Riley gains in polls

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2002

BNI Newswire

A state political newsletter reported last week a statewide poll shows gubernatorial candidate Bob Riley has a 14 point lead over Lt. Gov. Steve Windom.

The Riley campaign sent out an e-mail to supporters Tuesday and the website carried the text of the April 12 article. For its part, the Windom campaign said the average voter was not paying much attention to the race yet and the campaign was still being well received.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"This is just another indication we are doing our job," said Leland Whaley with Riley’s campaign. "We didn’t think we would be in this position at this point."

Riley, currently the 3rd Congressional District congressman representing Chilton County, and Windom are considered the two leading candidates in the Republican primary set for June 4.

Inside Alabama Politics reported Windom "may have learned a costly lesson" over a campaign commercial which said "Riley bought stock in 28 companies that his own congressional committees oversee" and that "with his insider’s knowledge, Riley bought General Dynamics stock just days before the government gave it a $4 billion contract."

However, Riley later reported he did not know what stocks were in his mutual fund. The Birmingham News reported Riley "gave his investment managers all legal authority to buy and sell stock with his money by signing a written waiver that automatically keeps him out of the decision-making loop."

Windom was criticized in editorials and by Republican leaders for the ads, which were later withdrawn.

Inside Alabama Politics reported a poll was commissioned by business groups both camps have been seeking support from. It was reportedly conducted by Whit Avers of Atlanta.

"The survey first began as a sampling of 400 voters, according to insiders," the newsletter reported. "Business groups that Windom counted on supporting him commissioned the poll to get a feel for how the Riley-Windom battle is shaping up with voters, sources said. When the results of the survey of 400 voters indicated that Windom’s negatives had jumped up, the poll was expanded to include a total of 600 respondents." Windom’s negative ratings stayed consistent.

According to the poll results, Riley saw his native rating rise only from 5 to 6 percent from January to April, while Windom’s rose from 19 percent to 28 percent. Meanwhile, Riley saw his favorable rating rise from 35 percent to 51 percent, while Windom’s declined from 55 percent to 49 percent. Overall the poll shows Riley leading Windom 43 to 29 percent. Tim James was at 8 percent, while 20 percent were undecided.

"When campaigning against an opponent with statewide name recognition like Lt. Gov. Steve Windom our plan was to campaign hard and pull ahead at the end – it is a pleasant surprise to show a 14-point advantage at this point," Whaley said. "This just makes us want to redouble our efforts and continue working as hard as we can."

The article pointed to Windom’s television ad, noting, "Windom campaign operatives were reportedly divided at the time on whether it should have been aired."

It went on to say Windom has pledged not to air any more negative campaigns against Riley and James during the primary race. The article noted negative ratings are hard to turn around and could affect financial contributions to the Windom campaign. It also noted Windom won’t have leverage over special interests once the Legislature adjourns this week, as he will be a lame duck as lieutenant governor.

Windom’s campaign manager, Reagan Ingram, said on Tuesday, "A poll is a snapshot in time." He said the campaign is still being well received and that "the average voter is not paying a lot of attention" to the race at this point. He said the race will "pick up a little more activity" about 30 days before June 4.

"Whether we’re 14 points ahead or 14 points behind, it doesn’t matter at this point," he said, saying the campaign’s game plan is to keep working hard.

Whaley added there are a lot of polls put out during a primary but these numbers, with the size sampling that was done, is a very good measuring stick to go by.