Democrats Seek Challenger to Party Switching Griffith

By CQ Politics, CQ Politics - December 26, 2009

Now that they're over their initial shock, Alabama Democratic leaders are beginning to tout potential challengers to freshman Rep. Parker Griffith , who announced earlier this week that he was switching parties to become a Republican.

"This is going to energize a lot of Democratic officials in the district,"� Alabama Democratic Chairman Joe Turnham told the Huntsville Times in an article published Dec. 24.

According to the newspaper, national Democratic leaders have already spoken to state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who lives just outside the 5th District, about the possibility of seeking the seat. Sparks is currently running for governor, where he's on a collision course with Rep. Artur Davis , who is also seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

"At this point, we're squarely focused on the governor's race,"� Justin Sala, Sparks' campaign manager, told the Times.

But Sparks has considered running for federal office before, so party leaders do not appear to be scratching him from the list of potential candidates yet.

Other possible Democratic contenders, according to the newspaper, include teacher Anthony Daniels, a former candidate for state Senate; real estate developer Jeff Enfinger, a former state senator; Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison; state Rep. Randy Hinshaw;Susan Parker, a member of the state Public Service Commission; and political consultant Steve Raby, who owns the Huntsville-based firm Direct Communications.

Parker was the Democratic challenger to GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2002, taking 40 percent of the vote in a heavily Republican year.

While Democrats scramble to find a strong candidate to run for Griffith's seat, the two Republicans who were competing for the nomination before Griffith switched parties show no signs of backing off. The candidates are Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and GOP activist [@Les Phillip.@]

Several national conservative groups have suggested that Griffith's victory in a Republican primary is no sure thing.

CQ Politics currently rates the general election race as Likely Republican.

To see how the 2010 House races are shaping up, check out CQ Politics election map.

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