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Chip Drago
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Sentiment split on outcome
of Baldwin Senate 32 runoff

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
The GOP hike to pick a nominee in the special election for the Baldwin County state Senate District 32 seat set out seven weeks or so ago with five mostly gung-ho, optimistic candidates, but will straggle back Tuesday a little worse for the wear, albeit with its nominee.

So who will the nominee be? Early-on favorite Randy McKinney, a south Baldwin real estate executive, state school board member and the choice of Gov. Bob Riley? Or Trip Pittman, the Eastern Shore businessman and first-time candidate who eschewed the establishment in pursuit of a grass roots appeal?

The GOP winner will face Democratic nominee A.J. Cooper, an Eastern Shore attorney who faced no opposition in claiming his party's banner, in the general election on Oct. 16. The seat became open when Bradley Byrne resigned to lead the state's junior college system in its time of turmoil.

The Mobile Bay Times turned for insight to a number of sources wise in the ways of Baldwin County political campaigns.

"Trip Pittman will win the election on Tuesday. McKinney's move to go negative in his mail pieces and his need to bring in the 'big guns' ( a.k.a. Gov. Riley) for televised endorsements shows the acts of a candidate who is trailing in the last few days before the election."
-- PRZ,
Baldwin County elected official

"McKinney hasn't done much north of Robertsdale, therefore Pittman will win 51-49. Sadly, all Trip can talk about in the last weeks in his ads is Montgomery PAC money. That will not help him after the election."
-- AMB,
Tourism executive

"Although the race is getting tense and a bit underhanded here at the end, I cannot help but believe that the majority of Baldwin County people are intelligent enough to understand that McKinney has an edge over Pittman in the area of experience.

I just hope this ad valorem tax situation, which Gov Riley is being attacked on, does not become an issue. If people would understand what Realtors despise the most is anything that affects property rights and ownership. This miscarriage of justice caused by this screwed-up legislation is an abomination and possibly will force some out of their homes. However, I do not feel the governor should be tagged with neither this nor anyone who happens to be a friend of his. This is a legislative act.

People should ask the question, which I feel is the most important, why is this happening in Baldwin and not other counties? Could be that either Mr. (Phil) Nix is correct when he says he is the only one enforcing the law or it could be he is the only one in the whole state who does not have a clue about what he is doing. I cannot accept the premise and feel the real culprit in this issue is the state Legislature, especially the Senate, as they accomplished absolutely nothing last year thanks to the 'Democrat' lead body."

McKinney wins by 5 percent, 7,000 vote."
-- JOS,
Baldwin real estate executive

"I still think it's going to be McKinney even though he's gone more negative in the last week or so. That tells me his polls show it is real close. Trip has seemed to gain some momentum, but I don't know if it will be enough."
-- TWD,
Baldwin native and financial consultant

"Low voter turnout and a razor thin margin. Riley’s endorsement of McKinney proves to be a net negative, and Pittman wins by a nose."
-- BHL,
Baldwin attorney

"I see it as Randy McKinney in a very low turnout, maybe 12 percent race. Randy will take it 53 percent to 47 percent.

There will be a good turnout in the southern part of the district and put him in the lead for good. Randy has run strong there by huge margins in all of his races including the primary. This will be enough to offset Trip winning the Eastern Shore.

Trip will win the Eastern Shore but not by the margin that Randy will carry South Baldwin.

Randy should take Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido, Lillian, Elberta, Foley, Robertsdale, Summerdale, Loxley, Magnolia Springs and Bon Secour. 

Trip will take Barnwell, Marlow, Bay Minette, Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope.

It was a good first run by Trip but at the end of the day, Trip likes to hear himself talk and should spend more time listening to people. Randy is a seasoned campaigner and has a good organization in place. His weakest spot is on the Eastern Shore, but with very little negatives and no overwhelming regional issues it is hard to drive people out to vote against him. In the end I think an experienced organization and good name identification will beat an inexperienced candidate and organization. I give this one to Randy."
-- USM,
veteran Baldwin politico

"Trip wins with 54 percent of the vote. McKinney is not a viable candidate without Montgomery PAC money which is in excess of $200,000 so far filed and another $100,000 will probably show up after the election. In both cycles he has raised less than $30,000 from individuals in Baldwin County. The governor's endorsement I believe has backfired. Most repubs are upset that he did it."
-- GDY,
road contractor

"Obvious desperation by McKinney who wins the race towards negative campaigning. Additionally, Riley should stay out of races involving two men, either of whom could and would support Riley's agenda. Makes me wonder if I would support Riley next time he runs."
-- DSB,
real estate executive

"I think it will be closer than I originally thought, but I still feel McKinney will pull it out. I do not like the fact that Gov. Riley got involved in a primary race. I do not think this is good for the party in the long run and may have backfired some on McKinney. I do not think the party can go wrong whoever wins, though  They both are good people."
-- PBR,
veteran GOP spokesperson

"I predict Pittman will win 51-49 percent. The PAC money and negative campaigning at the end has made the difference."
-- FFI,
ex-south Baldwin official

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