MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Southern Baptist Bob Riley is the new governor of Alabama, after incumbent Gov. Don Siegelman conceded the race Nov. 18, ending 13 days of speculation following election challenges in the southern part of the state.
Siegelman originally asked for a statewide recount Nov. 7 to determine who won the Nov. 5 election after he and Riley, the Republican nominee, both declared victory.
The confusion over who won stemmed from two sets of numbers reported by one heavily Republican district.
Figures originally reported by Baldwin County, near Mobile on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, showed Siegelman received about 19,000 votes. That made him the state’s winner by two-tenths of 1 percent.
“I ask that we come together with our fellow citizens to do what’s best for Alabama,” Riley told Associated Press. “Join me in that quest.”
Siegelman conceded the election during a statewide broadcast. “I’ve decided that a prolonged election controversy would hurt Alabama, would hurt the very people that we worked so hard to help,” Siegelman said.
Siegelman, a Catholic, was a statewide office holder for most of the past 25 years and won the governor’s office four years ago by knocking off incumbent Gov. Fob James, a Republican. He had recently been dogged by charges of cronyism, a gloomy economy and a stagnant schools crisis, and was seen as the most endangered Democratic governor seeking re-election this year.
Riley is a staunch conservative who nonetheless won over a traditional Democratic constituency in his district with a folksy appeal.
He and his family are members of the First Baptist Church of Ashland, where he teaches the men’s Sunday School class and served as chairman of the church board of trustees.