6th District highlights Alabama congressional races

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A Republican fight to succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus in the heavily GOP 6th District highlights Alabama’s congressional primaries on Tuesday.

Incumbent Reps. Mike Rogers, Mo Brooks and Terri Sewell each faced poorly financed challengers in primary races, making upsets seem unlikely.

But a runoff is almost certain in the seven-person race in the 6th District, in which each candidate sought to portray himself as conservative and the most eager to fight President Barack Obama. In a campaign ad, one candidate even used a handgun, rifles and a wood-chipper to destroy a printed copy of Obama’s health care law.

Composed of all or parts of six counties in central Alabama, the 6th District includes the heavily populated suburbs surrounding Birmingham and stretches into rural areas north and south of the metro area.

Bachus, the senior member of Alabama’s House delegation, announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election after 11 terms. All his potential successors are from the Birmingham area.

The Republicans seeking the nomination to replace Bachus include two members of the Alabama Legislature: Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood, chairman of the influential Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, a tea party favorite.

Other candidates include Dr. Chad Mathis, an orthopedic surgeon competing with Beason for tea party votes; business executive Will Brooke, who opened fire on a copy of “Obamacare”; Alabama Policy Institute founder Gary Palmer; mattress company owner Tom Vigneulle; and retired attorney Rob Shattuck.

The winner will face the lone Democratic candidate, Avery Vise, on Nov. 4.

In the 3rd District of east Alabama, Rogers, R-Anniston, is being challenged by Thomas Casson of Auburn, a banker who worked on the staff of former Rep. Bob Riley, who later served two terms as governor. Jesse Smith is the only Democratic candidate.

Brooks, a Huntsville Republican who represents the 5th District of northern Alabama, is opposed by Jerry Hill of Athens, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

Sewell, the lone black and the only Democratic member of Alabama’s congressional delegation, drew primary opposition from Birmingham attorney Tamara Harris Johnson in the 7th District. The district includes the inner-city neighborhoods of Birmingham and Montgomery and much of the rural Black Belt of west Alabama.

No Democrat is running in the 5th District, and no Republican qualified in the 7th District.

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