| Birmingham -- Alabamians received a full ballot when they checked into their polling places Tuesday. Not only was the governor's office up for grabs, but so were the lieutenant governor and chief justice jobs. Add to that a plethora of local races and three proposed constitutional amendments and Alabama voters had quite a few decisions to make. Here's how they decided in a few of those races.
It was a smiling Bob Riley who spoke to supporters Tuesday night at the Sheraton in downtown Birmingham. Going into Election Day, polls showed Riley with a comfortable, double digit lead over Democratic challenger Lucy Baxley. (Baxley is also the current lieutenant governor.) And, as the numbers came in, it was clear Riley would win re-election easily; he held the lead over Baxley all night long. When the boxes were counted, Riley took 58% of the vote (717,287) to Baxley's 42% (518,750). He's the first incumbent governor re-elected in sixteen years.
Baxley was gracious in defeat, talking a little about the enormity of taking on such a well-funded incumbent. She said she felt good the results turned out to be a little closer than many polls had projected. She also wished Riley the best for his administration over the next four years.
During his victory speech, Riley picked up on that wish for the best from Baxley and extended it to his vision for Alabama. Riley told his supporters it's time to come together, put aside partisan differences and work to make Alabama a better, and stronger, state. Riley's campaign was hoping that a Republican lieutenant governor would help him do that.
The matchup featured Republican "Big Luther" versus a former Democratic governor and the former governor came out on top.
The lieutenant governor's race turned out to be a close one, as most polls had projected. Early in the night, Republican Luther Strange held a lead over Democrat Jim Folsom Jr., making many people at both Strange's and Riley's headquarters hopeful the governor's coattails were going to pull Strange into office. But as the evening wore on, Folsom pulled ahead and stayed ahead. Folsom won by about 20,000 votes (595,251 to 574,743).
It was a late night for supporters at both Strange and Folsom headquarters, as neither candidate wanted to jump the gun on a concession or victory speech. But when it became clear that Folsom's lead was insurmountable, Strange conceded. Speaking to his deflated supporters at 11:30 he told them they had everything to be proud of and that they've helped brighten Alabama's future.
This win is a political homecoming of sorts for Folsom. He'll be returning to the lieutenant governor's office which he held from 1987-1993, all though the office has been stripped of much of its power since then.
In what might have been the ugliest statewide race this year (and is universally believed to be the most expensive judicial race in the nation) the Democrat came out on top.
The race between Democrat Sue Bell Cobb and Incumbent Republican Chief Justice Drayton Nabors turned nasty quickly. Cobb was labeled "too liberal" for Alabama; Nabors had his integrity called into question in several campaign ads. As the campaign wound down, though, both candidates began to run softer ads focusing on their own attributes and not the perceived shortcomings of their opponent.
Nabors called Cobb at about 11 Tuesday night to concede defeat. Cobb's win (567,470 to 516,494 votes) makes her the first woman to ever head Alabama's highest court. She will also be the only Democrat in the Alabama Supreme Court, the other justices are all Republican.
Alabama Attorney General
(R) Troy King (i) 566,742
(D) John Tyson, Jr. 485,100
U.S. House 3rd District
(R) Mike Rogers (i) 97,742
(D) Greg Pierce 62,891
(I) Mark Layfield 3,396
U.S. House 4th District
(R) Robert Aderholt (i) 128,412
(D) Barbara Bobo 54,338
U.S. House 6th District
(R) Spencer Bacchus (i) -- Unopposed
U.S. House 7th District
(D) Artur Davis (i) -- Unopposed
-- Rosemary Pennington with Steve Chiotakis, Charles Saab, Brigid Galloway, Gigi Douban and Dale Short, November 8th, 2006