Butts next attorney general?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Troy lawyer Terry Butts is being discussed in legal and political circles as a possible candidate to replace Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor should Pryor be confirmed by the United States Senate for a judicial slot on the federal court of appeals.

Butts, a former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is one of several names being bandied about by political insiders and commentators. Though he declined to comment on his rumored status as a leading candidate for the job of Alabama's top law enforcement officer, Butts was mentioned by Bob Ingram, a grizzled veteran observer of Alabama politics in a recent column.

Those who know him well say that Butts, who helped Gov. Bob Riley fight against a statewide recount after the race against Don Siegelman, would make a good replacement for Pryor.

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"He'd be an excellent candidate," said Billy Gibson, a docent at the Alabama Supreme Court and long-time practitioner of law. "I knew him back when he was practicing law and when he became one of the three circuit judges here."

Gibson said he didn't think that Butts' status as a Democrat when on the Supreme Court would affect his candidacy for the slot.

"I don't think it makes any difference. I don't think people attach too much importance to it," he said.

Lawrence Bowden, head of the Pike County Republican Committee, had not heard Butts' name tossed around as a potential replacement for Pryor, but said that a Democrat was not the right man for the job.

"I hadn't heard anything about it, but if he's still a Democrat, I'd be very much opposed to him being appointed. There are too many good Republicans out there," he said.

Should Butts want to jump from the donkeys to the elephants, Bowden said the leap is not a difficult one.

"It's not a difficult process. It's just matter of declaring," he said. "A lot have changed when they begin to realize that to get elected statewide you've got a real good chance on the Republican ticket."

Dickie Calhoun, a local attorney, has known Butts for over 25 years. He feels that his old friend would make a fine attorney general.

"He'd really be superb," he said.

Calhoun said that he had heard talk swirling about Butts being in the running to replace Pryor, but had not heard the rumors from Butts himself.

Butts declined to comment.