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Republican Riley declares victory in Alabama

governor
From right, Rep. Bob Riley meets Friday with transition team chairman Bill Cabaniss.

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HOOVER, Alabama (CNN) -- Saying that "now is the time for us to come together as Alabamians," Republican challenger Bob Riley again declared victory in the state's gubernatorial race Saturday evening and called on Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman to drop his demand for a statewide recount.

"The results today are conclusive. You're looking at the next governor of Alabama," Riley said, outside of the headquarters of his transition team in this Birmingham suburb. "There reaches a point when all of us have to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.' We've reached that point."

Elections officials in Alabama's 67 counties certified results Friday, which showed Riley with 672,222 votes and Siegelman with 669,105 votes -- a margin of just 3,117 out of more than 1.3 million votes cast. Unlike many states, Alabama has no provision for an automatic recount in close races.

Siegelman supporters in every county in the state Friday filed a petition for a recount. But Attorney General Bill Pryor, a Republican, issued an opinion saying state law didn't allow county elections officials to break seals on voting machines and recount ballots unless Siegelman formally contests the election.

The governor has not announced his next move, which could include a court challenge.

The controversy -- similar to the 2000 flap in the presidential count in Florida -- arose when initial returns showed Siegelman with an apparent victory. Then, election officials in Baldwin County, a GOP stronghold, corrected what they said was a computer error, flipping the results the other way and making Riley, a congressman from Ashland, the winner.

Siegelman's supporters cried foul, and both men have declared themselves the next governor.

Should Siegelman be unsuccessful in reversing the results, he will become the third incumbent Democratic governor in the South swept from office in the November 5 election. Gov. Roy Barnes in Georgia and Gov. Jim Hodges in South Carolina both lost their bids for re-election.



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