Voters Headed To Polls Tuesday In Three State Primaries

May 31, 2010 11:29 a.m.

Tomorrow will be a busy primary day in three states, with races that could provide some more hints into the extent of any establishment vs. grassroots party feuding, especially on the Republican side.

The races will occur in three states: Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico. It should be noted that Alabama and Mississippi use runoff elections if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in a primary. And since many of these races are wide-open contests with three candidates or more, there could be quite a few runoffs to come.

So let’s take a look at some of the key contested races for tomorrow.Alabama

Republican gubernatorial primary: Incumbent GOP Gov. Bob Riley is term-limited. The top GOP candidates to replace him are: former state Postsecondary Education Chancellor Bradley Byrne, businessman Tim James — who is best known for a recent ad declaring, “Why do our politicians make us give driver’s license exams in 12 languages? This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it”; and former state Chief Justice Roy Moore. The nationally famous Moore is most well known for being removed from the bench in 2003, when he refused to remove a giant stone monument of the Ten Commandments from the court building; he then ran an unsuccessful primary challenge against Riley in 2006. And finally, there is state Rep. Robert Bentley and former state Economic and Community Affairs Director Bill Johnson.

Democratic gubernatorial primary: The two candidates for the Democratic nomination are Rep. Artur Davis and state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks. Davis, who represents a safe Democratic majority-black Congressional district, moved decisively rightward when he voted against the national health care reform law. Since then, Sparks has promoted himself as the real Democrat in the race.

A recent Daily Kos/Research poll of the Republican primary gave Byrne 29%, Moore 23%, James 17%, Bentley 9%, and Johnson 3%. The same survey gave Davis a lead of 41%-33% in the Democratic primary.

AL-02: Three Republicans are competing to take on freshman Rep. Bobby Bright, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat who has voted against many parts of the national Democratic agenda. The three main candidates are Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby — an NRCC “Young Gun” candidate, representing a top tier of national GOP endorsement — state Board of Education member Stephanie Bell and businessman and Tea Party activist Rick Barber. The district voted 63%-37% for John McCain in 2008.

AL-05: Rep. Parker Griffith, who was elected as a Democrat in 2008, switched parties in December 2009 to become a Republican, after having voted against the big-ticket Democratic bills such as health care reform. He is being challenged in the Republican primary by Madison County Commission Mo Brooks and businessman Les Phillip.

On the Democratic side, the three main candidates are: Steve Raby, a former aide to Griffith’s Democratic predecessor, Congressman Bud Cramer; trial attorney and Air Force JAG officer Mitchell Howie; and former state Board of Education member Taze Shepard, a grandson of the late Sen. John Sparkman (D-AL), who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1952.

The district voted 61%-38% for John McCain in 2008.

AL-07: This safe Democratic seat is being vacated by Rep. Artur Davis, who is running for governor. The district voted 71%-29% for Barack Obama in 2008. The candidates in the Dem primary include: Attorney and political consultant Martha Bozeman, a former campaign manager for Davis; state Rep. Earl Hilliard, Jr. — whose father was defeated for renomination by Davis in 2002; attorney and community activist Terri Sewell; and Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Smoot.


MS-01: Three Republicans are competing to go up against Blue Dog Democratic Rep. Travis Childers, who was first elected in a May 2008 special election. The three candidates are the establishment-backed state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, former Europa Mayor and ex-Bush Administration Justice Department official Henry Ross, and Fox News commentator Angela McGlowan. The district voted 62%-37% for John McCain in 2008. As with Alabama, a candidate will need 50% of the vote to win outright.

New Mexico

Republican gubernatorial primary: Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson is term-limited, and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is the presumptive Dem nominee. Five Republicans are competing for the GOP nomination: attorney Pete Domenici, Jr., a son of former Sen. Pete Domenici.; Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez; businessman and political activist Doug Turner; state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones; and businessman and former state GOP chair Allen Weh, who played a role in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

The TPM Poll Average gives Martinez 31.4%, Weh 25.4%, Domenici 13.8%, Turner 7.5%, and Arnold-Jones 3.1%.

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