Alabama’s GOP Senate primary could have domino effect in congressional districts
The Republican race to face Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in the 2020 general election is already having a domino effect in Alabama’s First Congressional District, but two more conservative strongholds could soon experience the same free-for-all.
Candidates – those still weighing their options and already declared alike – are licking their chops at the open seat being left by Congressman Bradley Byrne’s (AL-1) Senate bid.
Popular State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl are early frontrunners, with former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) seemingly moving closer this week to a final decision on throwing his hat into the ring.
However, Byrne’s open seat is not the only one lining up would-be-representatives. As Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth continues to push Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-6) or Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) to enter the Senate contest, Yellowhammer News has learned that several significant names in each district have reached out to consultants in anticipation of running should their congressman look to make the jump to the upper chamber.
In Palmer’s district, there are a host of potential candidates, including former State Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood), State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo), State Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook), former Yellowhammer Multimedia CEO and Trump White House-staffer Cliff Sims, Shelby County Republican Party Chair Joan Reynolds, Dr. Chad Mathis and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Scott Dawson.
Palmer told WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” last week that he and his wife are “praying about” whether to run again for his congressional seat or enter the Senate fray.
Looking up to north Alabama, Brooks has previously said it would take a “seismic event” for him to run for the Senate in 2020, but boosted by favorable polling and promises of considerable financial backing, he might just be more seriously considering getting into the race.
This was discussed on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Friday, with host and Yellowhammer News contributor Dale Jackson naming State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, former State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), 2018 candidate Clayton Hinchman, attorney and former Limestone County Probate Judge Stan McDonald and State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) as potential contenders if Brooks looks to move to the Senate. Plus, you cannot count Jackson himself out in that scenario.
“There’s a pretty strong bench there of people who might run for Congress,” Jackson said. “Hell, I might run for Congress. Who knows. I might jump out there and decide I might want to run for Congressman Brooks’ seat.”
Looking back to AL-1, the only one of these three congressional seats that is actually open thus far, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan has topped the list of rumored potential candidates in past months.
However, in a text message to Yellowhammer News, she shut the door on that possibility.
“I have heard this lately from many areas of the state,” she said. “I really enjoy volunteering in the Republican Party. While I am deeply humbled by the encouragement from a lot of folks, I am not running for Congress. My focus is on beating Doug Jones and re-electing President Trump.”
Michael Chambers and Christina Woerner McInnis are two other names to keep an eye on for Byrne’s seat.
And of course, for Alabama’s Senate seat held by the vulnerable incumbent, the Republican field is far from finalized.
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is very seriously considering a run. State Auditor Jim Zeigler, retired Marine Col. Lee Busby and former Miss Alabama and Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum are also testing the waters.
Additionally, a source close to Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth said he still has not ruled out mounting a challenge to Jones, even though the probability of an Ainsworth candidacy is low.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn