Montgomery, Ala. (Aug. 25, 2003) -- Alabama native Ruben Studdard, who won the second "American Idol" competition this year, is scheduled to perform free concerts next month to help boost voter turnout for a referendum on the governor's $1.2 billion tax and education plan.

Studdard, dubbed the “Velvet Teddy Bear” by singer Gladys Knight during the TV competition, is scheduled to give performance on Sept. 2 and Sept. 5, just a few days before the Sept. 9 referendum, according to the Mobile Register.

Studdard’s mother, Emily, is a schoolteacher in the state, and said she would be voting for the governor’s plan, according to a press release on the concerts.

Supporters of Gov. Riley's plan hailed the announcement by the Alabama Partnership for Progress, a business and civic coalition backing the proposal and sponsoring the concerts.

But the paper quoted a spokesman for the plan’s opponents as saying the concerts are a desperate attempt by the governor to turn the tide after public opinion polls show most of the state is against the tax hike.

"This is the kind of thing you do when you are failing in the polls," said Bob Gambacurta, spokesman for the Tax Accountability Coalition, which is coordinating opposition to Riley's plan.

-- WebCPA staff

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