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Monday, October 31, 2005

More Siegelman Indictment Fallout

The political specualtion has run fast and furious following the recent indictment of Don Siegelman, Richard Scrushy, and two former Siegelman aides.

The Birmingham News explores the consequences of the charges on the race for governor. Unsurprisingly there are different perspectives on precisely what the fallout will be.

Read the entire News piece for all the angles on the newly complicated Democratic primary. But I'll highlight a few of the different possibilities laid out by the various pundits. ( I should note that all scenarios are moot if Siegelman is found guilty, since he would then be incarcertaed during the election.)
"If Siegelman is exonerated in this, he will be awfully strong," said state Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Meridianville.

"I think she[Baxley] has been a little bit off balance because there have been so many rumors relating to Don Siegelman," Geddie said. "If Lucy articulates the proper message and people respond to it, her campaign may start taking on steam, so I think these next months are crucial for her."

"It would be hard to present yourself as the party that hadn't gotten into trouble, the party of the higher standard, if you're being led by a person who's been indicted," Stewart said.

"In the last campaign, they called him a crook," Hinshaw said. "Well, Don Siegelman still almost won that race. He's already been indicted and the charges have been thrown out. If these charges fall apart, Don Siegelman will be your next
governor."

"Lucy is going to run strong on the fact that there hasn't been any suggestion of impropriety in her tenure," said Madison County Democratic chairman Doug Dermody.
So that is just a sampling of some of the varied commentary on the now legally charged Democratic primary. As you can tell, opinions run the gamut from the belief that Siegelman is politically finished no matter what happens in the courtroom to the notion that a legally victorious Siegelman could emerge stronger than ever.

It is really too early to know exactly what the political impact will be. Much will depend on the timing, evidence, and actual outcome of the trial. It does look like Lucy Baxley is counting on Siegelman's legal problems to deliver the Democratic nomination to her. But given Baxley's timidity and lack of an overarching vision, a candidate with the experience, energy, and political ferosity of Don Siegelman should never be counted out.

Unless, of course, he's in prison.

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