Examples of King’s poor decisions are numerous, though three recent instances stand out: His handling of state laws concerning electronic bingo — or lack of it — led in part to an ugly back-and-forth with Gov. Bob Riley. His decision to sue BP before Riley could negotiate a settlement over the oil spill was rash and unwise. Likewise, King’s joining of 19 other attorneys general in a suit against the federal health-reform bill is a regrettable stance, as well.
It is time Alabama’s attorney general takes a different path.
King lost the Republican primary to Birmingham lawyer Luther Strange, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor four years ago. Strange’s victory this summer pits this attorney general race as one between two distinct candidates — Strange, a longtime lobbyist with little courtroom experience, and Democrat James Anderson, a lawyer with 30 years in state courts.
For myriad reasons, Anderson is the wise choice.
The obvious plus for Anderson is his background and wide array of knowledge. As a trial lawyer, he’s handled more than 2,000 cases in Alabama. As a former member of the state Ethics Commission, he has credentials in matters that will be handy considering the push for widespread ethics-law reforms.
He seems a level-headed candidate who will use the pulpit of the state’s top cop for common-sense causes, not ideological agendas that marred King’s tenure.
What voters can see in Anderson is a candidate who offers vast legal experience and confidence that he’ll move away from the worst of King’s methods. Strange doesn’t engender the same vibe, and his attempts to tie Anderson to gaming interests because Anderson represented the Macon County sheriff in a bingo-related case don’t weaken the Democrat’s campaign. Strange’s belief that Alabama should remain a party in the misguided suit against the health-care bill is a troubling sign.
We agree with Anderson’s opinion of the suit. “I think it’s a stand-in-the-schoolhouse-door lawsuit,” Anderson told The Star’s editorial board.
The attorney general’s office is a high-profile position requiring deft legal leadership. Wisdom is critical. Anderson’s resume and record should give Alabamians reasons to again expect competency from the state’s attorney general.
The Star recommends James Anderson.
The To-Do List: Attorney General
• Withdraw the lawsuit against BP so that settlement negotiations aren’t negatively affected.
• Remove Alabama from the multi-state lawsuit against the federal health-care reform bill.
• Reduce the glacial-like delay in which AG opinions are often released.