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Alabama’s Robert Bentley looks to 2014 governor race

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Two years from today — June 3, 2014 — Alabamians go to the polls to select party nominees for governor and a host of other state, federal and local offices.

If you’re a normal person whose life does not revolve around politics, you probably now know more than you wanted.

But for legislators, members of Congress, many judges, statewide and local officeholders, political junkies and the top of the political food chain — governor — today is a benchmark: They now are as close to the next primary as they are removed from the last.

That leads to this question: In the race for governor, will incumbent Robert Bentley — who will be 71 at the time of the next primary — seek a second term? After just 17 months on the job, does Bentley even know if he wants a second term that would keep him in office to almost his 76th birthday?

Some politicians who have at least one eye on the governor’s chair privately wonder whether Bentley will want a second term or whether his family will want him to seek one, given his age and what has been up to now a mixed review of his performance in the job.

But, while some pols wonder if the race for governor will be one without an incumbent, Bentley hints strongly that it won’t be.

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In a recent email to The Birmingham News responding to the question of whether he planned to seek re-election in two years, Bentley wrote: “When I ran for governor I promised the people of Alabama I would bring jobs to this state. Today, unemployment is down significantly and Alabama has the lowest unemployment rate in the region.

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“I love serving the people of this state, and I want to continue to work hard for the people as long as they’ll have me as their governor,” wrote Bentley, who has yet to take a salary as governor because of a campaign promise that he would not until the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to 5.2 percent.

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