oth camps find cause to celebrate after debate

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 22, 2002

yale James / Selma Times – Journal

Buddy Swift thinks Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman acquitted himself well in Sunday’s gubernatorial debate with U.S. Rep. Bob Riley on Alabama Public Television.

Jean Sullivan thinks the Republican candidate came across as just what he is, &uot;a good, honest-looking, honest-acting country boy.&uot;

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Both think their boy won. No doubt.

Swift is a member of the Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Committee and a former member of the Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee.

Sullivan was Republican National Committee-woman for Alabama for 20 years.

She paused slightly before delivering the punch line.

Sullivan said she felt the debate served to lay to rest at least one accusation that has dogged Riley for much of the campaign.

Swift gave Siegelman points for emphasizing his record of economic development and of bringing jobs to the state. He also applauded the governor’s emphasis on education funding. He stopped short, however, of fully endorsing Siegelman’s call for a state lottery to help raise money for education.

He suggested that constitutional reform and tax reform offer a better long-term solution for the state’s education woes.

Sullivan was unimpressed. &uot;Siegelman’s stuck on having a lottery, isn’t he?&uot; she said.

She said she strongly disapproved of the system of oversight Siegelman proposed the first time he tried to push through a state lottery shortly after taking office. She said she felt his initial proposal failed to provide adequate safeguards that any money realized from a lottery would actually end up where it was intended to go.

She added that the debate was unlikely to sway supporters on either side of the lottery question.

Both Swift and Sullivan expressed mixed feelings about the worth of such public debates.

Sullivan still keeps in touch with the White House, still follows politics as avidly as ever. The president, who has been to her house, even calls her Mama Jean.