Barron wins battle for pro tem post
The "Superbowl of Alabama politics" is over; now, we'll take the true measure of the players.
Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron won re-election as Senate president pro tem on Tuesday, despite Gov.-elect Bob Riley's support of Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne. Riley, along with the Senate's 10 Republicans and six of its Democrats, pushed hard for Mitchell's election. The "Conservative Caucus" as they were dubbed sought Senate leadership that would be more open to the incoming governor's legislative proposals.
Unfortunately, their efforts failed. More unfortunate, the "Super Bowl" was played out in a classic Alabama power struggle, with incoming Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley swinging her support to the Democrats' camp after making a deal that will gain her more power in the Senate.
Within hours of the vote, Riley issued a public statement pledging
his support for Barron and calling for the Legislature and other elected officials to put aside their partisanship.
"It is important that all of us in Montgomery agree to put partisanship and political labels aside so that we can work together in finding solutions to the problems that plague our state," he said in a statement. "We currently face a fiscal crisis unprecedented since the days of Reconstruction and the Great Depression, our schools are in desperate need of reform and we continue to rely on dysfunctional models
in Montgomery that have left our state at the bottom of most lists instead of the top.
"Instead of working against each other as Democrats and Republicans, we must work together as fellow Alabamians so that we don't pass our problems down to our children and grandchildren."
Riley's words are a strong challenge to lawmakers to be "good sports," if you will after this Super Bowl passes. It's a call for bipartisanship; for a willingness to listen; and a call for cooperation that will be absolutely necessary for the governor to be effective.
We hope our lawmakers are listening. Because it's time we put aside hard feelings from the hard-fought gubernatorial election and sacrificed power struggles for a common goal – fundamentally reforming and improving the effectiveness of Alabama's government.
If we can do that, Alabamians can win a victory much greater than any Super Bowl.