Alabama Governor Bob Riley
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Born: October 3,1944 (age 66), Ashland, Alabama
Spouse(s): Patsy Riley
Children : Rob, Jenice (deceased), Minda and Krisalyn
Alma mater: University of Alabama
Profession: Automobile Dealer, Real Estate Developer
Political Career :
- 1997-2003: Served as the Congressman representing Alabama’s 3rd district
- 2003-2011: Governor of Alabama
Bob Riley on the Issues
Click on each topic to view Rileys position
Bob Riley became Alabamas 52nd Governor after promising to bring change to state government, and during his first weeks in office, he delivered a degree of increased accountability to state government. One of his first acts as Governor was signing an Executive Order to stop pass-through pork, a deceitful spending practice that for years had allowed legislators in Montgomery to hide taxpayer money in the budget for handpicked special projects. Governor Rileys action eliminated more than $40 million in pork projects. Riley also proposed the first reforms to the states health insurance programs. These reforms saved taxpayers over $300 million. Governor Riley also implemented budget reforms that allowed taxpayers to see exactly how their money was being spent, and he fought for new laws that strengthen private property rights for all Alabamians and toughen penalties against sexual predators.
When he assumed office, Alabama faced its greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression and a record budget deficit. Governor Riley has managed the state out of this crisis with an eye on improved efficiency and cost-savings in government. Governor Riley approved spending cuts of more than $500 million and eliminated funding for non-state agencies. For his leadership in addressing the states fiscal crisis, Governor Riley was named the Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine in 2003, and Time magazine hailed him for being one of the nations most courageous politicians.
Governor Riley devoted much attention to job creation. An economy that was weak and had lost 47,000 jobs in the three years prior to his election was soon recognized as one of the strongest in the nation. During his term as Governor, Alabama had experienced net jobs gains, record low unemployment and been honored as State of the Year for three consecutive years due to its economic development. But after two consecutive terms as Governor, in this area his record was ultimately a mixed one. When Riley took office with a 5.3% unemployment rate in 2003 and got it down to 3.3 % by March, 2006. This rate was the lowest ever recorded since statistics began being tracked in 1976 and was among the nations lowest. In April 2007 the unemployment rate once again reached 3.3 percent. However, by May of 2009, it tripled to 9.8%, and became Alabama’s highest unemployment rate in 25 years.
Much of this is attributed to the national economy but critics of Riley claimed that he failed to secure contracts with automotive manufacturing plants and even lost some to Georgia. But Riley did in fact succeed in other areas concerning jobs, including landing the opening of an aeronautics engineering facility in Mobile by EADS, the parent company of Airbus. In between the ups and downs, under Rileys tenure, Alabama was recognized as “State of the Year” by Southern Business and Development magazine four years in a row and received other awards for competitiveness, job creation and economic development.
Riley did inherit a record budget deficit when he came into office but with fiscal discipline he did at one point turn it into a record budget surplus. But not without conflict along the way. Opponents of the Governor claimed that Riley, ordered property tax appraisals to be made annually, rather than the every four years that were established practice. Because property values tend to increase over time, making appraisals more frequent has the indirect effect of increasing the taxes paid by property owners. Riley’s opponents claimed that by doing so, he raised taxes without a vote of either the Legislature or the people. Riley claimed that he was merely following the language of the law, and the advice of his attorneys.
In other areas, Governor Riley kept a pledge to fight for better education. Under his leadership, the Alabama Reading Initiative has received record funding and is being implemented in every K-3 classroom in the state. The Governor also proposed record funding for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative and a new distance learning program that is bringing new opportunities to students across the state, especially in Alabamas smaller, rural communities.
Prior to his election, Governor Riley served for three terms in Congress from 1996-2002 representing Alabamas third district. Before entering public service, Governor Riley ran a number of successful businesses, including a trucking company, a car dealership, a real estate company, a grocery store and a small pharmacy. Hes also been a cattleman for almost 30 years.
A native of the small Clay County town of Ashland, Governor Riley is married to the former Patsy Adams, also from Clay County. He is a member of the First Baptist Church of Ashland, where he taught the men’s Sunday school class for a number of years and also served as Chairman of the Churchs Board of Trustees. The Riley’s were blessed with four children and are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren.
Early in February of 2011, reports out of the Birmingham news indicated that Riley was consideirn andbeing urged to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Some likeformer Congressman and current MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough have even publicly stated that Riley could fill a void thatseems to exist in the emerging Republican field ofcandidates.
The idea of a Riley run is not out of the realm of possibility and as a Governor who has oftenbeen described as a poulist conservative, he would certainlyget noticed in a crowdedfield ofopponents. But ultimately Riley is not likely to get very far unless a number of other candidates decide not to run. Most specifically, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour a man whom Riley practically endorsed in August of 2010.
Bob Riley can by no means be written off if he were to run. While he does have his share of critics and controversey, he also has a pretty good record to spice up and make pretty appealing to conservatives. But would likely be difficult for him to compete financially with the likes of Romney or Barbour. And if people like Mike Huckabee also jump into the race, Riley is likely to get the short end of the stick in the South, where he would have to bank on solid support if he wants to be considered by other regions in the nation.
In the end, I suspect that Riley will not be a candidate for president in 2012 but will line up behind Mississippi’s Haley Babrbour who at the moment, is running but hasn’t made it official yet.