Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico (USA) Primaries 2010
Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico held primaries ahead of the US midterm elections this November. In Alabama, the offices of Governor and Senator were up, while in New Mexico the office of Governor was up. No Senate or gubernatorial seat is up this year in Mississippi.
Alabama and Mississippi
Incumbent Republican Governor Bob Riley (R-AL), elected narrowly in 2002 defeating Democratic incumbent Don Siegelman and re-elected easily in 2006, is term-limited. Despite continued support for Democrats of the Blue Dog-Dixiecrat type at the legislative level, the Republicans seem to have built a hold on the Governor’s mansion and they could even conquer the state legislature in November.
The race to succeed Riley on the Republican side is wide open with the top contenders being former State Senator Bradley Byrne (the most moderate candidate), socially conservative State Rep Robert J. Bentley, “Speak American” businessman Tim James and well-known “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore. The Democratic field was an heavy race between Agriculture Commish Ron Sparks, who supports HCR-public option (though supported Hillary in 2008) and African-American Congressman Artur Davis (AL-7) who voted against HCR and won much ire from his black voters base in his effort to posture himself as a conservative ahead of November.
In one of the biggest upsets in Alabama history, Davis, who led polling and fundraising and was rumoured to have the support of the black machine (likely a majority of Democrats in Alabama), managed to lose epically 62-38. On the Republican side, Byrne came out on top ahead of Bentley and James, who are practically tied, while Moore got a paltry 19%. Byrne will face either Bentley or James in a runoff on July 13, the nature of his opponent being fully known once there’s a recount for second.
Ron Sparks (D) 62.4%
Artur Davis (D) 37.6%
Bradley Byrne (R) 27.9%
Richard J. Bentley (R) 25.2%
Tim James (R) 25.1%
Roy Moore (R) 19.3%
Bill Johnson (R) 1.7%
Charles Taylor (R) 0.5%
James Potts (R) 0.3%
A cursory glance at the Democratic map reveals the utter failure of Davis. He lost AL-7, his own district, lost the black belt quite badly (it really does prove that his conservative posturing and voting against the Obama agenda wasn’t the road to victory with black folks) and trailed very badly in white northern and southern Alabama. To be fair, Davis had bad relations with high-ranking black or white Democratic Party officials in the state, and the establishment did not support him. He only won generally urban or suburban areas, while Sparks raked up huge margins in northern and southern Alabama, parts of the black belt and even won Birmingham. A snippet from a Politico article is quite amusing in this regard:
In Lowndes County, where 70 percent of the population is black, Sparks, who is white, won by 29 points. In Perry County, with a 67 percent black population, his victory margin was 44 percent.
On the Republican side, it does appear that Byrne, the most moderate candidate, won the support of urban areas (winning the counties containing Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Huntsville) while the more conservative other candidates split the votes in rural areas, except for Bentley who got a huge base of support around his home turf but little spread elsewhere, unlike James or Moore.
Incumbent Senator Richard Shelby, in office since 1987 and a former Democrat (until 1994) is on the road to a landslide re-election, but he did face primary opposition from tea-bagger Clint Moser (Shelby is big on pork and patronage). Shelby won 84-16. In the race to lose the November matchup in a landslide, William Barnes, some attorney guy, won 61-39 against teacher Simone De Moore.
In a big House race in the northern 5th CD, won by Parker Griffith as a Democrat in 2008, but which was ‘gained’ by the Republicans after Griffith crossed the floor, Griffith (R) was defeated badly by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks 51 to 33. He’ll face former Howell Heflin staffer Steve Raby in November. In AL-2, narrowly picked up by conservative Democrat Bobby Bright in 2008, Republican Montgomery City Council member Martha Roby (48.6%) will face prolific fundraiser-businessman Rick Barber (28.5%) in a runoff. In a race which Davis may regret he was not in (AL-7), there will be a runoff between lawyer Terri Sewell and the liberal left blogger’s pick Sheila Smoot. Sewell has 36.8% against 28.5% against Smoot. The Republicans also managed to find four potential candidates here, but nobody cares, though the Democrats are letting Republicans win by acclamation in districts 1, 4 and 6.
In a very much watched race for the Republican nomination for Agriculture Commish, Dale Peterson, of YouTube fame for his campaign video, is out of the runoff after getting 28% against 37% for John McMillan who’ll face yard-sign stealer and “dummy” Dorman Grace (35%). Apparently the thugs an’ criminal who don’t give a rip about Al’bama won…
In Mississippi, only House seats are up in November, making it quite off the radar. In MS-01, Republican State Sen. Alan Nunnelee will face Travis Childers after having won 51.8% against 32.8% for Henry Ross and a pitiful 15.4% for Sarah Palin’s Angela McGlowan. In MS-04, Congressman Gene Taylor (D) will face State Rep. Steven Palazzo in November, a strong challenge. Palazzo won 57-43 against a businessman.
The big race in New Mexico this year is the one to succeed term-limited Democratic incumbent Bill Richardson, a 2008 presidential contender. Lt. Governor Diane Denish was acclaimed on the Democratic side, while the Republican field was relatively wide open. Susana Martinez, an attorney, was the heavy favourite against former state party chair Allen Weh. Doug Turner, a political consultant and Pete Domenici Jr. (the son of former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici) were the also-rans. Amusingly he did lead a poll in February, but maybe assuming you’d roll to victory on your last name isn’t the best of ideas. Domenici’s candidacy never got off the ground, despite the name. Martinez won 50.7% against 27.6% for Weh, 11.6% for Turner and a ridiculous 7% for Domenici. Denish is the light favourite, but polls have shown the right to be quite tight.
In NM-03, gained by the Democrat Harry Teague after the retirement of Republican incumbent Steve Pearce (who ran for Senate against Tom Udall and failed hard), is shaping up to be tight after Pearce won the right to contest for his old seat after squashing Cliff Pirtle 85-15. In NM-03, a lost cause for the Republicans, Paulite Adam Kokesh lost 71-29.
Much more fun next week, June 8, with voting in California (in a Republican Senate primary between former HP executive Carly Fiorina and moderate former Congressman Tom Campbell), South Carolina (where Republican gubernatorial Niki Haley had an affair), Nevada or Maine (where nobody knows what’s going on) among others.