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State GOP Executive Committee favors Riley

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A survey of members of the State Republican Executive Committee found Gov. Bob Riley has more support than former Chief Justice Roy Moore among GOP leaders going into next year's election for governor.

The Birmingham News surveyed the 364-member committee and got responses from 160, or 44 percent. Of those, 72 percent supported Riley, 21 percent supported Moore, and the remaining 7 percent were either undecided or had a different response.

Neither Riley nor Moore have announced their intentions for 2006, but many Republican officials expect the two to face each other in the Republican primary in June.

The State Republican Executive Committee includes members from every county and sets the policy for the party. Its members often help candidates put together grassroots organizations.

University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart said Riley appears to have regained a lot of the ground he lost with the party establishment when he proposed an unsuccessful $1.2 billion tax package in 2003. But Stewart said the survey of party leaders wouldn't guarantee how a primary would come out.

In the survey, executive committee members were asked how they would vote if the primary election were held today and the choices were Riley and Moore. They were also asked to explain their choices.

Riley's supporters talked about him giving Alabama a good image, being a good steward of tax dollars, and doing well with industrial recruitment.

"Gov. Riley has done a good job overall," wrote Wayne Walker of Cullman. "I would hate to see everything he has accomplished destroyed by Mr. Moore and it would be."

Moore's supporters praised his stand on displaying the Ten Commandments, and some showed they still have strong feelings about Riley's tax plan.

Former state Sen. Roy Smith of Cullman said Moore would "not forsake his belief in the sovereignty of God over all creation and the affairs of men." Smith said Riley "betrayed his friendships and the Republican tradition" with his tax plan.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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