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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bentley hits the road running for governor



Republican state Rep. Robert Bentley is touring the state in a bus this week announcing he will be a candidate for governor in 2010.

The dermatologist started his tour in his district with an event in Tuscaloosa before continuing on to Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery. He will continue on today to Opelika, Dothan and Mobile today before returning to Tuscaloosa.

About 35 people attended Bentley's speech at the Capitol in Montgomery.

While there has been unprecedented growth in the state, Bentley said he sees room to create more jobs and foster more progress. He said the state offers incentives to try to lure business to the state, but he wants to offer rebates to companies who are already located in the state and to industry here that might be struggling.

Bentley said he would create an agency that dealt strictly with the development of small businesses.

The legislator called for ethics reform and efficient, transparent and open government. He said every penny the state spends should be reported for viewing online and that a lobbyist should have to report any money that is spent on a public official.

Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, and many members of the Legislature ran on ethics reform in 2006.

When asked how he could implement ethics reform even though attempts have been unsuccessful in recent years, Bentley said "the No. 1 thing we need to do is change the Legislature."

In continuing, he said, as a lawmaker he has worked with Republicans and Democrats, and there is a mutual respect.

"I think they like me and I like them," Bentley said of the Democrats. He said the personal relationship would be the difference.

He also wants to improve public transportation, promote Alabama products throughout the world, and improve healthcare. The doctor said he has ideas to assist with healthcare in the state that "nobody has even considered."

Bentley said the state needs more primary care physicians and he would work to mandate that the medical schools produce more of them. He said he would also encourage health savings accounts.

Bentley's platform states he has opposed gambling as a lawmaker, but supports allowing people to vote on whether they want gambling if the legislation establishes a gaming commission, if the gambling is strictly regulated, and if there is a tax of not less than 40 percent on the profits.

If the people do vote and reject the gambling proposal at the polls, he believes the state should not allow another vote for at least 10 years. Bentley said he personally opposes gambling and believes it is an unreliable source of money to fund state government.

Bentley said the governor's office needs someone with leadership potential and sensibility. People have lost confidence in state government, he said. They call state agencies and get a recorded message, the doctor said.

Bentley lost his first race for public office to state Sen. Phil Poole, D-Tuscaloosa. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 and was reelected in 2006.

According to media reports from a previous stop, Bentley said he is paying for the bus tour with his own money. He has also hired campaign staff to prepare for the 2010election.

Today and Friday are the final days of the legislative session.

Bentley said he planned the tour when lawmakers had planned to take this week off and meet on Monday for the final day of the session. He plans to be back at the State House for the final day of the session on Friday.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

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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