James ends challenge of GOP primary for governor

Published 11:03 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Tim James is withdrawing his challenge of the Republican primary for governor, which clears the way for a runoff where the negative advertising is beginning on one side.

James said he was satisfied with a statewide recount that showed him finishing third in the primary June 1, less than 300 votes behind second-place finisher Robert Bentley. James, who paid more than $215,000 for the recount, said he would not proceed with his election contest. The state Republican Party was set to hear the contest Thursday.

James, the son of a two-term governor, did not endorse Bentley or first-place finisher Bradley Byrne for the GOP runoff July 13, but he left open the possibility.

“We’ll just let the dust settle,” he said at a news conference at his Montgomery campaign headquarters.

As James began shutting his headquarters, Bentley was launching his runoff effort after a three-week delay caused by the recount. He traveled from Huntsville to Mobile on Monday with a campaign entourage he never had when he was running a self-funded primary campaign.

At a stop on the Capitol steps in Montgomery, Bentley said, “We are going to clean this place up right here.”

The first-place finisher, former two-year college chancellor Bradley Byrne, has already been on the campaign trail because the recount didn’t affect him.

He launched an ad during the weekend saying Bentley is “more liberal than you know.” The ad criticizes Bentley’s legislative voting record, including saying he refused to oppose “double dipping,” where public education employees also serve in the Legislature.

Bentley called the ad “misleading” and said he didn’t vote on the issue of people having two state jobs because he thought it should be settled by the courts rather than the Legislature.

Bentley, a retired Tuscaloosa physician, said his decision not to run negative ads in the primary campaign and the attacks that Byrne and James waged on each other helped him stand out in the field of seven candidates.

He said he will follow the same strategy in the runoff and asked that no groups run attack ads on his behalf because he doesn’t want to be associated with them.

“People see me as a different candidate,” he said.

Byrne’s spokeswoman, Marty Sullivan, said Byrne is running the ad because voters know little about Bentley’s record during eight years in the Legislature.

For James, this is the second race for governor he has lost in eight years. The son of former Gov. Fob James said he will return home to Greenville, but he’s not ready to close the door on politics forever.

Pointing out that he is 48, James said, “I’ve got 20 years to make up my mind.”