AG Troy King seeking re-election in 2010

Published 7:52 am Friday, March 13, 2009

MONTGOMERY — Troy King, Alabama’s often-controversial attorney general, said Thursday he will run for re-election in 2010 because he believes he has more to do to keep his promise of making Alabama a safer place to live.

King announced his plans in a speech to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans Club. His announcement came two days after news reports that a federal grand jury in Montgomery has heard testimony from some of his office’s former employees.

In an interview in Montgomery before his speech in Birmingham, King said he had received lots of encouragement to consider the governor’s race in 2010. But he said he needs to keep a commitment he made when Gov. Bob Riley appointed him to a vacancy in the attorney general’s office in 2004.

“At the end of the day, I find myself unable to come away from this feeling like I have kept my word yet. I gave my word to the people of Alabama that I would give all of my energy and all of my effort to make their state a safer place as long as they would entrust me with the ability to do that,” he said.

Last week, a federal grand jury met in Montgomery under the direction of U.S. Attorney Alice Martin’s office in Birmingham. Martin is a Republican like King, and the two have worked together on cases. But King said he does not know what the grand jury is investigating and knows nothing about it beyond what has been in the media.

“Does that affect my resolve to be elected attorney general? No it doesn’t,” King said.

In the 2006 election, King defeated Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, a Democrat.

Tyson told The Associated Press that he has received plenty of encouragement to run again in 2010, but has not made a decision.

Birmingham attorney Luther Strange, who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, said he is considering running for either attorney general, lieutenant governor or governor and will make up his mind in a few weeks.

King said he made an early announcement because campaign fundraising starts in June and friends wanted to know his plans. He also said he had made up his mind long before news of the grand jury broke.

King said the proudest moment of his tenure was getting the Legislature to pass a law in 2005 to strengthen the penalties for sex offenders and to require some sex offenders to wear monitoring devices after their release from prison.

He said he’s also proud of accompanying crime victims to the parole board to oppose early releases for inmates, beefing up his office’s consumer protection program, and traveling the state to meet with law enforcement officers to show his support.

He acknowledged that he has made some enemies during his tenure. For instance, he upset some in the business community when he sued 70 pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of overcharging the state Medicaid program for prescriptions. He upset them even more when he included prominent plaintiff lawyer Jere Beasley on the state’s legal team.

So far, three cases have gone to trial and the state has won all three, resulting in more than $350 million in verdicts.

In 2007, King and the Alabama District Attorneys Association traded accusations when King took over a capital murder case from a district attorney. The DA supported changing a sentence from death to life in prison without parole, and King opposed it.

Association members questioned King’s legal fitness for the job, and King accused association members of turning their backs on crime victims.

“We have done unwaveringly what we think is the right thing, and there are people who don’t like that,” King said in an interview.

Asked about his goal for another term, King said, “More of the same. More laws that protect our kids. More initiatives that protect our seniors. More efforts to remind victims that they are not by themselves.”