Shelby, 4 House members opposed in Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Five Republican members of Alabama’s congressional delegation are seeking re-election against poorly financed Democrats, some of whom are trying to boost their campaigns by tying their opponents to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Any anti-Trump strategy could be a gamble since a Democratic presidential nominee hasn’t carried Alabama since 1976 and the New York businessman is likely to carry Alabama over Democrat Hillary Clinton. In a sign of the potential riskiness of such a move, one Democrat is saying he would be happy to work with a President Trump.
But with Republicans viewed as prohibitive favorites in the one Senate race and four House contests on the ballot, the fallout or gain from the race at the top of the ticket could be minimal.
Three incumbent U.S. representatives — Republicans Bradley Byrne of Mobile and Robert Aderholt of Haleyville, plus Democrat Terri Sewell of Selma — are running without major-party opposition in next month’s election. Here is a look at the five contested races:
Incumbent Richard Shelby, 82, of Tuscaloosa is seeking his sixth six-year term against Democrat Ron Crumpton, 48, of Pelham.
Shelby, a one-time Democrat who has one of the most consistent records of voting against Democratic President Barack Obama in Congress, has said he will support the Republican ticket including Trump.
Crumpton, the executive director of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, argues on his campaign website that the bickering between the GOP and Trump will diminish Republican turnout and give Democrats their best chance ever of making gains in the state. Perhaps, but Shelby already has won the money race: The Federal Election Commission showed Shelby with $9.8 million in campaign funds as of June 30 to $3,910 for Crumpton.
HOUSE DISTRICT 2
Rep. Martha Roby of Montgomery is seeking her fourth two-year term representing southeast Alabama after becoming one of the first national Republicans to speak out against Trump after the release of sexually charged audio recordings from 11 years ago.
While some praised Roby, 40, for saying she wouldn’t support Trump, her stance angered some tea party supporters who began pushing a write-in campaign for tea party leader Becky Gerritson, who lost to Roby in the primary. Pro-Trump protesters showed up at a Roby appearance in Dothan last week.
Roby is opposed by Democrat Nathan Mathis, a 73-year-old former state legislator who has posted on his campaign’s Facebook site that he “will not say one negative word” about Trump.
“I hope those people supporting Gerritson will support me,” said Mathis.
HOUSE DISTRICT 3
Seeking his seventh term representing eastern Alabama, Rep. Mike Rogers of Jacksonville has pledged to vote for the Republican ticket. Democratic challenger Jesse Smith says Rogers’ support of a candidate like Trump “sets precedents.”
Some of the counties in the 3rd District still have Democratic leanings in local races, but Rogers, 53, hasn’t faced a substantial re-election race since first winning the seat in 2002.
Smith, of Phenix City, is a veteran who describes himself as a progressive Democrat.
HOUSE DISTRICT 5
Rep. Mo Brooks, 62, of Huntsville, an outspoken member of the tea party caucus in Washington, is opposed by Democrat Will Boyd Jr. in Alabama’s northernmost congressional district.
Brooks, who supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the GOP primary, was sharply critical of Trump in the primary campaign and hasn’t been enthusiastically supportive since the Republican National Convention. Brooks has called Trump a better choice than Clinton for president, but he’s mostly steered cleared of the presidential race.
Boyd is a businessman and pastor who once ran a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate as an independent in Illinois, where he lived at the time. Rather than drawing lines between Brooks and Trump, Boyd is using the hashtag #NoMoMo in his campaign.
HOUSE DISTRICT 6
Seeking re-election for the first time in heavily Republican central Alabama, Rep. Gary Palmer, 62, of Hoover has described both Trump and Clinton as “very imperfect candidates” while saying he will unfailingly support the Republican ticket. Palmer put out a statement criticizing the media following reports that he was dropping his support of Trump following the release of the audio tapes.
Palmer is opposed by Democrat David J. Putman, a military veteran and retired Southern Co. employee from Vestavia Hills. The federal election agency showed that Putman, 72, had a campaign debt of $39,183 as of Sept. 30 to a balance of $822,269 for Palmer, who previously ran a conservative think tank in metro Birmingham.
Putman, who wants to tackle the problem of economic inequality in his first run for public office, said he is steering clear of both Trump and Clinton is his self-funded campaign but would work with either if elected.