VESTAVIA HILLS – A Roanoke native has announced he is running for governor in the State of Alabama. Lew Burdette, now a resident of Vestavia Hills outside of Birmingham, president of King’s Home and former COO of Books-A-Million, made the announcement last Tuesday. This will be his first run for political office.
“I tell everybody, ÔThank God I am not a politician,'” Burdette said. “And I say that with pride because what I hear and what people tell me is, ÔLew, we are hungry for change in this state and somebody that is a political outsider and somebody that has a business background and has run a big nonprofit and will be just a commonsense governor.’ And that’s who I am.”
Burdette grew up in Roanoke where he sacked groceries in his father’s grocery store, Burdette’s Food Store. Many may remember a terrifying experience in December 1974 when two men forced him into a car at gunpoint when he left the store after work.
Burdette, who was 15, was stabbed, shot and thrown into a well and left for dead.
Burdette was able to climb out of the well and crawl to a house for help. He said the incident reinforced a Biblical faith he learned from his mother.
“I battled for my life in the bottom of that well and only survived by the grace of God,” Burdette said.
Burdette said the men who threw him in the well had a misguided idea of getting ransom from his father.
“It was a true kidnapping,” Burdette said. “They had a ransom note made. They were trying to get $250,000 from my dad. I knew that wasn’t a good plan. A small-town grocery store owner and these guys are thinking my dad’s got $250,000.”
Burdette said the men were convicted, served their sentences, and never got in trouble again, as far as he knows. One later opened a barbecue restaurant in Roanoke and has since passed away, he said. One called him from prison and apologized for what happened, Burdette said.
Burdette said he thinks he can change the trajectory of the state as a political outsider with no obligations to special interests. He said he will push for campaign finance reforms and won’t accept any contributions of more than $10,000.
“We have poverty issues in this state in the rural areas,” Burdette said. “We’ve got to do more for our state economically. We’ve got to do more for our state in health care and education.
“I look forward to bringing together an amazing cabinet that is also business-minded, results-oriented, who do not owe political favors.”