Judge Roy Moore’s challenger in the Nov. 6 election has nearly as much name recognition as Moore.
Bob Vance has served as a circuit court judge in Jefferson County for 10 years. He inherited his love of the law honestly. His father, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert Vance, was killed in 1989 by a mail bomb sent by Walter Leroy Moody Jr.
When asked if that name recognition worked in his favor on the campaign trail, Bob Vance admitted that it hasn’t hurt.
His wife, Joyce White Vance, is the U.S. Attorney for the state’s Northern District. Two of their children, 9-year-old Ollie and 14-year-old Ellie, appear in a television commercial calling Vance a “nerd.”
“That was just something fun we did,” he said of the commercial. “I’m not afraid to poke fun at myself.”
In an effort to shore up support here, the judge was in Limestone County Thursday visiting with local lawyers and law-enforcement officers. He also took time to visit a fundraiser for Thomas Bauer, an Athens child who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Vance realizes he faces a bit of an uphill battle, not only statewide, but also in Republican-leaning Limestone County. However, he said it would take a non-partisan effort to solve many problems facing the state’s court system.
“Our courts have been struggling and have been threatened by the severe budget problems the state has faced year after year,” he said. “Courts have had to cut back programs, services and there have been layoffs. We need a chief justice who will focus on real programs we face. That’s the reality.”
The chief justice not only serves as the state’s top legal interpreter, but also as an administrator for the state’s court system. Vance said he believes he has the skills and experience to tackle challenges and work with the state’s top lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat. He cast doubt on the fact Moore can do the same.
“Judge Moore was chief justice before, and the results were not very good,” he said. “We cannot afford to return to that situation given the difficulties we face. The chief justice, as with any leader in Montgomery, has a responsibility to honor the state and that’s commitment. I’m not interested in engaging in divisive politics or hot-button social issues that don’t affect the lives of most Alabamians. I want to get the job done.”