Charles Barkley, former big man for the Philly 76ers, Houston
Rockets and Phoenix
has switched political teams now, going from Republican to the
Democrat side of things.  This time, eyeing a possible election campaign
for governor in 2010 in his home state of Alabama.

Speaking to reporters in Montgomery, Ala., Barkley said, “I
really believe I was put on Earth to do more than play basketball and stockpile
money, I really want to help people improve their lives, and what’s left is for
me to decide how best to do that.”

Barkley recently came under some fire over the fact that he boasted
he that he may have lost in between $50 and $60 million over the last 12 years
due to gambling.  As an analyst for TNT since 2000, he’s since told the
press that he is addressing the issue adding, “my agent has really worked
with me to try to get it where I can go and gamble and have fun, which is
easier said than done.”


Responding to questions on whether he had a gambling
problem, “Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a gambling
problem but I don’t consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble. 
It’s just a stupid habit that I’ve got to get under control, because it’s just
not a good thing to be broke after all these years.”

Barkley, a Leeds native has been hinting at taking a run at the governorship
of Alabama
since he was playing with the Phoenix Suns in the 1990s.  He originally
considered running in 1998 as a Republican but has switched his teams once
again.  Barkley continued to identify himself as a Republican until
recently, when he switched parties. “I was a Republican until they lost
their minds,”
he said earlier this month.

Barkley said his immediate goal is to get his 17-year-old daughter
through high school and into college. Then he plans to decide on his future,
including whether to run for governor.

“I say welcome Charles Barkley. Charles Barkley has been
a Horatio Alger story for many people, not only in sports but in business and
broadcasting,” Joe Turnham, Alabama’s
Democratic Party chairman, said Wednesday.

But Jim Seroka, a political science professor at Auburn University,
says the former Auburn basketball star is
getting ahead of him. “He doesn’t
have any of the bases necessary to run a statewide campaign,”

The head of the state GOP said she has no idea whether Barkley is
serious when talking about a future race for governor as a Democrat. “To
be governor requires more than a publicity stunt. It requires real
leadership,” said Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh.

Barkley is eyeing a job that has had more than its share of scandal,
with criminal convictions against two of the last four people elected to the
office. Former Gov. Don Siegelman was convicted of government corruption
charges last month, and Guy Hunt was forced to step down as governor in
1993 when he was convicted of an ethics violation.