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Tuesday evening in Odenville approximately 750 people turned out at the first gubernatorial forum, hosted by the St. Clair County Republican Party, to see and hear the 2010 Republican candidates for governor of Alabama.

Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Roy Moore and Bill Johnson were all present at the forum. Moore was a last minute addition to the program after declining initial invitations.

The night started off with a meet and greet and turned to business as the governor hopefuls addressed the large crowd gathered in the St. Clair County High School gymnasium.

State Representative Jim McClendon (R-50) introduced each candidate and served as the master of ceremonies.

“We’re trying to run on schedule and we’re actually running ahead of schedule. Guess why? We’ve got Republicans in here tonight,” McClendon joked. “We’ve got to work.”

Each candidate was given five minutes to make their opening remarks and then two minutes for the next three rounds of questions. The first two rounds consisted of questions generated from likely county voters in the weeks leading up to the forum. The candidates submitted their own final round questions for their opponents before the forum.

When the questions were answered and the event drew to a close, ballots were passed out and county residents were invited to vote in an informal poll. The results will be announced next Thursday at the St. Clair County Republican Party meeting at the Red Diamond campus in Moody at 6 p.m. Johnson and attorney general candidate Luther Strange will be the speakers.

Johnson attended the Tuesday night forum but officially became the sixth Republican candidate on Wednesday when he launched his campaign with a statewide fly-around.

St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Joey Stevens said, “Tonight was a great night for our party. The forum was well attended and I have already received very favorable feedback from the campaigns and those in attendance.”

Next week the News-Aegis will feature the forum questions and each candidate’s responses.

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