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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Folsom decides to seek reelection, not run for governor

Another potential major candidate has said he will not run for governor in 2010, but Jim Folsom Jr. did say he will seek reelection as lieutenant governor.
Folsom informed Democratic party leaders, the Democratic leadership in the Senate, and Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks of his decision on Wednesday, said Chip Hill, spokesman for Folsom.
Sparks, who cannot run for a third consecutive term as commissioner, has said he will announce which office he is running for on Friday. He told the Associated Press he would not be running against Folsom.
Folsom, 59, said in a statement that he received encouragement to run for governor. He has been talked about as a top contender for more than a year.
His announcement comes a week after Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins said he would not run for governor. Hawkins was discussed as a potential Republican candidate.
Hill said Folsom's decision was not based on any other candidate who was running for office. He also said the lieutenant governor would not involve himself in the Democratic primary for governor.
The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, which has been criticized often for its lack of productivity.
Hill said the Senate was more divided than when Folsom served his first two terms as lieutenant governor. While there was stalemate and conflict during the first two years of this term, Hill said there has been progress and Folsom is seeing the fruits of his labor.
"He definitely wants to be part of the future of the Senate and the lieutenant governor's office," he said.
Folsom, the son of two-term Gov. James E. "Big Jim" Folsom, was elected to two terms on the Alabama Public Service Commission and was elected lieutenant governor in 1986, 1990 and 2006.
In 1993, following the ethics conviction of former Gov. Guy Hunt, Folsom became governor. He did not win a full term as governor in the 1994 election.
Folsom, who is from Cullman, was not at the State House Wednesday afternoon, but Hill said he would be available for comment on Thursday. Folsom talked about his decision to select media outlets.
Hill said priorities for Folsom would be searching for a solution to the financial troubles with the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program and continuing his leadership in autism advocacy. Folsom has also been active in working to promote the state's aerospace industry, Hill said.
He said Folsom will begin to raise money and campaign in June.
State Sen. Roger Bedford, one of the members of the Democratic leadership that Folsom informed of his decision, said Folsom will be a great candidate and "has done a fine job."
If he had run for governor, Bedford said Folsom would have been the frontrunner because of his broad support throughout the state.
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham, a Montgomery native, is the only Democrat who has announced he is running for governor in 2010. Greenville businessman Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, is the only Republican to announce he is running.
Potential Republican candidates include: two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne, Treasurer Kay Ivey, House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard of Auburn, state Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, and lawyer Luther Strange, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2006.
Attorney General Troy King, who many people thought would be a formidable candidate, said he will run for re-election in his current position.
House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, and U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, have said they are not running.
Davis, in a statement, said he has great respect for Jim and Marsha Folsom.
"He will be a valued part of the Democratic ticket as lieutenant governor and, if both of us are successful in 2010, he will be invited to be a genuine partner in my efforts to revive Alabama’s economy," the congressman said. "Whoever ends up running for governor, I will continue to prepare to take my case to voters in every
sector of this state."
Some people consider Folsom the father of the state's automotive industry. While he was heavily criticized for the incentives the state offered at the time, Folsom was crucial in recruiting the Mercedes-Benz automotive plant to the state. He also had the Confederate flag removed from the dome of the Capitol.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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