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State News

November 10, 2012

AP Interview: Ala.'s last Democrat reviews career

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama voters have canceled "We Love Lucy," one of the longest-running hits in state politics.

Lucy Baxley built a successful political career by always using a campaign slogan playing off Lucille Ball's long-running TV show. Voters did love Baxley for a long time, keeping her in office for years after they dispatched other Democrats. But voters finally put her out of office Tuesday in one of the biggest elections ever for the Alabama Republican Party.

Baxley, the last Democrat to hold statewide office, lost her re-election bid for Public Service Commission president to Republican Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who took 54 percent of the vote.

Cavanaugh took the oath of office Wednesday morning as Baxley's staff packed up her office.

Her Montgomery home is already on the market. She is planning to move to Birmingham and say goodbye to politics at age 74.

"I am not distressed about not winning," she said. "I am ready to retire. I have worked all my life — from the time I was 19."

Baxley has her third grandchild and first great-grandchild on the way, and she intends to make them the focus of her life after politics.

Baxley never planned on having a political career. She grew up poor in the tiny town of Pansey in southeast Alabama. After high school, she got hired at City Hall in Dothan and then at the county courthouse. She worked with a young district attorney named Bill Baxley and followed him to Montgomery when he was elected attorney general. They later married.

Their marriage ended after his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1986, and she worked as a single mom selling real estate.

She got the political bug in 1994 and decided to run for state treasurer. With little money, she was badly in need of a catchy slogan. She recalled a button one of her ex-husband's supporters had made in an earlier campaign. It said, "I Love Lucy, and Bill Baxley, too."

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