Roy Moore has gained a national reputation for controversy during his public battles over the Ten Commandments, but he may not be the most polarizing candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court in November. That distinction may belong to his Democratic opponent for chief justice, Harry Lyon, a perennial candidate from Shelby County whose background includes a criminal conviction, temporary suspensions of his law license and a 2006 suggestion that illegal immigrants be hanged in public. Lyon, 60, is making his 11th run for public office, and also once qualified for a race from which he withdrew before the campaign started. So far, he’s zero for 10. “People who hate Roy Moore don’t really have a choice, because the Democratic candidate is not a credible candidate,” said William Stewart, a political scientist from the University of Alabama. “It’s a shame that no self-respecting Democratic attorney could not be found to at least put his name on the ballot.” Lyon, who lives and practices law in Pelham, is the only Democrat who came forward to run for any of the statewide appellate court positions this year. He kicked off the general election campaign by expressing his opinion that Moore is suffering from the early stages of dementia and challenged him to take a neuropsychological exam. Moore’s campaign manager, Rich Hobson, could not be reached for comment. Lyon also criticized Moore’s most famous act of defiance — his decision to refuse a federal court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments that he had erected in the state judicial building in Montgomery. “He reminds me of a televangelist, like Jim Bakker,” he said in reference to a TV preacher who was convicted of fraud in 1989. “It’s Law 101 — you never ignore a court order.” Lyon has his own baggage, however. He created a stir — and prompted calls by the Rev. Al Sharpton for his removal from the Democratic primary ballot — when he told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2006 that he would sponsor legislation requiring illegal immigrants to leave Alabama in 90 days or face a public hanging. “It would only take 5 or 10 getting killed and broadcast on CNN for it to send a clear message to not set foot in Alabama,” Lyon said. “Anybody that breaks into my home is a threat to my life. I remember the Alamo.” On Thursday, Lyon said the remark was a bad joke after a lengthy conversation in which he told the reporter that immigration was a federal issue. “Those comments were taken totally out of context,” he said. “No. 1, you can’t hang anybody. … That’s a total misrepresentation.” Lyon said he also was going for humor when he promised during that campaign to paint a giant “HL” on the bottom of the swimming pool at the governor’s mansion if he won election. Then there is the matter of his 2001 conviction on a misdemeanor menacing charge stemming from accusations that he stood at a window at his home and pointed a shotgun at 2 of his neighbor’s children. A Shelby County Circuit Court judge upheld that conviction after a nonjury trial 2 years later and fined him $500. “That did occur,” he said, referring to the conviction. “What did not occur is I never committed the crime of menacing.” Lyon said he spent about $5,000 to appeal the conviction, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld it. The Alabama State Bar suspended his license for 90 days as a result. Earlier, the bar had suspended Lyon’s license for 45 days after his ex-wife made a complaint that he harassed her during their divorce — an allegation Lyon said was bogus. Stewart, the University of Alabama political scientist, said he suspects many Democrats will feel stuck between 2 bad choices when they cast ballots in November. He predicted there would be an unusually high number of write-in votes in the chief justice race. Steven L. Taylor, a political science professor at Troy State University, said the fact that Lyon was able to walk to the Democratic nomination without a fight stands in sharp contrast to the strong candidates that the party fielded just a couple of election cycles ago. “It doesn’t speak very well of the health of the Democratic Party at the moment,” he said.