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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Alabama

Primary Unkind To Two Alabama Congressmen

Two members of Congress in Alabama saw their 2010 campaigns cut short Tuesday: Parker Griffith, after switching parties in December, lost the 5th district Republican primary; and Artur Davis's gubernatorial bid ended in the Democratic primary, well before many expected.

The two members headlined a primary election day in three states -- Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico -- and continued this year's run of intriguing political storylines.

HOUSE PRIMARIES: Griffith's shocking move to the GOP made his seat even more vulnerable than it was running as a Democrat in the South in a year Republicans feel the wind at their backs. On top of facing a competitive general election -- something he'd have no matter which party he was in -- Griffith's late entry to the Republican primary gave him yet another hurdle to overcome. Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks won 51 percent to Griffith's 33 percent.

The freshman also was running against history, as the 5th district has never elected a Republican to the House, despite voting solidly Republican at the presidential level. Former Senate aide Steve Raby will attempt to keep that streak alive when he faces Brooks in the general election.

Elsewhere, the National Republican Congressional Committee got its guy in Mississippi's 1st district, as state Sen. Alan Nunnelee squeaked out a primary victory with 52 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff against second-place finisher Henry Ross. Former FOX commentator, Angela McGlowan, who received an endorsement from Sarah Palin, finished third with 16 percent.

Republicans like their chances in this GOP-leaning district, which voted Democrat Travis Childers into office in a May 2008 special election to fill the remainder of Republican Roger Wicker's term. Six months later, Childers was elected to a full term with 54 percent.

The NRCC wasn't so lucky in Alabama's 2nd district, where the highly touted Martha Roby failed to avoid a runoff against tea party-backed Rick Barber, taking 49 percent to Barber's 29 percent. They'll face off again July 13 for the right to take on freshman Democrat Bobby Bright, who won in 2008 by less than 2,000 votes.

Also in play was Alabama's 7th district, which Davis gave up to run for governor. The solidly Democratic district won't know its Democratic nominee for another several weeks, as attorney Terri Sewell and Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot head for a runoff.

Continue reading "Primary Unkind To Two Alabama Congressmen" »

Four Things To Watch In Alabama's Primaries

With an open race for the governor's mansion and two seats Democrats picked up in 2008, Alabama is home this year to some of the most competitive and fascinating races in the country. Some of the intrigue will surface June 1 in primaries that will define the November races. So, here are four things to watch in Alabama on Tuesday:

The Reverse Specter?

Most political observers have had their eyes peeled on the 5th District GOP primary race since freshman Rep. Parker Griffith switched from the Democratic to Republican Party in December. The interest only increased since the defeat of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary earlier this month, a year after switching parties. Griffith was elected to this 61%-McCain district by a 3-point margin.

Luckily for Griffith, there is no video (that we know of) of him stating that political survival was the sole reason for switching parties. But many Republican primary voters will likely believe that anyway, and they remember his attacks on Republican Wayne Parker from the recent past of 2008. While his GOP congressional colleagues support him, both vocally and financially, it's still unclear whether that has resonated on the ground.

Challenging Griffith are Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and businessman Les Phillip, whose TV ad went viral for its kicker, "They're not going to call me a racist." Both have received endorsements from local tea party groups, and both trail Griffith -- who's dropped $250,000 of his own cash -- in the money race by significant margins.

Continue reading "Four Things To Watch In Alabama's Primaries" »

AL-05: Sparks Staying In Gubernatorial Race

After considering a bid for Congress in the wake of Parker Griffith's party-switch, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks told the Associated Press this morning that he will remain a candidate for governor. A formal announcement was due shortly in Huntsville.

Sparks told the Associated Press that he was more committed to running for governor than ever and that he was in the governor's race to stay.

...

Some Democrats in Washington had urged Sparks to change races after 5th District Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville became a Republican last week. Sparks said he was honored by the interest, but feels he has made a commitment to the people of Alabama to run for governor.

Sparks would have given Democrats a strong candidate in that race now that Griffith is a Republican, though Sparks would have had to move to run there. He is not alone in running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, however, and the campaign of one of his rivals, Rep. Artur Davis (D), took aim at Sparks for flirting with the Congressional race:

"While Artur Davis is focused on a bold new agenda for our state, Ron Sparks has spent the last week trying to get permission from his political bosses in Montgomery to see if they would let him run for Congress in a district he does not even live in. This is the same Ron Sparks who said just a few weeks ago that he wishes he could run for Agricultural Commissioner again; the same Ron Sparks who was set to run for Lieutenant Governor until the special interests in Montgomery told him they had some other plans for him."

Can Artur Davis Make History in Alabama?

One after another, speakers at the Democratic Governors Association meeting yesterday in Washington said how tricky 2010 would prove for just about anybody seeking to gain or hold office. One example is Alabama, where Republican Gov. Bob Riley is term-limited -- and a young, Harvard-educated, Democratic representative in Congress is seeking to replace him.

Should he win the Democratic primary and general election, Rep. Artur Davis would become the first African American governor in a state still dogged by its bleak civil rights history. Mr. Davis's polling shows that Alabama voters are increasingly willing to elect a black to state-wide office.

Still, he would be giving up a safe Congressional seat for what many consider a high-risk, though potentially history-making, venture. Mr. Davis has repeatedly held his current seat with at least three-fourths of the vote since coming to Congress in 2002. The district is 64% black.

On the other hand, though two of the last four Alabama governors have been Democrats, Barack Obama -- Mr. Davis's friend in law school -- did abysmally there, losing the state by 21 points after pretty much writing it off from the start.

"More than a few people have asked me: Why are you giving up a safe seat in the U.S. Congress to run in a pretty red state?" Mr. Davis said yesterday at the DGA event. "Something is stirring in the state of Alabama right now."

Mr. Davis said that in the 19 polls he has seen on the race since September 2007, "We have been ahead of or within the margin of error of every Republican in every poll."

For its part, the DGA less sanguinely lists Alabama as a second-tier pick-up opportunity for Democrats, along with Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii and Utah. Top-tier opportunities outlined yesterday by DGA Executive Director Nathan Daschle include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada and Vermont.

AL Gov Poll: Byrne Has Early Advantage

The race for governor of Alabama should be competitive, according to a new PPP survey (June 2-5, 667 RV, MoE +/- 3.8%). Bradley Byrne (R) holds a slim lead over Rep. Artur Davis (D), though Davis leads the other three Republicans tested.

Republicans: Byrne, two-year college system chancellor and former state senator; Tim James, businessman and son of former governor Fob James; Treasurer Kay Ivey; Roy Moore, former state Supreme Court chief justice and 2006 candidate.

Democrats: Rep. Artur Davis; Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

Davis 35 - Byrne 39 - Und 26
Davis 37 - James 35 - Und 28
Davis 39 - Ivey 31 - Und 31
Davis 41 - Moore 38 - Und 21

Sparks 27 - Byrne 41 - Und 33
Sparks 33 - Ivey 29 - Und 39
Sparks 32 - James 32 - Und 37
Sparks 36 - Moore 38 - Und 25

Davis Eyeing Gov Race

It's never too early to plan. Rep. Artur Davis, an Alabama Democrat widely seen as a rising star in Democratic politics, is beginning to consider a governor's race when Bob Riley is term-limited out in 2010, according to the Times Daily. "I'm taking a very hard look at governor in 2010," Davis said.

Davis, who is African American, would be the state's first non-white governor, and he would likely face an uphill race: In 2006, just two of seven statewide offices went to Democrats, when Lieutenant Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. and Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks won their races. Davis is one of two Democrats out of a seven-member House delegation. Alabama has one of the highest African American populations in the country, at about 26% of the state's population.

Davis also hinted he may consider a Senate race, as well, if Sen. Richard Shelby decides to step down. His $700,000 cash on hand number would immediately make him a top-tier Democratic candidate.