MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama voters will largely be on the sidelines as Democrats and Republicans battle for control of Congress.
No Democrat or independent decided to take on Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions and his $3.4 million campaign chest in the general election Nov. 4. Alabama’s other senator, Republican Richard Shelby, is not up for re-election.
Three of Alabama’s six incumbent U.S. representatives have no major party opposition. The other three incumbents have major party opposition, but the opponents are poorly funded and largely unknown.
The only race in Alabama that has the potential to draw national interest is in the 6th Congressional District in the Birmingham area, where Republican incumbent Spencer Bachus did not seek re-election. But that district is heavily Republican and has elected GOP congressmen for many years.
“We would not be considered a battleground state,” state Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said.
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley shared the same outlook: “We appear to be on the sidelines in how the national people are looking at it,” Worley said.
Several other Southern states, including Georgia and Louisiana, are battlegrounds. In Georgia, Democrats see Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, as their best hope for claiming a Senate seat being left open by Saxby Chambliss’ retirement. And in Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is trying to hold off a challenge from GOP U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Armistead predicted Alabama’s party split in Washington will remain the same, with two Republicans in the Senate and six Republicans and one Democrat in the House.
“That’s as certain as anything can be,” said political science professor emeritus William Stewart of the University of Alabama. The longtime observer of politics said Alabama no longer has a competitive two-party system, and Democratic victories are usually limited to districts with a majority black population, like incumbent Terri Sewell in the 7th Congressional District.
Sewell and incumbent Republican Robert Aderholt in the 4th District have no opposition Nov. 4. Republican incumbent Mo Brooks is opposed only by independent Mark Bray in the 5th District.
Republican Bradley Byrne faces Democrat Burton LeFlore in the 1st District, but Byrne easily defeated the poorly funded LeFlore in the last election.
Republican incumbent Martha Roby faces Democrat Erick Wright in the 2nd District, and Republican incumbent Mike Rogers takes on Democrat Jesse T. Smith in the 3rd District.
Worley said national Democratic leaders have shown no interest in putting money into the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Districts.
She said she is trying to get national party leaders interested in the 6th District, where conservative think tank founder Gary Palmer upset state Rep. Paul DeMarco in the Republican runoff in July. Worley said the 6th District traditionally elects moderate Republicans like Bachus and DeMarco, and she is hoping to convince her party leaders that there is a chance for an upset in the 6th District.
The Democratic Party’s original nominee in the 6th District, Avery Vise, dropped out, and the party recently replaced him with Mark Lester. The resume of the new candidate includes a doctorate from the University of Oxford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and a teaching position at Birmingham-Southern College since 1991.
Armistead said the 6th District is designed to be a Republican district. “We have every confidence Gary Palmer will be the new congressman,” he said.
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