Siegelman, testing waters for 2006 run, says response so far is #039;positive#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2005

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman has been bombarded with questions from people across the state dealing with the high cost of medication to the level of violence allowed to be shown on television.

And he's tried to answer each question no matter what the topic.

While he has traveled to at least 53 counties throughout the state including Butler County, where he made a stop in Greenville on Monday, he has had the chance to pose just one question to the people.

Would he be an ideal candidate for governor in the 2006 election?

"I'm trying to get an idea what the people of this state are thinking about 2006, and what would they think of me being a possible candidate," Siegelman said between a bite of dinner at Shoney's in Greenville. "So far the response has been positive."

Siegelman continues to gauge the people's reaction to his possible run for the Democratic nod for the governor's seat this week. He was in Evergreen and Brewton on Tuesday before heading to Baldwin County later this week.

Siegelman plans to visit all of the counties in the state at least once this year and then take some time to contemplate another possible run for governor. He said that he hopes to have a decision by late fall or by the first couple of weeks in 2006.

During Siegelmen's tenure as governor in 1999-2003, he was known for his achievements and his failures.

One of his achievements, that of bringing Hyundai to Hope Hull, directly affected hundreds of people in Greenville and Butler County with jobs with the company and the suppliers that located in the area.

"I knew that (Hyundai) would revitalize a lot of our southern (Alabama) towns," he said. "Greenville has benefited strongly by bringing Hyundai to south Montgomery County."

While Hyundai has been Siegelman's success story, a strike against him was his failed attempt to push for an education lottery.

But that doesn't mean Siegelman won't push for it again.

"I still fully believe we can fund education with an education lottery and not by raising taxes," he said.

And Siegelman said that he even has some Republicans thinking that an education lottery may be the smart way to go.

A billboard in Montgomery says, "I'd rather have Don's lottery than Bob and Lucy's taxes."

The person who paid for that billboard is a dyed-in-the-wool 76-year-old Republican from Hoover.

But can a state the size of Alabama with more than 4 million people support a lottery?

"We're supporting three lotteries and a bunch of casinos over in Mississippi right now," he said. "My mother used to tell me, 'Son, better late than never,' and that would be the advice I would give to the people of Alabama."