By Alan Collins
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It's the last campaign pitch for the two men seeking the republican nomination for governor of Alabama. "Today is like Christmas Eve." Robert Bentley said.
Bentley told his supporters on Birmingham's Southside community that he expects to win Tuesday's runoff. Bentley says his campaign has the backing of average republicans, not just those in the leadership position within the party.
"That is why they are so afraid of me being down there. They are concerned with me being there will upset the status quo. They are exactly right. It's going to upset the status quo." Bentley said.
A spokesman for the Alabama Republican Party says the party has remained on the sidelines favoring no one despite claims by the Bentley campaign. "The party, this office, the state party chairman, Mike Hubbard's commitment we have stayed neutral throughout the process. We have no intentions of getting involved either way." Philip Bryan, Alabama Republican Party spokesman said.
"This is an historic election," Bradley Byrne said.
At Byrne's news conference later in Birmingham, he was surrounded by GOP leaders. This included Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus, state senators Jabo Waggoner and Hank Erwin, and Governor Bob Riley's son, Rob Riley.
Governor Riley earlier announced he would vote for Byrne.
Byrne says republicans are coming to his campaign because of a growing fear democrats are trying to influence the runoff election. "It is clear, absolutely crystal clear. The democratic leadership of the democratic party, Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed, are trying to get democrats to vote in the republican runoff." Byrne said.
Byrne is accusing the Alabama Education Association of running attack ads against his campaign. Bentley says he has nothing to do with the ads and asked that they be stopped.
While Byrne is asking for republicans to turnout Tuesday, Bentley wants everyone to vote."I'm encouraging everyone to get out to vote and vote tomorrow. This is a critical vote. It's probably the next vote for the governor of Alabama." Bentley said.
After addressing the crowd, Bentley's campaign whisked him away, taking no questions from the media."We got a tight schedule. We are already behind. We got to go." Bryan Sanders, Bentley campaign spokesman said.
Sanders says Bentley had been available earlier in the campaign to answer any media questions.
"I will take questions. Any questions." Bradley Byrne said.
Byrne seized on the no question comment at his afternoon news conference in Birmingham."The only reason you won't answer questions is you have something to hide I ask what does Robert Bentley have to hide, he won't take questions from the press."Byrne said.
Some polls have Bentley as the lead with Byrne closing. Birmingham Southern College political analyst Natalie Davis says Bentley may be following sound political strategy.
"Knowing full well, people are not paying attention. The worst thing you can say is something dumb and so by not taking questions he avoids that hassle," Davis said.
But, could even a frontrunner run the risk of losing votes not taking questions the day before the big election. "He may come off bad to media, whether he comes off bad to the voters, who knows?" Davis said.