George Wallace has told close friends and supporters that he plans to seek a fourth term as governor of Alabama.
Sources close to former governor and four-time presidential candidate say he has rented a suite of campaign offices and ordered bumper stickers in time for a rally and barbecue May 22 in Montgomery.
Wallace aides have mailed 1,000 invitations to the barbecue, "Gov. Wallace Appreciation Day," to supporters across the state, press secretary Elvin Stanton said.
A three-time governor, Wallace has been confined to a wheelchair since a would-be assassin shot him during his quest for the presidency in 1972. Since his last term as governor expired in 1979, he has raised money for the state university system as a $68,000-a-year director of rehabilitation services for the University of Alabama.
"He's told me twice in the last 10 days that he's definitely running and will announce very soon," said Glen Curlee, a county district attorney and long-time Wallace supporter. "He says that all the polls indicate he can win."
Indeed, two polls by the University of Alabama, the most recent conducted in late March, show Wallace to be the frontrunner in a five-man field of possible contenders, including Gov. Fob James.
Wallace had the highest positive rating at 43 percent and the second highest negative rating behind James, a businessman who is not expected to run for a second term.
"If his chances weren't very good he wouldn't be involved," Stanton said.
The university poll puts his name recognition at 96 percent, higher than any contender.
But the poll failed to measure his strong nostalgia appeal, said Charlie Snider, a former Wallace presidential campaign chairman. For many, Snider said, Wallace represents the "good old times," before Alabama's unemployment hit 14 percent, the second highest of any state in the nation. To win, he will have to convince voters he can combat unemployment, high interest rates and crime, Snider said.