The Unlikely Candidate Who Won’t Give Up

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In an otherwise mundane and clichéd contest for the governorship of Alabama this year, one contender has an incredible tale.

The story will resonate with a national audience, even if polls show him lagging significantly.


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Say hello to Lew Burdette.

He has a remarkable professional record as the chief operating officer who brought Books-a-Million to the public. He was the founder and director of a charity shelter for women and children suffering domestic abuse for 19 years.

Kidnapped and Narrowly Escaped

Burdette comes across as friendly and honest in person. He is not a great believer in precise policy prescriptions.

Even Burdette’s level of content is the proverbial “zephyr of freshness” in a campaign that could be made into a cartoon.

However, an event he experienced in 1974, when he was 15 years old, has a lot to do with what looks like Burdette’s “Christian witness.”

According to Burdette, he was leaving work at his father’s grocery shop in the tiny town of Roanoke. Here, he was approached by two guys only a few years his senior. At gunpoint, he was pushed into a car and taken deep into the countryside.


His kidnappers stated they wanted to ransom him for $250,000 payable that night, an amount wildly beyond his family’s financial means.

They parked on a rural road, dragged him through dense undergrowth, and then whacked him in the head with their rifle, causing a large cut and sending blood streaming.

They ultimately carried him to a nearby abandoned water well and dumped him in. The men then hurled a bricklike substance at him and fired four times into the well.

The fourth gunshot struck him in the back of his head and skipped back into his jaw. He still claims a shard still resides there. His kidnappers then abandoned him.

Burdette stated after around two agonizing hours in the bitter cold and muck, he began repeating Bible scriptures his mother compelled him to remember as a youngster.

To summarize a lengthy narrative, he discovered a hole or depression in the well wall that gave him a footing. After that, another.

His Faith and Belief

He climbed from the well, physically dragged himself through the countryside for two hours, and discovered an isolated home with lights on.

However, when the inhabitants opened the door, he heard the motor of what sounded like the automobile used by the kidnappers.

Indeed, the two kidnappers went into the house; all he could do was scream that they had assaulted him. It came out that the house was the grandmother’s residence of one of the kidnappers.


Rather than covering for the grandchild, the family requested assistance from an ambulance. Doctors informed his parents he had a less than 10% chance of survival. Nonetheless, he left the hospital two weeks later.

To listen to him relate the narrative, as he does with such grace, is to feel the dread and misery in the pit of one’s stomach. Additionally, it is to develop a belief in prayer.

Its significance for Burdette’s governorship campaign is subject to interpretation.

Burdette, though, believes this, much like a 15-year-old repeating Bible scripture to save his own life.

The primary is scheduled for May 24; he will require a political miracle to advance to the runoff. Who is to convince Lew Burdette, though, that miracles do not occur?