomed to long hot summers. I remember when there was no air conditioning in houses or cars. It was hot, but seems hotter today. I think we have gotten softer, but I also believe in global warming. It is not just a theory. The average temperature has increased several degrees in the past decade. It also seems that we do not seem to have the spring or fall seasons anymore. All of a sudden one day in mid May it is 86 degrees and it never goes below that through mid September, or maybe even October. We have about 5 months out of the year where the temperature is mostly in the 90s.
This Monday is Labor Day. It usually does not cool off much, but we Alabamians seem to think that Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. I guess it is because it also usually marks the beginning of college football season.
For those of us who are political junkies Labor Day also marks the beginning of the political season. In political years most campaigns for the November general election kick off on Labor Day. This year is a biggie because 2006 is the year of the Governor's race. This big year in Alabama politics happens every four years.
Every major candidate for statewide office will be in northwest Alabama this Monday. There is an event held in the northwest corner of Alabama known as the Terry Family Reunion. It is the largest family reunion in Alabama. Serious Alabama politicians know about this annual event that has been going on for many years. Not everyone who attends this family reunion has Terry family roots but a good many do. It has become a must do event for aspiring statewide and definitely local candidates. Every candidate for Sheriff, Probate Judge, Legislature or Constable will be at the Terry Reunion which is held in the corner of Lawrence County. It is an event for all politicians but especially for those from the Quad Cities of Sheffield, Florence, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals and also for politicians from the counties of Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan. In addition you can be assured that every statewide candidate for Lt. Governor, Supreme Court, and every other constitutional office will be there.
The Terry Family Reunion will have everything to eat, especially good barbeque. There will be political speeches and lots of one on one campaigning. Although there will be Labor Day barbeques from one end of the state to the other, none will be as political as the Terry Family Reunion just south of Tuscumbia and just north of Moulton and Russellville.
Labor Day is also a day to salute the American worker. We salute and honor our working men and women and as we salute and honor our Alabama workers it should be noted that Alabama has historically been one of the most unionized states in the South.
More good news for Gov. Riley has occurred during the summer months. The State's economy continues to boom. State tax collections have grown even more than expected in the first nine months of the fiscal year. Tax collections and other revenue for the Education Trust Fund totaled over $4 billion from October 1st through June 30th, an increase of $360 million or 10% compared with the same period a year earlier.
The Education Trust Fund will probably end the fiscal year September 30th with a surplus over the $5.4 billion budgeted for the year. Any extra money will be carried over to pay for extra spending in future years. The Legislature already budgeted the maximum projection, which was rosy, earlier in the year. The growth is unprecedented and staggering.
The incumbent Governor benefits from a good economy. This is always the case whether it is national or state politics. The Chief Executive's, whether President or Governor, polling numbers go up or down with the economy
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/> .