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Alabama: Battle for the Statehouse

Incumbent: Gov. Bob Riley (R) is term-limited

Republican: State Rep. Robert J. Bentley

Democrat: State Agricultural Commissioner Ron Sparks

2008 Presidential Result: Obama 39%; McCain 60%

55+ Population (2009 estimate): 20.1%

Overview: Dermatologist and state Rep. Robert J. Bentley surprised state politicos when he won a two-stage Republican primary. He faces State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who defeated Artur Davis in the Democratic primary. Davis opposed President Obama's health care plan; Sparks favored it. Sparks gained praise as commissioner for his handling of mad cow disease, which threatened the state's cattle industry, and for advocating tougher labeling standards and expanding marketing efforts for the state's farmers. As a legislator, Bentley has concentrated on improving the state's primary health care system, but is basing his campaign on a pledge to create jobs and not raise taxes.

50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.

Fun Fact: Gov. Bentley's campaign manager is Bryan Sanders, the son-in-law of presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

'Wild Card' Issue: Bentley may have exaggerated his Vietnam era service as an Air Force doctor during the primary campaign. After questioning his advertising claims, Alabama Vietnam veterans said they were satisfied that Bentley's campaign ads did not show him in combat or treating soldiers in Vietnam. He was based in North Carolina during the conflict.

Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future

POLITICS_govt elections

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