$5,000 shoeshine man becomes symbol of Senate power battle

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)_The shoeshine chairs at the Alabama Legislature sit empty these days, but the "five-thousand dollar shoeshine man" has become the symbol for those trying to wrest control of the Senate from Lowell Barron and his allies.

Republican senators and some Democrats trying to oust Barron as president pro tem of the Senate point to Barron approving the payments to Raymond Payne, who shines shoes from time to time at the Legislature.

They cite even bigger payments to assistants of some of Barron's allies. But in speeches and news releases, the shoeshine man always gets singled out.

Barron, a Democrat from Fyffe, said he didn't hire Payne and didn't determine the amount he was paid.

As the Senate stands now, the chamber is nearly evenly divided between senators who want to oust Barron as president pro tem and those who want to keep him. Ousting him will take a super majority -- 21 of the 35 senators

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