Two governors, one seat: Alabama's bind
It's no Florida-style debacle, but a few races still hang in the balance as voters' frustration grows.
Red, white, and blue banners sag out in front of the headquarters of Bob Riley's campaign for governor. Inside, election signs are turned upside down and propped against walls as a few volunteers mill aimlessly about.Skip to next paragraph
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Even though it appears that their candidate has won, it's hard to feel too celebratory, they say, when challenger and Democratic incumbent Gov. Don Siegelman is still contesting the race.
Welcome to recount 2002. It may not rival the Bush-Gore epic. But almost two weeks after the midterm elections, some races still haven't seen concession speeches. The issue here isn't fraud or ballot-box ineptitude of the hanging-chad variety. But a contested governor's race in Alabama and a House race in Colorado serve as reminders that in a democracy every vote counts - and needs to be counted accurately.
For some voters, it's a frustrating indication that election reform still has a long way to go.
"I'm starting to wonder what the point of voting is," says Judy Williams, finishing a sandwich at Smokey Joe's Cafe next to Riley's headquarters. "Democracy is supposed to be the people's voice, but what it ends up to be is a court battle where a judge decides. It's no wonder people are losing confidence in the democratic process."
While residents' frustration mounts along with legal challenges, both gubernatorial candidates are acting as if they've won. They are participating in Veterans Day activities in Birmingham and comforting tornado victims in Walker County. They are giving speeches and talking about the state's future.
It's strange, but it's not unlike what has occurred elsewhere following midterm elections. South Dakota's Senate race was decided only Wednesday, when Rep. John Thune (R) said he would not seek a recount in his race against incumbent Sen. Tim Johnson (D). Until Thursday night, New York's 1st Congressional District seat was dangling, but after days of recounts, Felix Grucci (R) conceded the race to Timothy Bishop (D).
In addition to the Alabama governor's race, the 7th Congressional District seat in Colorado is still being contested. Currently, Republican Bob Beauprez has a 386-vote lead over Democrat Mike Feeley with about 2,000 provisional ballots still being counted. Because official results won't be released until tomorrow, both candidates showed up for orientation in Washington this week.
And beyond the contested races, two seats will be decided by run-off elections on Dec. 7: the 5th Congressional District in Louisiana and a Senate seat. Rodney Alexander (D) is up against Lee Fletcher (R) for the House seat; Democrat Mary Landrieu is squaring off with Suzanne Haik Terrell (R) for the Senate seat.
And Hawaii is holding a special election Jan. 4 to choose a replacement for the late Democratic Rep. Patsy Mink, who died Sept. 28, but won posthumously on the November ballot.
While other states have rushed to settle elections, Alabama, in true Southern tradition, is taking its own sweet time. The state's last disputed election - a 1994 race for chief justice of the Supreme Court - took a year to settle and cost taxpayers a bundle.