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Chip Drago
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The Political Wrap

A day late and a dollar short;
Hardesty lonely no more;
Mad Men & ads of honor; Game on;
Moore or less?; Game on doubleheader;
School board battle brewing

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
A day late and a dollar short.

The adage applies to Chris Galanos’s aborted bid to return to the office he held from the late 1970’s until the mid-1990’s, the former Mobile County district attorney said.

Galanos and a circle of allies sought to rally support for the ex-prosecutor’s comeback in the wake of John Tyson’s retirement after a 16-year run. Their enthusiasm was not reciprocated.

“I am not going to run,” said Galanos. “... these two young people (GOP contenders Ashley Rich and Mark Erwin) have both gone out and raised money and garnered the support of people who normally would support me. I can’t come into the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter and accomplish what they’ve already done over a period of months. I waited too late.”

Galanos, 63 and a former circuit judge, is not necessarily finished with public service, he said, adding that Mobile County Circuit Judge Jim Wood, who is approaching 70, is barred by law from seeking re-election in 2012 when his term expires.

“My desire to serve the public is not necessarily ebbed because I’ve decided not to run for D.A.,” Galanos said. “There will be a circuit judgeship open in two years and, God willing, if I am alive and well, I’ll certainly consider it.”

The fiery Galanos has battled his demons over the years, including a stint in rehab for addiction to prescription weight loss pills and a later domestic incident in which he heaved a flowerpot through a door at his ex-wife’s residence, frightening his daughter. The charges were ultimately resolved when Galanos underwent anger management counseling.    
Galanos said he is now in a “comfortable place” with his children and, though they blessed his plan to resume his political career, there is consolation in “not jeopardizing the harmony and affection that we enjoy.”

His lesson learned, Galanos said any future political campaign would be well-planned, not spontaneous in reaction to a development such as Tyson’s decision to leave the D.A. post.

“If I do run again, I will put
an organization together
and have a fundraiser at
least a year prior to the election,” said Galanos. “That (his late start in the D.A. race) turned out to be a huge factor. People were saying, ‘man, we didn’t know you were interested and we went ahead and committed.’”

With Tyson’s late departure and Galanos’s campaign stillborn, the Democratic Party continues to search for a standard bearer to hold on to a countywide office that has been in Democratic hands for more than 30 years.

Interim party chairman Reggie Copeland Jr. said party leaders were working to field a competitive candidate to face either Rich or Erwin in November.

MBT sources said another Democratic prospect is testing the waters, but they declined to reveal the lawyer’s identity pending a final decision.

Hardesty lonely no more
Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty announced his bid for re-election Monday night at the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee meeting in Saraland. Hardesty noted that when he first ran for a judicial slot as a Republican there were very few Republicans on the bench in Mobile County and now the tables are completely turned with very few Democrats as judges. District Judges Mike McMaken and George Brown, whose terms expire, are also expected to seek re-election. Circuit Judges Charlie Graddick and Sarah Stewart will be on the ballot this year. All the judges mentioned are Republicans. No opponents of either party have announced a challenge to any incumbent judge.

Mad Men & Brooks's 'ad of honor'
State Sen. Ben Brooks said he would laminate and post at the entrance to his office in the state Capitol a copy of the full page ad placed twice in the Press-Register by pro-gambling interests to attack his opposition to proposed bingo legislation.

According to Brooks, his adversaries, unintentionally, have reinvigorated his political standing in Senate District 35, not that it was flagging. The ads served as a booster shot that all re-election campaigns need at the outset to re-energize the candidate’s organization, said Brooks.

A Theodore native and south Mobile resident, Brooks said calls in reaction to the ad were “running three-to-one favorable” to the first term senator who is seeking re-election this year.

Recent talk in GOP circles intimates that Brooks may draw a challenger in the GOP primary. MBT’s efforts to identify the prospect haven’t yet borne fruit. 

Brooks said he expects opposition and is always girded for it.

“In fact, I would just as soon have the opposition in the Republican primary (on June 1) and get it over with, so we (the Brooks family) can enjoy the summer,” said Brooks.

Game on
The race between Mark Erwin and Ashley Rich for the GOP nomination to succeed out-going Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. began in earnest Monday night at the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee meeting in Saraland. Each candidate's forceful, aggressive tone during the forum suggests Mobile countians will be treated to at least one local barnburner during this election season. This battle should heat up right along with the temperatures as it heads toward the June 1 showdown. 

Moore or less?
GOP gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore also addressed the gathering of about 60 or so. The audience's reaction to Moore and his 10-minute talk seemed more polite and respectful than enthusiastic, although a few attendees left rather than listen to Moore's remarks. Moore's fame/notoriety as the "10 Commandments Judge" during his contentious stint as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court still has a polarizing effect within the GOP.  

Doubleheader game on
Make that two barnburners for Mobile countians this election season, one on the GOP side of the aisle and the "Toulminville tussle" for Senate District 33 on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Ex-Judge Herman Thomas's campaign will gather at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3 at Thomas Campaign Headquarters at the corner of Sage and Springhill Avenues to organize volunteers, according to campaign manager Kim Pettway

Thomas was ousted as a judge amid allegations that he paddled young inmates. He is challenging incumbent state Sen. Vivian Figures. She and her son, Akil, were witnesses for the prosecution in Thomas's trial last fall. He was acquitted of all charges.

County computer data manager Victor Crawford is also campaigning for the seat. A first-time candidate, Crawford is the son of the late local civil rights leader, attorney Vernon Crawford.      
School board bid
Only School Commissioner Bill Meredith, of the five-member school board, is up for re-election this year.

Hutchens Principal Bill Foster, who is retiring at the end of the school year, is challenging Meredith for the District 5 seat on the board of school commissioners.

Foster kicked off his campaign with a rally last Saturday in Dawes. About 150 people attended the event, according to reports. The Foster campaign distributed 500 yard signs and plans to order bumper stickers and large "intersection-style," commercial property-sized signboards, according to a campaign spokesperson.
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