Alabama, Mississippi & New Mexico Primary Preview

In lieu of our usual morning digest, here is a roundup of all the killer primaries from outer space that we’ll be liveblogging tonight. Get your scorecards ready!


  • AL-Gov (D): Rep. Artur Davis has led Ag. Comm’r Ron Sparks in the money race and all polling that’s been made public to date. But a lot of Alabama Democrats – and especially the black political establishment – are unhappy with Davis’s conservative voting record, especially his vote against healthcare reform. This has led to persistent rumors that Davis is “in trouble,” and Sparks (who just scored an endorsement from ex-Gov. Don Siegelman) even claimed to have an internal showing the race tied. But he declined to share so much as a one-page polling memo – and if he’s right, quite a few other pollsters are wrong. (Though Nate Silver notes that polls of Southern Democratic primaries have, in recent years, been off by wider margins than in other regions.) We’ve seen some surprising primaries on the congressional level involving reps who’ve voted against HCR, but no one has yet paid the ultimate price for it. If Davis is the first, it would be a very big deal indeed. Note that there’s no possibility of a runoff, since Davis and Sparks are the only two candidates on the ballot. (D)
  • AL-Gov (R): With seven candidates in a crowded field, this race is certain to be resolved in the runoff to be held on July 13th. Bradley Byrne has been considered the front-runner and is the choice of most establishment Republicans. However, as the moderate amongst his primary foes, Byrne has come under heavy criticism as opponents question his commitment to conservative causes. Interestingly, traditional Democratic interests in the state have spent heavily against Byrne in the primary. Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, is likely Byrne’s strongest adversary and has gained national attention with a series of controversial ads. While Byrne and James will most likely face each other again in July, Roy Moore of Ten Commandments fame still has a chance to snag a ticket to the runoff. (T)
  • AL-Ag. Comm’r (R): This is it. The big one. The eyes of the nation, and indeed, the world, will fall upon the Republican primary for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries of Alabama. Dale Peterson, a farmer, a businessman, a cop, a Marine in Vietnam, and an usher in a movie theater one summer will be battling for the GOP nod for this most prestigious office. Little needs to be said about Peterson’s opponents, Dorman Grace and John McMillan, other than the fact that it’s clear that they don’t give a rip about Alabama! The winner of this primary will face Democrat Glen Zorn, a current assistant Agriculture Commissioner and former mayor of Florala.
  • AL-AG (R): One of the most vulnerable incumbents anywhere is Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Troy King. This isn’t a clear-cut establishment vs. movement primary, though; if anything, the state’s GOP legal establishment has soured on the erratic King and is backing his challenger Luther Strange. Polls give a large edge to Strange, who counts Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby and even Gov. Bob Riley — the man who first appointed King to the position — among his backers. (C)
  • AL-02 (R): Four Republicans are on the ballot for the right to challenge frosh Dem Rep. Bobby Bright. Montgomery city councilor Martha Roby is the NRCC-crowned establishment favorite, and the only candidate in the field to raise significant money. Teabagging businessman Rick “The Barber” Barber, an owner of several “billiards facilities” in the area, is next in line, followed by State Board of Education member Stephanie Bell. If Bell ever looked like a threat to Roby, her late entry (in March) and her weak fundraising (just $26K) seem to suggest her chances of making it to a runoff are weak. Former Marine John “Beau” McKinney rounds out the field. Back in February, Bright’s campaign released an internal poll showing him in surprisingly strong shape, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares once this race becomes engaged.
  • AL-05 (D): After Ron Sparks declined to switch over from the gubernatorial race, four Democrats got into the contest here: attorney and former state Board of Education member Taze Shepard (who also happens to be the grandson of the late Sen. John Sparkman); political consultant Steve Raby, a longtime chief-of-staff to Sen. Howell Heflin (the guy who succeeded Sparkman); attorney and former Air Force JAG officer Mitchell Howie; and physicist David Maker. The race is largely between Shepard and Raby, who have hit each other with negative TV ads in recent weeks: Shepard has attacked Raby for being a “lobbyist,” while Raby fired back that Shepard mismanaged the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (home of Space Camp) during his tenure as a commissioner overseeing the center. Though Shepard leads in the money department, he’s mostly been self-financed. Meanwhile, Raby has secured a good bit of establishment backing, including an endorsement from former Rep. Ronnie Flippo, who held this seat from 1977 to 1991. An internal poll for Shepard had him up 20-14 over Raby, but with 58% undecided. A runoff seems likely here. (D)
  • AL-05 (R): Democrats everywhere will be watching this race closely to see if turncoat Rep. Parker Griffith gets teabagged to death in the wake of his party switch. He faces two rivals in the primary: Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and businessman Les Phillip. Though Phillip has raised considerably more money than Brooks, his burn rate marks him as a client/victim of BMW Direct. Consequently, most of the “true conservatives” who are unhappy with Griffith’s attempt to bogart their nomination have rallied around Brooks, who has even been the target of a Griffith attack ad – not something you usually see from an incumbent. There’s a good chance we’ll see a runoff here between these two. (D)
  • AL-06 (R): Spencer Bachus isn’t what you’d normally think of as vulnerable; he’s a conservative Republican in one of the reddest districts in the nation, in Birmingham’s suburbs. However, establishment GOPers like Bachus have reason to worry this year because of the GOP’s restive base. He in particular may have a target on his back as ranking House Republican on Financial Services, and as an architect of TARP. Bachus faces teabagger Stan Cooke; leaving nothing to chance, he’s already spent $680K on his primary. (C)
  • AL-07 (D): The Democratic primary in the race to replace Rep. Artur Davis is the only election which matters in this 72% Obama district. The three chief contenders are: state Rep. Earl Hilliard, Jr., the son of the guy Davis primaried out of this seat in 2002, Earl Hilliard, Sr.; Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot; and securities lawyer Terri Sewell. Hilliard and Smoot until recently had the edge in name recognition, but only Sewell, who began as an unknown, has had the money to air TV ads. While early internal polling showed this to be a race between Hilliard and Smoot, Sewell’s spending has almost certainly had an impact, and her own poll had the race a three-way tie a couple of weeks ago. A runoff seems almost certain here. (D)


  • MS-01 (R): For a while there, it looked like former FOX News talking head Angela McGlowan posed a threat to the NRCC’s favorite candidate in the race against twice-elected Dem Rep. Travis Childers, Tupelo-area state Sen. Alan Nunnelee. But her campaign has fizzled, bringing in only $85,000 for the primary compared to nearly $650,000 for Nunnelee. However, a Democratic 527 called “Citizens for Security and Strength” recently entered the fray, spending money on mail and robocalls against Nunnelee in the hopes of aiding Henry Ross, the teabagging former mayor of Eupora. Ross hasn’t raised much money either (just $127K), but it’ll be interesting if his outsider message (and the Dem attacks) will stick.
  • MS-04 (R): In a year like this, you’ve gotta keep an eye on old dogs in deep red districts like this one. Republicans have mostly nominated driftwood against Democrat Gene Taylor in the past decade despite his district’s comically insane R+20 Cook PVI. However, it looks like Taylor will have to actually exert himself this year, as Republicans have fielded a bona fide elected official, state Rep. Steven Palazzo, to run against him. Palazzo will first have to get past businessman Joe Tegerdine, though, and the race has already gotten a bit testy, with Palazzo charging that Tegerdine works for a Chinese corporation, and Tegerdine jabbing Palazzo for being too scared and/or lazy to show up to any debates.

New Mexico:

  • NM-Gov (R): The Republican field in New Mexico was left in a sort of second-tier disarray when ex-Rep. Heather Wilson decided to pass on the race. Polling shows the two main contestants here to be Susana Martinez — the Dona Ana County DA, who despite a Sarah Palin endorsement is polling competitively with certain Dem nomineee Lt. Gov. Diane Denish — and Allen Weh, the former state party chair and bit player in the US Attorneys firing scandal, who’s financing his run mostly out of pocket. Pete Domenici Jr. had been expected to be competitive but foundered after offering no rationale for his campaign other than his lineage. Janice Arnold-Jones and Doug Turner round out the field. (C)

59 thoughts on “Alabama, Mississippi & New Mexico Primary Preview”

  1. I was wondering why a political nobody like Les Phillip was raising so much money. That explains it. My predictions:


    Artur Davis – 54

    Ron Sparks – 46

    Bradley Byrne – 34

    Roy Moore – 27

    Tim James – 23

    Robert Bentley – 9

    Other – 7

    Roby/Barber runoff in AL-02, Griffith/Brooks and Raby/Shepard runoffs in AL-05, Sewell/Hilliard runoff in AL-07.

    MS-01: Nunnelee narrowly pulls out a majority.

    New Mexico:

    Susana Martinez – 45

    Allen Weh – 35

    Pete Domenici Jr. – 11

    Other – 9

  2. Most people here at the voting precinct (Auburn, AL) seem to be more interested in the Republican Primary instead of Democratic Primary.

    Anyway, voted for Sparks and Barnes.  Some random candidates for AG and State Legislature.

    Oh, and against the never ending moronic State Constitution Amendment…

  3. For New Mexico I know not exactly what of the candidates not certified by the convention continues for the primaries but I have interest in know about:

    AL-07 (D)

    NM-PLC (D) and (R)

    NM-LG (D) and (R)

    AL-Gov (D) and (R)

    Few interesting democratic primaries and few for tell about. I hope see the confirmation of R Powell as democratic candidate for NM-PLC. I like not T Sewell for AL-07 and her manager A Davis for AL-Gov. I think A Davis was the worse democratic representative in the Health Care Reform.

    I have interest too about:

    NM-Gov (R)

    MS-04 (R)

    NM-SoS (R)

    AL-02 (R)

    NM-03 (R)

    MS-01 (R)

    AL-LG (R)

    NM-02 (R)

    and I wish know too about all the incumbents what can lose today in the primaries (specially about P Griffith).

  4. I hope y’all will be preparing a big, traditional Southern meal with pigs feet, fried heart attacks and watermelon, which should render you immobile enough such that you can only bask in the soft light of your laptop as the results roll in here at SSP.

    I joke because I love, Deep South residents. After all, you guys make a kid from Kansas seem positively cosmopolitan…and we banned the teaching of evolution like 4 times! In the 1990s & 2000s!   (current KS evolution status: creationism is out, science is in!)

  5. on the dem side…

    There is a case to be made that the world will be better off if moderate republicans prevail today, since AL and MS can’t be counted on to reject extremists in a general, even in the swingier AL-02, AL-05, and MS-04. But I still find myself rooting for team crazy in these districts and AL-GOV (go Moore!), since an embarassing and underfunded GOP incumbent seems more vulnerable to a knock off in 2012 or 2014 when, hopefully, the winds blow back our way some.


  6. Even though he already served two terms, we have a shot.

    And what are our prospects of holding AL-leg.? Especially the 20-15 senate?

    And if Nunnelee ends up winning general, the slight upside is a good chance at a bigger senate majority. (Since he’s not up this year, that’s the only way.)

  7. just flipped CT-SEN back to Lean D from Toss-Up, where he flipped it less than 10 days or so ago after the Vietnam story.  How spastic is this guy?  The PA-12 flip-flop and now this.  Wait for things to develop, huh, Charlie?

  8. Republicans need 3 more seats to gain their first majority in forever. In 2006, we lost two seats. Since then, we’ve lost another seat and two senators have switched to GOP.

    The following are extremely rough estimates

    Dems that are leaving:

    SD-01: Bobby Denton, since 1978, ~62% McCain

    SD-09: Hinton Mitchem, since 1978, ~70% McCain

    SD-13: Kim Benefield, since 2006, ~58% McCain

    SD-28: Myron Penn, since 2002, ~51% Obama

    GOP that are leaving:

    SD-05: Charlie Bishop, since 2006, ~63% McCain

    SD-14: Henry Erwin, since 2002, ~75% McCain

    SD-25: Larry Dixon, since 1982, ~55% McCain

    SD-29: Harri Anne Smith, since 1998, ~73% McCain

    We will hold Penn’s district, and if all incumbents manage to get re-elected, that gives us 17 seats. That leaves us with three or four seats to get one from.

    Only two senators have opponents from both parties, and I think Vivian Figures will survive, but Scotty Bearson, in the 17th, may not. He has a ~63% McCain district.

    We have a good shot at the newly-elected Paul Sanford’s ~53% McCain district. And possibly Ben Brooks’s ~55% McCain district.

    So, does anybody more familiar with the situation have an opinion on our chances? Can we keep enough to maintain a majority for four more years? I believe that holding this is quite important for redistricting purposes, especially if Sparks wins. Maybe we can keep Bright safe while making Rogers and Griffith more vulnerable? Or is that even possible?

  9. AL-Gov (D) – Davis 51, Sparks 49 (ugh!)

    AL-Gov (R) – Byrne 33, Moore 29, James 24

    AL-A&I (R) – Dorman v. McMillan runoff (please don’t shoot me Dale!)

    AL-AG (R) – Strange wins majority

    AL-02 (R) – Roby v. Barber runoff

    AL-05 (D) – Raby v. Tazewell runoff

    AL-05 (R) – Griffith v. Brooks runoff

    AL-06 (R) – Bachus wins majority

    AL-07 (D) – Smoot v. Sewell runoff

    MS-01 (R) – Nunnellee v. Ross runoff

    MS-04 (R) – Palazzo wins majority

    NM-Gov (R) – Martinez 45, Weh 36

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