Higher Education Partnership
September 5, 2003 --
At the end of the September 4 rally on the town square in Jacksonville, the
Jacksonville State University marching band played "Stars Fell on Alabama"
and Governor Bob Riley stepped into his awaiting escort to travel to his
next campaign event. As the governor stepped into the Ford Expedition, he
was wearing the white cowboy hat that had been given to him by Gordon Stone,
Executive Director of the Higher Education Partnership. Stone told the
audience that in the old westerns the hero always wore the white hat. The
crowd responded with a rousing ovation as they were reminded that Governor
Riley had responded to the call and provided heroic leadership for this
The end of the Thursday evening event signaled the conclusion of the series of extremely successful Tax Reform and Accountability Rallies that the Higher Education Partnership hosted in conjunction with Alabama's universities. While these rallies provided opportunities for proponents and opponents in the university communities to hear directly from Governor Bob Riley, the crowds were dominated by supporters for Amendment One. Conservative attendance estimates showed that over 17,000 people were in attendance for the nine large events that the governor attended. Another 3000+ people attended a series of smaller events in which the Higher Education Partnership was a feature participant. Estimates show that out of the 20,000 total attendees only about 500 opponents were visible during these open events.
Overall, the Higher Education Partnership has seen an amazing groundswell of volunteerism and grassroots support for Governor Riley and the Plan for Progress. As indicated by the large numbers of voters registered on the campuses and the constant requests for additional campaign material, the Higher Education Partnership expects a large "Vote Yes" turnout.
"When these Higher Education Partnership and local university events were originally planned, the Partnership anticipated a record turnout of 10,000 people. It is truly a sign of an emerging political force when the students, faculty, staff, alumni and townspeople overshot the original estimates by 200 percent. The rallies were a huge success!" said Gordon Stone.
Stone further stated, "We continue to work hard to secure a 'yes vote' and a large voter turnout because no one truly knows what will happen on September 9. However, one definitely positive outcome can already be identified. It is clear, on the university campuses, that Governor Bob Riley and his team have generated an accelerated level of confidence in Alabama's future. While the universities already represented a fast-maturing voter population, the Plan for Progress has given Alabama's university students and those who teach them a renewed sense of hope. Finally, a progressive leader has given these future state leaders a vision for tackling Alabama's many fundamental problems while maintaining the characteristics of our state which make it a wonderful place. Governor Riley is to be commended for his statements that universities are the key to economic development. Further, he is applauded for giving us a plan for how to increase accountability, fill the holes in the budget and invest strategically to move Alabama from the bottom to the top of the rankings in education and infrastructure capacity."
The Higher Education Partnership applauds all the volunteer leaders: students, faculty, staff, alumni, presidents and chancellors, who have made the necessary sacrifices to make this a successful summer. The Partnership encourages all 150,000 university voters to continue to work to insure a large VOTE YES turnout on September 9! Plus, the Partnership thanks the governor for his heroic leadership and pledges to not let our members forget the many lessons learned over this campaign season.
For more information, contact Gordon Stone of the Higher Education Partnership at 334-220-2161.
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