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Republican dominance in state predicted

By By Tray Smith
While the Republican Party may be facing political challenges on the national level, the same is not true in Alabama, where Republicans will most likely pick up seats in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. Two of those seats will likely come from our region, as I predict former T.R. Miller Coach Alan Baker will defeat incumbent Skippy White and former Alabama Forestry Association Executive Vice President John McMillan will defeat incumbent state Sen. Pat Lindsey.
While the GOP will still not have a majority in either house of the State Legislature when it convenes next spring, moderate Democrats and Republicans will likely be able to form a coalition that adequately represents Alabama's values and can enact into law a conservative governing program.
These Republican Legislative candidates will be aided in their quest for victory by a strong candidate at the top of the Republican ticket, as Governor Bob Riley continues to lead Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley by large margins in the polls. However, these candidates will get a chance to pay Riley back next year, because he will need their support in order to enact his campaign platform into law.
Riley's comprehensive platform, labeled Plan 2010, is a sequel to his 2002 platform "A Plan for Change." In Plan 2010, Riley lays out a number of steps that he will take to help turn Alabama's public schools into a world class education system, expand Alabama's economy to create 100,000 new jobs, reform Alabama's government, and strengthen Alabama's law enforcement systems. These steps will build on the successes our state has already experienced throughout the past four years.
It is true that some of Governor Riley's proposals could be more ambitious. Instead of trying to reform our state's government, we should trash our current Constitution, the longest in the country, and replace it with a new, more effective governing charter. But most of the Governor's proposals represent a drastic departure from the status quo. Once those proposals are implemented, Alabama could actually move past the "Tipping Point" the governor speaks about so often to experience a level of success unprecedented in the history of our state.
Most importantly, the Governor has listed a number of priorities that will help grow our economy in the short and the long term by putting more money into the hands of our working families while also ensuring our students learn the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Specifically, the Governor hopes to cut state taxes for families making less than $100,000 a year, thus putting more money into the hands of working-class Alabama families and allowing us to build a more prosperous market economy. He also wants to create an independent commission to oversee the Department of Transportation so that highway funding can be used to build a reliable infrastructure instead of being wasted on political pork. The Governor plans to bring our schools into the twenty-first century by expanding his ACCESS distance learning program (which allows students to take courses online), expanding the Alabama Reading Initiative, giving over a half of a billion dollars to school construction, and creating a comprehensive plan to keep students from dropping out of high school.
The Governor's popularity will also help other state Republican candidates running for office. I predict that Republican candidates will be victorious in their races for Attorney General and State Auditor. The race for Secretary of State will be close. Republican State Treasurer Kay Ivey will be re-elected hands down, as will Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks. If a Republican is elected to the White House in 2008 that gives Governor Riley the chance to be appointed to a cabinet position or better yet, serve as the GOP's Vice Presidential nominee. Should the Governor pursue such opportunities, his post as Governor would be left vacant, filled by the Lt. Governor. Thus, for Republicans trying to get Riley re-elected, it is very important to also get Luther Strange elected into the Lt. Governor's seat. Currently, the polls are tied between Strange and Jim Folsom, his Democratic opponent. That is good for Strange because, unlike Folsom, Strange has never served in state office before and therefore does not have as much public exposure. The only place Strange can go is up, and I predict he will win.
November 7 might bring more good news for Republicans in Alabama than Republicans in any other state. But they deserve it. Not only has Governor Riley had the most successful first term of any Governor in recent history, but the Republicans have now also presented a comprehensive agenda to move our state forward. On the other hand, Democrats have resorted to lies and distortions, which I will examine further in future articles.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS and former intern in the Riley administration. He can be reached for comment at tsmith_90@hotmail.com.