The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 14, 2012

Ala. Democrat Party's future hinges on 74-year-old


"I believe the people of Alabama have a real choice this time. They can vote for a conservative who wants to go to work every day and keep their prices down," she said. "Their other choice is someone who wants to sit on the sidelines and draw a paycheck."

Cavanaugh, a longtime worker in GOP politics, was elected chair of the Alabama Republican Party in 2005, making her the first woman to lead the state party.

Baxley, the ex-wife of former Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley, served two terms as state treasurer before becoming the first woman elected lieutenant governor in Alabama in 2002. She lost the 2006 race for governor and then made a comeback with the PSC presidency in 2010.

Cavanaugh sits beside Baxley when the state's utility regulatory board meets each month, and her vote counts as much as Baxley's. But she wants to slide over one seat, which would allow her to preside at meetings and give her a more prominent platform to speak out on issues.

She said she will use it to step up her criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency.

"They are doing their best to put our most abundant resource, which is coal, out of business. If Obama and the current EPA were able to get their way, they'd have it out of business and drive up our costs in Alabama," she said.

Both talk about rate reductions that have occurred during their service. Baxley touts a Consumer's Bill of Rights implemented at the start of her term, and Cavanaugh points to an ethics policy enacted at the start of her term.

For Baxley, though, the campaign is about a long record that she's not ready to end.

"People know me because I've been in office all these years and they've never heard a hint of misdoings. That helps me a lot because people are saying we need a few good people we can believe in," she said.

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