Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gov.-elect Bentley to host dinner for Alabama congressional delegation

Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 10:32 PM ??? Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 10:34 PM

Gov.-elect Robert Bentley will break bread Wednesday night in Washington with members of Alabama's congressional delegation, a fence-mending session after many of them endorsed someone else in the race for governor.

Bentley, who will be in Washington for two days of meetings on Capitol Hill and at the White House, is hosting a dinner for the Alabama group at a downtown restaurant.

Several of the Republicans in the delegation publicly backed Bradley Byrne in the final hours of the GOP primary runoff in which Bentley, the longshot candidate from Tuscaloosa, came from behind to win.

Bentley now jokes about how much of the GOP establishment was not in his corner, a spokesman said.

"As he has said, he's the governor of all of the people," Steve Bradley said. "He's good-natured about it. All of that is in the past."

But the relationship between the governor and the congressional delegation is crucial as the state faces a host of pressing issues in which state and federal government intersect.

"There is no fence to mend, as far as I'm concerned," said Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, through a spokesman. "The governor-elect can expect a strong partnership with the delegation, just as Gov. (Bob) Riley did. We'll be pulling for him."

During the eight years of Riley's governorship, he has met with Democrats and Republicans in the Washington delegation regularly on issues such as Medicaid, water wars and Defense Department contracts critical to the state's economy.

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