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The Birmingham News - Ivey Questions Folsom's Missing Party Affiliation

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Location: Unknown

By David White

Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday said she's proud of her party and questioned why Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. didn't say he's a Democrat in his recent television campaign ad.

"He and others say there's just such a huge difference between a Washington Democrat and an Alabama Democrat," Ivey said. ''It seems to me you ought to be proud to be an Alabama Democrat, if that's what you are."

''I just believe in Republican principles and I'm proud to say so," Ivey said.

Folsom in the TV ad calls himself a ''country boy," with a wonderful wife and two great kids, who loves to hunt birds. ''As your lieutenant governor, I've never been a lap dog for anyone or any special interest. I'll continue to be an independent voice for the little guy," Folsom says in the ad. The word ''Democrat" is not displayed or mentioned.

Ivey raised the ad issue Monday at a forum she and Folsom attended. After she asked why the word Democrat wasn't mentioned in the ad, Folsom replied, ''I've never put Democrat in my ads. For 30 years, I've run as Jim Folsom. Lieutenant governor is a non-partisan position. You must make the Senate work for all the people of

The lieutenant governor presides over debate in the 35-member state Senate and can vote to break a tie.

Ivey in an e-mail to a reporter on Monday said, ''Seems to me Jim is going to desperate extremes to avoid identifying himself as a life-long Democrat." She added that Democrats are nervous about the upcoming Nov. 2 general election.

Folsom campaign aide Chip Hill on Wednesday said Folsom didn't need to identify himself as a Democrat because people already know he is one. ''I don't know of any registered voter in this state that doesn't know that Jim Folsom is a Democrat, and he's a bipartisan Democrat who can work with members of both parties," Hill said.

Folsom, 61, the son of the late Gov. James ''Big Jim" Folsom, was elected to the state Public Service Commission in 1978 and 1982 and elected lieutenant governor in 1986, 1990 and 2006. He lost a close race for governor in 1994. He has always run as a Democrat.

Ivey, 65, a former director of government affairs and communications for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, was elected state treasurer in 2002 and 2006 as a Republican. She finished second in the Democratic primary race for state auditor in 1982.

Ivey said she's been a dues-paying Republican since 1989. ''I saw the light a long time ago," she said. ''Jim's still wandering in the darkness."

Ivey in an e-mail sent Tuesday questioned Folsom's non-partisanship as lieutenant governor and asked why no Republican senator has been appointed to a top leadership post for the entire Senate in the last four years. ''Is that what nonpartisanship is all about?" Ivey asked.

Senators hold four-year terms, and all 35 seats are up for election Nov. 2. Democrats now hold a 20-15 majority in the Senate, and a Democratic majority adopted the Senate's current operating rules in early 2007.

Under those rules, a committee of five people, Folsom and four Democratic senators, appointed the members and leaders of Senate committees that review proposed laws.

The five-member committee didn't pick a single Republican to chair a committee, though Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talladega, was picked to lead a committee on small business when he was a Democrat, before he switched to the Republican Party. Folsom didn't have the power on his own to appoint a committee chair or member. Ivey said Folsom had influence on appointments.

Patti Lambert of Decatur, president of the grassroots group Save Alabama PACT, praised Folsom for working with Democrats and Republicans alike this year to help pass into law a plan that will pay $547.6 million over 13 years to shore up the financial health of the state's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program.

''Folsom has just been there. He worked across the board," Lambert said.

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